Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Def Leppard: NAMM jam with former Arkansas Governor

NAMM can make for some strange musical bedfellows.

Take former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on bass jamming with Def Leppard rocker Phil Collen on lead guitar, for example.

The two were on hand at the Anaheim Convention Center on Wednesday to kick off the 2011 NAMM Show, a massive music-products convention that runs through Sunday.

The Orange County Register reports the 2011 NAMM Show is the largest music trade show in America, with more than 80,000 attendees and more than 1,500 exhibitors traveling from more than 100 countries. The private convention which runs through Sunday, features the music industry's newest musical instruments and state-of-the-art technologies.

"This is like musicians' heaven," Huckabee said as he toured several booths showing off everything from neon glowing guitar strings to the latest in iPhone apps that act as a full recording studio.

And Huckabee, widely rumored to be a 2012 Republican presidential candidate, left heated politics behind – as well as, at first, his trademark bass guitar – choosing instead to speak about his efforts to get more school kids access to musical instruments.

Later, he picked up a bass and jammed some impromptu blues with Def Leppard's Collen, prompting cheers and a lot of good-natured laughter – including from the governor and the rocker.

Huckabee said his parents bought him his first guitar at age 11 from a JC Penney catalog. It took his parents a full year to pay it off.

"It not only gave me something I loved to do, but it gave me the confidence to get up and perform in front of a lot of people," Huckabee said in an interview. "Giving a child an instrument has the power to change a life."

Huckabee is working with the NAMM Foundation and dozens of other musicians to get music education into – or back into – schools nationwide.

"It's a stupid thing to take music out of schools," he said. "It's like the old Pink Floyd video where kids feel like another brick in the wall, just being processed through a machine.

"If you give them access to an instrument, it gets their creativity going,"
he added. "From the iPhone I carry in my pocket to finding a cure for cancer, it all comes from somebody being creative."

So, was Huckabee worried that hanging out with heavy metal greats might affect his image as a conservative politician?

"I hope so," he said.

Phil Collen with Mike Huckabee – blues jam
NAMM – January 12, 2011