Archive for the ‘Music Industry Events’ Category

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.

GretschGear at 2010 Summer NAMM!

Monday, June 14th, 2010

The 2010 Summer NAMM show is taking place this weekend, June 18 to 20, in the great city of Nashville. What had previously been an industry-only trade show is being shaken up a bit this year. Earlier this month NAMM announced that Sunday, June 20 will be “Wanna Play Music Sunday”. Wanna Play Music Sunday will not only open the show doors to the public, but also host events including a Vintage Guitar Road Show and an All Star Celebrity Jam. The Celebrity Jam Concert will feature former Governor Mike Huckabee, Aaron Tippin, Louise Mandrell and many others. The Vintage Guitar Road Show will offer appraisals as well as a fine collection of vintage gear. For more information on the NAMM show and “Wanna Play Music Sunday” visit http://www.namm.org/wannaplaysunday.

GretschGear and Bigsby at NAMM

While on the show floor make sure to stop by Booth 700 and check out GretschGear as well as Bigsby Vibratos. We’ll be there with an extensive array of products and accessories. Stop by and check it out!

Fred Gretsch Brings History to Chicago Drum Show

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Fred W. Gretsch, president of the Gretsch Company, recently appeared at the 20th annual Chicago Drum Show. America’s premier vintage and custom drum event, the show was held this past May 15 and 16 at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles, Illinois. A tremendous turnout of avid drum buffs made this anniversary edition of the Chicago Show particularly noteworthy.

Fred Gretsch Giving His Master Class Presentation.

Fred Gretsch was the perfect candidate to offer historical presentations at the Chicago Show, since as the fourth generation of Gretsch drum makers he personally embodies a major part of American drum-making history. He also holds the enviable position of being the only man in America still actively involved with the drums that have born his family name for 127 years. Fred gave a presentation on Saturday, May 15 that went out live on the DrummerCafe web site. He also conducted a master class on Sunday, May 16. Joining Fred for his presentations was John Palmer, Gretsch Drum Manager for KMC Music, which distributes Gretsch drums world-wide.

Gretsch Drum Artist Hannah Ford Speaking During Her Clinic.

Also appearing for Gretsch was talented young artist-endorser Hannah Ford. A native of the Chicago area, Hannah has made a name for herself as both a performing artist and an exciting clinician. Hannah wowed those in attendance with her combination of fiery rock chops and solid grooves.

The Chicago Drum Show also featured a display of Gretsch drums. These included three beautiful USA Custom Special Edition kits and several Special Edition snare drums, each hand-crafted in the Gretsch factory in Ridgeland, South Carolina.

A Beautiful Gretsch USA Custom Special Edition Kit On Display.

The Gretsch family dynasty began in 1883, when a young German immigrant named Friedrich Gretsch founded a little shop in Brooklyn, New York. From that day to this, the Gretsch family has focused on making drums that offer unrivaled sound and uncompromising construction quality. Blending an emphasis on hand-craftsmanship with constant innovation, Gretsch has pioneered new drum designs and manufacturing techniques for well over a century. These include the first ply drumshells and the use of die-cast hoops.

Today, Gretsch drums are the preferred instruments of drummers looking for unique tonal quality and hand-made craftsmanship. So it’s not surprising that Fred W. Gretsch’s presentations at the Chicago Drum Show proved fascinating and informative to all in attendance. Fred celebrated four generations of family and musical history, as well as offering a look forward to the next 125 years of “That Great Gretsch Sound!”

Hannah Ford with Fred Gretsch and Fred’s sister, Gretchen Elsner-Sommer.

Gretsch Foundation Supports Sav’h Banjo Workshop

Monday, May 17th, 2010

The third Banjo Assembly Workshop presented by the Savannah Folk Music Society (SFMS) was held on Saturday, May 1. The event took place on the grounds of the Ships of the Sea Museum (SOSM) in Savannah, Georgia and drew many avid enthusiasts.  The workshop focused on the construction of real, playable banjos by amateur banjo enthusiasts.

Members of the Third Banjo Workshop

Hank Weisman of SFMS and Tony Pizzo of SOSM were the workshop teachers. Twenty-three participants were thrilled to create instruments for themselves using banjo parts donated by the Gretsch Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the Gretsch family. Fred and Dinah Gretsch—owners of the Pooler, Georgia-based Gretsch Company—are long-time supporters of the Savannah Folk Music Society.

