Archive for the ‘Gretsch.com’ Category

Paul Yandell: The Last “Certified Guitar Player”

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Throughout the history of the music industry, there have been artists who’ve gained tremendous acclaim and recognition for their accomplishments. Such an artist was guitar legend Chet Atkins, whose multiple claims to fame are well known and undisputed.

But there are also artists whose talents, accomplishments, and contributions to the industry somehow don’t garner them the recognition that they genuinely deserve. Such an artist is Paul Yandell, the long-time bandleader for, and confidant of, Chet Atkins—and a stellar guitarist in his own right.

At one point in his career Chet Atkins coined the term “Certified Guitar Player” to describe an artist who personified the ultimate in performance skill and musical quality. Chet personally bestowed the C.G.P. title on only four guitarists:  Tommy Emmanuel, John Knowles, the late Jerry Reed, and Steve Wariner. But there was one more name that needed to be added to the list.

From left: Merle Atkins Russell, Certified Guitar Player award recipient Paul Yandell, and Steve Wariner at the presentation ceremony on August 13. (photo: Caryn Wariner)

So it was that at a program held this past August 13 to mark the opening of the new Chet Atkins exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame® & Museum in Nashville, Chet’s daughter Merle Atkins Russell asked Steve Wariner to help her continue her father’s tradition and read a proclamation that officially conferred the final C.G.P. title on Paul Yandell.

The proclamation read, in part: Whereas, long a fixture as Chet’s band leader and confidant, Paul Yandell was truly invaluable. Whereas, he is no stranger to accolades for his many contributions to country music, the Nashville recording community, and the guitar world in his own rights. Whereas, observing that Paul Yandell was involved in the distribution of all the C.G.P. honors as Chet’s assistant, and being extremely humble and modest, recused himself of that very honor.

Be it resolved by the Atkins family that throughout the land Paul Yandell, thumbpicker supreme, be known as the last and final C.G.P., certified guitar player.  Paul, you are truly the C.G.P.’s C.G.P.!

From left: Steve Wariner and Merle Atkins Russell presented the final Certified Guitar Player award proclamation to Paul Yandell on August 13. (photo: Caryn Wariner)

“I was thrilled to be invited to help honor Paul like this,” said Wariner. “Paul Yandell is my hero, and he deserves this more than anyone.  He’s an incredible player and a dear friend to me, as he was to Chet. What a cool, classy thing for Merle and the Atkins family to do. So completely right!”

An accomplished player by the time he left high school, Paul Yandell moved from western Kentucky to Nashville in 1955. He began his career with The Louvin Brothers, working with them until 1959. After serving in the Army, Paul played for Kitty Wells from 1961-1970. He joined Jerry Reed in 1970, where, as he puts it, he “went to college” learning from Jerry. Paul joined Chet Atkins in 1975 and spent the next twenty-five years supporting Chet in his career.

As a top Nashville session player, Paul played on hit records with Atkins, Reed, Dolly Parton, Steve Wariner, Hank Thompson, Perry Como, Roger Whitaker, Kitty Wells, The Louvin Brothers, Les Paul, Woody Herman, The Everly Brothers, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. He also appeared on TV shows such as The Dinah Shore Show, The Tonight Show, Today, The Pat Sajak Show, The Merv Griffin Show and Nashville Now.

Following Chet Atkins’ passing in 2001, Paul released a solo CD entitled Forever Chet, which featured songs that Chet had performed throughout his career. Paul’s 2004 Dream Train release featured many of his own tunes—and was largely performed on the Gretsch “Nashville Classic” guitar that he co-designed. Paul released In the Groove in 2005 and Drive On in 2006. In 2009, he performed at the ceremony at which Chet Atkins was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville.

