It's January, so that means NAMM time for Orange County gear heads–and close to 100,000 other vendors, artists, merchants and media from around the world. The Anaheim Convention Center becomes the industry's main nerve for the entire weekend, with artist and equipment showcases spilling over into the local clubs and eateries around the downtown area. Lots grown-up rockers with suits, earrings and ponytails; lots of Berklee grads shredding instruments better than you ever will; and lots of Guitar Center-style noodling on instruments you'll never afford with slightly more leeway for doing so. Classic overstimulation for music dorks.
Heard Mentality will be representing the local music media at this year's installment, and here is what we're looking at so far.
Breakfast with Woz: 8 a.m. Saturday, Hilton Pacific Ballroom
Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak provided the engineering muscle that launched the most important tech company in world, even though at first he never believed computers would have enough memory to play back a song, much less perform in compositional capacity. Woz knows how to throw a music festival too–check out the lineup from the US Festival (pronounced "us" not "U.S.") that he organized, held in San Bernardino over Labor Day weekend in 1982. Blows any Coachella lineup out of the water, right?
What the…a trombone circle?: 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Anaheim Convention Center
Not to be outdone by the annual drum circle that closes the convention each year, trombone have staked their own time and place to meet and riff off of each other. Who knows the chaos that may ensue when a dozen 'bone players attempt a free-form jazz odyssey in front of a festival audience. Some things you can only see at NAMM.
OC local scene represent
NAMM is very much a national affair, but there are a couple of bands with OC roots performing that shouldn't be overlooked. The Americana/bluegrass quintet Moonsville Collective won best live band of the year in 2012, and have been serious road dogs ever since so it will be good to po-dunk along with them at their convention set 2 p.m. Sunday at the GoPro Stage.
After pacing about the slick and polished convention environment for hours on end, stepping into the Doll Hut is a welcome change of pace. Santa Ana metal outfit 16 headlines Friday night's Heavy Rock Party. In case you didn't know, they're brutal as fuck, and have some of the baddest album art since Iron Maiden.
Casing the Asher Guitars Booth on Saturday
Two big-time guest appearances are listed for the Asher Booth–pedal steel virtuoso Robert Randolph, and the Orange County soft rock storyteller king Jackson Browne. There are no times listed for the appearances, so we'll have to depend on the rumor mill, which is pretty hit-or-miss at these types of events. Hoping to get a little lucky here.
Trying to get Lynched at the ESP Booth, 2:30 p.m. Friday
Say whatever you want about Dokken, but when it comes to shred virtuosity, nobody touches George Lynch–the weedliest of the weedle-wah '80s guitar dudes. The cool part is that Lynch's classic look and guitar style might be on its way back in vogue. Considering I spotted a legit hesher-hipster at Golden Road Brewery last weekend, iconic hair metal is due to re-descend upon LA within 18 months. You heard it here first, people. Ready yourself by watching the George Lynch Guitar Bible.