The Popkin Report: Summer NAMM
(Photo: Courtesy of Namm.org)
The key to Summer NAMM (the National Association of Music Merchants’ summer convention) is to never stop moving. As soon as you pause and show the slightest hitch in your step, you’re going to get grabbed and shown the newest advancement in headphone or capo or even guitar strap technology. And while I appreciated the demo of the Power Wrist Builder — weighted drum sticks to increase your proficiency at rolling out some speedy fills — I probably could’ve done without being handed every single different stick they offer, and then, with no other drum beat coming to mind, tapping out “Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits” with each one.
Amidst the clutter and headache-inducing sound of a hundred people playing a hundred different songs in a hundred different booths, there were several products worth noting. Taylor Guitars was showcasing their new product, the GS Mini—a miniature guitar with a large fret board and a snap-in, self-installed pick-up system—as well as displaying what our American Songwriter team labeled the Willy Wonka wall, which consisted of an electric guitar in every color of the candy cane rainbow.
There was a harp-guitar booth, a product that is exactly what it sounds like—half guitar, half harp. According to the salesman, it gives you a real nice and complex bass tone since it goes all the way down to a 100-gauge string. I also learned that the harp-guitar was forced into obscurity by the Great Depression. Even in the 1930s, Wall Street fat cats were ruining everything!
My favorite booth belonged to Wild Ass Suits. Ever wonder where rock stars get those flamboyant and ridiculously awesome outfits? Well, wonder no more. Designed by a two-time throat cancer survivor, Chuck Navasky, with all proceeds going to support his cancer foundation, the clothing line covers all the ground between the black-with-chains “Alcatraz” to the bright red and satin, “Lava.” If you’re looking for a fun gift for the rocker in your family that also supports a great cause, you should check these guys out at wildasssuits.com. At NAMM, most of their products were retailing for $45.00, which we all know is a small price to pay in order to channel your inner David Lee Roth. As the great man once said, “Panama! Panam-a-a!” Or something like that. I think we all know that no one listens to Van Halen for the lyrics, but if such a creature did exist, I’m sure they were at NAMM this past weekend. I probably just didn’t see their booth.