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Junkman's Journey to NAMM 2011 and Back

By Junkman, On-Air Personality
Saturday, February 26, 2011 @ 6:24 PM

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Recently, as I have for the last 25 years or so, I attended the Winter NAMM convention in Anaheim, California. For those who are unfamiliar, NAMM stands for National Association of Music Merchants, and it is an organization that has been around for over 100 years. They hold their bi-annual convention every January at the Anaheim Convention Center. It is not open to the public, and is for music oriented retailers and manufacturers of music products. This can encompass anything from guitar manufacturers, to DJ and lighting equipment experts, to sheet music printers; in other words, a vast variety of anything to do with the music business. Therefore, the music artists that endorse these products come out to demo and make new deals for themselves and, on occasion, perform. This, naturally, brings out the fans. And because so, it is the largest attended convention of the year in Anaheim, and has been for a long time. The following, is some of the observations I made at this years "NAMM Show".

As I mentioned, I have attended this convention for years, at first as a retailer, and for the last few years as a member of the media. I have written HUGE accounts of the goings-on in years past for KNAC.COM, and if you look in the archives or google, you can find them and hopefully enjoy them - needless to say, I always have. Tales of some of the most amazing musical performances I have seen, and even taken part in, have been a part of NAMM lore, and the friendships I have made from people I've met during NAMM weekend have been everlasting.

This year I was hired by my friends at Vintage Rock.com to do on-camera interviews of musicians and vendors for their annual NAMM report. Using the brand new ZOOM Q3HD portable video recorder from my friends at Samson. I interviewed quite a few of the artists and vendors who attended throughout the weekend.

I was astonished at how many products were geared toward using with an IPhone. Recording, guitar, and drum apps were all over the place. There was even one that would let you program an entire lighting system-through your phone! Check out the iRig Mic at www.ikmultimedia.com a great example of killer products you can use with your "smart phone".

Guitar companies, naturally, rule at NAMM. The Dean guitar booth was absolutely packed throughout the weekend with autograph signings from endorsees Dave Mustaine, Michael Schenker, members of Hell Yeah, Uli John Roth, and Testament's Eric Peterson, amongst a host of others. They are also partnered with Ddrum, in the same booth, who brought out brothers Carmine and Vinnie Appice, Slayer's Dave Lombardo, and Megadeth's Shawn Drover to sign autographs and greet their fans. A new Dean Bret Michaels signature acoustic guitar and a John Entwistle bass guitar were both unveiled as well. Check out all the new gear as well as great video from NAMM at www.deanguitars.com.

Another great guitar booth to visit is ErnieBall/Musicman. Every year, many of the employees dress in costumes and have fun, all the while demonstrating products . Check out this video clip to get an idea:


Also new at this booth was the introduction of the Sterling by Musicman line of guitars, who are proud sponsors of KNAC.COM! Check out www.sterlingbymusicman.com Great guitars at an affordable price.

I had mentioned Samson technologies earlier, when I spoke of the Zoom Q3 HD video camera I was using. They had TONS of new products that were being displayed and demonstrated all weekend with an incredible roster of artists signing autographs and greeting attendees. Amongst those appearing at the booth were as scheduled:

Thursday, January 13, 2011


  • 11:00am - 11:30am - Kiko Loureiro (Angra / Solo) - Zoom
  • 12:00pm - 12:30pm - Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big / Solo) - Hartke
  • 1:00pm - 1:30pm - Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck & the Flecktones / Solo) - Hartke
  • 3:30pm - 4:00pm - Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani / Solo) - Hartke
  • 4:30pm - 5:00pm - Greg Smith (Ted Nugent) - Hartke

2:00pm - 3:00pm

  • Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck & the Flecktones / Solo)
  • Frank Bello (Anthrax)
  • David Ellefson (Megadeth)
  • Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani / Solo)
  • Peter Erskine (Solo)
  • Kiko Loureiro (Angra / Solo)
Friday, January 14, 2011


  • 10:30am - 11:00am - Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani / Solo) - Hartke
  • 11:30am - 12:00pm - Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck & the Flecktones / Solo) - Hartke
  • 1:00pm - 1:30pm - Kiko Loureiro (Angra / Solo) - Zoom
  • 2:30pm - 3:00pm - JD DeServio (Black Label Society) - Hartke
  • 4:30pm - 5:00pm - Byron Miller (Luther Vandross) - Hartke

