NAMM 2015:10 Things We Learned

Categories: NAMM

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John Gilhooley
That's a wrap on NAMM 2015, and like every year, the world's largest music gear convention has left us glazed over after four days of thorough overstimulation. As media, we're just there to take it all in and make sense of it, and while that's a daunting enough task, it's nothing compared to the actual work taking place there. The chasing down of contacts, the putting of names to faces, the handshakes and deal making--NAMM is where, for four winter days at the Anaheim Convention Center, the entire music-making ecosystem meets to plan out the year ahead. That's the major underlying gist of the story. Here are 10 other lessons we learned at this year's NAMM.


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NAMM 2015: Five Things You Gotta See

Categories: NAMM

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John Gilhooley
It's January, so that means NAMM time for Orange County gear heads--and close to 100,000 other vendors, artists, merchants and media from around the world. The Anaheim Convention Center becomes the industry's main nerve for the entire weekend, with artist and equipment showcases spilling over into the local clubs and eateries around the downtown area. Lots grown-up rockers with suits, earrings and ponytails; lots of Berklee grads shredding instruments better than you ever will; and lots of Guitar Center-style noodling on instruments you'll never afford with slightly more leeway for doing so. Classic overstimulation for music dorks.

Heard Mentality will be representing the local music media at this year's installment, and here is what we're looking at so far.


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Jay Baldemor's Gruv Gear Creates Accessories for the Smart, Working Musician

Categories: NAMM

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Courtesy Jay Baldemor
Was it Frank Zappa who said, "Necessity is the mother of invention"? Well, actually, no. This old proverb traces its roots back to Plato. But attributing SoCal's greatest rock & roll pioneer sounds best when it comes to the story of a young Yorba Linda music equipment startup called Gruv Gear.

Let's start with the necessity: Back in the middle part of the last decade, Gruv Gear founder and president Jay Baldemor, 42, was a graphic designer by day who owned a successful commercial operation. By night, Baldemor was a hard-gigging bassist on the south shore club circuit, playing three nights a week in a handful of local bands you may remember--3 Mile Walk, The Ming Band, and Destination 7. Like any bassist with a respectable rig will tell you, Baldemor's gear was a pain in the ass to lug around. "I was playing these gigs on Pine St. in Long Beach, parking in the structure and walking down to the restaurant--it was just killing me."

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NAMM 2014: Five Unusual Finds on the Showroom Floor

Categories: NAMM

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Andrew Youssef
If NAMM is a veritable candy store for musicians, this feral blogger spent the weekend looking for the black licorice--and I managed to find a few oddities on the convention floor.

See also: Protestors Outside NAMM Encourage Attendees to Boycott Guitar Center

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Five Takeaways from NAMM 2014

Categories: NAMM
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It gets bigger every year. NAMM 2014 brought tens of thousands of the world's top music industry professionals, artists, vendors, and buyers to downtown Anaheim for the weekend. The bigness of it all is overwhelming; the intense overhead lights and ambient hum of the convention center overstimulate the senses to the point where everything blurs together, and all that you're left with are memory fragments, notebook scribbles, and washed-out, overexposed smartphone shots of gearporn; aching feet from tramping around Anaheim in rockerboots; and carpel tunnel from one too many devil horns thrown up in front of walls of stacked amps and speaker cabinets.

In sorting out this wild weekend of over-the-top gear, rock stars, and eye candy of all varieties, here are five critical takeaways from NAMM 2014.


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Protesters Outside NAMM Urge Attendees to Boycott Guitar Center

Categories: NAMM

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Brandon Ferguson
Exene standing up for the little guy

A small group of protestors including punk rock icon Exene Cervenka gathered outside the Anaheim convention center Saturday urging NAMM attendees to boycott Guitar Center and instrument company KMC Music Inc. The action stemmed from a claim by two local musicians, Michelle Mangione and Steve Soest, who say their idea for a percussive pedal was stolen by a former Guitar Center VP.

Speaking to the Weekly outside the convention center, Mangione, who recently worked on a song with Cervenka, said she and Soest approached Guitar Center with their prototype back in July 2011.

"We literally had a corporate meeting with them," Mangione said. She specifically named Guitar Center's then VP of Merchandise, Drums and Percussion Mark Nelson, who she said referred to the pedal as an innovative product.


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NAMM 2013: Five Weird Finds on the Showroom Floor

Categories: NAMM
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Andrew Youssef / OC Weekly
As glorious as it is to attend a NAMM show and see acres of pristine, in-the-box musical gear, it's hard to escape the feeling that retailers are trying to reinvent the wheel and find new ways to separate you from your money. Maybe that tweak Evans made to its drum head design is revolutionary, or maybe that's just this year's fancy sales pitch. In any event, I took to the NAMM showroom floor on Sunday to seek out some of the more unusual offerings in the convention. Whether they're the new concepts that will help you reinvent your sound, we'll leave to you to decide.
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