Welcome to Reviews OnLine: NAMM's 100th Birthday Party
NAMM's 100th Birthday Party
2001 Style
by Jim Bennett (January 2001)

NAMM ( National Association Of Music Merchants) recently had their 100th birthday party which included:

  • a fan appreciation gathering,
  • a retro rock tour,
  • a musical gig,
  • an equipment hardware expo,
  • the software hypefest,
  • up-scale musical offerings,

    along with a good ol' fashion annual reunion of some of the music industry's largest companies and most talented artists.

    The Anaheim Convention Center (ACC) hosted this event after its $185 million dollar expansion and face-lift. Billions of dollars have also been spent in the surrounding neighborhood by the likes of Disney, major hotel chains and local government. During the jamming event, the entire area looked and sounded like a Musical Disneyland in overdrive, for all ages and musical tastes.

    The show boasted over 1,300 exhibitors and 70,000 attendees who seemed to be everywhere -- day and night. The hard driving and inspiring musical showcases turned this event into what seemed to be a cross between E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo with all its computer games and e-gizmos, NAB with its visual broadcasting and audio delights and the free spirited, Burning Man Celebration held in Nevada's Black Rock Desert The new, expanded venue could barely handle the crowded and chaotic attendees, who could use even more space. There was no sign of an economic recession with all the buying, selling and networking taking place at this music time event.

    Guitar Gigs and Enduring Amps

    Many very talented guitarists demonstrated their skills on their sponsor's equipment to adoring fans. I noticed the trend of combining new and powerful software systems into guitars that can enable players to have "keyboard-like powers" to produce some incredible sounding music, with Las Vegas showman type sizzle.

    Combining this technology with outrageous costumes and makeup have proven to be irresistible to young

    and older fans alike

    such as the Kiss influenced presentation

    and the hard driving, surfing driven, rock music of the Ripper.

    Roland's Boss 8 track hard disk digital recording studio is a hardware-based system that truly expands a guitar's capabilities. It provides simultaneous effects, utilizes many rhythm tracks, has easy-to-use controls with an LCD screen. All for under $1000!

    Many companies were showing a wide variety of software based systems, mostly under $1000, which allow you to plug a guitar into your computer's USB port and their interface box. You can then start making music by using the MIDI interface, along with over 100 different effects. You can even mix your music, while looking cool and crazy to your fans -- that's music in the 21st century and it's only the beginning.

    One of the prime movers of the modern musical amplifier, is the gracious Mr. Marshall, founder of the Marshall Amplifier family, who was on hand to sign tee shirts for long lines of fans. His experience and depth of amplifier knowledge spans several decades and was truly impressive.

    Flower Power


    The Ernie Ball exhibit was is full retro mode, as demonstrated by its Hippie theme and large crowds drawn to such icons as a fully painted Hippie Volkswagen microbus. Reproduction posters of San Francisco and other west coast hippie rock concert venues of the era hung throughout the display, among an impressive display of the latest rock musical instruments.

    Hard driving hippie rock music by a wide variety of visiting artists made this into a mini Woodstock without the mud or drugs.

    While not even born during the hippie era, two blonde Playmates were in the area to sign pictures for adoring fans. Dressed in tight, form-fitting, black leather pants with well turned out hairstyles these were lovely and personable ladies. Both were music fans and remarked how large and diverse the NAMM expo was this year.

    Classic Music and Traditional Jazz

    Leblanc Musical Instruments displayed many of its products in an elegantly crafted display, centered on a huge array of fresh cut flowers. This created a restful quiet retreat to listen and sample their products, among the hustle and bustle of the rest of the show floor. Their knowledgeable representatives presented their musical wares like a luxury automotive dealership would.

    Antigua Winds also used an upscale approach to highlight its saxophones, by displaying a nicely restored silver Porsche Speedster, among its instruments. The display attracted many attendees to listen to the smooth sax sounds and admire the Speedster.

    As activities moved into the evening, true musical icons such as Pete Fountian played his saxophones to capacity crowds at a special concert, with expert skill honed by decades of experience. His performance was truly top caliber and of the highest professional level.

    At the close of the concert, was a special presen- tation to Larry Larkin for his years of service to NAMM in helping build it into a truly modern and international organization. Great job Larry -- a job well done and a fitting tribute at NAMM's 100th birthday party.

    As with any musical gathering, the music continued long after the main concerts ended with hot jazz and jam sessions. Musicians in the audience would come up the stage and play a few tunes to the wee morning hours. Enjoyment and love of music will be the main driving forces of the music industry in its long term future.

    HAPPY 100th NAMM and many happy returns!

    Copyright 2001 Jim Bennett All rights reserved.

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