From left: Fred Gretsch, Paul Yandell, and Dinah Gretsch together at the August 10th reception celebrating the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum’s new tribute exhibit Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player. (Donn Jones Photography)

Fred and Dinah Gretsch (president and CFO of The Gretsch Company, respectively) were on hand for the festivities surrounding the opening of the Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame® & Museum. They had the opportunity to meet with Paul Yandell, personally and on behalf of Gretsch Guitars, after Paul had received his C.G.P. award. “We spoke with Paul on Saturday and Sunday,” said Fred Gretsch, “and we know how happy he was. We were equally happy for him. Paul is a tremendous artist, and we’re honored by his long association with Gretsch Guitars. Dinah and I offer our sincerest congratulations to Paul, as well as our kudos to the Atkins family for their thoughtfulness in presenting Paul with his much-deserved C.G.P. title.”

It’s A Family Thing!

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Three Gretsch Generations Celebrate at The Country Music Hall of Fame® & Museum

by Fred Gretsch

The Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player exhibition at the Country Music Hall of Fame® & Museum will run through June of 2012. The museum is located in Nashville. Photo by Donn Jones Photography.

Three Generations of the Gretsch Family attended the opening ceremonies. From left, Will Gretsch, company president Fred W. Gretsch, and Fred Gretsch Jr. Photo by Donn Jones Photography.

This past August 10 was a special day for me. I was honored to be asked to speak at the opening ceremonies for the Country Music Hall of Fame® & Museum’s new exhibition honoring guitar great Chet Atkins. And I was extremely proud to be joined not only by my wife Dinah, but also by my son Fred Gretsch Jr. and grandson Will. So I was pleased to be able to say that I was speaking on behalf of six generations of the Gretsch family, three of which were present at the event.

Within the Gretsch family, we consider “enriching lives through participation in music” to be a core mission. So we’re especially pleased that this wonderful tribute to Chet features elements of the Country Music Hall of Fame® & Museum’s School and Family Educational Programs. These  include a Teachers’ Guide and an Exhibit Family Guide, both of which are made available free of charge. These publications are designed to help school classes and families alike get the most educational value from their visit to the exhibition.

As a guitar manufacturer, Gretsch is proud of its long association with Chet Atkins. We’re honored to be the title sponsor for the Country Music Hall of Fame’s tribute to Chet, and we share the Hall’s commitment to ensuring that his unrivaled legacy will continue to be celebrated for generations to come.

For more information on the Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player exhibition, go to countrymusichalloffame.org. For more information on Gretsch, go to gretsch.com.

Stanton Moore Brings N’Awlins Down Under

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Stanton Moore

Gretsch drum great Stanton Moore recently completed a whirlwind clinic/performance tour of Australia, where he delighted drummers with his New Orleans-flavored funky style. Stanton’s appearances were part of the Drumscene Live Australia Tour 2011, sponsored by Drumtek, the country’s largest percussion retailer.

From August 14 through August 21 Stanton and his tour mates crossed the continent, entertaining drummers in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Newcastle, and Adelaide. They finished up at the 2011 edition of Australia’s Ultimate Drummers Weekend & Drum Expo in Melbourne, where Stanton conducted master classes on Saturday the 20th and closed the show on Sunday the 21st.

As a native son of New Orleans, Stanton is especially connected to that city, its culture, and its collaborative spirit. Inspired by a thriving music scene that includes such greats as Professor Longhair, Doctor John, and The Meters, Stanton is now regularly mentioned amongst these Big Easy mainstays.

In the early ’90s, Stanton helped found the New Orleans-based essential funk band Galactic. Their first album, 1996’s widely acclaimed Coolin’ Off, led to intense touring over the next ten years. Six additional albums later, Galactic continues to amass a worldwide audience.

In 1998 Stanton launched his solo career, aided by guitar virtuoso Charlie Hunter and saxophonist Skerik. The group’s All Kooked Out! release evolved into another project, leading to the first Garage a Trois release, Mysteryfunk (1999). In 2000 the trio was joined by percussionist Mike Dillon and has since released three more albums: Emphasizer in 2003, Outre Mer in 2005, and Power Patriot in 2009.

Stanton is also highly regarded as a clinician and educator. His Groove Alchemy book/DVD/CD package has been hailed by drummers and teachers alike, and was named best educational book and DVD in the 2011 Modern Drummer Readers Poll.

