T.H.E. Show Newport 2011
About a month and a half ago, Jorge Cervera from HeadRoom gave me a call, "Hey dude, you wanna be on a panel with me in L.A.?"
Jorge proceeded to tell me that Bob Levy from the Los Angeles/Orange County Audio Society got together with Richard Beers of T.H.E. Show Las Vegas fame and are putting on a show in Southern California. Bob Levy wanted us to do a headphone seminar. Lemme tell ya', when Bob Levy thinks you ought to be somewhere you might as well pack your bags. Bob is a force of nature; the tide that raises all boats in the L.A. audiophile world. If he thinks you ought to do something ... well ... he's probably right.
"Sure Jorge, I'm in."
Bob Levy and the LA & OC Audio Society
About five years ago, Bob called me and asked if I, as HeadRoom's CEO at the time, would put on a headphone show for the LAOCAS August monthly meeting. I agreed, but said I'd like give his members a headphone show to remember, and wanted to invite a number of other So. Cal. headphone audio manufacturers and Head-Fi hobbyists to display their gear. Over a hundred people showed up for the event; we listened to all sorts of gear; got a bunch of quality Q&A done; and gave away some swag. It was a jolly good time.
Such a success it was that Levy has invited HeadRoom and others to return every year since for an August headphone event. Bob told me that in the last five years the LAOCAS' growing membership average age has dropped from 50 to 41 and he attributes that strongly to the headphone event.
Now, that's cool and all, but the thing that strikes me is: Holy Moly! Bob is tracking the average age of his membership to evaluate and understand the performance of his audiophile society. Bob is a champion! His enthusiasm is genuine and infectious. His tenure empire-building as a senior executive under Ted Turner also gives him some serious organizational chops ... and he uses them well.
When I asked him how T.H.E. Show Newport event came about, Bob told me he had been wanting to do an annual audiophile show in Southern California for quite a while, but had been waiting for the moment to ripen with the right mix of opportunity. He said at last year's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest it did.
Richard Beers president of T.H.E. Show
When Marjorie Baumert's husband, Al Stiefel, passed suddenly in late 2009, Marjorie courageously decided to carry on Al's passion and continued in his shoes to lead the Colorado Audiophile Society in producing the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. One who aided her greatly with the event was the vastly experienced Richard Beers, president of the high-end alternative to CES, T.H.E. Show Las Vegas. According to Bob, Richard pitched in hard to help Marjorie at a time when it was sorely needed and richly appreciated. Seeing his willing and capable vigor, bells of recognition went off in Bob's head: Richard Beers was the man to help with an LAOCAS Audiophile show.
Evidently, Richard, like myself, understood it's generally a good idea to follow Bob's lead ... and T.H.E. Show Newport was born.
T.H.E. Show Newport
Tucked in amongst the casually opulent, taupe and blue-glass sprawl of California corporate low-rise office buildings is John Wayne Airport. And right across the street is the Irvine/Orange County Airport Hilton --- venue for T.H.E. Show Newport 2011. I had been communicating with Mark Katz who was coordinating the seminars for the event, and when I asked what's the best way to get from the airport to the hotel, he said, "Walk. Seriously, it's that close."
It's hard to believe it given the acre chomping sprawl of most airports, but I doubt it was much more than a quarter mile trundle with my bag from baggage claim, through the parking structure, across MacArthur Boulevard, and a block south through the mild So. Cal. evening air to the front desk of the tidy mid-sized Hilton. You couldn't ask for a more convenient location.
I'd been eying T.H.E. Show Newport website and had familiarized myself with the layout: booths on the ground floor; display rooms on floors 2-5; and the swank suites up on the penthouse floor. A fairly typical audiophile show layout. I'm familiar with Richard Beers's work in Las Vegas and wasn't the least surprised to find plentiful signage, and an easy-to-navigate show guide. What I hadn't foreseen was the "lifestyle event" I was about to experience.
The Hilton restaurant/lounge was open and light, and the entire hotel staff remarkably cheerful.
While Beers had been coordinating the meat and potatoes of the show, Levy and the enthusiastic society members had been carefully crafting a tasty assortment of side dishes and deserts designed to tickle the senses. For the next two days I ate well of audio, art, cars, cigars, guitars, wines, and wonderful live music in California sunlight modulated by atrium skylights and palm trees. Wow, what a cool event!
Let's have a taste ...