Archive for the ‘Music Industry Events’ Category

Chet Atkins Honored by Country Music Hall of Fame

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

“Years from now, after I’m gone, someone will listen to what I’ve done and know I was here…they’ll hear my guitars speaking for me.” – Chet Atkins

COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME ® AND MUSEUM TO HONOR “MISTER GUITAR” CHET ATKINS WITH BIOGRAPHICAL EXHIBIT

Sideman.  Studio musician.  Performer.  Recording Artist.  Producer.  Record Executive.  In an industry known for multi-talented individuals, perhaps no one has achieved such a vast and varied resume as the inimitable Chet Atkins.  The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum will pay tribute to this versatile and visionary artist with the cameo exhibition Chet Atkins:  Certified Guitar Player, which opens in the Museum’s East Gallery on August 12, 2011, and runs through June 2012.  The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the Gretsch Company.  Additional support will be provided by Great American Country Television Network.

“Chet Atkins was country music’s ultimate Renaissance man, one of the greatest instrumentalists in American music history and a true musical savant,” said Museum Director Kyle Young.  “His signature guitar licks shaped recordings by scores of legendary artists, including the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley and Kitty Wells, and his playing influenced future rock gods Duane Eddy, George Harrison, Mark Knopfler and many more.  As a producer, Chet was an architect of the ‘Nashville Sound’; he was also a brilliant record executive who signed and propelled a generation of country artists – including Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton and Charley Pride – to fame.  Chet’s guiding hand shaped much of the bedrock of country music, and we’re honored to tell his story, one we know will resonate with country fans old and new.

“We’re also honored to have the Gretsch Company as this exhibition’s title sponsor,” Young continued.  “Gretsch is an important part of American music history, and enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Chet.”

“My uncle, Fred Gretsch Jr., first signed Chet as a Gretsch signature guitar artist in 1954,” said Fred W. Gretsch, president of the Gretsch Company.  “Our company is proud of its long association with Chet,¬ and our family cherishes the special relationship that we shared with such a unique individual.  Today, we’re proud to support this special exhibition by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. We share the Museum’s commitment to ensuring that Chet’s unrivaled legacy will continue to be celebrated for generations to come.”

Chester Burton Atkins was born on June 20, 1924, in Luttrell, Tennessee, a remote town nestled in the hills of Appalachia.  He grew up in a musical family – his mother sang and played piano, and his father was an itinerant music teacher – and at the age of eight Atkins began to learn the guitar and fiddle.  When Atkins’ parents divorced, his father relocated to Georgia, and his mother remarried. Young Chester, along with his brother, sister and stepfather, began playing regularly at square dances.  In 1936, an asthma attack forced him to live with his father in Georgia, where the more favorable climate made it easier for him to breathe.  While there, a teenaged Atkins heard Merle Travis on the radio; Travis’s thumb-and-finger picking style fascinated Atkins, who soon created his own thumb-and-two-finger variation.

After attending high school in Georgia, Atkins landed a job at WNOX in Knoxville, fiddling for singer Bill Carlisle and comic Archie Campbell.  He soon became a featured player on the station’s popular daily barn dance show, as well.  Over the next decade, Atkins worked as a musician for numerous artists and radio stations, including a memorable stint at KWTO in Springfield, Missouri.  It was there that station official Si Siman gave him the nickname “Chet.”  Siman, impressed with Atkins’ abilities, brought him to the attention of RCA Victor Records, and in 1947 the label’s Steve Sholes signed Atkins as a singer and guitarist.  Chet’s initial RCA recordings were not hits, and he returned to WNOX in 1948, working first with Homer & Jethro and then joining Maybelle and the Carter Sisters as lead guitarist.  He soon went back to KWTO, this time with the Carters.

When the Carters moved to Nashville in 1950 to become members of the Grand Ole Opry, Atkins joined them.  With the help of his mentor, Steve Sholes, and music executive Fred Rose, Chet became one of Nashville’s “A-Team” session musicians, recording with Johnnie & Jack, Hank Williams and others.  He also appeared on the Opry as a solo act and returned to making his own records; his first chart hit, a cover of the pop song “Mr. Sandman,” came in 1955, followed by a hit guitar duet with Hank Snow on “Silver Bell.”  Soon after, fans began to refer to Atkins as “Mr. Guitar,” and Gretsch Guitars introduced a model bearing his name.

