Iron Mike

Posts from January 2014

NAMM Convention 2014 Days 1-4

Attendees: "Iron" Mike & Stephanie Savoia

January 23rd - NAMM Day 1

For Media Day & Metal Masters 5 Blog {Click Here}
Day 1 and Stef and I parted ways at the hotel. She headed in to NAMM early and captured the opening ceremony in front of the convention center. The Navy band treated NAMM goers to the National Anthem and a few other tunes.

Once inside, Stef was on her way to see Gary Huey but he was running late so she decided to wander the area and found a great custom guitar booth, McSwain Guitars. It just so happens that I already knew Stephen McSwain. I photographed a presentation of a zombie guitar he had made for Scott Ian last year. He introduced himself to Stef and she made sure I got over to the booth a little later in the day.

From McSwain, Stef headed over to Samson to catch a demo being given by Marco Mendoza. Then she made it over to Cleartone to pay respects to Phil Everly. She had a strange encounter at Souldier guitar straps. At first they weren't going to even let her take a photograph of their product. She called them on missing out on free advertising though and they relented and let her have at it. Retail peeps, if you are at a trade show that is closed to the public and someone with a media badge wants to take a picture so they can tell others about your cool product, you should let them.

She swung by Kala Ukuleles to see their new steam punk uke. Now she’s torn between the skull and the steam punk one. She caught up with Jeff Loomis doing a signing and Andy McKee performing at Ernie Ball. After Andy’s performance, she was able to get local musician Jason Kertson up to meet Andy. Jason covered Andy’s song ‘Drifting’ with 2 acoustic guitars a few years back.

Around this time, I finally finished up the media day blog and got over to NAMM to start my day off with a Zach Myers PRS Guitar demo and then met up with the wife at Sennheiser for a mic demonstration by one of my favorites, Dilana.

Stephanie headed over to Warwick for an appearance that included William DuVall of Alice In Chains, Wolf & Peter from Accept, Lee Sklar and Devon Townsend. Stephanie also came across Queensryche’s Parker Lundgren with his new signature Fret King guitar.  

I headed over to Samson for a signing session with Metal Masters with the likes of Kerry King (Slayer), Frankie Bello (Anthrax), Mike Portnoy (Winery Dogs), David Ellefson (Megadeth) etc.

While I was shooting the signing Stephanie made her way up to Taylor to catch a performance by Tacoma native and first season of The Voice 3rd place finisher, Vicci Martinez.

Stef and I parted ways again as I headed over to the Bonzo Bash (multi famous drummer dedication to the late great John Bonham of Led Zeppelin) at The Observatory (view photo album) and she covered Jonny Lang in the courtyard at the GoPro stage.

Day 1 was in the bag and it was a great time. Our feet say otherwise, ha!


January 24th - NAMM Day 2

Time for one of the busiest days of NAMM. Over our experiences these past years we notice more people take Friday off to attend than Thursday. Even more come tomorrow!

Stephanie first went to Kurzweil to catch a performance by keyboardist and vocalist Emiko and then headed over to EMG for Devon Townsend.

I headed over to EMG for the next signing which was Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath. I recently had a photo personally picked and chosen by Geezer to be used for the product packaging of his EMG Signature pickups are coming out in March 2014. What a honor! This is after he also chose a 2-page photo of mine of him in the current Black Sabbath DVD "Live...Gathered in Their Masses". It was awesome Stephanie gotta hang and meet Geezer too in the private EMG room at NAMM. She headed up to catch a 3 song performance demo by Orianthi at Roland/Boss.

I made my way over to Rock N Roll Gangstar clothing for an appearance by Todd La Torre and Parker Lundgren of Queensryche before heading back to Geezer at Lakland Basses booth.

Stephanie attempted to get photos of the Lita Ford, Mike Inez & Orianthi signing at Dean Markley, but it was so crowded she turned around and headed over to Marshall to check out their new Tattoo Amps line. She doesn't’t play (yet) but she wants them ALL!

Stef had made prior arrangements for us to cover the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus show at the GoPro Stage with Everclear's Art Alexakis and Sheila E. We were a tad cheery when Art left the stage after his speech/performance yelling “Go Seahawks” he got a few groans, but we were yelling Go Hawks right back at him.

Sheila E may not be a show we would cover on an average night, but we had a great time. She played for just over an hour and played her signature stand up toms, congas and full drum kit along with a couple of songs on guitar and bass. She even brought her dad ‘Pops’ and brothers Juan & Michael up for the last 3 or 4 songs. I do have to point out that we really enjoyed the set up for the general NAMM attendees and the media/VIPs. Instead of separating the media/VIP section by taking up the first 15 to 20 feet of space, they put a barrier down the middle. Fortunately we were on the media side and were able to shoot from the rail the whole show. Sheila E was full of energy, funny and completely entertaining. View her show photos here.


January 25th - NAMM Day 3

For a Saturday…. This was actually very manageable! There were crowds but not the crushing crowds that made you find alternate routes as we had become used to.

I started my day back at the Samson booth with Frankie Bello, David Ellefson and Marco Mendoza. Stef walked around and took some product shots of things around the hall she’d need to be in by Noon. She had one real goal for the day: Get her favorite Piggy D shot from last year autographed by him at Dean Markley. She waited an hour and a half and had a really good time visiting with the lady in front of her. I met her there about 15 minutes before the signing so I could say hi to Piggy and get shots of him, Rex Brown and Doyle. Check out her shots below of the VocoPro U-Diamond Wireless Microphones. Very cool, Diamond Dave should sponsor these ha! How about this custom Crush drum set tree-rack...WOW!