Workshop Participants Busy at Work

Based on the excitement of those who participated, as well as the availability of additional parts in Gretsch’s Ridgeland, South Carolina warehouse, plans are under way for additional workshops in 2011 and 2012.

The Gretsch Company and the Gretsch Foundation are pleased to be  a part of this unique workshop for the benefit of Savannah area  musical enthusiasts.

For more information on the Savannah Folk Music Society visit  www.savannahfolk.org . For more  information on the Gretsch Foundation and the Gretsch Company, visit www.gretsch.com.

The World and Gretsch Came Together in Frankfurt

Monday, April 19th, 2010

In addition to the outstanding combo display of Gretsch Guitars and Drums, Bigsby was in Frankfurt in a big way this year.

The old saying goes that “If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.” Apparently, that goes for guitar vibratos too.

Bigsby Vibratos Were Seen on a Host of Different Manufacturer's Guitars

When the musical instrument world came together at the 2010 Musikmesse in Frankfurt, Germany this past March, Bigsby vibratos were displayed on no fewer than 108 guitar models from twenty-seven different manufacturers. These included major names like Gretsch, Gibson, Schecter, and Hofner, as well as specialty lines like TV Jones, Collings, and LTD. A special highlight was the exhibit of Germany’s Warwick guitars, which featured what may be the largest graphic image of a Bigsby vibrato ever put on display.

This record showing at the Frankfurt Messe reflects the respect and regard that guitarists and guitar makers have felt for Bigsby vibratos ever since Paul A. Bigsby designed his now-legendary tailpieces in the mid-1940s. They were the “better mousetrap” that revolutionized guitar sounds, and the world has been beating a path to Bigsby ever since. Today, that path leads to ten different vibrato models designed to fit virtually any size or style of electric guitar.

Biggest Bigsby Vibrato Display Seen to Date

Get on the path yourself, and hear for yourself what the guitar world regards as the finest vibrato available. Visit your Bigsby dealer, or go to http://www.bigsby.com.

And don’t forget to check out the lastest in Gretsch Guitar products at http://www.gretschguitars.com and Gretsch Drum products at http://www.gretschdrums.com.

Gretsch on Display in Savannah and Frankfurt

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

The Savannah Music Festival is currently running through April 3 and is dedicated to presenting the finest in American and international musical talent. Read the full story.  

Musikmesse in Frankfurt, Germany was held March 24 through March 27.  Check out Fred Gretsch’s daily show report below.

Savannah Music Festival:

The Savannah Music Festival is currently running through April 3 and is dedicated to presenting the finest in American and international musical talent. So it’s logical that the Festival would want their stages equipped with the finest drums available. Fortunately, the Savannah suburb of Pooler, Georgia is home to the company that makes the world’s finest drums: Gretsch.

Gretsch USA Custom Kit in Rosewood

But there’s much more to Gretsch’s involvement in the Savannah Music Festival than a hometown connection. The producers of the Fest understand that Gretsch USA Custom kits represent the ultimate in hand-crafted quality. Manufactured in nearby Ridgeland, South Carolina, Gretsch USA Custom drums feature specially configured maple shells with Gretsch’s original Silver Sealer inner finish, 30-degree bearing edges, die-cast hoops, and hand-applied outer finishes—all factors that contribute to the creation of “That Great Gretsch Sound.” The kits for the Festival are equipped with Gibraltar and Dixon stands and hardware provided by Gretsch distribution partner KMC Music.

Gretsch USA Drum Manufacturing production manager Paul Cooper and production assistant Josh Safer (both talented drummers in their own right) worked closely with Ricardo Ochoa, the Savannah Music Festival’s production director, to provide five Gretsch USA Custom kits for use on the various Festival stages. These kits will be played by the drummers for many of the Festival’s high-profile artists, including country singers Kathy Mattea and Patty Loveless, rocker Derek Trucks, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Henry Butler & Friends, zydeco specialists Jeffery Broussard & The Creole Cowboys, and soul singer Kristina Train.

The Savannah Music Festival is Georgia’s largest musical arts festival and one of the most distinctive cross-genre music festivals in the world. The event regularly presents commissioned works, unique and imaginative productions, and rare regional appearances by renowned artists in jazz, classical, blues, bluegrass, gospel and other styles of American and international roots music. More information is available at www.savannahmusicfestival.org. For more information about Gretsch drums, go to www.gretschdrums.com.