Throughout the 1950s, Atkins’ work relationship with the New York–based Sholes deepened; in 1952, Atkins began organizing sessions for Sholes, and shortly thereafter Sholes began trusting Atkins to produce sessions whenever Sholes’ schedule prevented his coming to Nashville.  In 1955, Sholes made Atkins manager of RCA’s new Nashville studio, a space rented as needed from the Methodist Television Radio and Film Commission.   Two years later, Sholes and Atkins convinced the label to commission its own office and studio in Nashville.  The resulting building, known today as RCA Studio B, opened in November 1957, adding impetus to the growing Music Row area. Sholes installed Atkins as head of the label’s Nashville artist & repertoire operation, and ten years later made him a company vice president.

As rock & roll eroded country music’s record sales and threatened its viability, Atkins’ production skills came to the foreground.  Atkins – along with Decca’s Owen Bradley, Columbia’s Don Law and Capitol’s Ken Nelson – began to craft recordings that would appeal to pop listeners as well as country fans.  The style of these recordings, in which singers were backed by neutral rhythm sections and steel guitars, and fiddles were replaced by vocal choruses, came to be known as the “Nashville Sound.”  Atkins mined gold from the new approach immediately, first producing Jim Reeves’ 1957 crossover hit “Four Walls” and, later that year, producing Don Gibson’s 1958 double-sided smash “Oh Lonesome Me” / “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” Atkins assumed production of established stars, including Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves and Hank Snow, and produced hits by new stars including Bobby Bare, the Browns, Floyd Cramer, Skeeter Davis, Dottie West and many more.

During the 1960s, Atkins continued to record and perform:  Always a jazz lover, he increasingly explored the genre in his performances and appeared at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival; he also played for President Kennedy the following year.

By the middle of the decade, Atkins was producing more than two dozen acts for RCA.  During this time, he signed a cadre of now-legendary country artists, including Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Jerry Reed and Connie Smith.

As the 1970s dawned, Atkins reduced his producing commitments and focused more on his own recordings and live performances.  He embarked on a series of collaborative albums, working with Les Paul, Jerry Reed, Merle Travis, Doc Watson and others.  However, he still found time to facilitate additions to the RCA roster, including Ronnie Milsap, Ray Stevens and Steve Wariner.

Atkins’ virtuosity was undeniable, and his mantle quickly filled with the hardware to prove it.  In 1973, Atkins was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  He went on to earn 14 Grammy awards and nine Country Music Association awards during his career.

In 1982, Atkins relinquished his RCA executive role and left the label to record for Columbia in 1983.  He also gave himself an honorary degree:  Atkins christened himself a “Certified Guitar Player” and began signing his name as “Chet Atkins, C.G.P.”  Atkins would later bestow this “degree” on several legatees, including Jerry Reed and Steve Wariner.

For the remainder of his life, Atkins continued to record and play; he collaborated on albums with George Benson, Suzy Bogguss, Mark Knopfler, Mark O’Connor and others, exploring and expanding the boundaries of country, jazz and pop.  In 1993, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Atkins died on June 30, 2001.  He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the following year.

Chet Atkins:  Certified Guitar Player will be accompanied by an ongoing series of programs throughout the exhibit’s duration.

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

Fred & Joe Show at Abbey Road

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Abbey Road on the River is happening in Louisville, KY over Memorial Day weekend and will feature a near-constant lineup of bands, guest speakers, films, contests, and other special events, all of which to celebrate the still-thriving legacy of the legendary Beatles.  The tenth year of “the world’s largest Beatles-inspired music festival,” Abbey Road on the River will take place from Thursday, May 26 to Monday, May 31 at the Galt House Hotel and Belvedere Festival Park.  Gretsch Guitars is co-sponsoring the event.

