Archive for the ‘Gretsch News’ Category

Greg Gretsch Appears On CNN News

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Contributes Expert Commentary Regarding Facebook IPO

Greg Gretsch on CNN

Greg Gretsch—son of Gretsch Company president Fred W. Gretsch and managing director of investment firm Sigma Partners—was featured on CNN News this past Tuesday, May 15. Greg’s expertise was sought regarding the status of social network giant Facebook versus its competitors. The topic is a hot one because of Facebook’s initial public offering this week—the biggest ever for an Internet company.

“Facebook, from the very beginning, has focused like a laser on the quality of their product…the quality of the user experience,” said Greg. According to CNN’s report, this was something that wasn’t done by rival sites like Myspace and Friendster.

Still, no company, no matter how seemingly large and invulnerable, is immune to the possibility of threats from an unexpected source.  “What [Facebook founder] Mark Zuckerberg worries about is not the Googles of the world,” said Greg Gretsch. “What he worries about is the upstart…the three guys in a garage who figure out the new social network.” The full CNN news item can be seen HERE.  Look out for more of Greg on CNN in the coming days.

As a former founder and executive of four start-up technology companies, Greg Gretsch uses his expertise to assist entrepreneurs in building strong businesses. Greg has been in the high-technology industry for more than twenty years. He joined Sigma Partners in 2000, and brings to the firm expertise in new venture creation and marketing. More information on Greg is available at sigmapartners.com/gretsch.php.

Introducing the New Gretsch Roots Collection

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

From the Gretsch Guitars website:


Gretsch is very proud to take players on a musical journey through nearly a century of great Gretsch history by introducing its Roots Collection of acoustic instruments. This exciting new family of banjos, mandolins, resonator guitars and ukuleles feature classically authentic Gretsch designs that transport players to a bygone era well before rock ‘n’ roll blasted off in the 1950s.

The Collection:

Banjos -
The Gretsch Roots Collection’s five new banjo models feature solid modern craftsmanship and sparkling good-time sound and feel while authentically evoking the company’s innovative banjo models of the early 20th century. From the 5-string mahogany-neck Broadkaster® Deluxe and Broadkaster Special resonator models and Dixie open-back model to the diminutively striking Clarophone™ Banjo-Ukulele and the guitarist-friendly Dixie 6 Guitar-Banjo, all provide a splendid Southern surfeit of outstanding sound, performance and value for established artist, seasoned player and eager student alike.

Resonators -
Three remarkable Gretsch Ampli-Sonic™ resonator guitars add powerfully distinctive tone to the Roots Collection. The mahogany-body Boxcar™ Standard and Bobtail™ Deluxe each come in round-neck and square-neck models, and the round-neck Honey Dipper™ has a nickel-plated brass body. The heart of each richly resounding guitar is the new Gretsch Ampli-Sonic resonator cone, hand-spun in Eastern Europe from nearly 99-percent pure aluminum for fantastic volume and sonic projection.

Ukuleles -
At the request of Gretsch fans worldwide, the Roots Collection also presents half a dozen new Gretsch ukulele models. The uke is experiencing one if its phenomenal resurgences in popularity, once again bringing the lilting sounds of the South Sea islands to delighted ears everywhere, Gretsch’s three deluxe ukuleles—the Concert Deluxe, Tenor Deluxe and Tenor Cutaway Electric models—boast premium construction features such as quartersawn solid mahogany top, back and sides; one-piece mahogany necks and handsome semi-gloss finishes. The three standard ukes—the Soprano Standard, Concert Standard and Tenor Standard models—deliver laminated mahogany build and other fine features. All six new Gretsch ukuleles deliver great looks, smooth feel and wonderfully singing tone.

Mandolins -
The Roots Collection also heralds the return of the revered Gretsch New Yorker™ mandolin. Styled after the brightly ringing 1950s classic, a trio of modern—day models-the New Yorker Standard, New Yorker Deluxe and New Yorker Supreme—offer premium features with authentic vintage touches, full-bodied tone, smooth-playing performance and eye-catching design beauty.

For all the details including demo videos, visit the Gretsch Guitars website HERE.

The Stones’ First Roll Through Georgia

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Charlie Watts backstage at the Georgia Southern show.

By Fred Gretsch

I’ve been a fan and follower of Charlie Watts and the Rolling Stones for many years. After all, Charlie is one of the longest-running Gretsch drum artists—a fact of which I’m very proud. But though I thought I knew a good deal about the band’s history, I recently discovered a bit of that history that I wasn’t familiar with . . . and which connects the Stones with the Gretsch family’s current home state of Georgia.

