Stories from NAMM

Music Merchants madness

Wayne Riker (right) relied on his New York cab experience to get his friends to NAMM.
  • Wayne Riker (right) relied on his New York cab experience to get his friends to NAMM.

The annual NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention just wrapped in Anaheim, and San Diego musicians were well represented, as performers, consumers, and product endorsers.

Guitarist Wayne Riker has been attending the convention for 38 years in a row, promoting his numerous guitar-method books for Alfred Publishing. This year he loaded up his ride in order to chauffeur fellow six-stringers Bart Mendoza, Sandra Castillo, and Dave Fleminger, despite the heavy traffic and heavier weather. The group made it close to the venue before encountering total blockage. “At that point I said, ‘Hang on, everyone, I’m going to put my New York City cab experience to work,’” says Riker. “I stepped on the gas and drove around the bumper-to-bumper lane, zooming 50 feet past the right-hand turn, bypassing the snarl and proceeding the wrong way down a one-way street opposite the massive traffic jam. With my hazard flashers blinking amid the pouring rain and rampant wind, I dropped my terrified cohorts at the foot of the registration tent and headed back up the street the right way with law enforcement probably thinking I must have been an emergency vehicle or someone really important.”

"Some Other Time"

...by Zo Shah

...by Zo Shah

Trumpeter Gary Rich believes his horn is “dying” and he set out to purchase a very specific replacement instrument, only to be told that the company he was interested in had run out of passes and he couldn’t gain entrance. All, however, was not lost. “Because he was in town for NAMM, I met Terry Warburton from Warburton Horns, and he is sending me a model to try out. I’ve heard great things about them.”

San Diego guitarist Zo Shah came to the attention of the Austin-based Collings Guitars when they found a YouTube video of him playing one of their instruments. “I told them I’d be going to NAMM,” says Shah. “And they said I should stop by their booth. I went by and they expressed interest in sponsoring me since I’m producing content they can use. Of course, I said yes, and they are now building my dream hollow-body!”

Not everyone walked away with a new instrument or an endorsement deal. Pianist Danny Green played a gig at the Museum of Making Music stage and just enjoyed the scene. “It’s pretty surreal walking through the convention center,” Green recalls. “Being surrounded by thousands of musicians and industry people... I had fun checking out the new instruments.”

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