Archive for the ‘Gretsch.com’ Category

Jazz Brunch at Fort Stewart Museum a “Splendid Event”

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Fred & Dinah with 3rd ID Jazz Combo Drummer SGT Jason McElveen

Fred and Dinah Gretsch recently attended a jazz brunch at the Fort Stewart Museum as the guests of Brigadier General Jeffrey E. Phillips, 3rd Infantry Division Deputy Commanding General-Rear. Hosted by General Phillips and 3rd ID Command Sergeant Major-Rear, Command Sergeant Major Jeffrey Ashmen, the event featured music by the 3rd ID Jazz Combo and a presentation and tour by the museum curator Walter “Buck” Meeks III.

The museum includes several thousand artifacts in its archives and the current exhibit includes a walk-through timeline of world events, explaining the 3rd ID’s role beginning in 1917, as well as telling its story through the voices and words of Soldiers who have made up the Division.  The museum is one of the first places Soldiers arriving at Fort Stewart are required to visit.

The 3rd ID Jazz Combo with retired SFC Walt Peters (far right)

Sitting in with the band was a special guest, retired Sergeant First Class Walt Peters, a Vietnam veteran and volunteer of the Savannah Chapter of the American Red Cross.  Well known to all the Soldiers at Fort Stewart, Peters has made it his personal mission to greet every single departing and returning Soldier as they pass through Savannah’s Hunter Army Airfield base.  An accomplished guitarist, Peters spent many years as a professional guitarist in Nashville.

“It was an honor to be invited to such a splendid event”, said Fred Gretsch.  “The museum is a fitting tribute to the legacy of the 3rd Infantry Division and we are truly privileged to have such an important institution right here on our doorstep in Savannah.  The 3rd ID Jazz Combo was terrific, absolutely first class. They kept everyone entertained with really great music throughout.”

SGT McElveen

The Fort Stewart Museum is free and open to the public but requires civilian visitors to obtain a pass to enter the installation.  The museum is located in Building T904, 2022 Frank Cochran Drive, Fort Stewart.  For more information, call 912-767-7885. Hours: 10 am-4 pm, Tuesdays-Saturdays (closed Sundays, Mondays, and federal holidays).

Fred & Dinah Attend Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Concert

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

On August 11, Fred and Dinah Gretsch, along with 18,000 highly-energized and eager fans, had the chance to attend the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert in Atlanta’s Phillips Arena.  With the equally legendary group–Crosby, Stills, & Nash–opening the show, it was guaranteed to be a night not soon forgotten.

Before the show Fred and Dinah had the opportunity to spend some time backstage visiting with members of both bands.  The Atlanta show followed a week-long break and Tom and the rest of the Heartbreakers seemed to be in good spirits as they prepared to kick off the third leg of their Mojo summer tour.

Mike Campbell on Stage

The Gretsches learned that Mike Campbell, the Heartbreakers’ lead guitarist and one of its original founding members, recently purchased a ‘56 Gretsch Nashville of which he’s reportedly very proud.  They were also delighted with the opportunity to visit with the Heartbreakers’ drummer, family friend, and Gretsch drum endorser, Steve Ferrone.

Fred with Steve Ferrone

This show was the first of several that rock legends CSN will be opening on the Mojo tour.  Gracious as always, Stephen, Graham, and David spent time catching up with the Gretsches and chatting about some of their instruments including, of course, their various Gretsch guitars.

After delivering their best wishes to all, it was on to the show.  Following an amazing 90-minute set by CSN, Tom and the Heartbreakers did not disappoint. “Tom Petty has reached the youth market again,” commented Dinah after seeing the large number of young fans in attendance. Thirty-four years and counting and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are still selling out shows.  With their earlier hits becoming popular with today’s youth, it appears their music will be transcending generations of music lovers for a long time to come.

Two legendary groups; one amazing evening of music.  It can’t get much better than that!

In Concert

New Gretsch Catalina Maple Series

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Catalina Maple

The new Catalina Maple series starts with the Gretsch maple formula shell. We carefully developed the maple shell specification to produce tones that explode with attack and volume and project a balanced amount of warm, low-end frequencies. All Catalina Maple shells are 7-ply, 7.2mm. We equipped the shells with “Gretsch Classic” features and hardware, including 30-degree bearing edges, fully-adjustable Gretsch ball-and-socket tom holder with 12.7mm tom arms, 9020-style mounting brackets and our famous 5-lug configuration (a standard Gretsch feature for over 50 years) for all 10” / 12” toms. All drums feature a multi-step lacquer process that produces an extremely glassy-smooth finish that is hard and durable. In addition, we partnered with Evans® drum heads to produce a distinctive “Gretsch by Evans” batter and resonant head combination. Drums are easy to tune and produce full tones right out of the box.

