The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) held its semi-annual convention this week in America’s music city of Nashville, Tennessee. Known as one of the premier music industry events, the “big” show referred to as Winter NAMM is held every January in Anaheim, California, while the smaller, quaint Summer show is held every July in Nashville.

The halls of the Music City Convention center are filled with the latest and greatest offerings of musical gear from large global manufacturers like Yamaha, Roland, Peavey, Martin and Taylor, to name a few, to the small boutique manufacturers like Jodi Head Guitar Straps, Devilcat Amplifiers, Bohemian Guitars, loog guitars, jamstik and Tiptonic Custom Finger Picks.

Bohemian Guitars Booth at Summer NAMM 2015 Jodi Head Guitar Straps Booth at Summer NAMM 2015 IK Multimedia Products at Summer NAMM 2015
Taylor Guitars at Summer NAMM 2015 jamstik and puc at summer namm 2015 Loog Guitars

Having been to both the Winter and Summer shows, it’s inevitable that comparisons come to mind. If there’s one word to capture the spirit of Summer NAMM, it’s…tradition. Without a doubt, Nashville’s musical roots are second to none anywhere in the world and its impact is everywhere. Here at Summer NAMM, the insights from industry veterans, talented performers, and musical gear showcases, rise to the gold standard in the music industry.

The days started with NAMM U Breakfast sessions where NAMM President, Joe Lamond, and other music industry execs shared their experience, focus and direction. After breakfast, it’s “go time” as the doors of Summer NAMM open promptly at 10. There’s a wide array of clinics, demonstrations, and classes so planning is critical to make the most of your day.

Then there’s the fun challenge of seeing all the latest and greatest amazing gear from guitars to drums, software to hardware, and the cool, new gadgets that you wish you had thought of … and you’ve got to check these out — custom made in-ear monitors by Ultimate Ears with their new 3D digital ear impression technology, unique oil can guitars by Bohemian Guitars designed by brothers Adam and Shaun, 3 string guitars by loog guitars geared toward children, the jamstik+ smart guitar, new guitars for 2015 by Taylor, Martin, Yamaha and Schecter, and IK Multimedia’s latest and greatest apps, software, iRig, and iRig Mic Studio. This is just a fraction of all the cool, amazing gear to be found while wandering the aisles of Summer NAMM!

Steve McKinley chatting with Vince Gill at Summer NAMM 2015

But, for me, the crown jewel of Summer NAMM is the ability to truly talk to people. For example, I saw one of Country’s greats, Vince Gill, who put on an inspiring and heartfelt performance at the Music City Center’s Davidson Ballroom, and then was able to talk with him after the show about nail biting, custom finger picks, and telecasters … wow! Or having a cup of coffee with NAMM top dog, Joe Lamond, and talking about music industry trends and of all things, iPhones. And, kudos to the Summer NAMM staff who are world class professionals.

Joe LaMond President of NAMM and Steve McKinley Contributing Editor of Guitar Girl Magazine

Along with the tradition, insight and access experienced at Summer NAMM, is the eye on the future and the things to come. The panel speakers and clinic presenters navigate you through the current market and industry trends and offer perspective and insight for music professionals from players, songwriters and engineers to managers and retail business owners to expand and grow their presence.

And it goes with saying that the music at Summer NAMM is the cat’s golden meow. From the Johnny Cash incarnate, Jonathan Brown, to the “jump back, kiss myself” soulful depths of the Smoking Section, to the infectious divas of the Women’s International Music Network’s She Rocks Showcase founded by music industry professional Laura B. Whitmore, you find yourself swept away in the moods and feelings of the musical greats.

She Rocks Showcase - Summer NAMM 2015

So, in summary, it’s safe to say that Summer NAMM is a beautiful blend of true musical inspirations, unbridled spectacular talent, and clairvoyant visions of the future.

I’m still here and I simply cannot wait to come back to the Music City for more of what Summer NAMM has to offer.  So Music City is THE best spot for Summer NAMM.

Let it flow, 
Steve

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