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Blog #1 - NAMM 2014
The Namm show is a yearly event that happens in January (and summer but I never attended that). I've been lucky enough to attend this event with ESP guitars for the last 4 years. The last two, I've been promoting my own signature guitar which I'm very fortunate to have made by, in my opinion, one of the leading manufacturers of guitars around today. This particular year, I was in for more of a whirlwind visit for just two days all the way from the U.K starting on the Friday.
It's already crazy as I get to the ESP booth, I realise I had missed the memo as I had a performance at 11, before that a quick interview with Premier Guitar. So I stroll up to the convention thinking I've got all the time in the world and then boom, it starts lol. But, you have to roll with situations as things change all the time, especially life as a musician. So I'm setting up and I've got a new DV Mark Multiamp which I'm using, load my sounds up, plug it in and it sounds like I'm playing next door arghhhh! So, Premier Guitar are ready, I have to quickly plug into the nearest amp to get a tone, which was a Hayden as ESP have signed with them to promote and distribute the amps. Not bad as it goes, but all guitarists know, you play best when you have your tone ;).
So........ Now comes the moment that an interviewer asks you to just play something, I'm like errrrrr, and all of a sudden, of all the things I could pull out my brain to play, my mind goes blank and reduced to playing the most basic thing that comes to mind. I am very much a player that does get nervous in certain situations, especially when a crowd is watching. What makes this easier to deal with in my mind is to know what I'm going to play, then play it. The opening lick goes ok, then comes the time to talk about the guitar, which was my prototype 7 string AJ-1 that will hopefully become a model available soon.. Interview done time to shred!!!.
Regressing back, the Multiamp wasn't faulty, human error more specifically lol. If you run your set up in mono, it needs to be in bridge mode not stereo. Proper Homer Simpson doh! moment. Early morning clinics take a certain brain state, as musician flare doesn't kick in until later at night when the brain has acknowledged the intake of a few whisky's to kick start the performer gene lodged in the back of my brain.
Clinic 2 at DV Mark was a welcome change, I get to sit down and play. Brain is very happy about this, and can relax a bit more into playing for an enthusiastic yet intimate crowd. Now, following Marco Sfogli is no mean feat, as the guy is like the smoothest, bang on player I've ever seen, a long side Martin Miller and Jeff Loomis, hypnotic is a word I would use to describe any musician that plays with such grace and flare and these guys have it in bucket loads. I think I played ok, no one walked off which is always good ;). One of two highlights that day was to occur soon after my DV clinic and that was, to be summoned into the EMG meeting room to meet the great Geezer Butler. He was a pleasure to meet and was very complimentary about my playing as he was exposed to a few of my EMG videos courtesy of Chrys Johnson. When you get recognition from guys like that, you can only shake their hand and thank them for the compliment as the other option to faint and collapse before them, I would say is probably less dignified.
Later on there was the opportunity to sit down with the guys at Young Guitar Magazine and talk to them about all things AJ, what's going on, that kinda stuff. Young Guitar signifies two things to me. 1) the Japanese market is always a bucket list goal to accomplish as the guitar scene has and still continues to thrive and facilitates the careers guitarists predominantly in the instrumental domain. Not saying I'm anywhere near breaking Japan, but to be sought out by the leading guitar publication gracing the shores of Japan, it's a good start. 2) Growing up, it was always a magazine I wanted to be featured in as seeing some of my heroes such as Gilbert, Malmsteen, Wylde, Petrucci gracing the covers month to month, it makes it feel like you're getting somewhere when they contact you for an interview. That's not to put down any of the British publications such as Metal Hammer, Total Guitar and Guitar Techniques, which were also milestones of media acceptance, but Young Guitar just has that edge for me.
So really highlight 3 of the day (instead of the aforementioned two) was the DV Mark/Mark World event that Friday evening. Prior to Namm, I spent the days before learning two of Marco Sfogli's songs (and he two of mine) to perform with Franck Hermanny on bass and Damien Schmidt on drums. With no prior rehearsals and just sound check, we nailed the fuck out those tunes and had a blast doing it. Also playing that evening was Frank Gambale and Greg Howe with his band Maragold. Two legends I never thought I would ever have shared the stage with, but guess what, it happened!
So that's just day one! Now you know why people clamber over themselves to go to the "event not open to the public" lol. Maybe Namm should finally change its name to NAAWCGAT National Association of anyone who can get a ticket! I think it should be a public event, everyone knows it is!