More information on the Drumscene Live tour is available at drumtek.com.au. More information on Stanton Moore is available at Gretschdrums.com and StantonMoore.com.

Fred Gretsch Salutes Chet Atkins

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Gretsch Company President Speaks at Opening of Country Music Hall of Fame’s Exhibit Honoring Guitar Great

This past August 10 saw the opening reception for the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s new exhibit, Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player. The star-studded gala hosted many luminaries from the guitar world, including Steve Wariner, Duane Eddy, and Paul Yandell.

Fred & Dinah Gretsch. Fred spoke to reception attendees on behalf of six generations of the Gretsch family. Photo by Donn Jones Photography.

An equally important figure in attendance was Fred Gretsch, fourth-generation Gretsch Company president. Along with his wife (and Gretsch CFO) Dinah, his son Fred Jr., and grandson Will. Fred was on hand to salute the museum’s unique tribute to one of America’s genuine musical giants. The Gretsch Company is the major sponsor of the exhibit, which opened to the public on August 12 and will run through June of 2012.

Fred’s remarks to the audience during the opening ceremonies offered a combination of personal history and heartfelt admiration. Speaking “on behalf of six generations of the Gretsch family, three generations of which are here this evening,” Fred expressed the family’s pleasure at being involved with the new exhibit. “We can think of no better way to honor Chet’s memory,” Fred continued, “than to illustrate his accomplishments in such an entertaining and educational fashion.”

In outlining Chet Atkins’ achievements, Fred stated, “Few musicians have single-handedly defined a musical genre by virtue of their unparalleled instrumental technique. Fewer still have gone on to transcend time, style, and genre to forever alter the course of popular music. Chet Atkins is one of those few. Along with his profound influence on the modern electric guitar and those who play it, Chet was the architect of ‘The Nashville Sound,’ a new and distinctive approach to country music that vastly expanded its appeal around the world.”

Fred & Dinah Gretsch at the Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player exhibition, for which Gretsch is the title sponsor.

With an obvious sense of personal pride, Fred explained that the Gretsch Family shares a special connection to Chet. “My uncle, Fred Gretsch Jr, first signed Chet as a Gretsch guitar artist in 1954. Over his long association with the company, Chet was instrumental in the creation of the 6120 Nashville, Country Gentleman, and Tennessean signature guitars. All three are bestsellers still today, but the Country Gentleman is particularly revered by guitarists—ironically because of its use by another guitar great: George Harrison. The legendary Beatle was a tremendous admirer of Chet, of his music, and of the guitars he designed. Check out those famous clips of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show 1964, and you’ll see George playing his Chet Atkins Signature Country Gentleman guitar.”

Fred concluded by saying, “The Gretsch Company is proud of its long friendship with Chet Atkins, and our family cherishes the special relationship that we had with such a fine individual. Today, we are honored to be the title sponsor for this terrific exhibition. We share the Country Music Hall of Fame’s commitment to ensuring that Chet’s unrivaled legacy will continue to be celebrated for generations to come.”

Gretsch USA Custom Drums: It’s All About Options

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Gretsch’s top-of-the-line drums are called USA Custom for two very good reasons. The first reason is the fact that every drum is hand-crafted in Gretsch’s Ridgeland, South Carolina factory. The second reason is the staggering number of options available to drummers who want to create truly personalized kits.

USA Custom Gold Glass Nitron

USA Custom toms and bass drums all start with legendary Gretsch 6-ply shells. They’re given the famous Silver Sealer interior coating, 30-degree bearing edges, and Gretsch’s trademark die-cast hoops. From there on, the choices are almost endless.

Decisions, Decisions
Sizes? How ‘bout twenty bass drums, thirty-eight rack toms, and nine floor toms. Finishes? Pick from twenty-six Nitron wraps, twenty-three nitro cellulose gloss lacquers, and fourteen nitro cellulose satin lacquers. Any of those lacquers can be combined with black in a diamond pattern called Harlequin, and any lacquer finish can be applied over an outer ply of highly figured curly maple.