The new Catalina Maples are available in two configurations – a 6-piece shell pack set and a 5-piece shell pack set. Add-on drums are also available to allow for further drum set expansion.

Learn more at:

http://www.gretschdrums.com/index.cfm?fa=drums&sid=661

Our Special Friend Fritzi Kramer, 1919-2010

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Frieda “Fritzi” Kramer was the beloved wife of Duke Kramer for over 60 years. Duke’s career and involvement with the Gretsch Company spanned an amazing 70 years and for several years prior to his passing, he and Fritzi together owned and operated D & F Products, a supplier of vintage Gretsch guitar parts. Fritzi passed away in April 2010, five years after losing Duke.

Fritzi Kramer

Fritzi herself had been in the music business since 1940. Many in the music industry knew Fritzi as she and Duke were participants at many past NAMM shows and vintage guitar shows. She is fondly remembered by many, being described as a kind and caring person who had a friendly word and smile to share with everyone.

Fritzi was born in Downers Grove, IL on February 11, 1919. She and Duke had 3 children, 4 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren, as well as many nieces and nephews. The Kramers lived in Naperville, IL from 1949 to 1971 and then moved to Cincinnati and resided there until 2009. A lover of golf and bridge, Fritzi was active in the school system and volunteered at the Naperville and Cincinnati Hospitals. She and Duke enjoyed traveling to trade shows and were members of the Coldstream Country Club.

Fritzi claimed that her greatest accomplishment was the unconditional love she gave to her family and friends. Once when asked who she would come back as if she could come back as anyone she wanted, she replied herself.

Fritzi and Duke spent a long and happy life together sharing their love of the music business. We truly miss these cherished friends of the Gretsch family.

Remembering Duke Kramer

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Charles Kramer went by many nicknames, “Duke”, “The Silver Fox”, even “Mr. Guitar Man.” You could also call him “The Thread.” Duke Kramer was the thread, the constant connection that bridged eight decades of Gretsch musical history. Sadly, the World’s Gretsch Goodwill Ambassador for 70 years passed away five years ago last month.

Duke Kramer

In 1935, Bill Gretsch was managing the company’s Chicago Distribution office when he met a 19-year-old sax player who played the local clubs. Bill saw something special in the teenager and offered him a job polishing horns for $11 a week. Duke accepted the job and really never left the company. His career and involvement with Gretsch spanned an amazing 70 years.

At Gretsch, Duke practically did it all and saw it all.  His duties over the years included being a purchasing agent, salesman, bookkeeper, general manager, plant manager, inventor, mentor, and trusted advisor to four of the five Gretsch presidents. Duke was also involved in the birth of “The Great Gretsch Sound” after World War II when the company decided to focus only on manufacturing high quality guitars and drums under the Gretsch brand. Duke witnessed and participated in many historical milestone events. He worked with Jimmie Webster and Chet Atkins to forever change the look and sound of guitars. He was instrumental in getting Gretsch drums into the hands of the best musicians in jazz and popular music.

In the fast-changing world of the music industry, Duke was a survivor. He was one of a handful of faithful Gretsch employees who survived the Baldwin acquisition in the late 1960s. He ran the Cincinnati office of the Gretsch Division until his retirement in 1980. When Baldwin was in bankruptcy in the early 80s, Duke was again brought in to run the Gretsch business and was key to arranging the sale back to the Gretsch family. Negotiations were successful and current president Fred W. Gretsch returned the company back to his family in January 1985. But Duke’s involvement didn’t stop there. He played a critical role in bringing Gretsch guitars back into production. Fifty years after he was hired by Fred’s father, Bill Gretsch, Duke Kramer was again on the road talking to musicians and instrument dealers assuring them that the “Great Gretsch Sound” would soon return.

Current president, Fred W. Gretsch, remembers Duke Kramer fondly stating “When I transferred to Chicago in 1969 to work in the Gretsch’s Elmhurst Illinois office, Duke was my boss. He was a great teacher, very hands on, a wonderful mentor.” Duke was a lifetime member of the Guitars & Accessories Manufacturing Association (GAMA) and was also heavily involved in the Music Distributors Association. Duke and his beloved wife, Fritzi, who passed away in April of this year, were married an amazing 62 years and had three children.

