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Inside Summer NAMM 2014, Part 1

Jul 3, 2014 11:18 AM, With Bennett Liles


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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

With the Summer NAMM show about to get going at Nashville’s Music City Center, there are a million and one technical details to tie down and make sure things go smoothly and the guy who heads the tech team to make it all happen is NAMM’s Pete Johnston. He’s here to tell us about what’s going on to get it all ready. That’s next up on the SVC Podcast.

Pete Johnston, it’s fantastic having you here for the SVC Podcast. Supervising Producer and Technical Director of Special Events for the National Association of Music Merchants, NAMM as it’s usually better known.

That’s correct, and it’s great to be here. That title sure is a mouthful, isn’t it? Well, it’s lofty-sounding, but I’m sure there’s lots to do on that job. I’m not sure I would want to be that.

Yeah.

Well, things are heating up. We’re coming right down on the show and a lot of things need to be coming together so where exactly are we right now on all of the technical preparations for the big Summer NAMM show in Nashville?

You know, last year was kind of a bigger deal because we were moving into a brand-new facility and we didn’t really know what we had, so we had a lot of big questions going in. But this year we’ve got a nice blueprint laid out from everything we learned last year at Summer NAMM. We didn’t really change a lot, so the technical preparations are going pretty good so far. I’m working with an AV crew that I’ve had for a number of years. They’re good guys and they know our show. Our infrastructure is there, so we’re just hoping to pull the same thing off that we did last year basically. [Timestamp: 1:46]

Always a huge advantage when you have a familiar crew to work with going into something like this. I talked to Eric Geer about GeerFab’s solution for taming the acoustics in Anaheim’s Pacific Ballroom for the Winter NAMM show. How does Music City Center in Nashville compare acoustically with the site of the winter show?

Yeah, well, you know that Pacific Ballroom in Anaheim is a much bigger nightmare than what we’ve got in Music City Center. Because it is Music City Center, I think they’ve put a little more effort into dealing with sound issues in that facility. Not to say that there’s not problems with that room, like any ballroom that’s usually set up for a talking head and a few speakers, and here we come with all of our fancy shows and music. It can make it a challenge, but it’s not near the challenge that the Pacific Ballroom is specifically because of the parabolic shape that the architects put into that Pacific Ballroom in Anaheim that really just is a nightmare for sound. But there are some ways we’re looking at improving Music City Center. We’re talking about possibly wrapping the stage with some of the panels that we used in Anaheim for summer. We’re not at this moment planning to bring all the panels that we had in Anaheim to Summer NAMM because the Nashville Convention Center doesn’t necessarily have all the outside rigging points that we need to make it happen like we do in Anaheim, but we are talking about bringing them in in a smaller capacity perhaps around the stage areas to help with the stage sound. [Timestamp: 3:04]

Yeah, I would think that’s the most critical area where everything is happening. There will be a lot of very discerning ears in that crowd and they’ll expect a lot. What sort of special events are you planning for the show?

Well, for Summer NAMM, we’ve got quite a few special events this year. We’ve added this series, it’s called NAMM at Night. Each night there’s something exciting going on in the ballroom. The preshow Wednesday night before the show, we’ve got a great insights event. It’s going to be hosted by Vince Gill and Tom Bedell of Two Old Hippies guitars and they’re going to bring some friends along with them and talk shop and play a little music, and that should be a nice way to kick off the Wednesday night before the show. Thursday night I think we’ve got a Muriel Anderson event in there that’s a fundraiser for Little Kids Rock. That’s always a great concert event. She brings a ton of top-notch talent to that event every year. Friday night, of course, is one of our premier events. We’ve got the NAMM Top 100 Dealer Awards. That’s an awards show for our retailers and we award the top dealer of the year and we also have eight categories of awards that we hand out through the night. That’s always a fun night. [Timestamp: 4:09]



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