Not surprisingly, you run into legions of kick-ass guitarists at NAMM shows, but I have to salute the manufacturers’ booth-demo players, because that is one tough gig. You are at a music convention, after all, playing amidst the often-deafening chaos of tons of other demonstrators’ licks echoing all over the cavernous hall, and your audience is typically a whole lot ‘o’ professional guitarists with attitudes and judgement a-plenty. These folks can also be additionally cranky and tough to impress because they’ve crashed their pedometer apps and patience by absorbing hundreds of demos each day.
Admittedly, I tend to be one of those cranks.
I just get so tired of dealing with hours of over-saturated shredding that I almost dream of stumbling across a demo guitarist so horrible and inept that for the one time during the whole massive crunch of reporting on thousands of pieces of NAMM gear and meeting with product reps and talking talking talking to scores of MI peers, I can giggle in relief and crack an evil smile.
But, sometimes, you do meet someone who delights you with their talent and vibe. When I first experienced Mike Himmel demoing guitar gear at a Roland/BOSS both, he was one of those players.
He was immediately engaging and friendly without being pandering or all-to-eager to please. He knew me from my job at Guitar Player, of course, but unlike many such musicians at these music-industry affairs, he didn’t barrage me with resume bullet points, try to give me a CD, or seek to impress me with pointless nattering displays of scales rendered at light speed. He appeared to be someone truly digging the opportunity to play all day and represent Roland/BOSS, who also loved guitar in a mammoth way, and who spent the time to really know the details of the products he was demoing. (I tend to ask a lot of questions, and he had all the answers.) As I would run into him at other NAMM shows and got to know more about him—and his fab dogs—through Facebook, I learned that he was working on his own music. Mike says I helped him by promoting this song a while back in GP, but, wow, that moment is lost in the mists of my tortured memory. But, hey, thanks for the call out on FB, Mike!
Now, I do like helping talents I meet while “doing the journalism thing” and/or playing gigs, but I also have to feel good about the work. Admittedly, Mike launches into speedy lick fusillades during “Sunset Crash” that I tend to—well, let’s just say I’m not always a major fan of shredding—but he also has a cool tone, a feel for melody, and the restraint to put some dynamics and space into his playing. And, you know, the speed stuff can be thrilling, right?
Mike just released a professional video for “Sunset Crash,” and to recognize his work ethic, winning personality, commitment to producing music, and papa-ship to a wonderful pack of pups, I am adding it to the Guardians of Guitar universe. I hope all Guardians dig it. It’s fun. And fast…
[BTW: Anyone anywhere anytime can send video links to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered for coverage on this site.]