12:00pm - 1:00pm

  • Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck & the Flecktones / Solo)
  • Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big / Solo)
  • Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani / Bx3)
  • David Ellefson (Megadeth)
  • Eric Bass (Shinedown)
  • JD DeServio (Black Label Society)
  • Eddie Jackson (Queensryche)
  • Nate Watts (Stevie Wonder)
1:30pm - 2:30pm
  • Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers / Chickenfoot)
  • George Lynch (Lynch Mob)
  • Herman Li (DragonForce)
  • Sam Totman (DragonForce)
  • Scott Ian (Anthrax)
  • Charlie Benante (Anthrax)
  • Jason Bittner (Shadows Fall)
  • Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater)
3:30pm - 4:30pm
  • Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath)
  • Vinny Appice (Heaven and Hell / Dio)
  • Mike Inez (Alice and Chains)
  • Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater)
  • Frank Bello (Anthrax)
  • Zach Myers (Shinedown)
  • Chuck Garric (Alice Cooper)
Saturday, January 15, 2011


  • 10:30am - 11:00am - Kiko Loureiro (Angra / Solo) - Zoom
  • 11:00am - 11:30am - JD DeServio (Black Label Society) - Hartke
  • 3:00pm - 3:30pm - Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani / Solo) - Hartke
  • 4:30pm - 5:00pm - Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck & the Flecktones / Solo) - Hartke

11:30pm - 12:30pm

  • Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck & the Flecktones / Solo)
  • Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big / Solo)
  • Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani / Solo)
  • David Ellefson (Megadeth)
  • Frank Bello (Anthrax)
  • Eric Bass (Shinedown)
  • JD DeServio (Black Label Society)
  • Eddie Jackson (Queensryche)
  • Nate Watts (Stevie Wonder)
2:00pm - 3:00pm
  • Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater)
  • Charlie Benante (Anthrax)
  • Shawn Dover (Megadeth)
  • Steve Smith (Vital Information / Journey)
  • Kiko Loureiro (Angra / Solo)
  • Zach Myers (Shinedown)
  • Allison Robertson (The Donnas)
3:30pm - 4:30pm
  • Mike Inez (Alice and Chains)
  • John 5 (Rob Zombie/Solo)
  • Herman Li (DragonForce)
  • Sam Totman (DragonForce)
  • Jason Bittner (Shadows Fall)
  • Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater)
  • Tim "Ripper" Owens (Yngwie Malmsteen)
As you can imagine, the booth was a madhouse all weekend long! Once again, check out www.samsontech.com for more information on their products.

I am a drummer, and for me, "Drumland" (AKA Hall D naturally) is the place to be for all things drums. All my favorite companies are there and it is,of course,LOUD AS HELL IN THERE!!!! Seems like by Sunday afternoon, every vendor in Hall D has a sore throat or has completely lost his voice.A highlight, as always,for me is the Rockett Drum works booth www.rockettdrumworks.com run by none other than Poison drummer Rikki Rockett,who is at the booth all weekend, showing, demonstarting, and pitching his inredible line of drums. ‘Its really the OC Choppers of drums" he explains, and I totally agree. These are some of the finest,custom made, all American made, drums that I have ever seen and played. DEFINITELY on my wish list!

Zildgian cymbals are a legendary standard for all drummers. They have been making some of the finest cymabals for drumers for generations. This year even they outdid themselves with the Gen 16 acoustic/electronic cymabals, which was rewarded with the prestigious "NAMM Best in Show" award for 2011.Check this out!

Drum Workshop (www.dwdrums.com) had a very interesting display, as always. This year they spotlighted Rush drummer Neil Peart's incredible touring kit. Above and beyond, one of the coolest and most original drum kits I've ever seen. It goes to show you why they are one of the leaders in today's drum market.