In 1965 the Rolling Stones were at the vanguard of the British Invasion. They were contemporaries of the Beatles, but they took a very different approach than the Fab Four. Instead of creating happy pop melodies, the Stones’ music was more heavily influenced by the raw, earthy sound of American blues. The band also looked different, with longer hair, a street-oriented wardrobe, and a generally grittier overall attitude.

After two successful European tours, the Stones headed for North America in April of 1965. They started out in Canada, then worked their way through the US Northeast . . . a routing that took them into New York City and their second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on May 2.

The Rolling Stones play their first-ever college show on May 4, 1965 at Georgia Southern College in Statesboro.

Following their TV appearance the band headed south. And that’s where the Georgia connection comes in. On May 4, 1965 the Rolling Stones played their first college show—and their first southern-US performance—in Hanner Gymnasium at what was then Georgia Southern College in Statesboro. The show was sponsored by the school’s Sigma Epsilon Chi fraternity, and tickets cost $2.50.

Charlie Watts and bandmates Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, and Bill Wyman headlined a show that featured a popular local band called The Bushmen as an opening act. The Stones played ten songs to a subdued audience that, frankly, was largely unfamiliar with their music. Although the Stones had appeared on American TV twice, they had yet to break into the US recording scene with the sort of mega-hits that the Beatles had enjoyed.

A ticket for the show cost $2.50.

According to an item that appears as number 38 in Georgia Southern University’s 100 Things You Should Know About GSU, “The Rolling Stones performed their first United States college act at the college on May 4, 1965. Some concert attendees reported a successful show, but the George-Anne reviewer praised the opening act for saving the concert. The review suggested that the Rolling Stones would be easily forgotten.”

As we all know, The Rolling Stones were not forgotten. They went to Florida on the day after the Georgia performance, and while they were there they wrote a little ditty called “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”  Some Stones historians say that the song title was connected to a blues tune that was a favorite of Keith’s. But other Stonesophiles speculate that it might have been a response to the lukewarm reception that the band received at their Statesboro show.

After finishing the southern leg of their tour in Jacksonville, Florida on May 8, the Stones moved to Chicago. While there they worked on “Satisfaction” at the Chess recording studios.  Two days later they were in Los Angeles, where they recorded the song at RCA studios.  It was in this session, the story goes, that Keith Richards rigged a version of a “fuzz box” to his guitar, giving the song’s opening riff its signature sound and sending  “Satisfaction”—and the Rolling Stones—straight up the charts.

A pensive Mick Jagger in Florida the day after the show in Statesboro…and one day before co-writing “Satisfaction.”

Spotlight: Gretsch Brooklyn Series Drums

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

From the GretschDrums.com website:

Gretsch drums were born in Brooklyn, New York in 1883. They were proudly crafted in the vibrant city for the better part of the 20th Century. Brooklyn and Gretsch share an inseparable history that is part of American music history and folklore. It is a shared legacy that cannot be duplicated. Today, Brooklyn represents a renaissance community that vibrates with contemporary artistic expression, youthful innovation and passionate musical commitment. Gretsch Brooklyn series celebrates the rejuvenated Brooklyn city passion and spirit and expands on its distinctive shared American experience.

Proudly hand crafted in Ridgeland, South Carolina, USA, by a team of veteran drum builders, Gretsch Brooklyn has a sound that is at once recognizable and essential, yet distinctively reinvented. The Gretsch drum design team molded the Brooklyn series by combining classic Gretsch elements while infusing it with new attributes. They expanded upon traditional drum designs to shape a sound that retains fundamental Gretsch characteristics while projecting a fresh voice.

Click HERE for videos featuring Gretsch drum artist Keith Carlock.

Smoke Grey Oyster Finish

Royal Red Oyster Finish

Royal Blue Oyster Finish

Click HERE for more color options.

Click HERE for specs.

Visit the Gretsch Drums website for all the details and to purchase your kit today!  Enjoy and happy drumming!

On The Passing Of Levon Helm

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Along with music fans around the world, I mourn the April 19 passing of the great drummer and singer Levon Helm. His was a special talent: the ability to bring unequivocal honesty to every note that he sang and every beat that he played. That talent was a major ingredient in the success of The Band, the stellar roots-rock group whose repertoire included the Levon-sung classics “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and “Up On Cripple Creek.”

Later in his life Levon delved even deeper into the historic roots of American music. He won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album for his 2007 studio album, Dirt Farmer, and his 2010 album Electric Dirt won the first-ever Grammy for Best Americana Album. He followed his win in 2011 by taking home the same award for his live album, Ramble at the Ryman.

