National Association of Music Merchants Trade Show
July 18-20, 2003 Nashville Convention Center
Click any image to see the slide show
The opportunity to work this year's annual summer NAMM session in Nashville
fell into my lap almost by accident. I had an extended vacation from work
coming and was planning my activities. In addition to some traveling with
my wife Rasa, I also contacted Greg Howard regarding heading out to
Charlottesville when he told me he would be attending the summer NAMM show
in Nashville and suggested I come along. Stick Enterprises had not been
represented at a summer NAMM session in quite some time. Emmett was not
planning on attending personally and, at that point, Greg was the only
one signed up to work the booth. I checked my calendar and quickly agreed
to help out. During our planning stage, I also discovered that two of my
fellow Detroit Stick players, Steve Osburn and Gary Jibilian, would also
be attending. Gary had already signed up to perform on his NS/Stick at the
Euphonic Audio booth and Steve, being a store owner, was attending as such.
Gary agreed to add the Stick Enterprises booth to his schedule of
performances. In addition to our booth, Greg was also scheduled to perform
at the EMG booth as well as the Moses Graphite booth. With only two of us at
the SE booth, Greg and I figured that a third pair of hands would help out
considerably when things got real crazy and while Greg was performing
elsewhere. At that point, we asked Steve if he would be willing to fill
that role and he agreed.
Just a few days prior to the show, boxes began arriving in Charlottesville
and Detroit containing all the elements of the booth as well as merchandise
and instruments. On Wednesday the 16th, we hit the road for the nine hour
drive to Nashville. On the morning of the 17th, we loaded all of our boxes
into the Nashville Convention Center and began assembling the booth. Our
space turned out to be in a great area. We were up on the 2nd floor mezzanine.
The convention center was three floors and the layout of these areas on
each floor was booths around the perimiter with open railings, stairs, and
escalators in the center. That meant that none of the mezzanine booths had
another booth directly in front of them. It also meant we didn't have the
constant noise that you get in the main room and we also had a lot of foot
traffic which is good when you're trying to get as many people's attention
as you can. Our sound system worked out really well too. Both Greg and I
brought our racks and we both used Greg's SWR amplifier. The speakers
were supplied by Bag End. We picked them up at a local music store on the
way into the convention center.
Our setup took several hours and we didn't get out of the convention center
until after 6:00PM. Our booth was flanked on one side by Traveler Guitars
and on the other by Moog Music. We all introduced ourselves since we would
be seeing a lot of each other this weekend. In addition to those outfits,
I also had a chance to meet Ned Steinberger and Roger Linn, both legends
of 80s musical instrument culture and Ned, of course, being the co-designer
of the NS/Stick.
On Friday morning, it all started. We got in early to pull out the instruments
and merchandise before the 10:00AM opening of the exhibit hall. At 9:00AM,
Greg performed in the atrium of the Gaylord Entertainment Center across the
street. This was also the show registration area giving Greg an opportunity
to perform for a lot of people and also direct them over to our booth. While
he performed, I put the last minute touches on the booth.
10:00 came and when the announcement was made that the exhibit hall was open,
people began pouring down the escalator from the third floor and many found
themselves at our booth as their first stop. Greg had just returned with the
sound system and we were feverishly getting it all hooked up. We did our
best to answer questions while plugging in cables at the same time. Once the
system was up and running, I was standing their with my Stick on and Greg
looked over and said "knock yourself out". I guess that was a cue to start
making some noise.
The first day went really well. We managed to generate quite a bit of
attention due to our location and also the performances that went on all
day. Greg performed twice at the EMG booth that day as well as once at
the Moses booth. While he was away, Steve Osburn filled in working the
booth with me and he and I took turns performing. Gatherings around our
booth became commonplace over the weekend. It was nice to hear Steve play
too. It's something I don't hear nearly often enough.
All day we worked the booth. During the morning hours, I had watched Greg
(being a veteran of these shows) working with people interested in the
instrument and took direction from what he was doing (some things just don't
change I guess). By the time the afternoon rolled around, we were all
strapping Sticks on to anyone interested and even some who didn't start out
interested. Having the various preamps with headphones hooked up was a huge
plus. Usually our line about "we have headphones ... nobody has to hear" was
the final straw that got people to strap on an instrument.
