The People at NAMM Are Weirder Than Most of the Instruments

Daniel Kohn
The gentlemen of Blue Felix
Prior to parking my car on Day 2 of the NAMM convention (which incidentally was my first time ever), I'd already pumped myself up for a day full of musical exploration in this temporary gearhead paradise. But after scanning the parking lot on a rainy afternoon on my way into the Anaheim Convention Center, I realized that this trip would offer more than just a look into a world of crazy ass instruments and technology. It would be a look at the crazy ass people who are obsessed with it. The chance to see folk from all walks of life in an amplified state of music geekdom would prove to be far more interesting than then the convention itself.

Upon entry it seemed like all of the strange characters and miscreants who Hunter S. Thompson described in many of his books seemed to all convene at NAMM. Yes, it should be noticed that musicians, vendors and the like aren't exactly suit-wearing business types, but I don't think I was ready for the massive swarm of mullets, leather jackets and acid wash jeans that awaited me at the door. It was as if the hair metal era literally took a dump on the showroom floor. I had never seen so many Vince Neil/Stacee Jaxx look-alikes in my life, and if the dudes didn't look like him, they certainly looked stereotypically like they worked at the guitar store in Wayne's World.

I should have known better since a buddy of mine who owns a successful clothing company and had frequented the event as a vendor until this year warned me about the types of people who would be at the event. I shrugged his words off, figuring that he was just being cynical. Alas, per usual, his wisdom proved to be correct.

Daniel Kohn
Rummaging past instruments (mainly of the brass variety) that reminded me of the ghost of my geeky high school band days, I did manage to see a lot of cool shit. The endless rows of guitars all seemed rad along with the different models of string instruments like violins, cellos etc. Weaving in and out of each row, there seemed to be two types of vendors: ones who were swamped by curious musicians and the one who looked sad that he/she wasted thousands of dollars to not ring up any sales or at least drum up interest in their respective brand. I felt for these people and headed over to check out their products, especially the poor guy with the graffiti guitars and multi-colored flutes, even if I wasn't the least bit inclined to buy anything. But hey, at least I got to noodle around on some cool guitars, saxophones and keyboards!

Truthfully, though the crowd was pretty weird, the real freaks seemed to gravitate toward the autograph booths filled with musicians I'd never heard of. As a music writer, I'd like to think that I have knowledge in who musicians are, however, judging by the signing schedule, I think I heard of maybe six (Mike Inez of Alice In Chains, Fieldy from Korn, Scott Ian from Anthrax, Zakk Wylde, the drummer from Iron Maiden and Victor Wooten) of the hundreds of people who fans waited in line for. After seeing one dude signing who I'd never heard of before, I asked someone who just got an autograph who that person was. He looked at me dumbfounded and shrugged his shoulders and kept moving.

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