Fred Gretsch & Joe Carducci

Gretsch enthusiasts will be able to enjoy a personal appearance, dubbed the Fred & Joe Show, by Fred Gretsch and Gretsch Guitars product specialist Joe Carducci on Sunday, May 29 at 2:00 p.m.  Attendees will be treated to a multimedia presentation covering the history of the Gretsch Company beginning in 1883 when Fred Gretsch’s great-grandfather, Friedrich Gretsch first started making musical instruments in Brooklyn, New York.  Also discussed will be the musicians who have woven the Gretsch sound into the fabric of modern pop culture since the 1930s when Gretsch guitar production began.  Finally, a special tribute to George Harrison will be featured along with prizes and chance to win a Gretsch guitar!

Abbey Road on the River takes place twice a year, once in Louisville over Memorial Day weekend and then again in National Harbor, MD (Washington, D.C.) over Labor Day weekend.

Dinah Gretsch Sponsors THA’s Got Talent Event

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Mrs. G’s Music Foundation Supports Celebrity Judges at Local Contest

The Mrs. G’s Music Foundation, created by Gretsch Company CFO Dinah Gretsch to support music education in rural schools, recently sponsored the THA’s Got Talent contest at Thomas Heyward Academy in Ridgeland, South Carolina. Held this past March 15, the competition presented performances in vocal, dance, and variety by kindergarten through twelfth grade THA students.

THA's Got Talent Judges

On hand to serve as a celebrity judges for the evening were Stephen Ferrone and Joe Robinson. Currently a member of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Ferrone’s touring and recording credits include The Average White Band, Chaka Khan, Paul Simon, George Benson, and Eric Clapton. Robinson is a guitar prodigy who won the 2008 edition of Australia’s Got Talent at the age of sixteen and has since headlined shows around the world. Completing the panel of judges was Felicia Lem, a local dance instructor and THA alumnus.

Stephen & Joe Perform

In addition to the talent contest, the event featured a performance by Ferrone and Robinson. They were later joined by a battery of THA fifth and sixth graders playing percussion instruments. Ferrone then congratulated all the contestants and saluted the parents for supporting their children’s musical endeavors.

The Mrs. G’s Music Foundation was established in 2010. Since then, the organization has funded a variety of instructional music programs, as well as seminars, workshops, and concerts by visiting artists. The artist visits serve double-duty as teaching programs and motivational sessions.

THA's Got Talent Winners

“I believe that music has the power to change children’s lives for the better,” said Dinah Gretsch. “If we can reach young children with that power, we can set them on a positive path for the rest of their lives.”

Gretsch NAMM Show Highlights

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Anaheim Convention Center

The 2011 NAMM musical-instrument show was held this past January 13 through 16 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 and Gretsch Guitars were both major participants in this year’s show, with plenty of new products to display. In addition, Fred and Dinah Gretsch were on hand—along with other members of the Gretsch family—to lend their special personal touch to all of the Gretsch-related activities.

Here are a few of the many highlights from this year’s show:

Fred and Kanda Shokai

Fred Speaks with Kanda Staff

The NAMM show always involves lots of terrific new product introductions, thrilling artist performances and generally a great deal of excitement all around.  But ultimately all the companies are there to do business and as pictured here, Fred briefs representatives from Kanda Shokai, Gretsch’s Japanese distributor, on all the new products being introduced at the show.  Kanda Shokai is one of Gretsch’s longest-serving international distributors and the Gretsch family have enjoyed a close relationship with the company for many, many years.

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:

JUST-FOR-FUN MONSTER SETUP SHOWCASES A GRETSCH NEW CLASSIC KIT WITH BLACK SPARKLE LACQUER FINISH MOUNTED ON AN ULTRA-CUSTOM GIBRALTAR RACK.

GRETSCH RENOWN MAPLE DRUMSET—CALLED THE RENOWN 57—WAS INSPIRED BY THE GREAT AMERICAN CAR MAKERS OF THE 50s. ITS MOTOR CITY BLUE FINISH FEATURES WHITE PANELS SET APART BY CHROME CHEVRONS AND EMBOSSED CHROME GRETSCH BADGES.