Musikmesse – Fred Gretsch’s Show Report:

Day 1:  

Gretsch Guitars on Display

So many Gretsch team members in Frankfurt for Messe. Sales, marketing, manufacturing, all assembled to greet customers. Best Gretsch Guitar and Drum display ever. . . that is the challenge so check it out to see if you agree that we have hit that mark again.

Gretsch Drums on Display

It’s always a kick to come into the hall on the first day and see all the carpets and drapes and flowers in place and looking super. The entire Gretsch Guitar and Drum display is in one stand in Hall 4 on the ground level. That is the first time in 10 years that we have it all consolidated. Stop by and say hello if you are here. Come on down, weather in Frankfurt, Germany is spring like.

Day 2:

Larger crowds at the Messe today. Visitors from as far away as New Zealand stopped by and many more from places like Croatia, Brazil, Israel, and more. And the noise level goes up . . . though there is a new 70 db noise level limit at displays. Not sure if it is enforced. The weather continues to cooperate with bands playing on the courtyard between Halls 3 and 4 in the warm afternoon. Photos posted shows the Gretsch Drum and Guitar displays that are located in the same stand (booth) in Hall 4. Friday attendance to rise further in anticipation of Saturday, the big attendance public day.

Day 3:

Messe Grounds

My first Messe was in 1971. Gretsch was here after the war in 1955. One thing we are researching is Gretsch participation at fairs (Messe means fair) before the war. We know that there was a Gretsch company office in Markneukirchen, Germany in the 1920s for many years up to WW2. So it is easy to take for granted so many things about Messe. Back in ‘71 there was just one large hall, #8, that made up the Musikmesse then. Since they have built out the fairgrounds to be truly spectacular. Visit www.musikmesse.com to see the fair layout today with all the halls being used, central courtyard, and facilities that sparkle.

Dick Dale had an interesting comment after signing autographs at the fair yesterday: more people on an escalator than he has seen anywhere. Dick is here through Saturday which is the public day when the crowds are spectacular. At NAMM the Eddie Cochran guitar was in a glass case, at messe it is hung up with all others to be played and checked out by all. Lots of up close and personal contact at Messe. Peter, a local musician stopped by enroute to a gig at Shadow where he will be playing zitar electronically. Cool. He has lots of Gretsch guitars too. Plenty of Duane Eddy fans here, too, waiting for the next Gretsch Duane Eddy model . . .  Stay tuned and check www.gretschguitars.com for more news.

Day 4:

Today we had visitors and friends from South Africa, Turkey, and old friend Bernhardt from Hamburg too. Several bearing gifts for our trip home. As predicted, the  crowds grew throughout the day as did the loud performances. Must be a finesse to the noice control that we have yet to understand.

Memories, too, from my first Messe show in 1971 when the whole event was in Hall 8. Frankfurt was under heavy construction for a new subway back then and it took a decade or more to complete it. All very modern and conveninet at the moment. It is a tickless system with signs saying that if you get caught without a ticket, the fine is 40 Euro and there are no excuses. Fortunately, the Messe ticket provides travel on the trains and busses so not to worry.

Messe Attracts Many Visitors

Get ready for Saturday public day when the halls will be crowded to a point where some places you can’t even move. The good thing is all are enthusiastic music makers out to see the latest gear. At the Gretsch Guitar booth today we spotted a couple photographing their 2-year-old son in a stroller in front of a row of Gretsch Guitars. Wonder where that picture will be 10 years from now.

Final Day & Post-Show:

More than 2,300 exhibitors and 110,000 visitors . . . that’s the tally for Messe Frankfurt for 2010. The numbers are very close to last year which is a good sign for business in the year ahead. Messe 2011 will be in early April and that’s already on our calendar.

A trip to Germany would not be complete without a chance to sample the culture in Frankfurt and again in Dusseldorf. Saturday evening was festive in Frankfurt with music playing in public areas around town and crowds out enjoying the pre-Easter atmosphere. Accordion music is front and center and they celebrate Easter season with a greater flair than in the USA.

Monday we visited the FMIC regional office in Dusseldorf that services 6 countries with ample multi-lingual staff, repair facilities, and a custom shop showroom.

