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Junkman’s Annual (Better Late Than Never) NAMM Opus: The “Wild Weekend” Revisited

By Junkman, On-Air Personality
Sunday, March 4, 2007 @ 9:36 AM


"Hey Junkman, can I buy you a

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As many of you know, every third week of January, I step aside from everyday life to attend the annual NAMM convention in Anaheim Ca. NAMM is the National Association of Music Merchants convention, and is held at the Anaheim Convention center. It is intended for music retailers, manufacturers, and endorsees of the products, as well as members of the press, (me) but a few thousand others seem to show up, either to attend the convention, or to party at the surrounding hotel gathering spots to mingle with members of the music business or to just hook up with someone connected...the latter, being some kind of twisted “MySpace”-style scenario.

Since I have worked in just about every aspect of the music business, over the years, there are many scenarios taking place over this particular weekend, and all are not only amusing to me, but also addicting. I HAVE to attend this convention, I LIVE for it. Its my favorite weekend of the entire year, not only for a social sense, but it keeps me in tune (excuse the pun) with what’s new and exciting in the business I love and have chosen to make my living with.

In years past, I have documented this convention like a diary. Many have told me that my past articles about NAMM were perfect for those that didn’t attend-it was just like being there and seeing it all. The only problem with that was that it took me the better part of a month or more to organize all the information that I absorbed. So, for the purpose of deadlines and getting out the information that I ABSORBED (my key word) in a timely matter, here are some of the highlights that I observed from Winter NAMM 2007. I hope you enjoy my adventures.

Although I missed attending on opening day, Thursday1/18, I hit the halls of the convention center at the opening of 10 am Friday morning on a mission. As is my practice, after attending NAMM for the last 22 years or so, if you are to attend a night time event, get your passes early and hold on to them. So, after doing my homework and finding out which events I wanted to attend, I gathered an impressive group of laminates to attend a multitude of events throughout the weekend. “Multi-Eventing” is something I have become quite good at, and this particular weekend, as a member of the press, its kind of a necessity.

That being done, it was time to check out the new products, which is what this convention is supposed to be about. I ventured over to the Peavey booth, and was greeted, as always, by my friend Dave Ellefson, bassist for the awesome band F5, who works as a rep for Peavey. Peavey has had a long history of being artist-friendly, as well as media friendly, and today I was invited to a press conference by the great guitarist Joe Satriani to introduce his latest Peavey product.

This time, it was the third in the successful JSX line of signature amps, the Peavey JSX Mini Colossal. This particular amplifier is a small-sized, full sounding “little brother” to the JSX combo Amp. Perfect for those in tight spaces and many other applications, this affordable piece really screams. Joe Satriani himself, was there to talk about the many features, and though he didn’t play guitar,(he’s endorsed by Ibanez) he and Peavey’s product manager demonstrated what this amp was capable of. For more info on this and many more exciting Peavey products, go to www.peavey.com.

I spoke with Joe briefly afterwards and congratulated him on his recent DVD “Joe Satriani Live”, of which I was at the taping of. “You’re all over that” he exclaimed, and was off to meet a huge line at the Peavey booth that was waiting for autographs, and a chance to speak with him.

Sweet Ride from OC Choppers
Peavey also was the scene of the unveiling of a custom motorcycle designed by the crew of Orange County Choppers. This will be part of a future two-part episode of American Chopper to be shown soon, on TLC. The members of the crew dedicated the bike, a really cool looking thing, as you can imagine, and then bailed pretty quickly, disappointing many in the crowd that waited to meet them. Oh well, this wasn’t exactly a bike show we were attending.

Over at the Roland booth there were daily appearances by Dream Theater keyboard wizard Jordan Ruddess, along with Dixie Dregs drummer Rod Morganstein performing together as the, you guessed it, Ruddess/Morganstein Project. Of course, there are lots of grooves and notes from this pairing, as you can imagine. Roland has really become “one stop shopping” when it comes to innovation in electronics. Go to www.roland.com and you will see what I’m talking about. Ran into Poison drummer Rikki Rocket, and he turned me on to Chop Shop Drum Company. Chop Shop customizes drum kits, and Rikki showed me quite a few amazing finishes. One of my drum kits is badly in need of a makeover and I plan on checking out what Chop Shop has to offer, in further detail. You can too, just log on to www.chopshopdrums.com or e-mail them at info@chopshopdrums.com.