USA CUSTOM KIT FEATURING GOLD HARDWARE AND FITTINGS, FINISHED IN A BEAUTIFUL SAVANNAH SUNSET DUCO LACQUER, ONE OF SEVERAL SUPERB NEW USA CUSTOM LACQUER FINISHES INTRODUCED AT THE SHOW.

AFICIONADOS OF JAZZ WILL RECOGNIZE THIS CLASSIC CONFIGURATION--A USA CUSTOM KIT IN SMALL “BOP” SIZES FITTED WITH VINTAGE-STYLE “RAIL CONSOLETTE” TOM HOLDER AND FEATURING ANOTHER STUNNING NEW USA CUSTOM LACQUER FINISH: CHESTNUT DUCO.

THE NAME OF THIS KIT’S FINISH IS AS BIG A MOUTHFUL AS ITS STRIKING LOOKS ARE AN EYEFUL. IT’S A CATALINA BIRCH KIT FINISHED IN EBONY DIAMOND HALOGEN BURST.

GRETSCH DISPLAYED NO FEWER THAN TWELVE UNIQUE SNARE DRUMS AT THE SHOW . . . DESIGNATED AS “THE DANGEROUS DOZEN.”

AMONG THE “DANGEROUS DOZEN”, MARK SCHULMAN'S SIGNATURE MODEL FEATURING A MAPLE SHELL WITH BUBINGA INLAY, DIE-CAST HOOPS, AND 42-STRAND SNARE WIRES. IT’S AVAILABLE IN SIX-LUG 6X12 AND EIGHT-LUG 6X13 SIZES.

THIS NEW SNARE DRUM HAS METAL HOOPS SURROUNDED BY CONTOURED WOOD HOOPS. THE COMBINATION PROVIDES UNUSUAL SONIC POSSIBILITIES AS WELL AS ADDITIONAL HOOP RIGIDITY.

A WELCOME VISITOR TO THE BOOTH--GREAT GRETSCH DRUMMER STANTON MOORE.

Fred Gretsch Meets CoverBand 2011 Drum Winner

Fred and Tohbias (Photo by Tom Schwarz, Courtesy of KMC Music).

Fred Gretsch enjoyed a special treat at the NAMM show this year: the opportunity to congratulate Tohbias Juniel of Denver, Colorado, who was the winning drummer in the CoverBand 2011 contest. Gretsch Drums was one of several major musical instrument manufacturers who combined to sponsor the online competition.

The contest invited individual musicians and vocalists to upload a two-minute video to the CoverBand 2011 website between July and December 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 winning CoverBand members. For thirty-one-year-old Tohbias, that was just part of the thrill. He also received a brand-new Gretsch Renown four-piece kit in a classy Satin Black finish, along with a Full Range Hammered Steel Shell snare drum. The kit was complemented with a terrific cymbal package from Sabian and road-tested hardware from Gibraltar.

Fred and Tohbias met at the Gretsch Drums booth on Saturday morning, January 15. They had the opportunity to chat a bit before Tohbias left to rehearse for the CoverBand 2011 concert later that evening. During their meeting, Fred was particularly pleased to learn that Tohbias is already a dedicated Gretsch player. As Tohbias explained, “I’ve been playing Gretsch drums for most of my career. I bought a Renown Maple kit about ten years ago, and it’s all I’ve been playing. So I’m thrilled to be getting a new Gretsch kit to work with.”

When Fred asked Tohbias how he came to be a drummer, Tohbias replied, “My father, Chester Juniel, was a director of a drum & bugle corps in the Denver area. So from the time I was about two years old I was always around drumming. I learned how to read music and how to read books at the same time.”

But drum & bugle corps wasn’t the only style of drumming that Tohbias was exposed to at home. “My father also played drumset,” said Tohbias, “and so did my older brother Steven. So I was playing on a set by the time I was in elementary school. Later I went to high school at the Denver School of the Arts. Orlando Otis, the instrumental music director there, pushed me to pursue drumset seriously, since I was already heavily into marching and concert percussion.”