Levon had an affinity for Gretsch drums throughout his career, and I’m proud to say that he became an official Gretsch artist a few years ago. Whether behind those drums or behind a microphone, Levon Helm was immediately identifiable and totally unmistakable. I’m saddened by his passing, but I celebrate his life and his unique contributions to American music.

Fred W. Gretsch

Levon Helm

Dinah & Fred Visit With The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Enjoying A New Venture For Drum Great Charlie Watts

Virtually every serious music fan knows that great Gretsch drummer Charlie Watts has been the rhythmic foundation of the Rolling Stones for almost fifty years. But those fans may not know that while Charlie’s drumming anchors “The World’s Greatest Rock ‘N’ Roll Band,” his talents shine in other musical genres. In past years he’s led his own jazz groups, including a critically acclaimed big band. And this year he’s joined forces with German pianist Axel Zwingenberger to tour in a unique group dubbed The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie.

Alex Zwingenberger is the key figure of the boogie woogie revival. Labeled by British critics as “Boogiemeister of the world,” he’s the “A” in the group’s name. Charlie Watts is the “C.” The “B” is British pianist Ben Waters, while the “D” is bassist Dave Green. Together the band toured Europe during the month of March. They played several dates in Germany and in Austria, along with a memorable show at London’s Pizza Express Soho.

Boogie woogie music has been fascinating audiences with its youthful freshness for more than 100 years, making it uniquely appealing to new generations of enthusiastic musicians. But there’s more to it than that: Boogie woogie is one of the most important roots of modern popular music—especially rock ‘n’ roll. Charlie Watts himself has mentioned boogie woogie as a foundation of the Rolling Stones’ music. Dinah and I had the great pleasure of visiting with Charlie and the band prior to one of their late March performances in Vienna Austria. We chatted with Charlie about the 125th Anniversary Gretsch poster, and we had a good time looking at old Gretsch photos and catalogs dating back to 1912. Charlie then mentioned that he planned to call noted vintage drum dealer Steve Maxwell to arrange for a loaner Gretsch kit for the ABC&D Of Boogie Woogie’s New York City dates this coming June.

Drum enthusiasts may be interested to know that over and above all of his remarkable playing credits, Charlie is an avid drum collector. Among the interesting drums he owns are a Gretsch Birdland kit, an original Mel Lewis kit in burgundy sparkle, and a black kit similar to the early setup used by Tony Williams.

We showed the members of the band the roster for the Savannah Music Festival, which ran from March 20 to 27. Gretsch provides drums for the three-week program that showcases 100 world-class musical acts. The guys knew many of the performers either from personal experience or by reputation. Unfortunately, Charlie can’t book a year ahead for a gig like that due to the priority held by the Stones 50th Anniversary year—which will certainly include many special performances.

When The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie played in London, Times critic Clive Davis raved, “Jazz lover Charlie Watts looked more than happy to be sandwiched between the pianos of his old friend (and German boogiemeister) Axel Zwingenberger and our own Ben Waters. Watts has rightly won praise for his previous forays into bebop, but the visceral roar of a boogie-woogie riff is even more intoxicating.”

When we saw the band play at the Weiner Metropole in Vienna, the club was literally packed with boogie woogie fans. Piano players Alex and Ben performed on black Bösendorfer grands, whose size frankly overwhelmed the drumkit and the stand-up bass. Bösendorfer pianos have been hand-crafted in Vienna for over 250 years. Dave Green on stand up bass rounds out the quartet.

Vienna offers many other examples of musical history. The city is packed with concert venues and museums. The New Burg Museum currently features an exhibition of historic musical instruments—including drums that are hundreds of years old, as well as guitars made by noted 19th-century Viennese craftsman Johann Stauffer. In the early 1800s Stauffer had a young German apprentice by the name of Christian Friederich Martin. In 1833 Martin emigrated to America. He made guitars for six years in New York City before finally settling in Nazareth, Pennsylvania—where he established what we know today as the CF Martin guitar company.

In addition to playing on the ABC&D of Boogie Woogie’s live tour, Charlie Watts has also recorded with Alex Zwingenberger and Dave Green on a terrific album titled The Magic of Boogie Woogie. It features a mix of spontaneously created numbers and boogie classics, and the three talented musicians express the swinging magic of blues and boogie woogie in full glory. It’s also the first time that Charlie Watts’ drum artistry is featured in such an intimate setting. More information about the album—as well as some great musical clips—is available here.

The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie will be in New York and performing at the Lincoln Center and the Iridium Jazz Club from June 28 through July 2.  Check their tour schedule here.

Chet Atkins Exhibit Extended Through July 15!