Everywhere, it seemed, there were pure rockers appearing at booths singing autographs. Dean Markley, once again, hosted Ronnie James Dio and his entire band, ESP guitars had Stef Carpenter from the Deftones, Bruce Kulick, George Lynch, Max Cavalera from Sepultura, and Frederic Leclercq from Dragonforce, among others, gladly greeting fans that lined up around the booths.
Junkman with Glenn Hughes
At the Manne Guitars booth, I had the opportunity to speak with one of my idols, the great bassist and vocalist Glenn Hughes, who has agreed to appear on my show on KNAC.COM, as well as say hello to guitarist Pat Travers who stopped by the booth as well. While there I ran into an old friend, former Kiss guitarist Mark St. John, who told me he was working on some new music and would get some to me soon.

Samson had quite an assortment of pure rockers at their booth. Among those appearing throughout the day were John 5 and Piggy D from Rob Zombie’s band, Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano from Anthrax, JD DeServio from Black Label Society, members of Shinedown, and 3/5s of Queensryche-Eddie Jackson, Mike Stone, and Scott Rockenfield. Samson also showcased an impressive new line of affordable recording microphones that I plan on looking into. Check out www.samsontech.com. for more.

As the afternoon turned to evening I visited the Fender guitar booth right before the halls closed at 6 PM. “You HAVE to attend our party at the Marriot tonight, there is a special guest that you don’t want to miss”, I was told. I was promptly given an all-access press laminate (the “most wanted gift” to a journalist) and I was off to let the festivities begin for the evening, and WHAT AN EVENING it turned out to be!

As my friend and I were leaving the convention hall, a huge sound of drums and percussion greeted us. A huge drum circle ensued in the courtyard with staff members from REMO drums handing out drums and tambourines and stuff for us to make noise with. (The perfect way to release, after a big day of business for attendees.) I banged out a few rhythms along with a few hundred others, and momentarily I was transported to the world’s largest hippie haven. I highly recommend this practice to anyone who has not tried it.

There were LOTS of events going on this evening. Yamaha, as always was having a huge party with acts like Earth, Wind and Fire, Dave Navarro, (does this guy ever sleep?) Richard Marx, Dennis DeYoung, Dr John, and others scheduled to perform. There was also a Fender sponsored 2 night “Fretfest”, which took place at the local bar Lofflers, and featured, among others, former Ozzy bassist Phil Soussan and Ritchie Kotzen.

Rockhouse, Peavey and others, were having “Wim-Bash”, featuring Doug Wimbish and Vernon Reid from Living Colour, Mark Rizzo from Soulfly, Dave Ellefson from F5, Gary Hoey, T.M. Stevens, Bernie Worrell, and Jonathan Mover, along with many others at the Pulse Night Club inside the Hilton Hotel Bar, ALWAYS the place to be, at NAMM. More on the Hilton bar later…

I decided to attend the Paul Reed Smith party ( www.prsguitars.com) at the nearby Grove Theater in Anaheim, the scene of an incredible party last year, thrown by the same great guitar makers. But first, being curious, and hell, I had the press laminate, decided to make my way across the street to the Marriot to see who would be the “special guest” at the Fender party. As my friend and I entered the lobby, the first person I saw was Journey guitarist Neal Schon, who said “hello” as the crowd entered the ballroom. He would be appearing the next night, sitting in with newly appointed Journey vocalist Jeff Scott Soto’s band at the second night of “Fret-Fest” at Lofflers, down the street.

Inside the ballroom, we were treated to an open bar (WOO-HOO!) and carving station and sushi tables scattered throughout the room. We seemed to have our timing out of whack because by the time we got to the tables all the sushi was devoured, no doubt by hungry salesmen. “Check this out” my lovely companion exclaimed, “A white chocolate table.” Indeed there was an entire table of treats, including pretzels, cookies, and even “red-vines” (licorice for those that don’t know the lingo) all covered in white chocolate. Needless to say, my friend and I snacked on a few items.

While we were checking out a group of musicians on the stage, who were knocking out some bluesy tunes, I was approached by a member of Fender’s staff, who said, “Come with me.” He then escorted me to “Press Row,” a roped off area, in front of a small stage that had some floor monitors on it. I found a place to perch myself, and kneeled against them, no more than a foot from the stage.

