T.H.E. Show Newport Starts Friday!

T.H.E. Show Newport returns to its new venue at Hotel Irvine this Friday–Sunday, June 3–5, starting at 10am. By far the largest high-end consumer show on the West Coast of North America, T.H.E. Show promises 149 active exhibit rooms, with 19 of those big and even bigger than big rooms; 68 exhibit tables in the Marketplace and Marketplace foyer, including perhaps 16 headphone exhibitors in separate areas within the Marketplace. Outside in the hotel's pavilion will be T.H.E. Lounge, a re-envisioned, fully enclosed tented space that will include live music, a pared down series of 8 "Audio University" seminars, and a number of special events. In addition, the Blue Coast Records rooms will feature appearances by Blue Coast Artists and other events throughout the show. You can read the entire show guide here.

Once the annual ribbon cutting takes place on Friday at 9:45am, in the hotel lobby, T.H.E. Show will get underway. Special events begin on Friday evening, 6:15pm, with a special memorial to the late founder of T.H.E. Show, Richard Beers. Beginning with a 6:30pm entry by the CA Honor Guard, the 45-minute celebration of Beers' life will include tributes and light hors d'oeuvres. It will culminate in performances by Lynn Stanley and Mike Garson, and finally by the Yesterday Beatles cover band.

Saturday evening at 6:15pm brings the Richard Beers Innovation Awards 2016. Based on nominations received by the Los Angeles & Orange County Audio Society, the awards will be determined by a three-member panel of LAOCAS board members, coordinated by Roger Skoff, consisting of Skoff, John Williams, and Chuck Bruce. A full list of performers and performance events, which include many well-known veterans of audio show stages (Dean Peer, Lynn Stanley, and Mike Garson amongst them) and some welcome newcomers (Lori Lieberman), can be found here. There is also a Sunday afternoon raffle, which only awards prizes to those who attend the drawing.

Premieres? You can expect over two dozen of them. While every show organizer laments that, despite multiple entreaties, some manufacturers never get around to submitting press releases for premieres, you can find those that have been submitted here.

The good news is, despite Beers' unexpected death, and the last minute scrambling it entailed, preregistration is actually up a bit from last year. Attendees, many of whom are members of the LAOCAS, will be happy to learn that registration will be open for people staying in the hotel as early as 7am. With the entire registration/exhibitor process streamlined, registration lines should be far shorter than last year. In addition, headphone exhibits that were formerly consigned to geographic hell will now be gathered in one central indoor area in the marketplace, right beyond registration.

Bob Levi, President of LAOCAS, reports that the society now has over 2000 members. "Based on an average of the last three shows, we will add approximately 165 new members . . . who will join the Society, pay $40, and as a bonus, get into the show free all three days!" he clarified by email. "Plus, all bonafide members of the Society get into the show with a one-third discount! Our membership attends T.H.E Show en masse, and brings an average of 1.5 guests each. The Society therefore accounts for about 5000 of the attendees!! This is why Newport is the biggest [Ed. Note: most well-attended] high-end show in North America!"

Beers' Passing
Because there has been a lot of confusion and misinformation about Beers' passing and the future of T.H.E. Show, I checked with Marine Presson, this year's show General Manager, and Maurice Jung, new Show President. Presson initially met Beers in 2013, when she served as Conference Service Manager in one of T.H.E. Show's former locations, and subsequently revamped the show's website graphics. The two worked together on planning the 2015 show, with the hope that, by 2018, Presson would take over show logistics and free Beers from "the millions of emails, requests, and phone calls" that require responses.

Jung, in turn, first began working with Beers way back, when T.H.E. Show Las Vegas was headquartered at the St. Tropez hotel. As such, he was and remains in an ideal position to deal with legalities and financial matters, as well as to assist Presson.

The last time Presson and Beers spoke was on December 31, 2015, when Beers believed that his cancer had been licked. As she explains it, after putting off show planning for three months while he underwent treatment, Beers was confident that he would be able to get back to work at the start of the new year.

However, according to Jung, Beers' cancer was extremely aggressive. While he may have felt that his cancer was beaten, it was the kind that can quickly spread from lungs to brain. "You can seem to beat it one day, and it can come back the next," Jung said.

In the fall, Richard was hit hard by a stroke during an aggressive treatment regimen that included heavy-duty chemotherapy and radiation. Although he lost a lot of weight, and suffered greatly, he believed he was on the mend. Then, shortly after New Year's, he experienced as many as three strokes in a short period of time. Because he was alone for several hours until he was discovered and rushed to the hospital, he lost the ability to speak.

Beers' death came on January 26, 2016, at age 66. Announcement of his passing, however, was delayed until March 14.

"The reason Richard's death wasn't announced was to keep the business secure and ensure we could take care of legalities that needed to be settled before it became public," said Presson.

"Beverley Harbor, Richard's longtime friend and companion, made the decision to keep going rather than refund people's money," added Jung. "The Estate was going through probate—she was the Executor—and T.H.E Show had to insure that we could gain complete control. There was no desire of deception; it's simply what we had to do to ensure we had the authority to carry on and the contracts we signed were legally valid."

"You could say taking over for Richard has been somewhat of a nightmare," Presson admitted. "Richard was a one-man show who kept a lot of things in his head. It's been challenging to find out all the little details that need to be in place. Happily, there has been a very warm response from both exhibitors and attendees who have helped and supported our efforts to catching up with what we need to know that Richard took away with him."

"I miss the hell out of him, and so do a lot of other people," said Jung of the man who basically taught him the ropes.

All indications are that this year's show will be a huge success. Tom Norton, Sasha Matson, and I will provide coverage starting sometime after press day on June 2, and continuing through the following week. Please stay tuned.