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NAMM 2014 – Rockstar Sightings!

NAMM 2014 – Rockstar Sightings!

Jan 29, 2014

I spent the first two days just going hard and taking all the gear photos that I could, and by the end of it, to be honest, I was pretty sick of looking at guitars. I whipped out the NAMM app on my phone, and thought I’d have an idle look through and see whether I could spot anyone famous that I’d like to try and meet – little did I know what I was getting myself into…

Paul Gilbert

I actually ended up seeing Paul twice. The first time was when I lined up for about 30 mins to meet him at the TC Electronic booth. As you may have seen on Facebook/Twitter, when I first noticed him, I maaay have jumped up and down a little bit and made a squealing noise… hahah.

Anyway, I’d heard a few days earlier that Paul was going to be at the show, so I stopped off at Amoeba Music on Sunset Blvd and grabbed an old copy of Mr Big’s Lean Into It, an album that I dig and still listen to all the time.

Paul was awesome enough to sign a poster for me AND my Mr Big CD. Here’s my picture with Paul – I’m the short one grinning like an idiot. I may also have exclaimed I’M SO EXCITED when I finally got to shake his hand…

The picture came out a bit fuzzy, which is just how I felt inside after meeting Paul.

I actually ended up seeing Paul again 2 days later at the launch of his new Ibanez Fireman. I asked him a question and he actually took the time to explain the answer to me – this guy really is the nicest, most down to earth rockstar you’ll ever meet.

Jeff Loomis

Jeff Loomis actually walked by me like 3 times the first day I was at NAMM. I still haven’t quite figured out how to interact with inspirational guitar heroes, and found myself tongue tied and unable to even blurt out his name to try and attract his attention.

I didn’t actually end up talking to him.

But luckily enough I made it to a mini-performance he did at the Schecter booth. He played two songs from the upcoming Conquering Dystopia release, one of which I captured on video here:

It’s one thing watching it on Youtube, but seeing guys like Jeff do what they do in real life, 2 feet away from your face, is just amazing.

Marty Friedman

When I first spotted Marty, I was actually piling into the PRS showcase room for another event. But then, I spotted this skinny little dude with a huge shock of curly hair – HOLY CRAP it IS him!

He was talking to two other guys who sounded like they were actually saying important things to him, so I hung back and just kinda loitered, waiting for a chance to say hi.

When they finally finished talking, I nervously went up to Marty and asked if he would take a picture with me. He was really, really cool about it, and just came off as a lovely dude.

Here’s me with Marty:

me and marty


I also ended up going to the launch of his PRS SE signature guitar, where he did some absolutely killer playing. In awesome rockstar fashion, he got them to crank the PA so high the speakers were distorting…

Paul Reed Smith

I’ll admit, I didn’t really quite know what Paul looked like… turns out he was standing just across from me in the main PRS room, and when I went next door,  I ended up holding the door for him! He was a cool dude, and his presentation on the evolution of the PRS Custom 24 was pretty hilarious – I mean, this guy could almost have his own stand up show, haha.

Here’s Paul chatting with Marty about the new Marty Friedman SE:


Richie Kotzen

Richie is a big hero of mine – the dude is just an absolute talent, amazing on drums, guitars, bass and vocals. I’d been hanging out for the chance to meet him, and made sure I was 40 minutes early getting to the Samson booth so that I could… holy shit, the line was already about 100 strong, and snaking across 3-4 booths!!

I ended up sitting in line for 1.5 hours in front of a fucking trumpet booth. Goddamn, those things are loud.

When I finally got to meet him, to be honest, I was a little disappointed. I mean, I get it, he was in a line-up of 5 guys, just kinda signing their way through fans… but when I tried to have even a really brief conversation with him, he was standoffish and a little distant and cold, which sucked. I still love his music, but I guess I’m a little let down by that.

Anyway, here’s the quick pic I snapped of him, since we weren’t allowed pics with them:

I also ended up getting sigs from a couple of other guys like Glenn Hughes, Mike Inez and John Moyer.

Mike Portnoy

Mike Portnoy was also in the Samson line-up. He seemed nice, and even made the poster out to my friend Joe who is a massive fan of his.

Honorable Mention:

I also met Bruce Egnater, though he wandered off from his booth, and so did I.

Dan Boul of 65 Amps was in his booth demoing the new Whiskey, and he was as awesome in real life as he seems online, though sadly he was talking business with some dealers so I figured I shouldn’t interrupt. I just grabbed this quick video and went on my merry way…

At the Saturday night NAMM party at the Marriot, I also spotted Reinhold Bogner, a very tall man with large horn rimmed glasses, dancing hilariously to the music.

Fanboy Fun

People will tell you NAMM is about the gear, but personally, being able to see or meet some of the most inspirational characters in my musical life was a definite highlight of the event. If I had to choose between seeing yet another booth of guitars and hanging out with Paul Gilbert, I know which one it would be!

Did you hang out at NAMM 2014? Who did you spot?

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