Friday, April 13th, 2012

From the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum:

COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME® AND MUSEUM TO EXTEND ITS EXHIBITION CHET ATKINS: CERTIFIED GUITAR PLAYER THROUGH JULY 15, 2012

Upcoming Programs Include April 28 Interview with Jerry Bradley and May 5 Concert, Guitar Man: A Tribute to Jerry Reed

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s special exhibition Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player, which was originally scheduled to close June 11, 2012, has been extended through July 15, 2012, museum officials announced.  The exhibit is being held over in part to accommodate members of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society, who will visit Nashville in July; the extension also allows the museum to present additional public programs exploring the Hall of Fame member’s robust career and lasting influence.   Among the upcoming programming highlights are an April 28 interview with Jerry Bradley, and a May 5 concert saluting Jerry Reed.

On April 28, music executive Jerry Bradley will sit down with museum Senior Historian John Rumble for an interview at 1:30 p.m. in the museum’s Ford Theater. Bradley, son of Country Music Hall of Fame member Owen Bradley, learned record engineering and production from his father before working at RCA Records with Chet Atkins. First Atkins’ assistant then his successor, Bradley headed RCA Nashville from 1973–82. He signed Alabama and Ronnie Milsap, among others, and contributed greatly to the creation of country music’s ‘Outlaw’ movement. Bradley will discuss his career and the influence Atkins had on it.

On May 5, Guitar Man: A Tribute to Jerry Reed, a concert celebrating the music of Chet Atkins’ friend and collaborator, will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the museum’s Ford Theater. Jerry Reed was known for his innovative fingerstyle guitar playing; his catalog of boisterous country hits including “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” and “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)”; and his good-humored film roles (Smokey and the Bandit). Chet Atkins helped shepherd Reed’s career at RCA, recorded dozens of his musical compositions and gave him the coveted honorary designation certified guitar player (c.g.p.).  Thom Bresh, Craig Dobbins, John Knowles c.g.p., Brent Mason, Richard Smith, Mark Thornton, Darrell Toney and Sean Weaver, backed by a house band of Steve Bryant, Ric McClure and Matt Raum, will perform their favorite Reed tunes.

Both programs, offered as part of the special exhibition Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player, made possible through the generous support of the Gretsch Company with additional support provided by Great American Country Television Network, are included with museum admission and free to museum members. The Ford Theater offers limited seating. Museum ticket or membership does not guarantee entry to museum programs. Both programs will also be streamed live at www.countrymusichalloffame.org.

Chet Atkins:  Certified Guitar Player Upcoming Programs Schedule

All programs are included with museum admission and free to museum members, except as noted below.

Sunday, April 29, 1:00 p.m., CDT

Fingerstyle Guitar Demonstration: Pat Kirtley

Guitarist Pat Kirtley blends the musical heritage of Merle Travis and Chet Atkins with an eclectic and contemporary repertoire, in genres from bluegrass to Brazilian. Kirtley has won the title of U.S. National Fingerstyle Champion, and in 2006 he was inducted into the National Thumbpicking Hall of Fame.

Sunday, April 29, 2:00 p.m. CDT

Film Screening: Chet Atkins: Rare Performances 1976-1995 (FREE)

Saturday, May 12, 1:00 p.m. CDT

Family Program: Introduction to Thumbpick Guitar (FREE)

Learn to play guitar like Chet Atkins and Merle Travis. This hands-on workshop will teach the basics of thumbpick guitar. Led by versatile guitar player Sean Weaver, recipient of awards from Home of the Legends Thumbpickers Contest and the Jimi Hendrix Electric Guitar Competition. Guitars provided. Ages 6 to 18. No reservations required.

Sunday, May 13, 1:00 p.m. CDT

Fingerstyle Guitar Demonstration: Craig Dobbins

Craig Dobbins is an Alabama-based guitarist, writer, and composer. He has authored many books and recordings about fingerstyle guitar, and has contributed to Acoustic Guitar, Acoustic Guitar Workshop, Fingerstyle Guitar and Just Jazz Guitar magazines.

Saturday, May 19, 2:00 p.m. CDT

Community Outreach: Introduction to Thumbpick Guitar at Nashville Public Library, Goodlettsville Branch

205 Rivergate Parkway, Nashville, TN 37072. (615) 862-5862. Ages 13 to 19. No reservations required. Free.

Museum programs are made possible, in part, by grants from the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and by an agreement between the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The museum’s mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture. With the same educational mission, the foundation also operates CMF Records, the museum’s Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B and Hatch Show Print®.

More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is available at www.countrymusichalloffame.org or by calling (615) 416-2001.

