Having recently returning from playing 2013 Summer NAMM in Nashville in July for my sponsor FXConnectx at the brand new Nashville Convention Center, I thought I’d run you through my week in Nashville.
We flew in the day before NAMM on Wednesday so I would have a day to get settled before NAMM…plus I wanted to attend the Artist Relations pre NAMM event that I was invited to.
We were sitting at LAX at 4am getting ready to board our flight to Nashville…on that note; I always take my guitar on board with me and never check it which definitely has lead to some tense moments in recent years.
So far, I’ve always been able to talk my way though it. And rightfully so, since what happened to Steve Vai’s guitar a few weeks ago when he checked his guitar on tour and the headstock of his guitar was promptly snapped off.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a few friends in LAX that were also on our flight to NAMM.
Of course, I had to get a $14 vanilla shake thing from the Starbucks in the terminal while we were waiting to board. As usual my assistant Karen came with me on the trip: she definitely keeps me organized when we fly. We got on the flight and, luckily, nobody hassled me about bringing my guitar on board. Southwest Airlines is usually pretty cool about that even though I have had to battle with various flight attendants from time to time…lol.
We had a bumpy fight, but for the most part, as usual, I slept through most of it.
After we landed and claimed our luggage, we caught a cab and headed to our hotel…which looked like a bomb had been dropped on it. Apparently they forgot to tell us they were renovating the hotel when we booked the room.
Our room was fine, however, the lobby and hall ways were trashed. You get used to these things after a few years and you just deal with it.
We had planned on hitting a pre-NAMM event and then getting in a little sight seeing around downtown Nashville.
Things, as usual, got turned all around and my pre-NAMM event had to be scrapped. We ran long at the convention center when were dialing in my new FXC rig that we were debuting at the show. They had installed some cool new gear in my system and we had to make sure everything was working correctly.
This was my first chance at using the gear since the new components in my rig were installed in their Florida factory and I live in Los Angeles.
While we were able to dial it in pretty quick, I ran into lots of industry friends so I chatted with everyone trying to catch up before I knew it the day was over.
It was then we decided to attend the NAMM mixer that was happening there in the convention center. It’s always a fun event and they have cool food and open bar.
This year they had Buddy Miles doing his Hendrix tribute thing which was really cool.
While we were at the event I got a text from my new Nashville-based record label inviting us to dinner. We talked a little shop and had a grand time over a nice Mexican dinner.
After dinner we were a little beat so we headed back to the hotel. I unpacked and laid out what I was wearing at the show in the morning, and double checked my gig bag to make sure my gear was already to go.
I managed to then check some emails and watch some wacky Nashville TV for a bit before passing out around 3:30am.
The alarm went off at 7:30am to start our day.
I usually don’t eat breakfast, but since you never know when you’re going to eat at a trade show, I wanted to have something in my stomach. This morning I took advantage of our hotel’s complimentary breakfast bar.
After we ate we caught a cab to the show. I had a busy first day scheduled with demo events with my sponsors FXC and Eventide at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.
Once we arrived, it was on. Starting immediately at 10, the hours flew by and my 1 p.m. date was upon me before I knew it.
It was great seeing and talking to everyone at my demos and all went well. We did manage to squeeze in time for lunch and checked out the pizza in the cafe in the lobby in the convention center. The food was surprising good; most the time the food is horrible and over priced in these venues.
After returning to floor to play some more, the day continued to fly by and before I knew it they were making the announcement that day one of 2013 Summer NAMM was over.
Once back at the hotel once again I got all my stuff ready for the next day at the show, checking to make sure everything was holding up. On that note, I take tools with me just in case I have to do some on the spot repairs. When possible I bring a whole guitar repair shop with me. On occasion, I have completely ripped a guitar apart to fix it on the spot at trade shows.
When flying you have to cut the amount of your gear away down because of weight restrictions and you can only bring so much before they try to charge you extra. I try to bring what I need to keep me going if an emergency hits.
The Nashville heat also takes a toll on your guitar. When playing there previously my strings always got all rusted because of the humidity and I would have to change them halfway through the show. Recently, I switched string endorsement to Cleartone strings.
Cleartone strings are coated so not only did they survived the entire show, they still sounded fresh on the last day.
On Friday morning we decided to do a photo shoot in scenic downtown Nashville. We decided to take the cab to Broadway an hour before the show, and then just walk to the convention center which is just a couple blocks away.
Well, Nashville is stupid hot in July. It was way over a 100 degrees the entire time with crazy humidity. However, it wasn’t that bad at 9 a.m., so we were able to get some great shots.
Back at the convention center it was going to be a busy day since FXC was having Guitar World Magazine come down and shoot a segment of me going through the features of the FXC switching system.
I also met lots of cool people, including a few from Peerless guitars who invited me to come by their booth and check out their instruments…which I managed to do after we had lunch.
They make some cool hollow body guitars. These are usually not my thing but he convinced me to try one. I did sit down and take one for a spin and it was cool. It was a trip making it do stuff that it wasn’t supposed to do. I was sitting there in the corner of the booth with their little combo wanking away and when I looked up there was a small crowd watching me.
I was a little startled since I had gone off into my own world while trying out the guitar.
When they asked me what I thought of the guitar. I told him I thought it was cool but I usually only play guitars with trems. Gary of Peerless asked if I would like one if they got a trem put on and I said yes…so then I had to pick a cool color.
I couldn’t decide, so I had Karen pick one (She picked a cool Cherry sunburst one).
I then raced back to the FXC booth played some more and did some more press.
Once again the day flew by and I still hadn’t had a chance to see the show at all.
Since it was the last night of NAMM the FXC guys decided to take everyone out to dinner to celebrate what a great show they were having with tons of traffic at their booth. We had a great time at dinner and they really are a great crew
< p>After dinner, Karen and I decided to go walking around Nashville and maybe have a beer and watch some cool local music. We ended up on Printer Alley which is a cool alley where there’s a stretch of bars that feature live music.
It?s really amazing how great the musicianship is in Nashville… everyone is just so good. We had a nice night hanging out and then headed back to the hotel. Once back, I had to pack up everything since we were checking out in the morning.
We had a good last day at the show; I even managed to get a few new endorsements along the way.
Before I knew it we were on a plane heading back to LA…..Oh yeah, as always my luggage was way heavier coming home. We were at the airport early enough where we had time to get something to eat. While waiting to board I got a couple calls from local Nashville friends saying it was fun hanging out.
That’s one of the best parts of traveling when you play these events. You make new friends everywhere and it?s always great meeting fans, too. I’ve met so many great peeps over the years all over the world.
It was a great trip and we killed it at the FXC booth and apparently we made a splash in most guitar magazines in their Summer NAMM coverage.
I hope you enjoyed getting a little look at my Nashville NAMM adventure. That being said, guitar clinics that bring back to Nashville again in the fall….it never ends but I wouldn’t want it any other way. This is what I do…all with a guitar in my hands.
– Ronny North