You know you are at NAMM when you take the wrong escalator, find yourself in a room full of stunning guitars and the first people you literally bump into are Gary Holt of Slayer talking with BINX, the South African pop/rock singer known as the “African Bee”. NAMM 2018- its 117th meeting- promises to be bigger and better than ever. With over last year’s 106,000 registrants, a stellar lineup of talent, and new technology at every turn, for artists and journalists it is Christmas in January. NAMM outgrew the Anaheim Convention last year and a new building was added this year specifically for NAMM. The buildings, arena and plazas that house NAMM are full of every conceivable kind of music instrument, technology, and service plus a lot of musicians.
Music rolls out from demonstration booths of the over 7000 brands from 120 countries showcasing drums, pianos, synths, speakers, lighting, orchestra instruments, recording equipment, DJ gear and even VR music technology. The outside stages feature a continuous stream of bands from Lucy and La Mer to the Get Down Boys, Parlor Social and Incindio. Plus the She Rocks Awards, A Roomful of Pianos Concert and the Grand Rally for Music Education featuring Forte, all packed into 4 days.
The Breakfast of Champions kicked off NAMM with the NAMM music for Life award presented to the Grateful Dead co-founder Bob Weir. The new North ACC building is jam-packed full of electronics, DJ gear, virtual control boards, wireless mics, in –ers and every kind of technology an artist could want, even if they did not know they existed.
It also appears that women are a much larger force at NAMM. A gender breakdown of attendees is not available, but a causal tour of the floors of NAMM shows many more women testing guitars, drums, DJ gear, keyboard and playing in the demo booths than I have ever seen. And the marketing is now including women with posters of female drummers, guitar players, singers on full display.
by Patrick O’Heffernan
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