By Ronny North
Well, already time for Summer NAMM in Nashville again. Just seems like a few weeks ago that I did Winter NAMM. When planes are involved, it's always a challenge to do gigs when you need to take gear since you need to be concerned about luggage weight, and this trip I was only allowed one check in bag (I usually get two). I was also carrying on my backpack, which I keep aspirin, Dramamine, and a few other things just in case, and my gig bag. So this time I decided to try to fit everything into a smaller piece of luggage to try to save weight. You got to keep it under 50 pounds or they ding you for extra fees!
Well, I dug out my small luggage and proceeded to load it up. Since it was going to be 300 degrees in Nashville, I decided to just take exactly what I was going to wear and just pack stuff that would be cool in the heat. First thing I packed was the gear. The pedalboard I would be using for my demos at the show and the cables to hook up everything and of course my guitar that I would be carrying on the plane in a gig bag. I then packed the 3 outfits I would be wearing daily in the show plus a few necessary other pieces of clothing and a few t-shirts, tank tops and a pair of shorts in case I had time to do something else in Nashville….if I had free time and as always, I never did. I then packed my toiletries and a few accessories including promo stuff to give away. Luckily I borrowed my girlfriend's scale so I could keep an eye on the weight and sure enough I was over by 5 pounds. I quickly ditched all but one pair of shoes and threw a few things out or moved them over to my carry on backpack and my gig bag. I then double checked my list to make sure I packed everything. It seemed that I did, but then realized I needed to bring a few more things.
Once again I was over weight. I've spent many times in the past moving stuff around in the luggage on the floor at the airport to make weight. I didn't feel up to it this time. I decided to ditch my hair dryer and borrow one in Nashville. My luggage was exactly 50 pounds. Now on to my gig bag. I had a few other things stashed in it to make sure I could make it through and did the same with my back pack. After that there’s the whole crossing your fingers that the flight attendants don't hassle you about bringing the gig bag to put in the overhead compartment on the plane. Well, luckily at LAX I had no problems. My luggage made it through without a hitch but as always TSA found something in my gig bag that looked suspicious. It was my promo CDs. Once they opened it up and saw what they were, I was good and boarded the plane without incident. A trick I've learned flying to gigs over the years is to tie one of my hoodies on my gig bag for the flight since you never knew how cold it was going to be on board and I usually fly in shorts. Well, on the flight up it was normal temperature so since I had my whole row to myself I laid across all the seats and used my hoodie as a pillow for the entire flight. It was awesome!
Once I unpacked in Nashville, I realized I did forget a few things but I improvised. I survived NAMM and all the crazy parties and most of all their 300 degree weather and before I knew it I was coming home. I had to make sure that I put everything exactly where it was when I came out originally especially since I didn't have the luxury of checking how heavy everything was this time with a scale. I did pick up a few things in the show, so I put it in my backpack and I did get a bunch of music magazines. I love all the free magazines you get at NAMM. and, of course, they weigh a bit. I decided to put them in the gig bag with the guitar. When I arrived to check my bag at Nashville airport (at 5 am), I held my breath and watched as the lady at the check in counter checked me in and put my bag on the scale. It passed! I was definitely relieved. I survived the always slow Nashville TSA line just in time to walk right on the plane. As I sat in my seat, I took a deep breath and got comfortable.This time the plane was freezing, so I used my hoodie as a blanket so I didn't get hypothermia while I was sleeping during my flight home. Before I knew it ,I was at LAX, getting picked up by my girlfriend to go get some lunch at our local Mexican food restaurant.
Moral of the story… when flying to a gig on a commercial airline, just take absolutely what you need and make a list to make sure you bring everything you need. Another Summer NAMM in the books!
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