The music stopped, the lights dimmed, and a voice over the PA said simply, “ladies and gentlemen, please welcome… EDWARD VAN HALEN!!!” Holy shit! And there he was, the man, the myth, the legend, right in front of me. Visibly nervous, he talked for a bit about how Fender had made the commitment to do what he asked them to do, as opposed to other companies that he worked with, and was glad to be working with a company that “gets it.”

Eddie Van Halen Ripping
He then walked to the back of the stage and uncovered a wall of three of the infamous “Frankenstein” guitars, which Fender has painstakingly reproduced, and offered in a limited edition for sale. I was told later that the price for each was $25,000, and they all sold in 15 minutes. Yikes! Shows you the power of Van Halen’s legacy, eh? Van Halen then took one of them off the mount, and, to the roar of the crowd, strapped it on and plugged it in to an amp, which he explained, was “only a prototype, but it’s a bad-muthafucker”.

What happened next was pure joy, especially for me, a HUGE EVH fan. He noodled around a bit showing off the techniques that only he can do. Playing bits from Van Halen songs like “Hot For Teacher” and “Eruption” as well as some very cool “hammer-ons” and vibrato sounds. The entire ballroom was stunned. I took as many pictures as I could with my little 4 megapixel camera, (some are posted here for you to see).

After introducing a few members of Fenders staff and thanking them for standing by him and his ideas, he said he was the “Bumper that dented your Fender”, and just like that, left the stage to a huge applause. I thought to myself that even just a few moments of seeing this master of his craft perform, had just made my entire weekend. A few years back he had shown up and disappointed many with his all too short appearance, but tonight was a totally different story. As far as Van Halen’s supposed upcoming tour is concerned, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Still shaking my head in disbelief at what I had just witnessed, I downed yet another beer, and headed up the street to the Grove of Anaheim for the Paul Reed Smith Guitars sponsored party and concert. Unfortunately, I missed the first few acts, due to the fact that I was at the Fender party. Among them were Martin Barre and Doan Perry from Jethro Tull, Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge, “Dangerous” Dan Toler, formerly from the Allman Bros. Band, and former Ted Nugent screamer Derek St. Holmes.

I headed to the backstage area where a hospitality tent was set up. Inside, I ran into Glenn Hughes once again, and we chatted for a while. I also bumped into Mark “Animal” Mendoza from Twisted Sister who was seated at a table. He told me that, like me, he is a DJ doing a show called “Animal Tactics” on Long Island New York’s WLIR 107.1 FM. Check out www.myspace.com/animaltactics or www.wlir.com for information pertaining to his show.

I also spoke with Guns N’ Roses keyboardist Dizzy Reed, who was there and congratulated him on the successful GnR tour that had just finished. I told him how much I had been blown away by the power of the LA show that I went to, and he thanked me, as we hung out at the backstage bar with PRS endorsee, guitarist Alex Grossi and drummer Troy Patrick Farrell.

James Brown horn Section
I headed inside just in time to watch the late James Brown’s full band hit the stage. James Brown was booked to play the show, and, sadly, as we all know, passed away on Christmas morning. The band fulfilled their commitment to play the event, thankfully, and we were treated to some of the best live funk the world has to offer. Yes I was dancing my ass off, in true white-boy fashion, to the hardest working band in the land. The horn section alone was badass, but the rhythm section was pulling off beats that can only be described as “da funk.”

The crowd ate up every minute of this spectacle, and, in a classy tribute, Paul Reed Smith himself, presented Daryl Brown, James Brown’s son and band leader, with a basket of roses and a guitar signed by all the employees of Paul Reed Smith guitars, as a tribute to his late father. The band members then passed out the roses to members of the audience as a token of thanks. It was a very special moment for everyone in attendance.

After a short intermission, guitarist Johnny Hiland and his band rocked the house with a great mix of rock and blues. A real treat for me was the inclusion in his set of a version of the song “Funky Mama”, made famous by the late guitarist Danny Gatton. Hiland pulls out ALL the tricks on guitar, he really has a great technique. After downing a few beers with some friends backstage, I made my way back up front for a set by guitarist Pat Travers who was joined on stage by one of my idols, drummer Carmine Appice. They knocked out some killer rock tunes, spotlighting many of Travers tunes from his solo career, and a few from his collaboration with Appice, “T and A” as well as some great blues.