Spring is just getting started and we got to experience Daylight Savings Time in Europe for a second time in 2010 as we “sprung forward” 1 hour early Sunday the 28th. It may be the only time we ever get to do that twice in the same season in the same year again.

The trip home on the Delta non-stop from Dusseldorf to Atlanta of 9+ hours included many musicians carrying their guitars, some of which were Gretsch guitars. One band was returning from a mission trip to the Czech Republic. We sensed that there were US Air Marshals on the flight as well providing an extra level of security. Thanks go out to them and all those who keep us safe.

Weather in Georgia is in the high 70’s and sunny. Back in the saddle again . . .

Read Expanded NAMM Show Coverage

Monday, January 25th, 2010

The 2010 NAMM musical instrument show was held this past January 14 through 17 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. This annual event, sponsored by the International Music Products Association, is America’s largest trade show for the showcasing of musical instruments and accessories.

Gretsch Drums On Display

Gretsch Drums had plenty of great new gear to showcase at this year’s NAMM show. Here are just a few highlights:

US Custom Kits

Gretsch 2010 Ltd Ed USA Custom Black & Silver

Gretsch 2010 Ltd Ed USA Custom Black and Silver (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

Two new Limited Edition USA Custom kits headed up the new-product introductions. One featured an 18×22 bass drum, 8×10 and 9×10 toms, a 16×16 floor tom, and a 6½x14 ten-lug snare—each with a black lacquer finish and silver-sparkle inlays. The other featured a 14×18 bass drum, an 8×12 tom, a 14×14 floor tom, and a 5½ x14 eight-lug snare—all in a classy white finish with a gold sparkle inlays and gold-plated hardware. Each configuration will be limited to thirty total kits worldwide.

New Renown Maple Finish

Gretsch Renown Maple Ruby Sparkle Fade

Gretsch Renown Maple Ruby Sparkle Fade (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

The Gretsch Renown Maple series now offers a striking new finish called Ruby Sparkle Fade. It features mixed-size sparkle flakes that catch and reflect light differently so as to give the finish extra depth and richness. Three sizes of flakes are carefully applied in descending size—large to medium to small. Then each drum is hand-sprayed with a customized ruby red-to-ebony black fade paint. A highly detailed, multi-step lacquering process provides the final touch for a gleaming finish.

Stanton Moore Signature Snare

Stantion Moore Signature Snare

Stanton Moore Signature Snare (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

Gretsch artist Stanton Moore has developed a reputation for his distinctive blend of New Orleans-influenced funky snare-drum grooves. Now Gretsch has collaborated with Stanton to create a snare drum that projects that swampy, nuanced style. The Stanton Moore Signature snare features a single-ply solid-maple shell with reinforcement hoops, thirty-degree bearing edges, eight tuning lugs, a Dunnett throw-off, 42-strand snares, and a gloss natural finish emblazoned with Stanton’s signature. The drum is designed to provide quick response, varying timbres, and a distinctive overall tonality.

Fred And Dinah Gretsch Meet The CoverBand 2010 Drum Winner

A special treat for Fred and Dinah Gretsch was the opportunity to congratulate Didi Negron of Northampton, Pennsylvania, who was the winning drummer in the CoverBand 2010 contest presented by Musician’s Friend and Latin Percussion. Gretsch Drums was a contributing sponsor for the online competition.

CoverBand 2010 Winner Didi Negron

CoverBand 2010 Winning Drummer Didi Negron (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

The contest invited individual musicians and vocalists to upload a two-minute video to coverband2010.com between July 15 and September 15 of last year. A general-public vote determined the finalists. A panel of celebrity judges then selected the winners.

A trip to Anaheim to perform at the NAMM show was part of the prize for the seven winning CoverBand members. For twenty-three-year-old Didi Negron, that was just part of the thrill. She also received a brand-new Gretsch Catalina Ash drumkit, along with the chance to meet Fred and Dinah Gretsch personally. (Didi’s prize package also included Sabian HHX cymbals and a Gibraltar Stealth rack system.)

Dinah Gretsch was particularly pleased to meet Didi, since female participation in music is an issue that’s near and dear to Dinah’s heart. When Dinah asked Didi how she came to be a drummer, Didi replied, “I grew up with music in my family. My dad plays guitar and bass, and there was a lot of music in our church. When I was around eight I started playing along to records. I developed rudimental drumming skills when I was in my school marching band. When I was a teenager I started playing drumset and percussion, and things just went from there.”