As soon as she got her autographs, she headed up to the 3rd floor to capture a few pics of Matt Sorum at Gretch Drums then back down for Steve Stevens at Steve Clayton. I caught up with buddy Marten Andersson of Lizzy Borden and popped by Randall Amps to take a picture of my Scott Ian display. All 10 feet plus of it...awesome!!

After that I ran over to TC Electronics to actually say hi to my bro Scott Ian (Anthrax) and look who was there with him..Steve Stevens (Billy Idol).

Stef headed over to try and find a buddy of ours at Korg. She couldn’t find him, but she found Piggy D. again and Phil Buckman (formerly of Filter).  I had a giant (literally and figuratively) come up behind me in my Iron Mike Seahawks 12 jersey and say (in the deepest voice I think I’ve ever heard) ‘Goooo Hawks’.  I turned my head to see none other than Doyle in a NY Giants shirt! Seahawks are heading to the Superbowl in NY Giants Stadium Feb 2nd vs. the high-powered Denver Broncos. Crossing fingers we can win it!

Stefs feet had about had enough of 4 days of walking and she headed back to the media room to rest and catch a media presentation while I ended my day again at the Samson camp for Charlie Benante, Rob Caggiano and Mike Inez. We went back to our room to freshen up and I headed to Downtown Disney to the House of Blues for Queensryche!


January 26th - NAMM Day 4

This is pretty much the quietest day at NAMM as everyone is recovering from the Saturday night parties, shows and bodily exhaustion of the previous days as well as the travel day for 90% of the attendees from around the world. Before we caught our plane back to Seattle we ran around to get some photos of various products we wanted to share with ya. Already looking forward to covering NAMM 2015, each year the new technology and products that come out amaze us! For more information on NAMM please visit:

I finally broke down and got some custom Ultimate Ears Custom Earplugs done! So weird they fill your ear canals with this silicone paste then let it sit in there for awhile till the mold hardens to be pulled out. You can't talk while having it done so they stick the foam piece in your mouth to bite on. I got the -25db versions so can't wait! Done with the little foam ones! I need more protection.

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NAMM Media Day & Metal Masters 5

January 22, 2014 - "Iron" Mike & Stephanie Savoia
Media Day at the 2014 NAMM Show!

We have the privilege of getting a preview to about 20 of the new music related creations being released in 2014. Along with these mini media booths, there is a stage where we get to see speakers and demonstrations of several of the inventions/new versions. This is our third year covering NAMM for my KISW blog and this was the best year for demonstrations.

The day started with a demonstration of The Dube. The Dube is the invention by former Mann U and Celtic footballer Dion Dublin. The Dube is similar to a Cajon drum box but does have a few more advantages. Cajons have 1 playing side where are The Dube has 4 playing sides along with the corners which act as the bass drum. The smallest Dube is a 9 inch cube and has a retail cost of $145. This is such a fun drum.

Next for us to see were a trio of cajons by Sela Cajons. The first cajon was the beginner level snare. The beginner was an assemble yourself version and will take about a half hour to assemble. The middle level cajon was fully assembled but still considered a more beginner level cajon. The third was also an assemble yourself, but this was the full Pro version. The snare can be turned on and off. This model has a much more pro looking and feeling finish than the entry level model.

GJ2 unveiled their first signature model - the MMM. This is the Mick Murphy Model. This is a SICK guitar. The cut of the body, the matte finish, the pick ups, just the whole thing in general is ridiculously awesome.


Dave Smith instruments demonstrated their Prophet 12 Module. It’s something very compact and can fit easily into small studio spaces as well as large.


Parliament Funkadelic’s Kim Manning demonstrated the new hand held air keyboard from Hohner, Inc. This keyboard comes in 32 or 37 keys and is completely air powered. With very little effort, you can blow into the mouthpiece and create some fun accordion type sounds.


Joe Lamond, President and CEO of NAMM, along with former Yankee and Latin Grammy nominee Bernie Williams spoke about NAMMs mission to bring music to youth not only in North America but to bring NAMM to Europe.


When Bernie finished up his speech, D’Angelico presented Bernie with his signature guitar. It’s a Yankee blue starburst pattern and there will not be many made. I don’t remember the exact number, but it was less than 200 and each will be signed by Bernie.


The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus’ Executive Director Brian Rothschild brought the mission of the bus to us. I didn’t realize it spent so much time on the road actually getting the gear in the bus into the hands of kids around the country. With so many schools cutting back on or eliminating art and music programs, this tour bus is sometimes the first time a child can have a hands on experience with musical instruments or musical tools.


Along with the tour bus, the Los Angeles College of Music’s new songwriting chairperson Art Alexsakis, of Everclear. You heard that right. Art is now contributing to teaching students how to really write songs. This is a relative first in music colleges and I think it will go a long way influencing other music college offerings. As a special treat, Art also sang Everclear’s hit song ‘Santa Barbara’. {See video below}


IK Multimedia brought us the fun hands free midi program controllers called iRings. I got to play around with these and it was too much fun changing the number of tracks that were playing and special effects.


The last demonstration was by the band SHEL. They demonstrated new mandolins by Weber Fine Instruments. These 4 sisters (there were 2 at the demo) from Colorado are really pretty dang amazing. Even the Fender reps were asking them all sorts of questions after their demo.

Stephanie's favorite product of the day was The Dube. I think the drummer of the family may be getting one for his birthday or next Christmas. My favorite product had to go to Fender Guitars American Deluxe Plus. A new guitar that has a solderless system and a 'Personality Card' slot in the back of the guitar! Mind blowing capabilities to sounds like never before! Watch my sample video: 

Metal Masters 5 - House of Blues - Updating later but here's some pics!


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