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Miller Time in Anaheim

I was warned by jazz-savvy East Coasters about my second voyage to winter NAMM, that larger-than-life California trade show where the instrument industry debuts the axes and gadgets that will haunt credit statements in the following year. The first time out, I was promised, would be funny and surreal, and it was: Like a Reagan-era metalhead’s bedroom walls brought to life, the exhibit halls featured a who’s-who of VH1 Classic regulars and shred-guitar virtuoso types who make their living by playing certain guitars, amps, pedals and strings.

NAMM Round Two, I was told, would yield intense déjà vu. Right again: same booths, same borderline celebrities (apparently Bill Murray showed up, but not near me), same PR spiels about how a specific guitar or snare drum can disclose the meaning of life, same Anaheim-a town that always reminds me how much I love visiting Manhattan. Pop and jazz have weathered several small revolutions since the heyday of Yngwie Malmsteen and the Rippingtons, but you wouldn’t know it at NAMM. Mark Twain was wrong about Cincinnati-when Armageddon approaches, I’m heading to Orange County.

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