NAMM 2024 - Day 01


Waking up at 4 AM on Thursday morning, we were greeted with a notice that our flight had been delayed out of Chattanooga. This was a relief, as I had forgotten to get a few items for the flight, namely snacks, and such that airports tend to have available at exuberantly high prices. We stayed up and continued to get ready, showers, final packing, and then we headed out. At this time, it was around 5 AM, and we planned to make a stop at Wal-Mart to pick up some food items. We parked outside of Walmart, walked to the first door and it was closed. I walked all the way to the other door in great irritation because I had assumed they were doing the one door lock thing that they did during Covid. When we got to the other door it was also locked. Stephanie noticed that the store did not actually open until 6 AM. I was amazed, I thought Walmart was open 24-7. I was not a happy camper. We walked back to the car, and continued our journey to the Chattanooga metropolitan airport. We stopped at a gas station on the way and picked up a couple of protein bars and a small bag of almonds, filled up the ole’ Corolla with gas, and continued our journey.

We arrived at the airport, and the parking lot was fuller than I had ever seen it. We parked a good distance away from the terminal and commenced walking. Catching a flight is a whole lot of hurry up and wait, and that’s what we did. The flight from Chattanooga to Dallas was uneventful, and for the first time ever I slept a little on the plane. When we arrived in Dallas, we had about 50 minutes to get to the next flight, which thankfully was only one terminal away from where we landed. A quick hop on the tram, and we were there. Again, hurry up and wait. Because of the delay, we had a different flight coming into Santa Anna, and I lost my window seat… I always pick a window seat even if it costs me more money. If you don’t know, I love to fly, I love airplanes, and love to actively participate… at least in my mind… on the journey. Because of the change, Steph and I were separated, and both had middle seats. The lady next to me had a horrible cough; I hope that I don’t get sick.

The flight from Dallas to Santa Anna was uneventful, but long. I read most of the way working my way through several chapters of the “Lord of the Rings”, but after a while I was tired of reading and pulled out my phone and watched some episodes of The Office. We finally landed, extremely hard, the pilot absolutely butchered the landing. It reminded me of the time I took my dad flying in a Cessna 172 out in Arkansas. I performed a very similar butchered landing. It was bad folks. I thought my spine had ruptured the bottom of my skull and made its way outside of my body. Anyway… we had landed safely in California.

We quickly made out way outside of the airport and connected with an Uber driver called Simon. He was an older gentleman, who arrived within 2 minutes of us booking the ride. He quietly drove us to our hotel, some 20 minutes away from the airport, and dropped us off. It was a pleasant ride. It was nice to ride in a taxi service where the driver was calm, and patient and I didn’t feel like I was going to die at every turn.  

We arrived at the hotel around noon (local time) and thankfully we were able to check into our room. We came up stairs and dropped our stuff off, and then set out to find food. We had not eaten any meals up until this point. Thankfully there was a cool little restaurant connected to the hotel, Steph, and I both grabbed differing versions of nachos, two Dr. Peppers, and made our way back up to the room where we commenced to stuffing our faces as fast as we could. It was delicious… or perhaps we were just very hungry. After eating, we dressed ourselves in presentable clothing and headed to the NAMM show.


On To The Show

We made our way down the sidewalk in Sunny California and our excitement was building. We finally made our way into the convention center and headed to badge pick up. I was amazed by the immense size of the gathering. There were so many people. I saw people that looked like they were stuck in the 80s hair metal era, I saw people who looked like they might sing or play in a SKA/Reggae band. I saw a lot of people, who, were very “artistic” in appearance. We are a long way from Tennessee, I thought to myself. We quickly made our way through the badging process and made our way onto the convention floor.

The sound was intense. You know the sound that you get when you walk into a guitar center on a Friday night… well multiply that by a thousand. A constant roar of noise engulfed us. Little bits of guitar shredding and drum playing would ease its way above the constant roar. Everywhere you looked there was someone playing something while another person filmed them for, I assume, social media.

I thought, while observing these activities, how self-absorbed musicians can be; me included. Music, I suppose, is a world where you are solely judged only by “how good” you are. It’s sad really, music should be another form of expression… a way to communicate between people. Music should be a place of belonging and welcoming of all. Not a spotlight on “how good I am”. Music is a very human communal activity after all.

On our first day at NAMM, we had a pleasant meeting with Lowden guitars. The people representing them were so incredibly friendly and helpful. The fellow we talked with walked us through the history of the maker, all the different models and construction techniques. It was clear that this was a brand whose sole purpose was to build the best guitar that they could possibly construct. The guitars themselves were beautiful, perfect in their joinery and construction. I played several models, and they were all fantastic. We talked about a possible partnership, and hope that we can carry the brand at some point in the future.

Drew playing a Lowden guitar.

We also spent some time at the Larrivée booth, again, great wonderful people, who have a passion for crafting excellent guitars. I enjoy talking with folks who have a love of acoustic instruments, people who care greatly about the quality of the instrument that they can produce. In contrast, we had a rather abrasive conversation with the sales rep of a well-known brand. I am not going to go into specific details here, but the experience at that booth made it clear to me that not only do I not want to work with the brand, but it also adjusted my entire perception of them. It’s funny, because, at least in my part of the world, a certain perception of this brand exists. But in the real world, the reality is very different. I would say that this experience was the exact opposite of our conversations with Lowden and Larrivée. Goliath versus David if you will. Some brands care about building the best instrument that they can possibly build; others are riding the wave of something they did in the distant past. Perhaps they have gotten to “big for their britches”. It’s comically really.

We arrived back to the hotel room that evening utterly exhausted. Too tired for dinner, too tired for reading, too tired even for TV. We called home and said good night to Elizabeth and Oliver and quickly went to sleep. We slept a good 12 hours.



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