Things went pretty far, as a matter of fact. Didi’s self-taught drumming skills were impressive enough to earn a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College Of Music in Boston. Now in her second year, she’s studying with such well-known drummers as Ralph Peterson, Terri-Lyne Carrington, Dave DiCenso, and Eddie Castillo. Not surprisingly, Didi’s goal is to become a professional drummer/percussionist. “It’s all I’ve ever really thought about,” she said.

Didi’s entry for the CoverBand 2010 contest displayed the influence of her Berklee instructors, along with a substantial amount of her own talent and originality. Her two-minute video was a mix of Latin, pop, and fusion-esque styles that burned and grooved at the same time. “I love to solo,” said Didi, “but I love a pocket, too. So for my contest entry I decided to show the groove . . . show the chops . . . just do it all!”

Stephen Ferrone & Gretsch Drums In Concert

An annual highlight of the NAMM show is an after-hours concert called Sabian Live!, presented by the Sabian Cymbal Company (and co-sponsored by Gretsch Drums). This year’s event opened and closed with Gretsch artists.

Sabian Live! Drummer    Photo by Rick Van Horn

Sabian Live! Drummer (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

The opening act was a band of teenage musicians from the Little Kids Rock music-education program. Their performance was powered by a young drummer playing on a Gretsch Catalina Ash kit. What the band lacked in experience they made up for in enthusiasm, and their two-song set was well received by the audience.

At the absolute opposite of the experience scale was the evening’s closer: Stephen Ferrone & The Master Volume All-Stars. Made up of the cream of LA’s studio scene, the band was anchored by its namesake drummer, whose credits include the Average White Band, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and hundreds of studio projects.

Stephen Ferrone  (Photo by Jules Follett)

Stephen Ferrone (Photo by Jules Follett)

The evening’s audience was treated to a widely varying repertoire that included songs from all of Ferrone’s previous groups, as well as tunes by guest artists. These included “You Need a Man” and “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” led by surprise guest Jimmy Messina. The evening closed with a spirited rendition of “Man in The Mirror,” in tribute to Michael Jackson. Throughout the entire set Stephen Ferrone provided his legendary combination of groove, drive, and taste.

Gretsch Guitars Launches The Eddie Cochran Tribute Model

Gretsch Eddie Cochran Tribute Guitar (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

Gretsch Eddie Cochran Tribute Guitar (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

Gretsch Guitars is famous for maintaining the highest standards of contemporary quality while still honoring the musical contributions made by great artists of the past. In keeping with that tradition, Gretsch Guitars debuted the Eddie Cochran Tribute model at this year’s NAMM show.

Eddie Cochran was a pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll. Starting out in country music in the early 1950s, he quickly gravitated toward the music being popularized by Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley. In short order he became a contemporary of those stars, appearing in concerts and films throughout the mid to late ’50s. But besides being a talented vocalist, Cochran’s skill as a guitarist set him apart, and it earned him a place as one of Gretsch’s first rock ‘n’ roll endorsing artists.

Cochran was also a talented songwriter, and his teen-angst classic “Summertime Blues” has been covered by hundreds of artists including The Who and Blue Cheer. Tragically, his career was cut short by an auto accident in London on April 17, 1960. Eddie was only twenty-one.

Eddie Cochran Tribute Display

Eddie Cochran Tribute Display (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

The NAMM launch of the Gretsch Eddie Cochran Tribute guitar was accompanied by an extensive historic display featuring photos, records, and other memorabilia from Eddie’s meteoric career. Additionally, Fred Gretsch was on hand to underscore the personal connection between Gretsch Guitars and Eddie Cochran’s legacy.

2010 Gretsch Showcase

The Eddie Cochran Tribute guitar launch was celebrated with a pre-NAMM performance at the Gretsch Guitars booth on Wednesday, January 13. Bobby Cochran—Eddie’s nephew and a fine guitarist in his own right—was backed by Gretsch artist Paul Pigat and his band Uncle Harley on a rendition of Eddie’s classic “Summertime Blues” that delighted the specially invited audience. Meanwhile, models strutted at the foot of the stage displaying Gretsch’s iconic new G6120 guitars.