Tohbias did, indeed, pursue drumset seriously. In fact, he took every possible opportunity to expand his musical skills. “When I was fourteen I was playing with cats in their forties and fifties,” he related. “My dad would take me to shows and then stay in the parking lot and read a paper until the gig was finished, since I had to have a parent around. I was sitting in on blues and rock gigs, but the jazz cats wouldn’t let me sit in because there was so much more to jazz music than just pocket. Fortunately for me, a local drummer named Rudy Roysten—who’s played with everybody—took me under his wing and showed me how to do some things. Still, it took me a while to get to where I could do the things I wanted to—the way I heard guys like Brian Blade and Jeff Watts do them.”

Tohbias in Action with CoverBand 2011 Performing at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel (Photo by Tom Schwarz, Courtesy of KMC Music).

Tohbias’s entry for the CoverBand 2011 contest displayed the influence of his musical education, along with a substantial amount of his own talent and originality. His two-minute video was a mix of funk, pop, and fusion-esque styles that burned and grooved at the same time. When Fred Gretsch asked Tohbias about his favorite musical style to play, he replied, “I really love everything. Right now I’m playing a lot with a singer-songwriter from Nashville named Calvin Locklear. And I’m playing in a funk/alternative band called Bop Skizzum here in Denver. I play pop, R&B, Latin . . . I love it all. I feel that as a drummer it’s important to be diverse. Basically I’m on call for whatever anybody wants. I try to study, do my homework, and keep up with all the different genres. If I sit down on a gig and the song is a polka, I want people to think I specialize in polka music.”

Finally, Fred asked Tohbias about his aspirations and goals. The talented drummer responded, “Right now I’m looking to move up in my career . . . to play on the big stages. I’d really like to get some tours and some recording sessions with top artists around the world. I also want to do some writing and see where that goes. So I’m looking to relocate to the L.A. area. I was out there in the summer of 2008, doing some sessions and playing with a hip-hop group. I want to be where things are happening in the music scene. I’ve been fortunate to meet some pretty talented people with kind hearts who are willing to share information. I definitely want to pursue those possibilities.”

Gretsch Guitars Launches George Harrison Tribute Model

Harrison Tribute Guitar

There was lots of excitement at the Gretsch Guitars booth, where a large display of George Harrison and Beatle memorabilia was highlighted by a case containing a new Gretsch guitar created as a tribute to the great George Harrison.

The tribute guitar is a faithful reproduction of a guitar that George played and favored in the 1960s, in the early days of his career. That instrument, well worn and road-traveled, was loaned by the George Harrison estate to the skilled guitar customizers at Gretsch to use as the basis of a modern replica. At the same time, Fred and Dinah Gretsch communicated with George Harrison’s family to obtain their blessing for a tribute instrument bearing of the late former Beatle’s name.

Harrison Tribute Display

Time and loving care were invested in both efforts, and the result is the Gretsch Custom Shop G6128T-GH George Harrison Tribute Duo Jet guitar. This exceptionally special instrument will be available in a very limited edition.

And Then There’s Kim . . .

Fans of Gretsch guitars also tend to be fans of the Great Gretsch Girl . . . Kim Falcon. The lovely pin-up girl has appeared for Gretsch on posters, in ads, and at live events all across the country. Now she’s on her very own guitar. It features a gloss white finish as a background for an artistically created rendering of Kim herself, with her autograph shown below. It turned a lot of heads while in a glass case at a trade show. Imagine the effect it will have on stage!

Kim Falcon on a Gretsch Guitar!

A Family Gathering

Rane, Fred Gretsch, and Fred Jr.

Three generations of Gretsches were on hand at this year’s NAMM show. Fred and Dinah were joined by son, Fred Gretsch Jr., who is actively involved with the Gretsch Foundation and is becoming a regular attendee at NAMM shows. In addition, one of their 16 grandchildren, grandson Calvin Rane Gretsch, was in attendance and saw duty behind the counter of the Bigsby Vibrato booth.

This year’s NAMM show was a great success with many new products on display and excitement to spare. Gretsch is now busy preparing for other events in 2011 including the Summer NAMM show which will feature a “Wanna Play” public day on July 23.

Check back often for all the latest news and updates.

