For drummers living and visiting Southern California, NAMM is a music trade show in Orange County, and much more.  The week started with the Guitar Center DrumOff at L.A. Live. A performance by Shelia E. topped the drum celebration hosted by that featured 5 undiscovered drummers competing for top honors. The event also honored the two drummers behind James Brown’s legendary grooves, John “Jab’o” Starks and Clyde Stubblefield. This annual drum-centric hang was a great chance to see a ton of friends from the amazing community of drummers. 

The next night was Joey Heredia’s third annual Latin blowout at Joe’s in the Valley. Everyone knows I’m a huge fan of afro-Cuban drumming and this All Star event featured some of the world’s best players led by Joey Heredia, Alex Acuna, Richie Garcia,  Ronnie Gutierrez and more. Beyond the amazing Sambas and Bosa Novas, beat lovers heard amazing Charangas, funky Cariocas, Meringues and a repertoire of regional rhythms. 

The BonzoBash is the performance I wait for all year.  As a former Bonzo Basher, I get VIP treatment and watch show backstage, close enough to be awed by the strength, power and finesse of friends like Jason Sutter, John Hummel, Steven Perkins and Chad Szeliga tear up classic Led Zeppelin songs. Chas West was out front, and nobody does Robert Plant better than Chas. Phil Soussan, who actually played with Jimmy Page and so many others, is rock steady on bass.  Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio) covers lead guitar and if you’re crazy about rock drummer, Led Zeppelin (or both like me) this show is pure ecstasy.  I got to hang with legends like Carmen Appice and Iron Maiden’s NicoMcBrain.  Speaking of ecstasy, you’ll think I’m on crack but when Brian Tichy sits down and plays drums, I swear John Bonham is smiling from heaven. “Tich” takes Zep drumming to another level and is one of the best rock drummers in the world.  

Another of the world’s elite drummers, my pal Glen Sobel, had to miss this year’s Bonzo Bash. Glen was at Johnny Depp’s house rehearsing for his NAMM performance the next night with the Hollywood Vampires.  The band also features Joe Perry, Brad Whitford and Alice Cooper. 

I met with Anthony Citrinite of The Drummer’s Collective in New York City  Looks like I’ll be doing a clinic in early April at The Drummer’s Collective, Bass drums from Buddy to Bonzo.  More on that later, but I’m looking forward.

The NAMM convention is overwhelming: like 10 football fields of musical gear, recording equipment and everything related to music and sound.  I saw a ton of great new grip drummers would appreciate. The items that stood out were DWDrums new Stradivari Legno drums made with wood from the same forest used with Stradivarius violins. Guaranteed to be a coveted collector’s item, the drums have a broad, rich tone (I’m getting a snare drum). DW also came out with stainless steel drum sets that sound amazing, but are lighter in weight than the all-steel drums Gods like John Bonham used to play. I’m not talking about maple shells wrapped in chrome.  These are solid stainless steel shells; The drums look awesome, project amazingly and have been added to my “wish list” in case John Good is reading this, LoL. Sabian impressed me with their new XSR Fast Stax cymbals that create an dope effect you hear drummers using more and more to accent beats. The newest item I remember most from NAMM is called “Gearsecure,” a flexible “chip” the size of a dime you hide in your gear that tracks missing equipment on your cell phone.  Think of the pro drummer with his or her “go to snare drum” they never want to part with.   How about the starting guy whose playing shows with 5 other bands that night….how easy would it be to lose something? When Gearsecure finally comes out, you’ll be able to track lost or stolen property anywhere. I finished NAMM at the booth of BigBang Distribution meeting friends, fans and signing autographs.   These are the good folks that produce Ahead Drumsticks for guys like Tommy Lee and Lars Ulrich, including my own signature “Speed Stick®.”

It was the greatest week of partying with friends, seeing the coolest new equipment and hearing the best music. 

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