During the lunch hour, I went up to the food court which took up the entirety
of the third floor and discovered another benefit of our location. I had been
through the buffet area and was in line for the cash register when I realized
that, above all the noise, I could hear the unmistakable sound of Greg Howard
playing Pachelbel's Canon. From where we were setup, his playing permeated
all of the third floor whenever he played in the booth. That went on pretty
much the entire weekend and was really cool.
At one point during the day, a couple of guys, Ryan and Robert, from Low Down
Sound came by with a questions about dealing instruments. When they gave
me their business card, I noticed that their store was on 9 Mile Rd in
Ferndale, Michigan. My badge actually said Woodland Hills, California so
they didn't realize I was from their area. That really broke the ice when I
told them they were in my neighborhood (or at least just a couple of blocks
from where Coup Detroit rehearses). They came back later on and got Denise
Jibilian to snap a picture of the two of them, myself, and Gary. As the
weekend went on, I had a handful of similar experiences with Michiganders
Among the notables that I managed to see or meet on the first day were
Steve Mosher who makes the graphite Stick XG™ blanks for Emmett,
Villen Khanagov who makes the PASV-4™ Stick pickup, and Wooten brothers
everywhere I looked.
Day two started out just like day one. Greg hauled the sound system over
to the atrium to play at 9:00AM while I got the booth ready. Today, we met
up with long time Stick player David Parr. David lives in the Nashville
area and we'd called him up and asked if he wanted to check out the NAMM
show. David met us at the convention center and spent most of the day at
the booth. We had actually intended getting him into check out the exhibits
for his own benefit but he ended up helping out at the booth a lot that day.
He answered questions and even took some time in the afternoon to perform.
Way above and beyond the call of duty and we were very grateful. His playing
was really nice too. He had actually grabbed my instrument when I'd taken
off a bit to grab some coffee. When I came back down, he started to hand
the instrument back over. Not wanting to stop a good thing, I motioned for
him to carry on and sat back and listened for a while.
Steve Oz was back on Saturday as well pitching and playing. He had to split
for a while at the same time Greg was doing some performing elsewhere so he
got Aaron Wolf to help out a bit. Aaron is a really good player and knows a
lot about the products (he works at Oz's) so he worked out really well in
Later that afternoon, Gary Jiblian came by and played tunes for about a half
hour or so showing off the NS/Stick. His playing was really good and his
appearance was real timely as the NS had been getting a lot of attention
over the weekend. He ran a bunch of tunes from his "Galaxy Rodeo" CD and
managed to draw several people to the booth.
After Saturday's session wrapped up, Greg, David, Steve Mosher, and myself
went and had dinner at a place called "Tin Angel". Someone at the show had
recommended it to Greg and it turned out to be fantastic. We were in there
for quite a while eating and chatting. Great fun.
Sunday was the last day. Greg opted out of any additional performances
with the exception of the Stick Enterprises booth. Things were just a little
bit slower than the previous days but we still managed to get a lot of
attention at the booth. It was a day also that everyone just seemed to get
a little looser so we had more interaction with the other exhibitors around
us. When 4:00PM rolled around, the summer NAMM session closed it's doors.
We had just started to pack up when a couple of the Oak Ridge Boys came by
the booth. One of the members of their band is Ron Fairchild who plays Stick
with them so they had actually come looking for us (even though Ron wasn't
with them). I'm not really a fan and don't even know their stuff so I didn't
know who they were until they introduced themselves. We really enjoyed
talking with these guys though and they really were two of the nicest guys
you would ever want to meet.
Our pack up went quite a bit quicker than the setup (although it still
took quite a while). We got everything we brought packed neatly back into
boxes and hauled it all out to the cars. From there, we grabbed dinner and
then went back to the hotel. In the evening before we retired, Greg was
kind of enough to sit down and do a Stick lesson with me which I appreciated
very much. Especially considering we'd both been playing and talking
constantly about the Stick for three straight days. This was, of course,
considerably more low key though and a nice wrapup to the weekend.
Monday morning, we both hit the road bright and early. The trip back was,
again, a nine hour journey and I managed to avoid the worst of the storms
rolling into Tennessee and Michigan. Back at home, I unloaded the boxes
from SE and re-packed them for shipping back to California.
With the boxes packed, the laundry done, my car unloaded, and several days
before I have to return to work, I did the only thing I could do after that.
I plugged in and played Stick.