Traveling to Nashville from the San Francisco Bay Area for the summer gear extravaganza can be a bit of a slog — stop-overs, late flights, connections, etc. -- but I never expected to get a "severe weather alert" text, as soon as I stepped off the plane in Music City, warning me that flash floods were possible. Odd. I understood as soon as my taxi left the airport's covered lot because a barrage of merciless rain slammed against the SUV. Even the 3.5 seconds it took me to open the taxi door and dash under the hotel's front canopy left me soaked. Twenty minutes later, all was dry. Strange weather this year.
NEW CONVENTION CENTER
The new Nashville Music City Center is mammoth. NAMM itself appears to take up just a sliver of the building. The bottom lounge looks like something you'd see in 2001: A Space Odyssey, with its '60s retro-futurama couches and hip chairs. But GP Senior Editor Art Thompson and I soon discovered that looks aren't everything. The wireless bandwidth in the joint was atrocious — a 15-second Instagram video took almost 45 minutes to "not" upload, and by the time I discovered the situation, my cell phone battery was half drained. Photo uploads failed, as well. Not good when you've promised GP readers instant photos from the show floor. Happily, we both devised some workarounds, and the photos were set free from our cameras. Whew.
An aerial view of the Music City Center.
TOUR OF THE NEW EPIPHONE OFFICES
Epiphone is set to unveil its new Nashville offices with a party and tours on Saturday, but I got a sneak peak on Thursday afternoon, and I took these photos to share:
Epiphone's Jim Rosenberg with a prototype of the modern replica of the company's late-1930s Century amp.
An original Century amp.
Vintage Epis atop the cabinets in the conference room.
The Wall of Epiphones in the performance/meeting space.
The sparkling new warehouse facility. Clean!
Beatles on the wall!
Paul Revere and the Raiders — a fave band of my youth. Drake Levin plays a Crestwood Deluxe; bassist Fang rocks an Embassy Deluxe.
Epiphone history in the entrance way
THE HUNT FOR FUZZ
As usual, I started my trek for cool fuzz pedals on Thursday — although meetings and the trip to Epiphone necessitated a slow start. Here are three of the little buzz demons I found before the show closed at 6 pm:
Skreddy Hybrid Fuzz Driver
GP contributor Michael Ross told me about this pedal, as he was very impressed with it — as well as the fact the demo guitarist was tweaking the knobs with his bare toes. By the time I get to the booth, there was no one in sight, and the pedal was missing two knobs. Hmmm. Definitely going to head back here on Friday.
El Rey Fuzz De La Muerte
This ghoulishly beautiful pedal delivers a soaring, thick, and buzz-o-rific fuzz attitude. A Gate control adds some retro spittle to note decays. I fell in love with this dead thing after just a few seconds of messing around with it. Stay tuned for a full review in a future issue of GP.
Rotosound recently revived the company's '60s prototype fuzz, which was never actually produced for sale, but nonetheless found themselves under foot of players such as Jimmy Page. While its retro-cool shape isn't exactly "modern pedalboard friendly," the Fuzz delivers a simultaneously chunky and fizzy caterwaul of vintage sonic madness that's well worth the board real estate.
UPCOMING IN MY DAY TWO REPORT
A faux "Beatles" concert on a rooftop in downtown Nashville, the fuzz quest continues, weird products, and cool guitars. See ya tomorrow.
— Michael Molenda