The Gretsch family owes a huge debt of gratitude to this tireless, dedicated, loyal friend who contributed so much to the company–and to the music industry as a whole. Duke’s keen insight, deep love of music, warm smile, and zest for living are sorely missed.

Gretsches Honored By Savannah Folk Music Society

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Dinah and Fred Gretsch, owners of the Pooler, Georgia-based Gretsch Company, were surprised with a special presentation by the Savannah Folk Music Society this past July 2 at Savannah’s First Presbyterian Church. At a regular meeting of the Society’s “First Friday For Folk Music,” Dinah and Fred received a portrait of themselves that was specially commissioned by the Society. The portrait was created by Savannah artist Sandy Branam.

Gretsches Receive Portrait from the Savannah Folk Music Society

Society president Hank Weisman comments, “We’ve enjoyed a terrific relationship with Fred and Dinah Gretsch over the past eight years. Through their Gretsch Foundation they’ve been tremendously supportive of the Society’s programs. This includes the donation of guitars for our ‘Guitar Art’ program, in which local artists custom-decorate instruments that are then auctioned to raise funds. Other donated guitars are signed by major artists. All of these guitars are auctioned at the annual Savannah Folk Music Festival, which takes place each October. Over the past eight years the donations made by the Gretsch Foundation have generated more than $40,000 in supporting funds.

“Fred and Dinah have also helped to support our banjo assembly workshops,” Weisman continues. “Thanks to parts supplied by the Gretsch Company, we’ve sent at least seventy-five new banjo players out into the world.”

“The entire folk music scene in Savannah owes a great deal to Fred and Dinah Gretsch,” Weisman concludes. “The special portrait that the Savannah Folk Music Society commissioned is just a small expression of our gratitude.”

For more information on the Savannah Folk Music Society, go to www.savannahfolk.org.

Sugarland Signed Gretsch Guitar Auctioned

Monday, July 5th, 2010

A Gretsch 6120 Nashville model guitar autographed by Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush–better known as Atlanta-based country music super-duo Sugarland–was auctioned on eBay between June 23 and June 30. The winning bid of $1,625 will go to support educational music programs sponsored by AthFest, Athens, Georgia’s long-running music festival.

Sugarland Signs Gretsch Nashville

The guitar was donated to AthFest by The Gretsch Foundation, an organization chartered by Savannah’s Fred and Dinah Gretsch to help promote music and arts education programs. Says Fred Gretsch, “When folks who understand the value of music as a way to enrich people’s lives work together, amazing things can be accomplished.”

The Gretsch Foundation donates Gretsch guitars to programs like AthFest AfterSchool, AthFest InSchool, and Keys For Kids. The guitars are decorated by major artists and/or signed by prominent musicians, and then auctioned off on eBay to raise funds. Over the past two years The Foundation has donated guitars signed by the members of R.E.M., Widespread Panic, and The Drive By Truckers.

Gretsch’s 6120 Nashville model guitar was first built in 1954 in collaboration with Chet Atkins. It’s been offered in many deluxe versions over the succeeding years.

For more information on Gretsch guitars, go to www.gretschguitars.com. More information on AthFest is available at www.athfest.com.

Gretsch Drums & KMC Music Celebrate 10 Years Together

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

When two of the most important names in the musical instrument industry get together to celebrate, it’s sure to be a terrific party. Such was the case this past June 11 when the Gretsch Company hosted a celebration of ten years of partnership with KMC Music, Inc.  The Gretsch/KMC Music 10th Anniversary party was celebrated on the grounds of KMC Music’s headquarters in Bloomfield, Connecticut.

A talented trio called The Psychedelic ‘60s included two KMC Music employees, and anchored jam sessions featuring several more.

The event featured a lavish barbecue, games, and other activities for KMC employees, their families, and invited guests. Entertainment was provided by The Psychedelic ’60s, a trio led by guitarist (and KMC Music inside salesman) Martin Kelly, with KMC Music inside salesman Joe Mazza on drums. As the afternoon progressed, many talented members of the KMC Music staff sat in on drums. These included overall percussion products manager Ken Fredenberg, Gretsch drums product manager John Palmer, additional percussion products specialist Jim Stanek, inside salesperson Jeff Pyle, and customer service rep Jay Cole.