USA Custom Satin Ebony

But the options don’t stop there. Gretsch USA Custom bass drums can be ordered with a variety of hoops, T-rods, spurs, mufflers, tom mounts, and cymbal holders. Floor toms can be fitted with four different models of leg brackets, including Millennium or Vintage Diamond. And virtually all of these hardware components are available in chrome, black, and gold finish.

That Special Drum
Most drummers consider the snare to be their most personal drum. The USA Custom line of wood snare drums offers seven sizes and five lug configurations (ranging from six to twenty) to suit virtually any musical application. And if those aren’t enough, four solid-maple and four solid-walnut G-5000 models are also hand-crafted in the Ridgeland factory…along with unique signature snares designed with and for Vinnie Colaiuta, Stephen Ferrone, and Stanton Moore.

Any snare drum may be ordered with the drummer’s choice of the classic Gretsch Lightning, Nickel Drumworks, or Dunnet strainer and butt. And now there’s a fourth choice: the fabled and much-loved Gretsch Micro-Sensitive strainer.

Just like it used to be, only better.

Making History…Again
The 2011 Micro-Sensitive strainer is actually a re-launch of a design that graced Gretsch snares from the mid-1950s to 1969, and that’s been a favorite of players and collectors alike ever since. But the new version has the added advantage of updated internal mechanics designed to meet contemporary standards of functionality. It’s a classic case of “just like it used to be…only better.”

Also available in a revamped and improved version is the new G5463 bass drum claw. It’s modeled after the classic G5462 claw hook, which has been in use since the 1950s. The new version is die-cast and triple chrome plated, and it features an interior pad that acts as a buffer between the claw and the bass drum hoop.

Along with the dozens of other options available, the return of the revered Micro-Sensitive strainer and the G5463 claw hook provide even more choices to make your USA Custom kit truly your own.

To see the complete line of Gretsch drums, visit the Gretsch Drums website.

Chet Atkins Exhibit Opening Reception Kicks Event Off With Style

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Kyle Young. Photo by Donn Jones Photography.

A very special Exhibition Opening Reception took place Wednesday evening, August 10, at The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum.  Approximately 200 enthusiastic guests were warmly welcomed by museum director Kyle Young and treated to a memorable musical performance by world-class guitar-slinger Steve Wariner, who, in 1997, received official “C.G.P.” status from Chet Atkins.  Special remarks were also made by Fred Gretsch, fourth generation Gretsch Company president, about Chet Atkins and his long-time association with the Gretsch family and company.  At the conclusion of the program, guests were given the opportunity to take an exclusive advance tour of the Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player exhibition which officially opens to the public on Friday, August 12.

Fred & Dinah Gretsch. Photo by Donn Jones Photography

During the exhibition opening weekend, the public will be able to enjoy an exhibit introduction and talk by a Museum curator; a panel discussion featuring Ray Stevens, Steve Wariner, and Billy Edd Wheeler and illustrated with photos, film footage, and recordings from the Museum’s Frist Library and Archive; film screenings; and much more.

This amazing cameo exhibition, made possible through the support of the Gretsch Company with additional support by the Great American Country Television Network, pays tribute to Chet’s legendary versatility and vision and is scheduled to run through June 11, 2012.  The exhibition will be accompanied by an ongoing series of programs throughout its duration.

For additional exhibition information, visit The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s website.

Additional photos from the reception:

Steve Wariner Interviewed by Local Media

Fred Gretsch, Duane Eddy, Ken Kramer

Ken Kramer, Fred Gretsch, and Jimmie Webster's Son Raey

Fred Gretsch, Duane Eddy, and Members of Hot Rod Walt and the Psycho-DeVilles

Steve Wariner, Fred Gretsch, Merle Russell & Kyle Young. Photo by Donn Jones Photography.

Fred & Dinah Gretsch with Joe Carducci. Photo by Donn Jones Photography.