Next up Appice stayed onstage to perform with a reunited version of his 1970’s band Cactus. Appice and bassist Tim Bogert (who also played bass with him in Vanilla Fudge and Beck, Bogert, and Appice) laid down a steady groove while pleasing a lot of the older people in the crowd as well as the young, who had never witnessed Cactus when they played out 30 some-odd years ago. Singer Jimmy Kunes rocked out the classics alongside guitarist Jim McCarty and harmonica player Randy Pratt. That was a great topper to a great night of live entertainment. Check out their new CD “Cactus V”, it rocks.

By now I was just about done for the day, but decided to head over to the infamous Hilton Bar and see what kind of madness was happening. Upon arrival, I noticed that the crowd had spilled out into the driveway that leads to the lobby. Among them, were my fellow DJ at KNAC.COM’s DJ Will who was chatting with a couple of members of Dragonforce, who told me they were “looking for birds”. And “birds-aplenty” there were, everywhere there were people, partying and having a blast. Lots of dolled up hotties doing the “Hilton-Whothehellareya,” which was a term we came up with for the classic move that only happens at NAMM.

It involves the look a girl gives you when they approach. First they look at you, then they look at your NAMM badge, read it (if they can read) then either continue to talk to you or not. This sometimes depends on their girlfriend’s approval, otherwise known as the female version of a “wing-man”. Or it may, in many cases, depend on your status as a celebrity. From attending this convention for the last 22 years or so (or was it 23?) I know for a fact there are many in this crowd whose sole purpose for being there is to spend the evening with a rock star, and for many, they succeed. A friend of mine who was there for the first time is a professional celebrity look alike, and the fact that he looks like a MAJOR rock star was among the conversation of many in the crowd who thought he was the real thing, and for me it was very amusing to hear their stories of an encounter with him. Just another of the things I love about this particular weekend.

Unfortunately for me (or perhaps fortunately), it was last call for alcohol when I arrived, and I was limited to fighting my way to the bar for one last nightcap. Tomorrow would be, with out a doubt, the traditional craziest day at NAMM and Saturday night I would be attending a HUGE event upstairs in the Hilton Ballroom, so I wasn’t too discouraged when I exited the lobby and headed home.

Saturday, as expected, turned out to be quite a day. Upon arrival at the convention center, I witnessed the reunion of the Anaheim Kingsmen, an award winning marching band that had gathered alumni from the past to march down Convention Way. Talk about a huge wake up, on a Saturday morning! So, with that, I headed inside.

There were so many performances and signings that day that I actually lost count. Every three feet that I walked, I saw someone I knew, or was approached by someone that knew me. For the next four or five hours I was caught in a huge mosh pit of a musical oriented Shangri la. At one booth stood Nikki Sixx, at another sat Steve Vai. Kenny Wayne Shepperd was performing at Graph Tech guitar labs booth in hall B while I was in Hall E talking drums with Sheila E. How are you going to see it all? There is just no way to do it, so, you just have to keep moving.

At the same time, my phone was constantly ringing from people wanting to get together or from others asking me if I could get them a pass to get in. I’m one of those guys that ALWAYS answers the phone, as opposed to those that piss me off and never do.

Anyway, thank god for unlimited weekend use on my cell phone plan. My answer to those that wanted to hang out that day? “Lead, follow, or get out of my way”.

Many of those calls and many of my encounters that day were the same question. “Can you get me a pass to the Dimebag Tribute tonight? There are no more passes to be given out”. This refers to the big show I would be attending later on at the Hilton which was thrown by my friends at Coffin Case (www.coffincase.com) in which an all star tribute to the late Dimebag Darrell would take place. This was THE party to attend, as the buzz around the convention center grew.

Problem was, you can only fit so many people in one ballroom, and by Saturday morning most of the passes had been handed out. Luckily for me, I was able to get my press pass early, (thanks Alice, you rock!) and was all set, but for many others it would be a disappointing evening. (More on that event later.) In the meantime, Coffin Case was rolling out their clothing line as well as a their new selection of coffin-shaped cases (hence the name) as well as a very cool “Blood Drive BDFX-1” effects pedal. Over at ESP guitars, lots of pure rockers were signing stuff for waiting fans. Saturdays guests at ESP included Will Adler of Lamb of God, Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom, Wayne Static of Static X, and my buddy’s Michael Wilton of Queensryche, and Michael Amott from Arch Enemy. ESP, as always, brings out the full arsenal of pure rock guitars, and the people that play them. Go to www.espguitars.com and groove on the killer products that they offer.

