Part 2: Day Two of NAMM, Lita Ford, Steel Panther & more.
For the first time in a few years of attending NAMM, I woke after the first night, not only at a reasonable time, but without a headache of some sort. One of the advantages of having my wife there not only handling some of my business, but handling me as well. Come to think of it, I barely touched the bottle of Jager I opened before starting Thursday night’s activities. However, I wasn’t pain free. If you read my “NAMM: Part 1” blog, then you might recall before we headed out on Thursday night, back at the hotel, I drilled my toe on the post under the bed. When I got up this Friday morning, my foot was killing me. One look and I could see why. I broke it. Yup, there was no doubt due to it’s large size and lovely shade of purple & black. No big deal though, after all, I only had a convention to walk around for 3 more days, lol.
Nicole and I took our showers and got ready, returned a few texts and e-mails, and I proceeded to find out why my new business cards hadn’t arrived this morning. While I was dealing with that, our good friend Bo finally made it to the hotel and we headed over to Coco’s to grab a bite. I have to admit, Coco’s rocks, with even more of an appreciation after our debacle at Denny‘s the next afternoon… which I’ll be sure to write about later. So it was a nice change of pace not being rushed to get to the convention, able to enjoy breakfast at our leisure, since I had gotten so much business done on Thursday, this day was more about following up with some companies and getting in some networking.
After somehow powering down Coco’s entire Lumberjack Breakfast, it was over to the convention center we went. While Bo checked in to get his badge and we waited on Carrie joining us, I decided to drop a few loud “F bombs” outside the entrance dealing with my biz card printers… who needs coffee to wake you up. With my blood boiling and the pain pill numbing my broken toe, it was time to roam the convention center.
Friday is much busier than Thursday of course, which get you ready for the real day of insanity, Saturday. That said it was off to make the rounds, and again, in no time we were running into friends left and right. Happily one of which was one of my favorite friends, guitar great Gary Hoey. I’m so glad we did, as he let us know that he was going to be playing my big show later that night, sitting in with Lita Ford at the House Of Blues. Part of my networking for the day also included spreading the word for all the shows I would be a part of all weekend, and Lita Ford, who was opening for Warrant was one of them.
After hanging with Gary for a bit it was off to Gibson Guitars to see Satchel, the lead guitarist of Steel Panther, who was doing a signing for the launch of his new signature series guitars with Kramer. One, a purple leopard print guitar, and the other in yellow. It doesn’t get more Panther than that. Seeing a line to meet Satchel, we noticed a fun display at Gibson. It was their take on the Game Of Thrones “throne” with their’s made of guitars instead of swords. We nabbed a quick picture of me sitting in the throne and then it was over to say hi to Satchel.
Crazy to see such a huge line waiting to meet him, but if anyone deserves the success, it’s all the guys in Steel Panther. Am I biased? But of course, knowing the history of myself and them, which is a great story for a future blog. It was fitting after saying hi to Satchel, the first person we ran into was Michael Starr, Panther’s lead singer, walking around outside Gibson. We chatted for a bit, talking about their recent performance the week before on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, which I was a guest of theirs at, and the show Panther was headlining later that Friday night at The Grove Of Anaheim. Somehow I was going to need to get out of House Of Blues in time to get to HOB to catch them.
We realized we had a long night ahead of us and we did something we rarely do, we decided to leave the convention around 5pm and head back to the hotel for a little down time. It was a great plan except for trying to walk by the double rows of gourmet food trucks parked outside the convention center, and us hungry. So a quick stop for a meeting with a giant bratwurst (go ahead, you know you want to leave a comment below on that one, lol), and I was ready for my walk back to the hotel. Once there Nicole was out like a light, so it was relax time for Bo and I we figured. I chilled out, answered some emails, texts and what not, then started to get ready for our night.
It seemed that the past 32 hours had finally hit Nicole, so after her nap, she had decided she was done with NAMM. Bless her heart, she had done so much for me in the two days at the convention, she earned the escape. Luckily she had enough energy to drop us off at Downtown Disney, where Bo, Carrie and I met up with our friend Ron, headed over to Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express for a little Gumbo Ya Ya and Beignets before heading over to the House Of Blues for the first of the two shows this weekend that I had been working promotions for there. After a tasty bite to eat, we walked across to HOB, met up with a few more friends, picked up our tix at Will Call and headed into the show.
With so many shows going on the Friday night of NAMM, it was pretty cool to not only see a packed house, but realize I knew a large portion of the crowd. Our timing was perfect as Lita Ford was just about to go on, and we managed to get a spot to watch, right by the side of the stage up front. Out Lita came, and tore it up right away, covering Elton John’s “Bitch Is Back” and then right into one of her biggest hits of the 80’s, “Hungry.” She went into two of her new songs, which worked perfectly with her special guest, but you already knew who that was going to be, Gary Hoey.