Dinah & Fred Gretsch Receive Special Gift from Kyle Young. Photo by Donn Jones Photography.

Steve Wariner Performs. Photo by Donn Jones Photography.

Ben Hall. Photo by Donn Jones Photography.

Three Generations of the Gretsch Family Attend Reception. Photo by Donn Jones Photography.

Reception Attendees Treated to Special Preview. Photo by Donn Jones Photography.

Chet Atkins Exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Photo by Donn Jones Photography.

Spotlight: Renown 57 Motor City Black

Monday, August 8th, 2011

From the GretschDrums.com site:

Renown 57 Motor City Black

Inspired by the great American car companies from the 1950’s, Motor City Black adds a new color dimension to the innovative Gretsch Renown 57 drum set. All drums feature the distinctive ‘57 Chevron, which features an aluminum panel with raised edges and embossed badge. Each drum has its own sized chevron, scaled to symmetrically fit that specific drum size. Renown 57 includes standard Renown maple specifications to produce punchy, full tones and rock solid performance.

Drum Set Features:
• Innovative drum set design
• Proportionately-sized 3-D chevrons
• Maple shells with 30-degree edges and Silver Sealer interiors
• Die-cast hoops on snare and toms
• Hinged tom and FT leg brackets
• Heavy duty 12.7mm FT legs
• Gretsch ball-socket tom holder with 12.7mm tom arms
• Chambered FT rubber tips for enhanced sustain
• Evans G1 coated batter heads on toms/snare
• Evans EMAD BD batter head

Click here for all the details.

The Gretsch Foundation: Raising Funds for Nuci’s Space

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Guitar Art by Lou Kregel

With the help of The Gretsch Foundation’s Guitar Art Program, musician-focused nonprofit Nuçi’s Space (www.nuci.org) presented its inaugural “Guitar Art Show and Music Memorabilia Auction” in Athens, Georgia earlier this year. The unique event raised $8,000 for the musicians’ support and resource center.

Nuçi’s Space is named in memory of Nuçi Phillips, a talented musician and student at the University of Georgia who committed suicide in 1996 after a long battle with depression. The organization’s mission is to prevent such tragedies by providing obstacle-free treatment for musicians suffering from depression and other psychological disorders, as well as to promote the emotional, physical, and professional well-being of musicians. Since opening in 2000, Nuçi’s Space has provided direct financial assistance for mental health treatment to over 1,000 musicians.

Guitar Art by Chris Gholson

The idea for the auction event was first conceived nearly four years ago when The Gretsch Foundation’s Guitar Art Program awarded Nuçi’s Space four small acoustic guitars, three full-size acoustic guitars, and a beginner-level drumset.

“Athens is the perfect home for this type of event,” says Nuçi’s Space executive director Bob Sleppy. “The music and arts scenes are so intertwined as to be nearly indistinguishable from one another. Almost every musician is an artist, and every artist is a musician. And although it took us several years to get this show together, the collection of instruments and music memorabilia we had available for auction was very impressive.”

The Guitar Art Show and Auction was an unforgettable night, filled with great music and art. Musicians Kyshona Armstrong and the Artie Ball Swing Band performed for an appreciative crowd throughout the evening. Featured “Gretsch Guitar Art” artists included Lou Kregel, Chris Bilheimer, Chris Wyrick, Chris Gholson, John Gholson, Jamie Calkin, Wes Freed, Jason McFarland, Lamar Wood, Jeff Hannan, and Wilma Pittard. Music memorabilia included items autographed by the B-52s, Kenny Rogers, Drive-By Truckers, Colt Ford, Green Day, R.E.M., Counting Crows, Kris Kristofferson, and Oscar winner Jeff Bridges (from the film Crazy Heart).

Guitar Art by Wes Freed

Since the Guitar Art program began nine years ago, Gretsch has donated over 1,000 guitars that have raised more than $400,000 in support of worthwhile programs and projects. For more information on how to apply for this donor program or to see other examples of Gretsch Guitar Art projects, visit www.guitarart.org.