Charlie Lane, Diamond Girls, Keri Kelli, Jason Hook
Downstairs at the Diamond Amps booth, the lovely Diamond Girls posed for pictures as well as Februrary 2006 Penthouse Pet Charlie Laine. My old friend Keri Kelli from Alice Cooper’s band (as well as just about everyone else’s) was there, as well as guitarist Jason Hook, like Keri, a Diamond endorsee. Jason gave me a copy of his new CD “Safety Dunce”, check it out it, rocks. So do Diamond Amps, www.diamondamplification.com is the place for more info.

I bumped into Blue Oyster Cult lead singer Eric Bloom, as I made my way through the aisles. He has agreed to be on my show on KNAC.COM soon and talk about what’s up with the band. They are currently on tour. Writing guru, and my friend, Lonn Friend, appeared at the Ultimate Ears booth in the Arena area of the convention center to sign copies of his book “Life on Planet Rock”, which I highly recommend for all. It’s a great read, and it’s available in the KNAC.COM More Store (Click here to buy it.) Also at the convention signing books was bassist Rudy Sarzo and his book “Off The Rails”, about his years working with fellow bandmate, the late Randy Rhoads and other interesting tales throughout his career. Available everywhere, add this book to your collection, it is definitely “Junkman approved”! (Buy Rudy’s book here.)

Junkman with Blue Oyster Cult's Eric Bloom
As the afternoon wore on I simply started to wear out and needed a break. My sanctuary, as in years past, were to find some electronic drums, put on some headphones, shut out the world, and bash out some beats. I found this place at the Hart Dynamics booth, ( www.hartdynamics.com) located in Hall D, where most of the drum booths were grouped. Their line of electronic drums are awesome, and I plan on purchasing a set for my home. I must have spent a good 45 minutes or so sampling all the different sounds that were available. The pads are very life-like with great feel, the perfect way to get my “ya-ya’s” out, without annoying my neighbors and my dog, who, unfortunately, cant stand my kick drum.

My drum fix fulfilled, (“serenity NOW”) I met up with some friends at one of the various “happy booths”-aka the portable bar, that were set up in between each hall. After being greeted by no less than 10 people I knew in a span of about a minute, my friend exclaimed, “You are like the mayor of NAMM!” To which I replied, “I prefer the title of Grand Pooh-Bah,” as I finished yet another delicious beverage.

By now the lights in the convention hall were starting to dim, which meant the halls were closing for the day and the nights festivities were about to begin. I had many choices again for entertainment. The second night of the Fender sponsored “Fret-Fest” was happening down the street at Lofflers bar, and my good friend, and newly announced singer for Journey, Jeff Scott Soto would be appearing along with Journey guitarist Neal Schon, and Soul Sirkus bandmate, bassist Marco Mendoza sitting in.

Schecter Guitars were having their annual takeover of the House Of Blues in Anaheim. And tonight they featured live music by none other than Type O Negative. I really wanted to attend this party and had the laminates to do so. But since I was already on the guest list to see them the following evening, I decided to make someone’s day. A few years ago, a salesman friend of mine and his wife visited NAMM for the first time. He’s a great guy and since then, his wife and he look forward to coming to California every year for the convention. They leave the kids behind and make a vacation of it. That particular year, he and the wife were looking for things to do, and I gave them a pair of passes to an Elton John show that really blew their minds. It made me feel good to let my connections supply them with a great night out together, something I’m sure doesn’t happen enough.

While at the “happy booth”, basking in my new found title as “Grand Poo-Bah of NAMM”, I ran into a friend of mine, a true metal head, who had no place to go. Knowing how much of a fan she was, I placed the laminates in her hand and told her to have a blast. I can still feel the kiss I got, and the smile that I brought to her face lit up the rapidly dimming lights in the hall. It reminded me of the happiness I bestowed on that couple a few years back, and even though Christmas season is over, the joy of giving never is. With that and another beverage, I headed off to the Hilton. The lobby and adjoining bar were already raging. EVERYBODY was there. At least I thought. My companion and I had a cold one and then headed upstairs for the “Black Tooth Bash,” the all star tribute to the late Dimebag Darrell, sponsored by Coffin Case, among others, including Monster Energy Drink, Dean Guitars, Dime Hardware, Vic Dunlop, Diamond Amplification, GHS strings, EMG Pickups (you rule!), Samson, and Marshall.

