So now it's time to reveal why the Militant has been spending time in Orange County lately. Militant Operative Stingray, himself quite the talented musician, hooked the Militant up with a pass to The NAMM Show, the annual music products show at the Anaheim Convention Center and the venue's largest annual event. Think of the CES Show, but for musical instruments. The Militant, known by some as a master cowbellist, took up Stingray's offer and crossed the Orange Curtain for the first time this year (which will likely not exceed 3-5 more times).
Like CES, the show is not open to the public, only to the exhibtors, their customers in the retail/wholesale field and various guests. Stingray got his hookups from an unspecified software company who had a booth at the show, which started Thursday and ends on Sunday.
First off, the Anaheim Convention Center is h-u-g-e. The Los Angeles Convention Center is big, this is even bigger. It's length is about equal to the diameter of nearby Disneyland. Manufacturers of drums and percussion, orchestral instruments, guitars, audio equipment, keyboards/software and DJ/lighting equipment, all debuted their 2008 wares, with most of them set up for guests to see, touch and play.
That all meant one thing: the place was LOUD. Think your average Guitar Center, but 30 times larger. Yeah, like that. But noisy can also mean fun.
One ultracool aspect of the show was seeing - and meeting - all sorts of famous musicians, such as Slash, Herbie Hancock and some blind dude who was playing on a keyboard (pictured right). There was also tons of free swag: lanyards, candy, guitar picks, bags and magazines. The Militant has seen many things in Southern California, but this event is truly unreal, with the convention halls packed with a mix of people dressed in business suits, leather (and the requisite bad '80s metal band hair to complement) and regular-looking folk, all here to celebrate their love of making music (and the business of selling all those instruments).
Though the Militant didn't find an abundance of cowbells to hit, he did see a keyboard instrument made by Korg on display that was no doubt designed especially for a Militant (pictured left)! Maybe the Militant will brush up on his piano playing skills just so he can add this to the compound.
After the show closed for the day at 6 p.m. on Friday, Stingray, via one of his own operatives (yes, operatives can have their own set of operatives not directly connected to the Militant), got some invites to one of the many post-show afterparties in and around the hotel-studded convention center vicinity. This particular party, at the nearby Crowne Plaza hotel, was a 20th anniversary celebration of Irwindale-based musical instrument company M-Audio, which featured a concert by the energetic Los Angeles-based Latin band Cecilia Noel and the Wild Clams, a 16-piece band which also included Jimmy Kimmel Live! house band guitarist Toshi Yanagi on guitar). Aside from the music, the vibe at the party was largely subdued, but hey there was an open bar with free booze, so ya can't lose!
So for this Militant, the NAMM show is total sensory overload and is the annual highlight of a facet of the music industry that doesn't get much mainstream recognition. So yeah, it was totally worth it to go out to the OC this week.