He had actually produced the album and played the title song from that album with her, “Living Like A Runaway”. The crowd was just as pumped up as the band, and that energy Lita and the guys had continued as they launched into two more hits of hers, “Gotta Let Go” and “Can’t Catch Me”. Then she really turned up the heat, performing two classic hits of her early days with The Runaways, the monster hit “Cherry Bomb” and “Black Leather”. She was hardly done, because speaking of monster hits, it was time for her two biggest of course, with “Close My Eyes Forever” and ended with “Kiss Me Deadly”. I can honestly say, I’ve had the pleasure of working on many of Lita’s shows, especially over the past few years, but this might of been one of her best I’ve seen. Her incredible band consisting of Marty O’Brien, Patrick Kennison & Bobby Rock, didn’t hurt, sounding tight as can be. Maybe it was because of NAMM, knowing she was playing in front of many of her peers as well as so many fans. All I know is she was on top of her game. She was looking better than ever, her voice not losing a bit since the early days and she rocked it as only she knows how to do.
Warrant was up next, but I had just gotten word that Steel Panther’s set was moved up over at The City National Grove of Anaheim, so out to Downtown Disney we went, making our way to the other end where the taxi’s were, hopped in a couple and off we went.
Luckily we already had our passes, so in and down to the front next to the stage, just as Panther came on. The place was packed, and I’m sure the earlier Coffin Case Fashion Show didn’t hurt the crowds high energy level. It was amazing how many people had never seen Steel Panther, let alone the handful that took them too seriously and didn’t understand the parody they are.
You would think they caught the sense of humor opening with “Pussywhipped,” then into their first hit off their latest album, “Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World.” But leave it to NAMM for a few twists, the first was Megadeth’s lead guitarist, Marty Friedman joining Panther for “Asian Hooker.” That had most the crowd won over, with “Just Like Tiger Woods” keeping the hilarity going.
Then it was their next surprise, and even a cooler one. KISS lead guitarist, Tommy Thayer came out they played the KISS classic, “I Love It Loud”, unreal. What could top that? Well Tommy performing one more song with them… “Gang Bang At The Old Folks Home.” Yes, if you’ve never seen them, that’s one of the songs off the latest album “All You Can Eat.” Between rocking out and laughing our asses off, you could see most of the crowd was doing the same. Singer Michael Starr, guitarist Satchel, bassist Lexxi Foxx and drummer Stix Zadinia were having just as much fun as everyone else at the Grove. The hilarity ensued with their biggest hit, “Community Property,” then “If I Was The King,” my favorite “Gloryhole” and they finished off with “Death To All But Metal.” What a performance. Pure 80’s comedic rock of a show at its best!!!
As the lights came on it was to the lobby and bar we went, socializing with so many of our friends and NAMM folk alike. A few pics, laughter of the show and then we were primed to hit the lions den… the Anaheim Hilton main lobby and bar. So the crew hopped in a few cabs and off we went. If you’ve never been to the Hilton during NAMM, then it’s hard to describe, but if you have, you know what I mean by insanity. It’s basically ground zero for everyone partying. No matter what show someone’s been at, they all seem to make their way here before last call. Especially those that don’t even go to the convention know they can get in here, and they do just that. Some may not like this, but I admit, a couple years ago, I liked when the Hilton only let in people with NAMM badges or hotel key cards. It was still packed, but not unruly. These days, it’s back to that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a blast. A great way to see people you haven’t in ages, though most forget they even saw you the next day, lol. I would also like to get a drink from the bar and it not take 20-30 minutes, that’s just a joke, and not a funny one.
Lucky for us, we were only there for about 30 minutes before they called last call and the house lights went on. I managed to check out the stage where I would be hosting the next night, have one more drink, take 20 more pictures and head back to our hotel. Yes, our hotel. I’m just too old to go upstairs to the all the parties in the various rooms at the Hilton. Believe it or not, I didn’t want any blow, didn’t need to drink till the sun came up nor need to get laid. Crazy, huh? Lol. Amazing what some people do find “crazy,” is that I go to the convention to get work done. I’m not saying I don’t have fun, sheesh, did you not read all the adventures just this Friday night alone, lol. So blowing off NAMM by sleeping all day wasn’t in the cards. I’ll save that for my Vegas trips.
After the Hilton staff and security finally cleared the lobby, Bo and I said goodnight to the crew and off to our hotel we walked. A short stroll on a nice crisp night, a stop at AM/PM for some snacks, a little Rehab Addict on TV and we were ready for slumber land. Thursday and Friday were in the books, now time for some sleep to get up and do it all again on Saturday…