Joe Robinson’s Houdini Tour Going Strong into the New Year

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Since kicking off his “Houdini Tour” in early November 2010, Joe Robinson, “Australia’s Got Talent” and “World Championships of Performing Arts” winner, has been busy astounding sell-out crowds with his jaw-dropping instrumental stylings. Dates were originally planned throughout Europe and Australia but as more shows were added including some in Japan, it quickly became a bone fide world tour for the young guitar virtuoso.

Gretsch 6122 Guitar on Display at Shibuya Show

Attendees at the show in Shibuya, Japan on December 7 were amazed by Robinson’s technique, commenting on their surprise at how much talent a musician could possess at such a young age.  Show-goers in Shibuya also received an extra treat as a Gretsch 6122 guitar was on display at the venue and Robinson performed with his Gretsch guitar on several songs.  Robinson also graciously stopped for photographs with some special show attendees that evening.

Robinson and Friends

Robinson has been earning rave reviews not only for his extraordinary ability and music but also for his superb new band.  The nineteen-year-old prodigy was voted “Best New Talent” in Guitar Player Magazine’s annual Reader’s Poll last year and is widely known for his solo acoustic tour de force instrumental prowess.  Robinson, however, has spread his wings musically by adding vocal selections and touring for the first time with a band–a duo of stellar musicians.  “Almost all of the touring I’ve done over the last 2 years has been as an instrumental soloist . . .  so this time around, I wanted to give people a completely different show,” said Robinson. “Houdini was a crazy escape artist, and in a way I wanted to ESCAPE any preconceived ideas people might have about a Joe Robinson show . . .  I have BERNARD HARRIS playing Bass, and MARCUS HILL playing Drums . . .  and I’m sooo excited about bringing these guys with me. This is going to be a fun, fun show.”

Based in Nashville, TN Robinson is working a new project to be completed this year. His critically-acclaimed release “Time Jumpin’/Midnight In Nashville” is available on iTunes.

Remaining Houdini Tour dates include:

January 18, 2011 Newcastle, Australia
January 19, 2011 Central Coast, Australia
January 20, 2011 Dee Why, Australia
January 21, 2011 Sydney, Australia
January 22, 2011 Katoomba, Australia
January 23, 2011 Cronulla, Australia
January 25, 2011 Wollongong, Australia
January 27, 2011 Ulladulla, Australia
January 28, 2011 Canberra, Australia
January 29, 2011 Melbourne, Australia

For more information please visit www.joerobinson.com.

Update from Christmas 4 Kids

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

From the organizers . . .

Dinah & Fred Gretsch with Auction Winner David Owen

This year’s Christmas 4 Kids (C4K) Benefit Concert, held on Monday, November 22, was bigger than ever; one of the most special elements was the personal attendance of the Gretsches themselves.  Fred and Dinah Gretsch got a chance to tour backstage, see the concert, and even appear on stage.  Of course, the highlight of the night was the Gretsch Guitar Auction, which brought in a record $4,000.  The winning bid came from David Owen.  David is an avid guitar collector and had his eye on this special edition Gretsch, which was signed by each of the artists that entertained that night—Montgomery Gentry, Jake Owen, Sawyer Brown, and The Charlie Daniels Band.

The success of the Benefit Concert with the Gretsch Auction, the Tour Bus Show, which was held on Monday, December 13, and the Children’s Shopping Day, which was Tuesday, December 14, enabled 2010 to be a successful year—from record numbers of attendees to lots of extras for the children.

C4K wants to extend their deepest gratitude for the support that the Gretsch Foundation continues to show through their donation of guitars for the concert auctions.  Most importantly, Christmas 4 Kids appreciates Fred and Dinah Gretsch’s personal commitment to the children and their valued friendship.

Congratulations CoverBand 2011 Contest Winners

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Winners earn fame, fortune…and a gig in California!

Gretsch Drums is proud to be a sponsor of CoverBand 2011—America’s most exciting and unique contest for performing musicians. The online competition was held this summer, with popular voting that closed December 1.  Tohbias Juniel’s drum solo won him the coveted first place spot as the winner in the drumming category.  Gretsch congratulates Tohbias and all the other winners of this year’s contest.

