Friday, January 8, 2010

Why I Disappear Every January: The NAMM Show

I don't know if I've blogged about this before, and I'm far too lazy to look back and see for myself.

If you're a Zakster, and thereby used to seeing me perform a couple times a week (or more) in SL, you may note that each January, I mysteriously vanish from the face of the (virtual) Earth. Perhaps you don't wonder; perhaps I'm being far too egotistical in imagining that people wonder about me when I'm not around. But, assuming you do indeed notice that I'm gone, I'm happy to tell you where I am.

I started working in the music/audio products industry at the tender age of 23, but even before that, I was well aware of something called the NAMM Show. At the time, NAMM seemed to me to be Christmas, the Super Bowl, and sex with 72 virgins all rolled into one amazing extravaganza. In fact, my first couple of NAMM shows were just that; I got to walk around a convention center, surrounded by guitars, keyboards, drums, recording gear, effects, and so on. But wait! There were also famous musicians cruising around those same aisles! I could look up and see many of my musical idols sauntering along next to me. It really felt like heaven at the time.

And, like so many things that disguise themselves as heaven, I found that after a few years of NAMM being a huge business event for me, rather than something built for my own entertainment, it transmorgified into hell.

Doesn't seem so bad, does it? Me with some well-known music gurus, including producer Michael Wagener and bass god Leland Sklar.

Why I Grew to Not Like NAMM
It's really pretty simple. I think anyone would understand.

1. I don't like crowds.
2. I don't like extended periods of really loud noise.
3. I don't like working 18-hour days for weeks in preparation.
4. I don't like having to babysit rock stars.
5. I don't like poseurs.
6. I don't like wearing anything beyond jeans and sneakers and t-shirts.
7. I don't like expensive and crappy convention food.
8. I don't like being in Anaheim.
9. I don't like having to schedule my time minute-by-minute for days on end.
10. I don't like feeling like I'm at a class reunion for four straight days every year.

It used to be much worse, mind you. The days where I was working inside a company and had to account for every second of my day, not being able to leave the booth or sit down, ever... that sucked mightily. Working for myself alleviates some of that, and NAMM hasn't been nearly as bad since I left the rat race in 2003. But it still isn't something I look forward to.

Now comes the time where you don't feel sorry for me. It's not like I'm being interrogated in Guantanamo Bay. All of the stuff above isn't that bad, and many, many people deal with much worse all the time. I'm merely telling you that given my druthers, I'd not choose to hang out in Anaheim for 4-5 days every January. That's all.

I do a pretty good job of trying to not look miserable while I'm there.

A Slight Difference in 2010
Looking on the bright side, there is one small change for this year that makes this NAMM show a wee bit more bearable than many of the past shows I've worked. For the first time in my 20+ year history of going to this show, I actually have some of my own music that I'd like to get noticed. NAMM actually does, in a small way, present an opportunity for me to get my album out to some reviewers and other influential people. So, I do find that in a small way, I am looking forward to that opportunity.

But still, in any case, I won't be performing live music between now and my next scheduled show, on Sunday 1/24 at the Notes Shack. Ironically, the time I spend at NAMM represents the longest I will go without playing an instrument each year, other than a few strums here and there as I help demo my clients' wares. In any case, you know know why I'll be conspicuously absent from SL nd playing music in general for a couple of weeks. The one saving grace of it all is that I look forward to the day after NAMM ends with a hunger and passion that borders on insanity. Monday 1/18 is my official Day of Rest and Fucking Off this year, and I plan on enjoying it to the max.

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