Gretsch Celebrates Its Heritage at Elmhurst Jazz Festival

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Gretsch drums have enjoyed an inseparable link with jazz music for generations. Jazz drumming greats of the past—including Tony Williams, Max Roach, Art Blakey, and Elvin Jones—made their reputations on Gretsch drums. Likewise, contemporary jazz stars like Bill Stewart, Cindy Blackman-Santana, and Keith Carlock find their musical expression through That Great Gretsch Sound.

In addition to the legacy of the past and present, Gretsch is also keenly concerned with the future of jazz. In an effort to promote that future, Gretsch Drums and the Gretsch Family recently lent instrumental and financial support to the 45th annual Elmhurst College Jazz Festival. Elmhurst is the alma mater of current Gretsch Company president Fred W. Gretsch, and the Gretsch Family has a long history of philanthropic support of college activities.

The Elmhurst College Jazz Festival

Each February, the best college jazz bands in the country converge on Elmhurst’s Chicago-suburb campus for three days of performances and education. The bands take turns performing for some of the greatest names in professional jazz today, who offer critiques and award a variety of honors. The professionals cap off each night of the Festival with a rousing performance of their own. The list of performers and adjudicators at this year’s festival included the Jeff Hamilton Trio, Elmhurst College Jazz Faculty member Mark Colby, Denis DiBlasio, Frank Greene, the Elmhurst College Jazz Band, the North Texas State University One O’clock Jazz Band, and The Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.

One of the many combos that performed during the four-day Jazz Festival.

As a tangible expression of Gretsch’s support for jazz education, all of the performance stages at the Elmhurst Festival were supplied with professional-quality Gretsch drum sets. So in addition to gaining the wisdom imparted by the Festival’s artist/clinicians, students got to experience for themselves the musical joy that only comes from performing on a Gretsch kit.

Taking Support To The High School Level

Gretsch’s support of the Elmhurst Festival didn’t stop at the college-band level. After a Festival hiatus of more than twenty years, a full day was devoted to the Elmhurst College High School Invitational Jazz Festival. This clinic/performance program for high school jazz bands was underwritten by a generous grant from the Sylvia & William W. Gretsch Memorial Foundation (named for the parents of Fred W. Gretsch).

The participating bands came from across Illinois.  They included York High School, Wheeling High School, Hersey High School, St. Charles North High School, and Champaign Central High School. Each was given forty minutes total stage time:  twenty minutes of performance and twenty minutes to work with the judges in a clinic-style setting.  All bands were in the audience listening when not warming up. As a result, each band had the benefit of hearing not only their comments from the judges, but also critiques from three other sessions. Most importantly, the students had the great fortune to perform for and work with some of the greatest American musicians of our time:  Jeff Hamilton (drums), Tamir Hendelman (piano), and Christoph Luty (bass).  The experience will surely have a lasting impact on their musical lives.

Jeff Hamilton and Mark Colby address the St. Charles North Jazz Ensemble while the Jeff Hamilton Trio members look on before addressing the group.

Outstanding musician awards were given by the judges, and each band director was given comment sheets to review with their band members.  At the end of the afternoon, the students were treated to a concert by the three judges and the Elmhurst College Jazz Band.  They also received wristbands that allowed them entry to the rest of the college performances as well as the Friday-evening performance of the Jeff Hamilton Trio with the Elmhurst College Jazz Band.  This was a perfect opportunity for budding high school musicians to experience music from up to thirty-seven different college groups from all around the United States.

Response from the high school band directors was universally positive, leading the organizers of the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival to plan on adding the High School Festival day to the overall program for the future. Said Elmhurst College music department chairman Pete Griffin, “We look forward to many years of touching teenagers through music and inspiring them to continue on their educational journey with jazz.”

The Gretsch Foundation—and the Gretsch Family—is proud to help those teenagers on that musical journey by supporting the Elmhurst College High School Invitational Jazz Festival. That support is a tangible illustration of the Gretsch Family’s mission statement, which is to “enrich lives through participation in music.”

Photo above:  Participating directors and Doug Beach in front of one of the Gretsch sets used at the Festival.  From left to right: Scott Casagrande (Hersey High School; Arlington Heights), Bill Riddle (York High School; Elmhurst), Doug Beach (Elmhurst College), Jim Stombres and John Wojciechowski (St. Charles North High School; St. Charles), John Currey (Champaign Central High School; Champaign), (seated) Brian Logan (Wheeling High School; Wheeling).

For more information on Elmhurst College and the Jazz Festival, visit their website.

For more information on The Gretsch Foundation, click here.