As we headed upstairs I realized that not everyone was downstairs in the bar, rather there was a virtual sea of humanity in the hallway leading into the ballroom where the event was to be staged. “They’re not letting anybody else in,” was the cry I heard upon arrival. Apparently too many people, many of them gate crashers, had the Anaheim fire marshal threatening to pull the plug and end the event. In the meantime, there was about a 25-foot gap between the group of people waiting to get in and the entry to the ballroom. I sensed that a bad vibe in the area would bring trouble soon.

Junkman's Got Juice
At that moment, a friend of mine took me by the hand and said, “This way.” We were then ushered to a side door where, after seeing my press pass, a large bouncer-looking guy ushered us into a hallway leading to the backstage area. We were in! The event coordinator, a friend of mine, was walking up and down the hall, pissed off and screaming at everyone within earshot. I managed a faint “hello”, and was greeted by the eyes of Satan. Quietly we moved on.

As we approached the backstage area, the first face I saw was my friend and writing mentor Lonn Friend and his friend. We hung out for a while and watched, as the VIPs were arriving in groups, each followed by the event coordinator, who screamed at everyone in earshot to move out of the way. Apparently the fire marshal had really ruffled her feathers, and I made sure I kept my distance.

I literally ran into many people I knew, in the cramped quarters back there. Among them Rob Zombie guitarist John 5, Megadeth bassist James Lomenzo, and one of the funniest people on the planet, my friend, comedian Craig Gass. The performers were slowly arriving as well, no doubt held up by the size of the crowd outside. Lemmy from Motorhead was there, as well as Vinnie Paul escorting Dimebag’s widow, Rita.

Gracious as ever, even during the madness of this event, Vinnie spoke with me over a beer before the event started. He said he was pleased that so many people had gotten together as a tribute to his slain brother and it meant so much to be able to go out onstage and rock with them. He was also excited about his new project HellYeah. He told me it would “kick my ass,” and, as you probably are, I am excited to hear it.

About that time, the event coordinator, still pissed off, started clearing everyone out of the backstage area, except of course, for the performers.

I headed front stage just in time to see the opening act, Meldrum, pump up the crowd with their fierce metal onslaught. Fronted by Swedish vocalist Moa Holmsten, and powered by Michelle Meldrum’s ferocious guitar shredding, as well as special guest, Gene Hoglan from Strapping Young Lad, the overflow crowd was ready for an over the top evening, judging from the reception that they gave Meldrum. Afterwards I headed back to speak with Michelle, and offered my congratulations on a great set. Check out www.meldrum.nu or their myspace page and find out more info on all things Meldrum-oriented.

Guitarist Nick Bowcott from Grim Reaper, then completely blew the crowds collective minds with his note for note versions of Pantera songs. His tone and style eerily paralleled the late Dimebag Darrell, and with his tribute, the beyond capacity crowd roared its approval.

Next up was a highly charged fashion show spotlighting Coffin Case’s new clothing line, and featuring the lovely Coffin Case models including my friend, sexy Jasmine St.Claire, the host of TV’s “Metals Dark Side,” and the ultra-hot Cassia. Coffin Case founder Jonny appeared onstage and thanked everyone for being there. By now, we were getting pretty buzzed and ready for more. The blood, the sweat, the beers, and hitting the stage right about then were the following: Mike Stone from Queensryche on guitar, Nick Cantanese and JD Deservio from Black Label Society on guitar and bass, respectively, and Brian Tichy from Billy Idol’s band on drums. They bashed out a few tunes like “I Don’t Know” from Ozzy Osbourne, and Van Halen’s “Aint Talkin’ Bout Love”, and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”, as well as JD singing Black Labels Dimebag tribute song “In This River.” No Zakk Wylde sightings, although he was rumored to be showing up. He never did. Oh well.

Junkman with Tim "Ripper" Owens
Shadows Fall drummer Jason Bittner, Slipknot bassist Paul Gray, Nick Bowcott, and Bleed The Sky vocalist Noah Robinson then drove the energy in the crowd to new heights, with the Pantera staples, “Mouth For War,” and “Fucking Hostile”, to which, naturally, a small mosh pit started.

It was then that Vinnie Paul emerged from backstage to a thunderous ovation, as he joined the band on drums for some classic Kiss tunes, “Parasite” and “Cold Gin.” The crowd by now was at a fever pitch, absolutely going nuts. But wait…there’s more. Tim “Ripper” Owens joined the band for some classic Judas Priest songs including “Electric Eye” and “Grinder.”