Watch the Band

Invited guests included John DiMugno, owner and president of Delmar Products, along with Delmar employees Don Mulligan and Doug O’Leary. Delmar makes the drum covering material used to create many of Gretsch’s most popular finishes. The two companies have done business together since 1962. The event was also attended by members of the music press, including Laurie Guptill and Randy Struckus from Musical Merchandise Review, as well as managing editor Rich Watson of The Music Trades.

Fred Gretsch, Grill Master

Fred Gretsch himself took a “hands-on” role in the festivities by donning a special 10th Anniversary BBQ apron embroidered with the title of “Fred Gretsch, Grill Master” and helping to prepare hot dogs and hamburgers for the dozens of hungry guests.

Among the highlights of the afternoon was a series of special presentations. After an introduction by new Gretsch business development manager Colin Schofield, Fred Gretsch offered comments about the Gretsch/KMC Music partnership. “When I first began to consider someone to help develop the Gretsch drum brand over a decade ago,” said Fred, “I knew that I had to find exactly the right type of organization in order for the idea to succeed. They’d need to have all the necessary expertise in the key areas of manufacturing, marketing, sales, and service in order for my hopes to be realized. KMC was always at the top of my list. And now, here we are, ten years later—celebrating the ‘rightness’ of that decision.”

Fred went on to acknowledge all of the members of the Gretsch and KMC Music teams who help to manufacture and market “the world’s finest drums to the world’s most discriminating drummers,” adding, “Family is important to us at Gretsch . . . and we consider everyone on the KMC team to be a cherished part of that family.”

Singled out for special mention were US Custom Shop production manager Paul Cooper, Gretsch drums manager John Palmer, artist relations manager Kim Graham, and all the members of the KMC Music sales, customer service, and shipping departments. In addition, Fred thanked his wife, Gretsch Company CFO Dinah Gretsch, for her “invaluable contributions to the success our company has enjoyed.”

Brigadier General Jeffrey Phillips (left) and his parents were honored guests of Fred and Dinah Gretsch.

Fred also acknowledged the presence of a personal friend and special guest: Brigadier General Jeffrey E. Phillips, deputy commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division at Ft. Stewart, just outside of Savannah, Georgia.  Said Fred, “General Phillips and I share a vision of the importance of music in our society. In a letter he wrote me recently, he said, ‘Our music helps define us. It reflects our diversity and freedom.’”

Fred and Dinah presented KMC Music senior vice president of sales & marketing Paul Damiano with a portrait of the Gretsch Company’s founders.

Following Fred’s comments, KMC Music senior vice president of sales & marketing Paul Damiano was called to the stage to receive gifts for KMC from the Gretsch family. These included a plaque commemorating the 10th Anniversary, as well as a framed portrait of past presidents of the Gretsch Company dating back to Friederich Gretsch, who founded the company in 1883. Current president Fred W. Gretsch represents the fourth generation of Gretsch drum builders.

A custom snare drum personalized with KMC employee signatures was presented to the Gretsches.

Commenting that “Gretsch isn’t the only one who knows how to give gifts,” Paul Damiano returned the favor by presenting Fred and Dinah with two unique items for the Gretsch museum in Pooler, Georgia. The first was a one-of-a-kind Gretsch USA Custom 10th Anniversary drumkit created in the company’s Ridgeland, South Carolina factory. The second was a custom snare drum personalized with the signatures of all KMC Music employees involved in the creation, marketing, and sale of Gretsch drums.

Following the presentations, Dinah Gretsch cut a cake emblazoned with the event logo, offering everyone a piece and commenting that “It’s a sugar-free cake, so it’s also guilt-free.”

Not only was cake provided for all in attendance, but so were personalized souvenir bags for each KMC employee and his or her family. The bags contained logoed aprons, T-shirts, and candy. KMC Music percussion brands manager Ken Fredenberg commented, “The barbecue was a great time. Fred and Dinah really know how to throw a party. We all enjoyed a great spread of food, fun and games for the kids, and terrific music. I think everyone at KMC feels a part of the great Gretsch team, and we’re proud to have been involved with the Gretsch project for the last ten years.”

Additional Information and Commentary on the Gretsch/KMC Music Partnership

Gretsch is America’s oldest and most prestigious drum manufacturer, with a rich musical history that spans more than 125 years. Long the choice of such jazz masters as Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, and Max Roach, Gretsch drums are currently favored by artists in a variety of musical styles, including Vinnie Colaiuta (Sting), Cindy Blackman (Lenny Kravitz), Stephen Ferrone (Tom Petty), and Bill Stewart (contemporary jazz great). The Gretsch Company is based in the Savannah suburb of Pooler, Georgia.

