The NAMM Show is next weekend and once again I’ll need to be there. There are just too many people that support my career with products, gear, and publishing to miss this annual event. It’s a bit of an overwhelming experience, but the good part is that I get to see a lot of friends and fans from all over the country.
My first NAMM Show was in 1983 when Tom Scholz (guitarist from the band Boston) hired me to demonstrate his new invention, the Rockman. This tiny headphone amplifier became the hit of the show that year and I just played in the booth for seven hours a day for four days straight. Various players sat in with me, and I remember (bassist) Jeff Berlin and I got a great little duet jam going. I was a kid and I didn’t mind being a “booth boy” that year. The following year I was hired to play the summer NAMM show in Chicago for the Roland Corporation. This was the year they invented MIDI, and they’d put together an entire presentation to demonstrate the power of the new technology. I love Chicago, but it was a not my cup of tea playing five shows a day with a band and wearing stupid MIDI t-shirts. At least we charged them a lot of money and got to bring our girlfriends….
Sometime in the late '80s my band got hired to play for the Electro Voice company. We had our own sound room that held around 150 people and we got to play my music and a different set each time. Another time I played for EV by myself at the Chicago NAMM, and Slash and Steve Morse sat in with me. In 1993 my buddy Chad Wackerman hired me to play in the Paiste Cymbals room—three shows a day. This was the year of the big L.A. earthquake and the 20th floor hotel room they provided me was swaying with the aftershocks. And I remember a few years in a row when I played with all the heavy drummers in the house band for the DW (Drum Workshop) party/ concert—Jim Keltner and Vinnie Caliuta in the same night. Once at the New Orleans NAMM, I jammed with Brian May in the Rocktron booth. I’ve done solo sets for THD amps, too. My string company Thomastik-Infeld has flown me to many summer NAMMs for signings, and it’s always a great hang dining with the Austrians. I’ve played their party in Hollywood and got to jam with bassists Ray Brown, Carol Kaye, and John Entwistle, all in the same night. Something like this is only possible at a NAMM show!
Over the years I’ve been to many more shows and had many more musical experiences. Come to think of it, it’s not that overwhelming at all. In fact, I’m beginning to look forward to it! —Carl Verheyen