Yes, drums are my passion, and NAMM is a candy store for my inner kid. This convention is also the place where I run into people I have met over the last 30 years or so in the music business. They are all here! In the pro audio section alone, I ran into 3 of my former employers, ( I used to sell Pro- audio equipment ,both wholesale and retail) as I checked out the latest in DJ gear. The leaders in the game, Pioneer and Denon are still kings. It seems like every DJ has gone the way of the computer, so the products are, like everything else, mostly Mac based.

There is just so much to see. I could go on and on, but I have promised myself that this review would be shorter than the epics I have written in the past. Go to www.namm.org and become a NAMM member if you are in the business. If not, then find someone who is and be nice to them and maybe they will get you a pass.

For most, especially the latter, NAMM at night is where the real fun starts. Party central is, and always will be, the lobby of the adjoining Anaheim Hilton. It's packed with salesman and vendors, and artists, (journalists, such as myself, documenting it all) and a LOT of people who are here for the party, and maybe catch a glimpse of their favorite rock star. Yes folks, the groupies are out in full force at the Hilton during NAMM weekend. It's like the movie "Almost Famous" in a lot of ways. I see them every year. Lotsa hotties, dressed in their sexiest new outfits, in packs of 2 or three, trying to hook up with the musician of their dreams. Some successful, some you see drunkenly walking through a parking lot at 3 AM crying, but always fun to watch.

For me, the real fun places at night, are the vendor sponsored shows that take place at the local venues. I live in the area, and have it wired. In years past, the ballrooms at the above mentioned Hilton sponsored the big ones. This year didn't seem to be the case. I think the Hilton brass and NAMM have partnered together to maybe get people out of the Hilton and off to the local venues during NAMM weekend. Great idea if you ask me. Friday night I was invited to a Roland sponsored party at the Anaheim House of Blues, located in "Downtown Disney", part of Disneyland, across the street from the Convention Center. This featured a " Loop Station World Championship" competition sponsored by BOSS (a division of Roland) and a featured performance by guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen and his band.

The Loop Station competition was fun and featured listeners using voice samples to create music using Boss products, and was judged by a panel featuring guitarists Dave Navarro and Steve Stevens, (yes, ladies, his GF was there with him, attached to his hip) a comedian MC followed, and then the stage was set for a blistering set by the maestro himself, Yngwie Malmsteen. Yngwie, along with his terrific band, drummer Patrick Johansson, bassist Bjorn Englun, and vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens tore it up for about 90 minutes worth of some of the finest guitar shredding seen all weekend-and this convention had ALL the best of the best shredders, believe me. Here's a little clip I took with my Iphone,

I decided to head out after that to the Dean Guitars "NAMM JAM" up the street at The Grove, a concert club just outside Angel Stadium in Anaheim. This featured, a fashion show sponsored by Coffin Case and featuring the lovely Coffin Case Models and the Dean Girls modeling all kinds of sexy rock-wear. Also, live performances, by ambidextrous guitarist Michael Angelo Batio and F.O.E (Friends of Entwistle, as in JOHN Entwistle, the late Who bassist), Lesley West, and Michael Schenker (who brought out his former MSG singer Robin McAuley for a few songs). Also appearing were Hell Yeah featuring former Pantera/Damageplan drummer Vinnie Paul and, finally, Megadeth!

I got there just after Hell Yeah had ripped it up. It seemed like EVERYONE in the place had been drinking way too much, the first person I saw was a girl I knew, who was being carried out of the place with her toes dragging on the ground. Needless to say, Megadeth had a great warm up party going, and the crowd was pumped for their killer sweaty set, of which, as always, they delivered. Here's a little taste of some "Peace Sells (But Who's Buying)"


  • Holy WarsThe Punishment Due
  • Hanger 18
  • Wake Up Dead
  • In My Darkest Hour
  • She-Wolf
  • How The Story Ends
  • Head Crusher
  • Symphony Of Destruction
  • Peace Sells (with Holy Wars reprise)
Yes, Friday night was a fun one, Saturday night was a blast as well. I started out at a private cocktail party inside the Avalon Room the Hilton Hotel, thrown by my friends at EMG Pickups ( www.emginc.com). It was to celebrate their 35th anniversary and was packed with vendors and musicians all feasting on the complimentary food and cocktails (especially the cocktails!!!) I got to catch up with some old friends, and met some new ones as well, and the intimate setting was the perfect warm up for my next venture-the Schecter Guitars party, once again at the Grove of Anaheim, featuring none other than Cheap Trick!