By now, the alcohol was starting to take its effect on me. There’s nothing better than free beer, and serious head-pounding rock, by some of the best in the business, to get you going on a Saturday night. I looked at my notes and it looked like graffiti. This will explain if I didn’t get the order right in appearances. Oh well, under the circumstances, as well as under the influence, I’ll do the best I can recollect.

Junkman and Vinnie Paul
My liquid courage in full effect, I found myself ONSTAGE, for the next act, and holy shit, what an act. Kerri Kelli and Damon Johnson from Alice Cooper’s band on guitar, Brian Tichy back on drums and none other than the one and only Lemmy Kilmister on bass!!! As you can imagine, we were all pretty psyched up. Bashing out “God Save The Queen”, and others like The Beatles “Back In The USSR”, as well as some blues standards like “Route 66”, they gave the crowd a great finish to what was an awesome tribute to a great friend to all, like Dimebag Darrell Abbott was. Many in the room said that they felt his presence, and I don’t doubt that for a minute.

I stumbled down the stairs into the huge crowd gathered at the Hilton Bar. There I ran into more friends with more offers of drinks to which I don’t really remember how many of those offers I accepted. It must have been quite a few, because I awoke Sunday morning at 7:30 in a hotel across the street, surrounded by a bunch of empty bottles and various articles of clothing. Ah yes, the rock n roll lifestyle, ya gotta love it! As I gathered my things and crept out the door, (yes, the infamous “walk of shame”), I somehow remembered where I parked my car, and headed home for a nice warm shower to wash away my Saturday night.

Sunday afternoon came way to quickly as you can imagine. I headed back to the convention center on a mission: to see Yngwie Malmsteen and “Rising Force” play a set upstairs at the Fender room at noon. Upon arrival, he was doing sound check, and I was greeted by his lovely wife, April, who gave me a hug and said that Yngwie would be glad to see me. That being said, there was still a huge line waiting to get in, and I was not guaranteed a seat for the show.

As the crowd started to file in after sound check was over, my old friend Alex, who works for Fender, escorted me inside. I found a seat in the middle of the room with perfect sight lines. Right before the band took the stage, a familiar face sat down next to me, none other than Dream Theater keyboardist extraordinaire Jordan Ruddess. We chatted for a bit, and he told me how excited he was about the new Dream Theater CD and that they will be hitting the road soon.

As Yngwie Malmsteen took the stage, I noticed a new version of “Rising Force”. Three more musicians I am proud to call friends. The nicest guy you ever want to meet, the great Patrik Johansson on drums, filling in on bass, another old friend Bjorn Englen, and rounding it out on keyboards, former Dream Theater member Derek Sherinian. No slouches, that’s for sure. For the next 45 minutes these accomplished musicians backed the great guitarist through some of the finest rock, blues, and classical influenced material that these ears have heard in a long time. Yngwie, ever the showman, executed some of his trademark poses, kicks, and pick throwing, while shredding on his custom Fender Stratocaster. He even sang lead vocals on a version of the blues standard “Red House”, to which, I thought to myself, is he singing it in Swedish? It was a great version of it, nonetheless. And his flashy style of playing really gets you into watching him, as opposed to some guitarists who really are boring to watch.

After congratulating the group on a great set, I headed down to Hall E, to visit my friends at Travel Wellness, makers of “Vocal Eze”. This is a product that I highly endorse. It’s an all-natural throat spray, made specifically for singers to ease their sore throats, and, by now, after a few days of talking over loud music, mine was in dire need of relief, and this product is the answer. The lovely Ocea, who owns the company, showed me their latest product “Vira Eze Mic Wipes”, a product that sanitizes microphones. It’s a must have for the traveling musician and production crew. To see all their products, as well as read my testimonial, go to www.travelwellness.com.

Another interesting product in Hall E was the “Hot Picks” booth. They have all kinds of guitar picks with faces of monsters, skulls, and even Disney characters, as well as lots of other designs and shapes. Company president Rob Stephani told me that they had been awarded the prestigious “Product Of The Year” for NAMM 2007. Congrats to you Rob. You can see all that Hot Picks has to offer at www.hotpicksusa.com.

