I'm writing having recently returned from a really big show in California where 100,000 people from the music business got together for three days - to talk, play, listen, buy, and sell. It's called NAMM and its fun but it can be so very stressful, especially when time and money are in short supply.
The show is not open to the public, meaning that everyone at the Anaheim Convention Centre in the shadow of Disneyland is there because they are in the business. One way or another, we are all there to learn something new. I'm came late to the business of music but I'm in it now, and I'm learning fast. Walking around at NAMM in the company so many rock stars, inspired musicians, producers, inventors and craftsmen, reminds me that for a kid from Williams Lake who has never been able to read or write music, I'm lucky to have come this far.
This trip, I signed an endorsement deal with Ernie Ball Stings, a company whose guitar strings I love and have used forever. And for anyone who read my blog about the early days and the story of a bandmate and a shotgun, I can tell you, even then I used Ernie Ball Strings. Meanwhile back to NAMM - I played and played, performances at booths everyday and at the All Star Guitar Night, as well as the Marriot Stage. It's lots of work, but it's so inspiring to perform for people whose lives are dedicated to the same ideals as mine.
When you are not performing at the big show, you sometimes get to chat with people whose talent takes your breath away. Players like Billie Sheenan, who agreed to play on a tune for my next CD and Lee Ritenour, who honoured me with an invitation to be one of the judges for the Six String Theory Competition. And then there was Seymour Duncan, a star in the guitar pickup world. His team added me to the acoustic pickup advisory group. It seems my guitar was heard and appreciated in places I could never have imagined, except by the Volume Police who insisted I dial it back. You might think they had better things to do at a Rock n Roll show.
And then there was my pal Randy, an unusual and amazing business man and an accomplished surgeon. Randy also plays the guitar and invented a cream called Guitar Hands to protect hands from dryness and the pain and discomfort of being used so much. It works incredibly well and I'm guessing Randy will do well with it and add another star to his long list of smart ideas.
Randy has an old VW and after a show one night, I joined he and his pals for an unimaginable four hour drive to dinner that included stops to pick up others including Gene Simmons guitar tech.
I never thought an old VW could hold so many people or that I could be so hungry for so long but rattling along that freeway, I came to remember what being in the moment really meant. I loved that feeling then and still do.
As always, being back home reflecting on the adventure of travelling makes it easy to forget about all the things that went wrong along the road. I guess that's because you learn from mistakes and then you move on. Dwelling on difficult moments has never helped me much. When I was going around the world 25 years ago as a team member of the Man In Motion tour, I learned that lesson over and over. And even today when I'm told to turn the volume down, I'm reminded that being young at heart, always gives you permission to 'play it loud'!
Here's a video from the All Star Guitar Night for you guys to check out...