Thursday, January 20, 2011

And So It Begins...

Although I love traveling to Canada, I don't like traveling to Canada when it's cold. I don't do cold. I did cold once, but I didn't like it. So, unless it's something special, southern California looks damn good to me when it's cold in Canada.

As a result, I'm usually in southern California between November and February. The only travel I really do is to the annual winter NAMM Show, which is held in Anaheim, California every January. I've been to this show in various roles, and it's always an absolute blast.

This year, like last, my buddy Mike Gladstone flew out for the show. I've known Mike since I was five years old, and he's a monster guitarist with the Rochester, New York based Uncle Plum. It's always good to see him:

Me and Mike in my kitchen the night before leaving for the winter NAMM Show

So we drove up to Anaheim on Wednesday, January 12. We always go up the day before the show starts to finalize everything we want to do at the show, as well as get together for some monster eating. This year would be no different, as we took a large group of European folks to dinner with us. They're a pretty eclectic bunch, but a lot of fun. It's become a tradition for us to converge on Buca Di Beppo in Anaheim:

"The crew" at Buca Di Beppo in Anaheim

On Thursday, the fun starts. The doors to the Anaheim Convention Center swing open, and the madness begins.

Some of the characters who show up at NAMM are pretty priceless. It's as if this is the one time during the year theyget to cut loose and lose all sense of decorum. While most see fit to dress as they do every other day of the year, others decide to, well, let's just say they kick it up a notch:

Classy, yet very pink
While some pull out their "NAMM best" for the show, some others decide to just go off the deep end altogether:

I bet his Mom is proud

Throughout the course of the show, various celebrities and rock stars either simply attend the show, or they're on hand to make appearances for various exhibitors. In the past, I've seen Keanu Reeves, Bootsy Collins, Eric Johnson, David Crosby, Ted Nugent, Steven Seagal, John Entwistle (of The Who), Goo Goo Dolls, Eric Johnson, and Carlos Santana. You never know who's going to show up, and you never know what they're gonna' do.

This year, I was fortunate enough to be backstage at a performance featuring Kevin Hearn and Ed Robertson of the Canadian band Barenaked Ladies. I shot BNL back in July, and was able to spend the day with them. This time, however, after shooting them, I got an invite to dinner and, I have to say, Ed Robertson is simply the funniest guy I have ever met. We were doubled over laughing in the middle of McCormick & Schmick's, surely pestering those dining at neighboring tables.

Not that we cared.

Hangin' with Ed Robertson backstage

Ed Robertson backstage at NAMM

Aside from hanging with celebrities of various form, it's most fun seeing good friends. Sometimes, the only time I get to see some of these folks is when NAMM comes to town. Some are from the music industry, but some are just those people you wish you could see more often:

Me and John Geiger poolside at the Marriott. It's become an annual tradition.

Brent Moss and Dave Lauzon partying at the Hilton after-show party

Regardless of how many old friends I get to see, though, I enjoyed this year's show most of all because, for the first time, I got to hang with my daughter. The last time she came to this show, she was... well, a lot younger than she is now. She'll be 25 soon, and the dynamic is very different now. She's not a kid anymore, and it's kinda' cool:

Me and my daughter at NAMM

After four days, the show wraps up. The stages are torn down, the guitars are packed away, and we begin the 90 minute drive back to San Diego. As fast as it started, it's over, and we've got a year to recuperate.

I can't wait for next year...

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