KMC Music, Inc. is the nation’s largest distributor of musical instruments, including exclusive marketing and distribution of Gretsch drums. The company is headquartered in Bloomfield, Connecticut.

KMC Music and Gretsch formed their partnership in 1990. Commenting on that partnership, Fred Gretsch says, “When I first began to consider a business partner for the Gretsch drum brand over a decade ago, I knew that they would need to have all the necessary expertise in the key areas of manufacturing, marketing, sales, and service for my expectations to be achieved. I decided that I would proceed only if a partnership with such an organization could be realized.

 ”KMC Music’s extensive overseas manufacturing capabilities and resources have enabled high-quality Gretsch instruments to be offered in the entry-level and mid-priced price categories. It has also enabled greater product selection and more setup and finish options than ever before. Their contemporary drumset designs have set new quality standards in the industry at all price points. In addition, continued operation of the fabled Gretsch drum factory in Ridgeland, South Carolina has ensured that high-end professional Gretsch drums are still hand-crafted in the USA to our exacting standards. Working together, our active product development initiatives, continued innovation and on-going product improvements will make sure that Gretsch stays at the forefront of contemporary drum design.”

Fred goes on to say, “KMC Music’s team of over twenty-five highly professional sales reps ensures that retailers in every region of the country are visited and receive individual attention. In addition, each rep is backed by an in-house support team, thus ensuring that each retailer receives the highest possible level of service. In the international marketplace, KMC’s established international distribution network has enabled a new level of penetration in to overseas markets. Gretsch drums are now readily available in more countries around the world than ever before.”

“KMC has a long-term, demonstrated commitment to being an industry service leader,” Fred concludes. “Their distribution, warehouse and logistics capabilities are broadly acknowledged as the very best in the industry. Their professional customer service team ensures fast, friendly support for both retailers and consumers, and their state-of-the-art inventory management systems ensure ready product availability and minimal lead times for add-on drums and special orders. Importantly, KMC operates a dedicated spare parts and service department to ensure that all end-users are offered efficient spare parts service and support. The effective supply and service of spare parts is so very essential in the drum industry; this has certainly been one of the key factors in our success.”

Gretsch Company CFO Dinah Gretsch adds, “KMC Music has its own impressive history of developing product lines, as well as a highly regarded reputation for building and managing successful brands. This was important to us as we evaluated potential partners, because it was essential that they would understand and be sensitive to the very special history and legacy of the Gretsch drum brand. Given their already comprehensive knowledge of the drum market, KMC was uniquely qualified to partner with us. Their skilled marketing team develops and deploys very effective and innovative advertising and promotional programs. I also enjoy working with their artist relations managers to ensure that all Gretsch endorsers receive world-class service and support.”

Speaking from the KMC Music perspective, Gretsch Drums product manager John Palmer says, “We’re very pleased to celebrate our ten-year anniversary of distributing Gretsch drums on a worldwide basis. Gretsch drums enjoy a unique, colorful, and respected place among the great American drum brands, and we’re proud to expand on this tradition. We’re thrilled to be able to embellish on the Gretsch legacy by making improvements, where possible, at the USA Custom factory, in addition to continuing to expand our overall drum offering. We are committed to building on the Gretsch legacy by continuing to provide all drummers with superior-sounding Gretsch drums to inspire the maximum drumming experience.”

Finally, KMC Music senior vice president for sales & marketing Paul Damiano adds, “We at KMC Music are obviously very pleased with and proud of our Gretsch drum business. Ten years ago, it was our strategic objective to solidify our position in the drumset market so that we would have a firm foundation on which to build our percussion business. The strong market acceptance of Gretsch drums gave us the confidence to build on that success with the addition of Latin Percussion and Sabian cymbals. As those brands began to flourish, the rest of our percussion accessory business also began to flourish, including Remo and Evans drumheads, and Vic Firth sticks and educational percussion. Today, KMC Music is a ‘destination’ supplier for any serious drum shop in the USA! And we owe that status in large part to our partnership with Gretsch.”

For more information on the history of the Gretsch Company, visit www.gretsch.com. For more information on Gretsch drums, visit www.gretschdrums.com. For more information on KMC Music and its various brands, visit www.kmcmusic.com.

All photos by John Giammatteo.