There was still so much more to see, and time was running out for NAMM 2007. I headed over to see the fine folks at SKB Cases and checked out their new products. I tried out the selection of in-ear monitor systems at Shure microphones. While walking through the hallways I met and shook hands with the great Stevie Wonder, who was being led around the convention floor. I spoke with guitar great Allan Holdsworth, an old acquaintance, who was checking out equipment, and appearing at various booths.

Outside the Zildgian Cymbals booth, many were gathered around a TV screen to watch the NFL playoff games. I am sure I, and many others annoyed the football fans by bashing the many types of cymbals on display, but, hey, this place is about musical instruments, not football.

After once again cruising through “Drumland” and gathering various catalogues for future reading, I headed back towards Hall B, when all at once, the lights started to dim, signaling the end to another NAMM Show. As many booth occupants were gathering their information and packing up their booths, an announcement over the PA system said that the show was indeed over and that the halls would be closing. A huge roar of applause filled the convention center, no doubt by weary sales associates ready to go home after another long weekend. Sadly, I headed out the door, taking one last look around at this place that was my home, one weekend a year.

I slowly headed to the nearby House Of Blues, located at the “Downtown Disney” area of Disneyland, right down the street from the convention center. As I mentioned earlier, I had passes to see Type O Negative, who I had failed to see the night before. I had an advance copy of their new CD “Dead Again” cranked in my CD player, to not only get me psyched up for the show, but to wake my tired ass up after virtually no sleep for the last few days.

I picked up my passes from will-call and headed into the downstairs bar to enjoy a delicious bowl of Jambalaya (my favorite dish) and a beer, while I waited for my friend to arrive. I bumped into KNAC.COM correspondent/photographer Gnarly Charlie while I was there, and I told him of some of my experiences at NAMM. “You look exhausted,” he told me. I agreed, but truly wanted to check out Type O.

After teasing the audience for a good 20 minutes with a loop of the “Leave It To Beaver” theme played over the PA system, Type O Negative finally hit the stage. With a greeting of “Shut the fuck up,” bassist Peter Steele led the band in a very strange, bizarre set, completely void of anything from the new CD.

Junkman with Type O's Peter Steele
Opening with “Christian Woman”, the band, guitarist Kenny Hickey, (introduced by Steele as Tony Iommi) drummer Johnny Kelley, (introduced as John Bonham) keyboardist (introduced as “T Bone Manischewitz”) and, of course, the hulking six and a half foot Steele who told the audience he was Johnny Cash, proceeded to satisfy the sellout crowd, with about 90 minutes of their classic “dirge-like” brand of ghoul rock.

Among the notable numbers were ‘Wolf Moon”, “Gravity”, and “World Coming Down”, as well as an offbeat “Kill All The White People.” Somewhere around the middle of the set, Steele announced “thank you and goodnight”, and the entire band, with the exception of keyboardist Silver, left the stage for what seemed like an eternity. When they returned, to a huge applause, they told a very confused crowd that Steele was backstage throwing-up on Hickey!!!

Type O Negative finished their set with “the big hit,” the ode to hair dye, “Black No.1”, after which, the band, along with crew members and friends, launched rolls of toilet paper into the crowd, setting off a huge exchange of the tissue between the band and the fans. Afterwards, the House Of Blues looked like the high school quarterbacks front yard after the big game.

I got to speak with Peter Steele after the show, and he told me that the new CD ‘Dead Again” will be released everywhere, on March 13th. For more info on the band, go to www.typeonegative.net and enjoy all there is to see. He also agreed to come and visit KNAC.COM so we will keep you posted.

Truly rocked in every sense of the word, I was, by now completely spent as well. My favorite weekend had come to a close (and all I got was this lousy t-shirt!). I smiled as I walked through the Downtown Disney area, on the way to my car. Seeing many exhausted faces on parents and kids alike who had spent the weekend in Fantasyland, a place where “dreams come true”, as the saying goes. It was that same experience, although in a different venue right up the road, and in a slightly different context, that would have me talking about it for the next week or so, and relishing on my experiences, hence this article. NAMM weekend truly is MY Disneyland.

I would like to thank all those involved in once again making my experience the best, especially the good people from NAMM itself. I can hardly wait to do it again next year! Please listen to my show on KNAC.COM “The Loudest Dot Com on The Planet,” and look for my articles in various publications, as well as the KNAC.COM site, of course. I can be e-mailed at junkman@knac.com or visit my MySpace page at www.myspace.com/junkmanknac. Enjoy and “smack yer noggin.”
Peace.


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