Armed with my laminate, I headed out to the Grove feeling no pain at all from all the free drinks and food I'd feasted on. Once inside I made my way down front to see a great set by openers, Burn Halo. Singer James Hart is a great front man and the band played a short set to a crowd that was still filing in, no doubt fresh from their own "warm up". Check these guys out, I really like them .You can hear their song "Dirty Little Girl" on KNAC.COM.

Soon the place got packed and, Cheap Trick hit the stage, after a very cool opening video montage. Opening with "Way Of The World", the band, guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Petersson, and touring drummer Daxx Nielsen (yes, Ricks son) and singer Robin Zander (as well as Phil "Magic" Cristian on keyboards) rocked the place with a wonderful set of songs, both old and new. I have seen Cheap Trick many times over the last few years, and I have to say Robin Zander has never sung better! Even more amazing was, according to a friend who was part of the crew that day, he didn't even do a sound check! A truly professional band in every sense. Highlights for me were "California Man", "Gonna Raise Hell", and my favorite Cheap Trick number "Baby Loves To Rock".

Always fun to watch is guitarist Rick Nielson, who, at 64, can still command the stage, and changes guitars every song and showers the crowd with hundreds of souvenir guitar picks, a bunch of which hit me in the head throughout the set. Here is their set list, and a video clip:

  • Way Of The World
  • California Man
  • Hot Love
  • On Top Of The World
  • I Want You To Want Me
  • Shes Tight
  • High Roller
  • These Days
  • The House Is Rockin (with Domestic Problems)
  • The Ballad Of TV Violence ( I'm Not The Only Boy)
  • Baby Loves To Rock
  • Sick Man Of Europe
  • Closer, The Ballad Of Burt and Linda,
  • Surrender
  • Clock Strikes Ten
  • Dream Police
  • Gonna Raise Hell

Afterwards, I decided to head back to the Hilton to meet up with my girlfriend and have some drinks and some late night fun. Everywhere there were friends and friends of friends, a true drunken, late-night "Love-In". My ultimate Saturday night amongst the people who share my love of the music business and all it offers.

Sunday is always a sad time for me at NAMM. It's the last day, many of my friends have either left town, are out on a final business dinner, or are completely exhausted. I will miss them, some I will not see until the following years convention, others only through e-mail and Facebook chats. I recall a favorite NAMM story from years ago, of leaving the convention hall on a Sunday. As they were turning the lights off and the vendors cheered its end, I relayed my sadness to a friend of mine as we were walking out. "Dude, its not over yet" he said, disbelievingly. We were walking by a booth at the time, and there was an enormous woman using a microphone. "My friend, the fat lady is singing-its OVER!" I explained, and we both had a laugh.

This year, I left the convention center and headed to the Orpheum theater in downtown Los Angeles for my NAMM wrap-up concert, a performance by guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani. Joe has recently released a fine new CD Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards and had been on my show on KNAC.COM the previously week to talk about it. He was gracious enough to leave me two tickets to the show,so my girl and I were treated to a wonderful evening by a guitar master. He has an amazing band, featuring his long-time drummer Jeff Campitelli, bassist Allen Whitman, guitarist Galen Henson, and the incredible talents of Mike Keneally on keyboards. Although I didn't copy down the set list (hell, I had my hands on my girl, and was too busy enjoying the show) I did find a YouTube clip from the show, enjoy-

A true master of his craft. Check out www.joesatriani.com for all the latest.

What a weekend, my thanks to all that continue to help me out, year after year, experience the most amazing musicianship and performances and bring you the finest music products available. Special thanks to Mark and Bagel at Samson, Pat at Sterling Guitars, Loren and everyone at Blackstar Amplification for gear, Curse at Dean, Hap at EMG, JP at Schecter, and all at Roland for getting me set up with laminates for the shows. And of course, all at NAMM for what truly is my Disneyland Here are links to the video interviews I did for VintageRock.com.

Thanks again Shawn for the opportunity. Till next year, this is your "On the spot reporter" for NAMM, your buddy Junkman, saying, "See you next year at NAMM 2012"!

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