As you can see from this photo with Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden, I had a amazing time at the NAMM show in Anaheim last week. It was a whirlwind of walking, talking, playing, meeting new friends, running into old ones, trying out gear, hanging with my drum heroes and trying to stay dry in the uncharacteristically soggy California weather. I got to meet Kenny Aronoff and film a Facebook livesteam of him with Modern Drummer's Billy Amendola at an autograph session (more on Billy later). I chatted with Carmine Appice and Bernard Purdie, took a picture with Joe Porcaro and heard some inspiring words from Omar Hakim. I was honored to be asked to do a couple product demonstrations at manufacturer booths, and happy to hang with my old friend Carras Paton who played at the Zemaitis guitar booth on Friday. I ran into a lot of New Yorkers: Steve Jenkins, Mark Giuliana, Teddy Kumpel, Wayne Livingston, JV Vidopio, Elsa Nilsson, Cody Rahn, Tomas Doncker and his crew (Marla, James, Mike Griot), monster studio drummer Steven Wolf, and my old Boston pal Ben Zecker. But the most special experience was wandering the halls with Billy Amendola, his lovely wife Chris, and MD super-photographer Alex Scola. Besides being a great ambassador for the drumming community, Billy is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet and was probably the most popular person at NAMM (as evidenced by the fact that we couldn't go 2 feet without someone stopping him for a hug or a picture). Chris put it best: "just like that show Everybody Loves Raymond, Everybody Loves Billy".
I will definitely reflect back fondly on the last few days, and can't wait for next year's NAMM show so we can do it all over again. But in the words of Baltimore Orioles Manager and armchair philosopher Buck Showalter, I'll need to "sleep fast" to be ready for a busy week ahead. Yesterday I hit the studio to record some percussion tracks with Jann Klose and Annie Haslam (Renaissance), and tomorrow includes a show at Tomi Jazz in midtown with the Michael Gallant Trio. Then more studio time with Skulk The Hulking, and a big one at Irving Plaza on Friday with Cristiano. Drums!! Yes, na'mm.