Paul Pigat

Paul Pigat

Wednesday’s performance kicked off the 2010 Gretsch Showcase. Throughout the NAMM show weekend a roster of stellar Gretsch artists entertained showgoers while demonstrating the unique sound and features of Gretsch guitars. Besides Paul Pigat & Cousin Harley, the lineup featured rockabilly artists including Brophy Dale, Mad Max & the Wild Ones, the Hot Rod Trio, and Buzz Campbell & Hot Rod Lincoln. In addition, Lynda Kay brought her Americana roots style country music to the Gretsch booth, while rock guitar legend Steve Hunter & The Hurricanes proved that you can play blues on a Gretsch guitar.

Civet

Civet

On Friday the 15th the self-described “femme fatale punk rock” quartet Civet strutted their stuff. Friday’s Showcase was also notable for an appearance by Dhani Harrison playing a G6129T-1957 Silver Jet onstage during a performance by thenewno2’s. Dhani is the talented son of legendary Beatle and solo artist George Harrison, who helped Gretsch sell a ton of Duo Jet, Tennesseean, and Country Gentleman guitars.

Tim Armstrong

Tim Armstrong

Punk-rock mainstays Rancid rocked the booth on Saturday the 16th in front of a crowd that was so big it drew the attention of the fire marshal. Rancid’s performance also served to showcase the debut of guitarist/lead singer Tim Armstrong’s new Signature G5191BK Electromatic hollow-body guitar. It’s designed after the 1971 Country Club model that Armstrong has favored for decades. When asked what he particularly loved about his new Signature model, Armstrong replied, “The simplest way for me to explain it is that the sound is full-bodied and thick. I hear the chords as if I’m playing a piano.”

Special Appearances

In addition to the musical performances that highlighted the 2010 Gretsch Showcase, the Gretsch booth featured appearances by several notable individuals. Perhaps the most eye-catching of these was Great Gretsch Girl Kim Falcon, who was on hand to greet visitors and sign autographs throughout the NAMM weekend.

On Saturday the Gretsch booth was graced by a visit from twangy-guitar pioneer and Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame inductee Duane Eddy. Duane and his wife Deed were hosted at the booth by Fred Gretsch himself, who enjoyed the opportunity to hang out with this musical icon.

For more information and detailed coverage, go to the “News” section of www.gretschguitars.com.

Great Gretsch Roundup In Nashville

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Any time you get a bunch of Gretsch fans together, it’s going to be a rockin’ event.  But get them together for a whole weekend, playing in a 100-year-old tobacco barn on the outskirts of Music City USA, and you have the ingredients for a genuinely historic occasion.

Such was the case this past October 16-18, when Gretsch players from across the country gathered at Hachland Hills Vineyard in Joelton, Tennessee (just outside of Nashville) for the second annual Gretsch Nashville Roundup.  The event was a live-in weekend of jammin’, jawin’, and jivein’ in a camp-like setting.  And, of course, the musical focus was on the great sound of Gretsch instruments.

Gretsch drummer Jason Woodring with Steve Harms on Bass and Dylan Taylor on guitar

Gretsch drummer Jason Woodring with Steve Harms on bass and Dylan Taylor on guitar

As is always the case in any band setting, drummers at the Roundup were outnumbered by guitarists and bassists.  But what they lacked in number they made up for in talent and enthusiasm, providing great rhythmic support for the music that echoed throughout the surrounding woods.

Gretsch drummer John DeVaul of Knoxville provided the kit for the Roundup

Gretsch drummer John DeVaul of Knoxville provided the kit for the Roundup

The drumming trio at the Nashville Roundup consisted of Jon DeVaul (who provided his own beautiful Gretsch kit for use at the event), Dylan Taylor, and Jason Woodring.  And the attraction of the drumset was so strong that it prompted bassist Steve Harms to put down his axe and pick up some sticks for a few tunes.

A special treat for the participants was the presence of Fred Gretsch himself, representing the fourth generation of the Gretsch family.  Fred shared historic anecdotes and stories about the family, the company, and the many great artists who helped to create the Gretsch legacy—all to the delight of the Gretsch enthusiasts in attendance.

Fred Gretsch (left) with Gretsch Guitars master builder Stephen Stern

Fred Gretsch (left) with Gretsch Guitars master builder Stephen Stern

Additional coverage of the event can be seen on the Gretsch Pages discussion forum at http://gretschpages.com/forum/gretsch-events/moments-memories-magic-nashville-roundup-09/25481/page1/.

All photos by Tim Harman.