The CoverBand contest was inaugurated last year to  great acclaim and response. And that’s not surprising since the competition offers musicians and singers the opportunity to perform online for thousands of music fans world-wide. The fans vote for their favorite performances in order to determine the contest finalists. Celebrity judges ultimately select the winners from among those finalists.

Gretsch Renown Four-Piece Kit

Just as in 2010, Gretsch is providing the drum prizes for CoverBand 2011. Tohbias will be receiving a Gretsch Renown four-piece kit in a classy Satin Black finish, along with a Full Range Hammered Steel Shell snare drum (a total retail value of $2,615). DanCarusoSound, the runner-up, will receive a Gretsch Catalina Birch five-piece kit in a striking Silver Sparkle finish (retail value $1,200). Each kit will be complemented with a terrific cymbal package from Sabian and road-tested hardware from Gibraltar.

Tohbias will join the winners in the percussion, guitar, bass, keyboard, and vocal categories to form CoverBand 2011. In addition to receiving a bevy of musical-instrument prizes, they’ll get  to play a once-in-a-lifetime, all-expenses-paid gig on stage at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, California this coming January. In all, the prize package for the CoverBand 2011 contest comes to $40,000, including air fare and accommodations.

Tohbias will also receive an additional prize: the opportunity to enjoy a personal meeting with Fred and Dinah Gretsch at the NAMM show. Fred Gretsch represents the fourth generation of Gretsch drum makers—a legacy that goes back more than 127 years. Considering how few drummers ever get to talk with a living legend of drum history, this is a special prize indeed!

Fred & Dinah Gretsch Honor John Lennon

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Gretsch Guitar Placed at the Imagine Memorial in Central Park

Gretsch Guitar and Beatles Gear Book Placed at Memorial in Memory of John Lennon

Representing the fourth generation of Gretsch musical-instrument manufacturers, Fred and Dinah Gretsch made a visit to New York City’s Central Park on December 8—the 30th anniversary of the assassination of legendary singer, composer, and musician John Lennon. The couple was there to place a Gretsch Historic Series acoustic guitar near the “Imagine” memorial within the Strawberry Fields area. The guitar was inscribed with the word “Imagine” as well as being signed by Fred and Dinah. It was their way of paying their respects to John Lennon and to all his fans.

Although the Gretsches have lived in Georgia for many years, Fred Gretsch spent his boyhood in the New York City area. “I was here in 1964 when the Beatles came,” says Fred. “Coming back to New York, where my family roots are, always kindles many tender reminiscences. But coming this time to honor John Lennon’s memory makes this visit especially poignant.”

Inside the tribute guitar placed by Fred and Dinah was a copy of a photo that’s near and dear to their hearts. It shows John Lennon playing a Gretsch guitar during the recording session for the Beatles’ classic hit “Paperback Writer” in 1966. The following reference to that guitar appears in the Beatles Gear book by Andy Babiuk:

Dinah and Fred Gretsch at Lennon Memorial

“Keeping in step with their scheduled LP and 45 releases, the group set out to record a new single, ‘Paperback Writer.’ The April 13th session was photographically documented for The Beatles Monthly Book providing detailed information on the instruments used. New to their guitar line-up was a Gretsch Chet Atkins 6120 that Lennon used. The early-1960s orange-finished double-cutaway 6120 hollow body guitar had gold-plated hardware apart from its aluminum-colored Bigsby [vibrato tailpiece].”

Fred Gretsch adds, “Aside from the fact that John Lennon played that guitar, it’s special to me for another reason. It would have been made in the 1960s at the Gretsch factory in Brooklyn. My uncle, Fred Gretsch Jr., was running the company at that time. And ironically, Uncle Fred died in 1980—the same year in which John Lennon died.

“John’s music made an impression on millions of people around the world,” Fred concludes. “And it continues to do so, generation after generation. We placed the guitar at John’s memorial as a symbol that we hope will remind people of the power and importance of his music.”

See video clip of an interview with Mr. Gretsch here.

Dinah & Fred Gretsch Being Interviewed at Memorial

Dinah and Fred Gretsch