As I promised in my last column here’s a playback of my 2014 Winter NAMM adventures.
As always, the Tuesday before the show I attend the Artist Relations Pre-NAMM event—always a fun hang and I get to see cool new gear and friends.This year Tuesday was my assistant Karen’s B-Day so we did a B-Day dinner with friends at the Rainbow Bar & Grill (Hollywood tradition). It was a late night and I had to get home and pack for the week of NAMM—as I was performing for a few of my sponsors as well as headlining the 2014 Winter NAMM kick off concert.
So, I get to NAMM the day before the show starts, check into my hotel, dump off all the luggage, and go to get my NAMM badge. Once I go into the hall, I check in with the show floor manager and get the forms that allow me to bring my gear in and out of the show through out the week (This is only possible with certain NAMM badges). After that is handled, I check in with the sponsors I’m playing for to make sure we’re all set for my demos on the first day of the show. Inevitably, I run into lots of friends which is always fun but this time, I only had a limited amount of time since I was headlining the 2014 Winter NAMM kick off concert.
We managed to get out of of the hall on time and decided to try to get some dinner. Well, that didn’t happen since I had to load in my gear for my performance that night. We walked to our hotel and I got my car and drove it to the Hilton (which is next to the Convention Center). Of course, the valet didn’t want to let me park for a minute so I could unload my gear. After a few minutes of negotiating with him, he let me park at the curb for 5 minutes. We quickly unloaded all my cases. Karen sat with the gear while I took the car back to our hotel, which was just 2 minutes away.
When I returned, we rolled all my cases next to the NAMM stage in the Hilton’s lobby. Since I have performed at the NAMM concerts several times over the years I have made some friends in the NAMM sound crew so it was great seeing everyone and catching up. I checked in with the FOH mixer to let him know I was there and what my stage requirements were (something I always do when I perform).
After we loaded in all the gear I realized that I was only going to have time to go back to our room and change into my stage outfit before I had to be back to the Hilton. We went back to the room and while I got ready I fielded a few calls from friends and bandmates. Then I quickly went through my stretching regime (a new thing for me…) and we were on our way back to the stage.
I like to get to a gig no less than an hour before show time. I got all my gear ready to go and made sure all my guitars were in tune and ready for battle. Then I went through the set list for our performance with my band. We decided to go big and open with my brand new song “Chasing the Flag” off my next CD. We had never played it live before.
The fun part was we were trying out a lot of brand new gear for my performance. Lets go through it. First off I was using a brand new FXC switching system that we had just programmed a couple days before NAMM and I didn’t get to use it at any of our rehearsals. I was also using my brand new Floyd Rose strat that I just got a couple weeks before and to top it off, since I was getting lots of heat about stage volume, I decided to not use any speaker cabs and use the brand new Two Notes Torpedo that lets you run your amp head direct. The unit has a load box and simulates your speakers and has virtual mics. State of the art for sure and the first time ever I didn’t use speaker cabs on stage.
I was definitely worried about that but on the plus side I was able to crank my amp. We did a quick line check a few minutes before my performance and the sound crew put me in all the stage wedges and we were ready to go. Well, my performance went great and the crowd really dug it and all my gear worked perfectly without a hitch and my guys killed it. After we got off stage I hung out for a bit and met everyone and chatted with friends. Then I realized that we forgot to eat dinner. Well, at 2AM we were at the I-Hop on the corner with my good friend Bill having some late night pancakes for dinner. I was already exhausted and we had the whole week of the show to go. In my next column we’ll dive into NAMM and the adventures of doing demos at the show for my sponsors….