What could possibly be more terrifying than being trapped in a roomful of Trekkies and/or comic book conventioneers? Try spending an afternoon at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) confab, which returned to its regular Anaheim Convention Center haunt Jan. 18-21 after a year away whilst the center underwent an extensive remodeling job. NAMM is a big, huge, megasized event aimed mostly at music-store owners looking to stock their shelves with the latest/coolest/trendiest instruments, gear and gadgetry and is closed to the general public. LowBallAssChatter snagged a media pass, however, and we admit to being fairly overwhelmed. NAMM took up the center's four cavernous assembly halls, several floors and ballrooms, and the old arena. But it was the people-watching that made us very, very afraid, especially the minions of mullet-haired dude-rockers who picked up guitars at random and tried to wheedle-wheedle like Eddie Van Halen in his prime—what century is this, anyway? Mostly, we came for the tons of free crap various exhibitors doled out. At the Gemini Sound Products booth, we embarrassed ourselves by fighting over the black-plastic mini-footballs that a gaggle of jiggly, bikini-clad strumpets were tossing out and were perplexed by the long line of folks waiting to get an autographed photo from Deacon Jones, onetime LA Rams defensive end—circa Lyndon B. Johnson. Busty women seemed to be at every fifth booth—anything to lure the mostly male attendees—as were the withered old men with saliva crawling down their fat, wrinkly cheeks who were videotaping them (for “personal use,” natch). We were intrigued by the huge throng that gathered around the Peavey booth and then couldn't flee fast enough when we realized they were awaiting a personal appearance from Ted Fuckin' Nugent. We glimpsed a woman in a lacy, black, Stevie Nicks number whose ample breasts were about to make an unscripted cameo appearance; a guy who looked like Howard Stern dressed in a hideous green suit and was speaking German; an elderly jazz drummer who floored us with his wire-brush technique; loads of leather-clad Hessians whose rock-star fashion sense hasn't progressed past 1966; and local lad James Harman, who blew up a storm at a harp exhibitor's booth. Best, though, were the teenage boys who sidled up to a rack of $5,000 synthesizers, looking like they were generally knowledgeable about the gear, started tinkering with the keys and buttons, and then proceeded to pound out the raunchiest fart noises we'd ever heard. Damn—rock & roll will never die! (Rich Kane)
BILL AND TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE If you missed Ted Nugent at the NAMM show, you could still catch the “Motor City Madman” on ABC's Politically Incorrect on Jan. 19. Nugent, a frequent guest on the political gab-a-thon, did what he always does: dominated conversations until host Bill Maher couldn't take it anymore and had to verbally duel with the guitar slinger. Take this entertaining exchange on Eminem:
MAHER: This kid, who I think is brilliant—I really think that he's a genius. Okay, but he talks about killing his wife. I mean, he's on Dr. Dre's new record, and there's a charming interchange between the two of them where Eminem says, “You know, Dr. Dre, I'd like to tell you how much I love you.” And Dr. Dre says back to him, “Thank you. And by the way, if you ever need help in killing your wife, I'm there for you.”
NUGENT: Only Dr. Dre sucks more than Eminem, so go ahead, Bill. . . . The whole concept that anyone would be entertained by that just kind of falls on deaf ears. It's almost like dancing to “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” and giving it some moral context.
MAHER: Ted, you have not kept up with the music industry.
NUGENT: You're damn right I haven't. I actually practice my guitar. I'm way out of touch. Yeah, my musicians can actually play. Who do we think we are?
MAHER: I could say some really mean things to you right now.
NUGENT: And they would all be stupid, so go ahead.
MAHER: They wouldn't be.
NUGENT: I have the greatest musicians in the world.
MAHER: You are so wrong about that.
NUGENT: Most of the rap we're talking about, it's all electronic. It's not even human beings playing. It's like electronic stuff where they push buttons.
MAHER: Have you listened to it?
NUGENT: Yeah, I've listened to it.
MAHER: Really, you've listened to it?
NUGENT: I've got a house full of kids, and I listen to it all the time.
MAHER: Let me tell you something in terms you can understand: Dr. Dre is the Phil Spector of rap producers.
NUGENT: Aghh! I don't think so.
MAHER: I knew you couldn't understand.
NUGENT: Did you ever hear “River Deep, Mountain High”?
MAHER: I did.
NUGENT: And the orchestration and the intense orchestration that—you don't hear any of that anymore.
MAHER: I brought my brain past the '70s.
NUGENT: I just haven't heard that kind of creative collaboration, but to each his own.
MAHER: All right. Because you closed off at a certain point.
NUGENT: I don't think so. I just did 146 concerts this year and had the time of my life. In fact, Kiss and Ted Nugent was the No. 1 rock tour in the world. I apologize. I know it's not a rap tour, but I use real musicians. To each his own.
This just in to the LowBallAssChatter newsroom: a Lincoln, Nebraska, couple who attended one of those shows filed a lawsuit on Jan. 22 accusing Nugent of fraud. As part of an eBay auction initiated by Nugent to raise funds for his wilderness-oriented “Kamp for Kids,” Ron and Krishelle Bennett say they paid $1,535 to dine on venison medallions with the Nuge before his Aug. 25 concert in Bonner Springs, Kansas, and then watch the performance from the front row. Instead, the couple alleges, Nugent spoke to them only briefly before the show, after which they got two tickets—each with the face value of $45—in row 30. After complaining, the couple got to see the show from the side of the stage. “The guy was my hero,” Bennett told the Associated Press. “I was thrilled to see him, and he basically destroyed my faith in rock & roll.”
Meanwhile, back at Politically Incorrect, Maher's faith in Nugent eventually wore so thin that he had to break out the right-wing-wacko card. When Nugent claimed he monitors his son every second Junior's on the Internet, film director Philip Kaufman (The Right Stuff, Quills) wondered if Mr. Wango Tango's parents watched him that closely. “My dad was a drill sergeant till the day he died,” Nugent replied. “I think it killed him.”
“But you became a psychotic gun nut,” Maher reminded everyone.
“That would be me, yes,” confirmed Nuge. (Matt Coker)
SON OF STING Club Mesa pulled some punches when a mysterious new band, Santa's Boyfriend, headlined the room on Jan. 20. The band played at midnight, as promised. But what the club's ads didn't reveal was that the band's singer was Sting's son, Joe Sumner. The London-based group didn't want anyone to know about the rock-star connection—at least not yet. Although Wayne Isaak, VH1's head of music programming, was snapping photos of the quartet throughout their set, the identity of the lead crooner was an unconfirmed rumor for most in the sparse crowd of 20 or so. But there were a few clues. Joe's not the spitting image of his dad, but from far away, there's an undeniable resemblance. His vocal delivery sure sounds a little like Sting's, though. Joe also seems to have inherited his pop's charisma genes—whether he was jumping around with his guitar or amiably defending himself against some friendly heckling, all eyes were naturally drawn to him. It obviously helped being the tallest guy in a band in which everyone sports a surprisingly normal haircut. And then there's the music—it's blanded-out mainstream rock with an edge, a Sting staple. Santa's Boyfriend's OC gig was a practice run for an Interscope Records showcase in LA the next night, and not even this sour journalist could ignore the healthy applause for the hourlong set of original tunes. Sting Jr. even got a stamp of approval from OC fave Jay Buchanan, whose band attracted a far bigger crowd at Club Mesa that night. “They're good, man. They're really good.” Thanks, Jay! (Andrew Asch)