Best & Worst of 2012 Summer NAMM
Best Overkill in the Name of Durability
While most “normal” snare drums typically feature 6-12-ply shells, DrumMax is truly maxing things out with their 50-ply snare drum, as shown in this photo with Leonardo Baroncini.
Worst Decision for the Cash-Strapped
Just walking into Gruhn Guitars is an annual test of wills. I – no hyperbole – desperately want (need!) about 90 percent of what’s hanging on the walls. This year’s gut-wrencher was reluctantly saying goodbye to this gorgeous 1929 National Style #2 tri-cone. (Although I’d have been pretty happy to have walked away with that 1969 Dan Armstrong bass or that ’53 Les Paul Custom, or…)
Best ‘Oh Hey – Look Who it Is!’ Sighting
D’Addario’s pre-Show bash on Wednesday was, once again, one of the better shindigs of the week. In addition to delicious Jack’s BBQ, open bar, and free accessories (thanks for the drum key and guitar strings, D’Addario!), the 2012 party also featured a performance from none other than John Oates, of ‘70s and ‘80s hit-making duo, Hall & Oates. Regrettably, his glorious moustache was nowhere in sight (neither was Hall. I guess he was busy that night?), but Oates played a stellar set (Who knew he played guitar that well? Why did G.E. Smith get all the solos on the records? Weird…) and – aside from the missing ‘stache – the guy hasn’t aged a day.
Best (and Worst) Brunch
Associate editor Eliahu Sussman couldn’t (still can’t!) stop raving about the dish he ordered (linguine, bacon, goat cheese, and scallions topped with two fried eggs) when we visited The Southern Steak & Oyster on 3rd Avenue South. It was no doubt better than what I ate: limp lettuce mixed with ample amounts of Miracle Whip, and topped with soggy Kellog’s Corn Pops masquerading as a Caesar Salad (not pictured).
Best ‘Ok, Maybe it Is Worth That Much…’ Instrument
$10,000 is a pretty steep price tag for any non-Stradivarius instrument, but the detail and mother-of-pearl inlay on this banjo from Axl Guitars makes a compelling argument for justifying the expense…
Best ‘Well, That Clears Things Up…’ Signage
The Downtown Presbyterian Church threw us for a loop on Thursday when we walked by and read what you see in the photo above. Friday’s posting, “Sunday Worship 11:00. Dancing Queens Welcome,” was less inherently contradictory, but still pretty odd.
Best Press Conference Treat
On Thursday, PreSonus gathered industry folks and members of the press to announce (among other things) their acquisition of Nimbit, a direct-to-fan sales and promotion platform. The news was good for both organizations, but the highlight of the night was this delicious fried green tomato BLT!
Worst (Best?) Weather
A photo of the Nashville Convention Center’s outdoor sign reading “102 F” (or something similar) is a familiar sight for most longtime readers of MMR’s post-Show reports. Well… not this year. I suppose it all depends on whether you like the stifling, sticky heat that’s usually standard fare while we’re at Summer NAMM, but there’s no question that the climate this year was decidedly… un-Nashville-ish (that’s a word, right? It is now). Frequent downpours and temperatures that, on some nights, were almost “cool” (gasp!) set 2012 apart from previous trips to Music City.” Behold the gloomy view from our room on the 17th floor at the Renaissance Hotel on Friday.
Even by today’s relatively abysmal airline-reliability standards, MMR’s “NAMM team” consistently has terrible, terrible luck. While associate publisher Rick Kessel made it back home without incident on Saturday night, the following evening, the editors found our projected one-hour layover in Charlotte N.C. stretching into two, then three, and ultimately five(!) hours. Getting home at 1:40 am is no fun.
I’ve sung its praises in previous “Best & Worst” roundups, but it really is always a pleasure to walk through the doors to The Springwater Supper Club & Lounge. Don’t let the fancy name fool you, though – this is a dive to trump all dives: Pool table – check; Dart boards – check; Super-sketchy clientele – check; Friendly staff who remember me – check; No surfaces or appliances with any evidence of having been dusted or cleaned since the late ‘70s – check; Jukebox with many of my favorite tunes (and patrons who don’t assault me for playing “my music” on repeat all night long) – check. Boston used to have a handful of these types of places, but nowadays we’re virtually all Irish-themed tourist “pubs” and sports bars. God bless the Springwater…
Best Wake-Up Call
Associate editor Eliahu Sussman returned from Friday’s NAMM Breakfast Session with glowing reviews for guitarist Joe Robinson, who (says Sussman) “thrilled the sleepy audience with dazzling soulful, jazzy, and upbeat guitar work, including some lightning fast runs that earned him mid-song standing ovations (seriously, check this kid out!).”