I’ll be honest…I was dreading having to go to NAMM this year. But I learned something really important.

For a few reasons, but the primary one being that last year’s show was a drag. It was the heart of the recession, everyone was walking around with a sullen face, there wasn’t much creativity happening and nobody was spending any money. Gone was the swag of yesteryear. The mood last year was that the party was over. And the Convention Center floor was just as lifeless to me. Okay, maybe some people not in the business found some fun here and there, but to most of us working the conference in 2011, it was anything but a total good time.


So when the Live2Play/SPL team were gearing ourselves up for this year’s show, I was having a hard time caring. Thank god the rest of the team didn’t share my nonchalance—they came up with some awesome ideas for this year and because of that our show was the best it’s ever been.


And the show itself was totally different this year. It being an election year and all, there has been plenty of mud slinging and negative energy slinging, and there are a lot of people still very unhappy with the economy. Obviously, we haven’t witnessed a 180 degree turnaround yet. But—oddly enough—NAMM 2012 DID.


The floor was brimming with new technology, never before seen ideas, and the palpable energy of real excitement. Big companies and small companies alike announced products that were not only revolutionary, but risky. iPads and touch screens were everywhere on everything, and for the first time in a long time, the integration of the technology actually makes sense because it makes your life as a musician easier. Of course, there are gimmicks at any trade show, but there were truly few of them that were useless this year. It’s like suddenly the manufacturing talent out there all simultaneously decided to hit the “Create Genius” button. It was awesome.


And now back to me. I learned a valuable lesson in the midst of all this awesomeness. I can’t remember who said it, but someone turned to me at some point early on and said, “It’s like everyone just decided they didn’t want it to suck anymore.” And that was definitely it.


We—after all—are MUSICIANS DAMN IT. The spirit of inspiration and survival lives in us even when other people are sad sacking in their whiskey. We don’t have time to be down. Because let’s face it, in this country—still so mired in fighting and politricks, and social problems—we ARE the party. Without us, the music stops. The dancing stops. The sex, drugs and rock and roll (okay, don’t tell your mom I said that) stops. Without us first dances at weddings, and great graduation tunes, and the music that makes us cringe in the movie theater when the killer walks up the stairs stops. Without us—INSPIRATION stops.


So, it was nice to be reminded of that simple fact this NAMM. When creative geniuses decide to get busy, there can be no stopping their positive flow. When musicians decide to keep playing, there is no negative news show worth watching and no politician that can divide us.


And sometimes all it takes is a good kick in the pants reminder to remember that it’s a choice whether to be on the train to despair or the party boat.


Originally posted 2012-03-26 00:57:35.