FUTURE 86 at NAMM 2006 Recap, by Armand

Well folks, a whole lot went down at this year's NAMM Show visit, alas we only have room for the highlights in the news sections, so feel free to come out to any of our shows this week to hear the stories in greater detail in person, and you may just find out the juicy bits like "who went up to who's hotel room, with whom, to do what, with whom?!

This year's show was extra special thanks to the travel accommodations arranged by Greg Bennett Guitars who hooked us up with a room at Disney's Paradise Pier hotel. My secret guilty pleasure is definitely Disneyland. After all, I live in New Jersey and have a season pass. And if you ask me, there's no better way to kick start a rock n' roll infused day at NAMM than with the Disneyland Hotel's "Character Breakfast", where you get to dine on Mickey Mouse shaped belgium waffles & pancakes with Goofy, Donald, Lilo, & Stitch! (I forgot my camera, but they signed my NAMM badge).

It usually takes weeks after the NAMM show for the regular press and music magazines to print and review all the cool new gear the manufacturers unleashed to the public. You're about to find out before anyone else what the single hottest new instrument for 2006 is... so get ready. TAMA drums has introduced a smoky topaz clear acrylic drum set with nickel hardware that sounds as tough as it looks. I saw this drum set and Larry and I both stopped dead in our tracks. It was as if someone at TAMA was reading my mind. I've been playing both vintage Tama and Ludwig acrylic drums from the day I picked up the sticks, and now, it was as if those two drums had morphed into each other.

In the guitar category, the gold medal goes to Epiphone for their new Elitist Les Paul Standard "Jay Jay French" model, featuring a unique "pinkburst" finish, book-matched mahogany body, and bone TS logo on the headstock. We got to witness that guitar in action when Twisted Sister hit the stage at the Epiphone Music & Mayhem party in the Hilton's Pulse Lounge. Later on in the evening, Courtney, Larry, and I were invited up onto the Epiphone stage unexpectedly, to perform our legendary renditions of "Bobby McGee" & "I Want You To Want Me" with the all-star band.

On Thursday night we were invited to the Guitar World Magazine dinner, which turned out to be one of the most prestigious and impressive dinner parties I've ever had the honor of attending. This party was so well put together; it represented the utmost in elegance, style, and taste... so well in fact, that I am considering approaching Guitar World Magazine concerning the arrangement of my wedding ceremony. The cocktail hour featured a wine & cheese tasting, during which the knowledgeable staff not only introduced and turned me on to wine; they made me an addict. The restaurant had an enormous kitchen, which was completely open to the dining area, and the staff actually encouraged us to walk through the kitchen plates in hand, to be served buffet style by the chefs doing the actual cooking. It was a unique dining experience to say the least, and we enjoyed it with Tony from Samick and some fine boys from Ibanez guitars. Ibanez & Tama were sharing a booth, and the Ibanez boys shared my enthusiasm for that new TAMA Acrylic drum set, and invited us to "meet the wizard" behind the drums at the show the next day. That new Tama may just be the next drum kit I acquire.

This year's NAMM felt like a reunion of sorts because we get to see people we don't get to see that often, but really should see more often. Cat & Angi from Northshore Cruefest, Scott from the Backseat Superstars, Pat, Steve, & Neil from Rock n' Roll Junkies, Carlos & Ruby from KissNation, the Drew Davis Band and of course our boy Richie Ranno, and just about any other rockstar from yesterday, today, and tomorrow you can imagine (and a few models thrown in for good measure). My favorite encounter was with Phil Lewis from L.A. Guns though. It took him a second or two to place my name to my face (like I said it's a reunion out there), but once he did, he was surprised to see me on the west coast and asked excitedly if I had finally moved out to Cali. I told him we were there on behalf of our sponsors, Greg Bennett, Epiphone, etc. to showcase their products, see what's new, and so on. His eyes lit up like the New Year's Eve Ball at Times Square when he heard me utter the words "sponsor" and "Epiphone" together. His reaction was something like "Epiphone! Where's the Epiphone booth? Can you show me? I've always wanted an SG. Who's the epiphone... who do I speak to? Who do you know there? Here, you wanna come with me? Let's go right now." I couldn't help but think to myself, "Dude, we're the underdogs here. We should be the ones asking you for help. You're more established, made a name for yourself, sold more albums, toured the world, etc. Future 86 on the other hand, weĠre the up n' comers. To us a tour consists of piling into my conversion van traveling up and down the east coast, sleeping in various rehearsal studios and fan's places along the way to save money... and a world tour is when we cross the border to Canada. I should have been savvy and said something like, "Sure Phil, you introduce me to the person at your label I can negotiate an advantageous recording contract with and I'll introduce you to the person whom you can discuss with about building the Phil Lewis Signature Series Epiphone Guitar. I love Phil, he's a great guy and has always been exceedingly nice to me and all my friends. He just cracks me up sometimes, and I'm confident that with his combined good looks, boy-ish charm, personable personality, general rock n' roll notoriety, and his genuine love and enthusiasm for the Epiphone SG, he was able to get the guitar he wanted. Many of you know that L.A Guns is one of my all time favorite bands, join me for the party when they play their NY area shows Feburary 24th & 25th. I missed them last time cause we were on the road somewhere else, but I won't miss them again; so Phil, leave my name at the door, I'm looking forward to seeing you rock that killer new Epiphone SG.

Probably what I cherish the most, besides performing at the Greg Bennett / Samick booth showcasing their instruments and new Acoustic PA System, was the amount of quality hang time we got to spend with Ruby and Carlos from KissNation. The irony of it all is that we spent more time hanging out in California in one weekend than we do all year, and we're all from New York... Except for me, I'm from New Jersey, but close enough for the point I'm making. After eating nothing but breakfast all day, we got to the restaurant 3 hours before our 9:30 reservation, and did nothing but laugh and drink, drink and laugh for three hours, during which many valuable lessons were learned. The first being to never let Armand give Ruby driving directions on an empty stomach from the backseat. Ruby christened Larry with the nickname L.L. Bean, and after taking a liking to my suave jackets, designated me as his personal fashion advisor. After a highly entertaining hour long discussion about me being born in New York State, and where I lived for how many years, and what elementary and high school I went to, it was consented that I am from New Jersey. Or am I supposed to say I'm from New York State and live in New Jersey. I forget what the exact outcome was, but regardless, I'm from New Jersey, so step aside Springsteen and Bon Jovi... I've embraced New Jersey like no one else in my time.

Well, that's about all we have room for here. Who am I kidding, we have room for more, but like I said in the beginning, these are simply some of the highlights. See you all soon, and thanks for reading. You can email me with any comments and praise. Any complaints? Email Larry.