If you love music, as a fan or performer, there is one gathering that stands above the rest. On April 13th, the NAMM Show returned to Anaheim, CA. The National Association of Music Merchants has a long and storied history that reaches back into the early twentieth century (stretching back to 1901, if you can believe it). The NAMM Show has been the preeminent event for the music industry for decades: flush with instruments, production technologies, and the artists that use them. It was and is the mecca for any musical professional or player. Since the pandemic, the event has seen a massive reduction in size and participation, but 2023 marks the beginning of the return. Around every corner, echoing from every hall and room, were the reverberations of sonic love and collaboration.
Screamer Magazine got a chance to walk the convention floor and catch up with some of the manufacturers and artists who were happy to see NAMM back.
No, this was not the pre-COVID NAMM we all remember. The crowds remain a shadow of what they once were, and events were limited in scope. Still, there were plenty of glimmers of life. Ibanez sponsored artist Fabrizio “Fab” Grossi, (Supersonic Blues Machine, Soul Garage Experience) gave voice to this return. “I’m actually surprised! It’s a lot better than I expected, considering where we were at just a short time ago. I’m happy to see that NAMM is coming back.” Absent the usual crowds, NAMM 2023 was an industry focused event, but that did not mean there wasn’t a lot to see. Whether it was Chris Cannella (Autumn’s End/Deicide) supporting Dean Guitars or bass legend Carmine Rojas (David Bowie/Tina Turner), attendees could expect the unexpected surprise. Everyone and everything musical walked these halls if you took the time to look.
“I’m actually surprised! It’s a lot better than I expected, considering where we were at just a short time ago. I’m happy to see that NAMM is coming back.” -Fabrizio Grossi
Derek Day of Classless Act was on hand at the Vocopro and Vega Trem booths. Classless Act, on the cusp of a west coast tour and preparing to return to the studio, gave multiple intimate performances from the floor. “I’ll tell you this, we’re going on tour in May,” he said following his Saturday set. “Other than that, we’re writing the next album! We are so many demos deep! Within the year we’re going into the studio with some banger producers…we’re gonna make a cool album that leans a certain direction too!” As in the past, the best players in the industry were accessible and welcoming. This was and continues to be why NAMM is so special.
The event has had its struggles in recent years, and Day acknowledges this. “NAMM has gone surprisingly well for me,” Day explains. “This time around it’s gone really smooth. I’ve met really cool people and checked out cool new stuff. It’s always fun for me.” Day, like so many artists, attend NAMM to connect with an industry that builds the creative tools of sound, of music. We all become the excited children we were, receiving that first guitar or drumset on Christmas morning, as we walk these aisles. Day’s excitement for what he does and what the return of NAMM means was obvious.
The theme for NAMM 2023 was “Believe in Music.” It’s been a difficult few years for any gathering. That NAMM is back and thriving is important. It is important not only because we can enjoy the latest innovations and releases from our favorite brands and boutiques, but because we are all brought back together as lovers of the creative process, of music. In 2023, NAMM helped us to believe in music…again.
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