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How To Survive Summer NAMM

Well it’s already time for 2017 Summer NAMM. I’ve missed it the last couple years but my sponsor, Stone Tone, decided he wanted me to do the show. On top of that I was going to be breaking in my brand new Viper RN prototype guitar that was literally finished a couple days before I flew out. This would be it’s big test using it for all my demos and subjecting it to the crazy Nashville heat.

On a related note, the cool peeps at Gator Cases offered to give me one of their cool gig bags for the new guitar to use for my trip. Well, the bag arrived on Monday (I was flying out Wednesday afternoon). The gig bag ruled as did the guitar.

I had a very crazy NAMM schedule but I was up for the challenge. As always I had my usual fun with the LAX TSA. (They always pick me out and have a field day with my gig bag.) It wasn’t too bad this time and I boarded my flight relatively painlessly and got even got my gig bag into the overhead without any hassle from the flight attendants. Once at my seat I noticed I had my entire row to myself as we were backing away from the ramp. This is a major score, Once we were an hour into our trip I pulled all the armrests up and laid across all the seats like a bed. It was awesome! I literally fell asleep and woke up when we were landing.

Seemed like my 4 hour flight was literally an hour long. Once on the ground I had to text my friend Cissy to tell her I was on the ground so she could come get me. I got my luggage quickly and I was off to find my friend who was parked right outside the door. It was 12:30am and 95 degrees (Welcome to Nashville). Once we were on the road I realized I was hungry and decided I wanted to hit the McDonalds drive thru before we went to the house where I was staying. Well that was easier said than done in Nashville. After 30 minutes of driving around and finding 4 closed McDonalds we finally found an open Jack N the Box…Good enough for me… we grabbed some food and headed to the house.

Of course, we got lost but my friend who lived there talked us in. Once there we all chatted in the kitchen while I scarfed down my kids meal. I then crashed. By the time I got to bed it was 2am. The alarm went off at 7am and by 8am we were scarfing pancakes at the now-open McDonalds.

Now we were off to day one of the show.I was staying a little out of downtown Nashville so we had a 15 minute drive in to town. Cissy dumped me off at the show the first day since she had other stuff to do in town. Well as soon as I walked into lobby, I ran into literally 10 peeps from LA. Thirty minutes later I finally made it to the registration line to get my NAMM badge.

Once in the show all the fun started, after I figured out where the Stone Tone booth was I checked in and met all the other artists performing for the show.Everyone was very cool which was great since we were going to be a team for the weekend doing our individual demos and showcasing Stone Tone products. The first day was pretty easy going and we all pretty much played when we wanted. In between my demos I went to see a few of my other sponsors at the show and of course they invited me to come by and play. I told then I would come by on Friday and play for them since I would know my schedule at Stone by then and before you knew it day one was over.

 

 It’s not Summer NAMM unless you hang with an Alligator. With my sponsor Jeff Heitmann from Viper Guitars and the Gator Cases Gator

 

I got invited to a few NAMM parties at night, so when Cissy finally arrived at the end we decided to hit the NAMM mixer in the convention center before we hit any of the parties and then joined my friend for dinner. We arrived at the mixer ( it had free drinks) grabbed some drinks and chilled thinking that’s all there was. Well, to our surprised both Crystal Gayle and Patti Smith performed. I was blown away.

We then hit the Gator Cases party downtown. Their event was cool with open bar and finger foods. It was in a cool old factory. After the party we met up with my friend that I was staying with for some sushi. After dinner I was toast and went back to the house to crash.

Before you knew it I was having pancakes again at McDonalds and I was in the show. Friday was a blur. I played a couple times for Stone Tone where they filmed us and we had great crowds and then I did a live webcast for Eventide at their booth and did a demo at Zt Amplifiers. We left the show a little early to go to my sponsor GoGo Tuners party at the Acme Club on Broadway where Johnny Hiland was playing. After finally finding parking we went in and I immediately ran into my good friend Bobby. He says “follow me,” and it turns out he was sitting at Johnny’s table with his peeps next to the stage. We had a great view and some crazy drinks. All the acts playing were amazing and as always Johnny killed it.

After Johnny finished Bobby had the great idea to hit the Epiphone guitars party across the street at the Hard Rock Cafe. Well I told him we didn’t have passes for that one and he assured me that wouldn’t be an issue. Sure enough, there was tight security at the party but Bobby talked to the girl at the check in desk and they let us in ( I have no idea what he told her). It was really a great event and Johnny A was the headliner and they had great food. Again all the bands performing were great. We had so much fun and I saw so many friends and was even able to get my friend Jeff and his wife in as well (Jeff owns Viper Guitars, my sponsor). We were originally supposed to hit yet another party but decided to just stay put since we were having a great time.

Cathy Duncan (Seymour Duncan) came by the Stone Tone Products booth to say hello. It’s always great seeing her and I’ve been a Seymour Duncan artist forever…

 

Then, suddenly, it was Saturday–the last day of the show. After the usual breakfast, we drove into town in the pouring rain and hit the show at 10:30 am. I checked in at Stone Tone, put my gear there and tried to see the show a bit. Well as always I ran into a few peeps I knew and really didn’t see anything but was able to say hello to a few sponsors. I did my demo at StoneTone and then it was 4 pm and the end of the show.

I hung at the booth a little after to say my good byes to everyone and helped pack a bit.It was also great that my  guitar survived the show and worked perfectly all weekend. Cissy then asked me what I wanted to do on my last day in town (I was flying out at 6am then next day…)

I wanted to try to go to the Blue Bird Cafe which–as always it seems–was sold out (it’s very small). Then Cissy asked me if I was up for some real Nashville BBQ and I was definitely into it. We drove a little out of town to a cool place called Poppa Turney’s on the lake. It was a real life Juke Joint. The food was awesome and it was great to meet the owners Mike and Irene and hang with them a bit by the lake. We’re definitely friends now for sure. Everyone was so nice and it was a great way to wind down from a crazy week at NAMM.

After dinner I returned to the house packed and quickly passed out. Before you knew it the alarm went off at 4:30 am on Sunday and Cissy picked me up at 5am and we were off to the airport. I got there in nothing flat only to be stuck in both a very slow check in line and even slower TSA line. I literally walked right onto the plane even though I got there way early but was delayed by the super slow lines in the airport ( seems that always happens to me in Nashville). I got on the plane no prob and again no one hassled me about my gig bag.Unfortunately the plane was sold out so I didn’t have my whole row to myself again. On top of all that I had the most uncomfortable seat ever (I’m still sore a week later…lol). We landed at 9am LA time only to find out that our gate had a plane stuck in it and all the American Airline mechanics are apparently off on Sundays. An hour and forty minutes later we finally deplaned. It was great to finally be off the plane but then our luggage never showed up on our assigned belt. After 20 minutes of waiting alongside all the other passengers from my flight they finally made an announcement that our luggage was now on a belt two belts down and of course all the luggage was already there which makes me suspect it was there the entire time.

My girlfriend unfortunately loped around LAX 10 time before I finally came out. Well as soon as I got into the car I was was like lets eat. We went straight to our fave local Mexican restaurant. It was so good. We then came home laid in bed and watched TV the remainder of the day before we both passed out. Oh yeah, it was 200 degrees cooler in LA. I survived another Summer NAMM. Before you know I’ll be at Winter NAMM in January.

About the author

Bill Evans

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