A new article in the December issue of Premier Guitar magazine features Paul Bigsby. In this series of articles entitled “Forgotten Heroes”, light shall be shed on those legendary figures who have contributed great things to the world of music though their stories may not be widely known. This article details contributions made by Paul Bigsby to the world of modern music by focusing in on some of his most enduring designs. Included are details of how he modified the pedal steel guitar into the configuration we know today, used an aluminum case for the shielding of pickups, placed all 6 tuning machines on a single side to promote tuning stability, and, of course, designed the now-famous Bigsby True Vibrato. The article also discusses the sometimes-strained relationship with Leo Fender and the similarities of a few design components found of most modern electric guitars. A nicely crafted article to whet your appetite for more history of Paul Bigsby and how he contributed to the world of electric guitars. Available at your local newsstand and online here. When finished with the article, you can pick up a hard copy of the entire book The Story of Paul Bigsby: Father of the Modern Electric Solid Body Guitar paired with a classy Bigsby T-shirt in time for the holiday season here.
Archive for the ‘Music Industry News’ Category
At this year’s Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), Gretsch Drums provided a sneak peak of the new Gretsch Brooklyn Series drums. Pictured below in Cream Oyster, this USA-made kit made a huge splash with show attendees.
The Brooklyn Series kits will officially launch in 2012.
Stay tuned for more details to come.
Check out Drum! Magazine’s report and video here.
New for 2011: Two exciting new drum set packages designed for those just beginning their drumming adventures.
A complete drum set package designed specifically for the entry-level drummer and packed with value. Toms have “quick” sizes, which provide punchy tones and allow for lower positioning that benefits younger drummers. Hardware is double-braced and includes stylized Gretsch Renegade pedal boards and a comfortable drum throne. 13” hi-hats and 18” crash/ride brass cymbals are also included. All shells are 9-ply basswood with 45-degree bearing edges. Other features include ball-style tom holders, adjustable bass drum spurs and metal BD hoops with matching inlay.
A drum set package that comes complete with hardware and Sabian SBR cymbals. The toms feature “quick” sizes, which provide punchy tones and allow for lower positioning to benefit younger drummers. Hardware is double braced and includes stylized Gretsch Energy pedal boards. The 30 degree bearing edges, 5 Lug configuration and Gretsch style lug draw from the rich Gretsch lineage. The Gretsch Energy series is perfect for the first time buyer and packed with features that are found on semi-pro drum sets, including non-drilled bass drum.
Get complete specs at GretschDrums.com.
On October 14 and 15, 2011 the Bigsby Division of the Gretsch Company was honored to exhibit at the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) National Trademark Expo held at their headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia for a second time.
The annual event, with the goal of educating the public about the value of trademarks in the global marketplace, highlighted such themes as “non-traditional trademarks” and “brand evolution” and featured educational seminars and workshops suited for both adults and children. In addition, exhibits of authentic and counterfeit goods, children’s story time, and the always-popular costumed trademarked characters helped draw attention to the different types of trademarks and the importance of protecting trademark rights. Open to the general public, the Expo also drew enthusiastic groups of children from area schools and club groups who enjoyed the various exhibitor booths which were designed to be both educational and entertaining. This year’s Expo was the USPTO’s biggest to date with over 16,000 visitors attending over the two days.
The opening ceremony on Friday featured special remarks, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and music by the US Air Force’s rock band Max Impact. A guest appearance by the legendary Chubby Checker and some new trademarked costumed characters including The Pink Panther and The Very Hungry Catepillar also helped kick off the event. A specially-arranged musical performance took place at the Bigsby and Gretsch booth both days. A young, local guitarist named Enrique Romero helped entertain Expo-goers as they made their rounds through the exhibition. On Friday Enrique was paid a special visit by Chubby Checker who listened attentively while he played and then offered his encouragement. Enrique’s performances became so popular that he played more frequently than originally scheduled—performing every hour during the afternoon on Saturday. The costumed trademarked characters joined in the fun and danced along during many of Enrique’s performances to onlookers’ delight.
Another Expo highlight was when Deborah Cohn, the Commissioner for Trademarks, made a special point of introducing herself to all exhibitors and personally providing each with a copy of a Congressional Record honoring the Expo and exhibitors selected to participate in 2011. Bigsby was one of only 27 companies selected to exhibit this year. The distinctive trademarked shape of Bigsby’s famous vibrato tailpieces was in good company with other internationally-familiar trademarks belonging to other such notable exhibitors as Mattel Inc., Segway Inc., the U.S. Department of the Army, Bridgestone Corporation, Caterpillar Inc, Geico, and The Hershey Company.
Bigsby was able to demonstrate the practical use of trademarks and patents as applied to something as fun and universal as making music. Many in attendance were surprised to learn how much the Bigsby inventions have impacted popular music as created by artists like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. In fact, Gretsch guitars have featured Bigsby vibrato tailpieces for more than fifty years. This year’s Bigsby/Gretsch display demonstrated the importance of Bigsby trademarks and the impact they have as source identifiers in the marketplace. Like most effective trademarks, the very shape of Bigsby tailpieces identifies them—even at a distance, when the brand name cannot be read. This allows Bigsby-equipped guitars to be recognized on concert stages and video broadcasts around the world. The inherent distinctiveness of the Bigsby tailpiece design has aided the Gretsch Company in getting the protectable portions registered. This, in turn, has helped Gretsch to pursue its campaign (as part of the Electric Guitar Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition) to stem the proliferation of counterfeit instruments wherever they are manufactured.
For more information on the USPTO, go to www.uspto.gov
For more information on Bigsby products and the Gretsch/Bigsby connection, go to the Bigsby site.
Videos from the Expo can be viewed at Bigsby’s YouTube page.
From the Savannah Folk Music Society–
The Annual Savannah Folk Music Festival began with a huge crowd in attendance at 7 pm on Friday, October 7, in Ellis Square with “FOLKFEST” showcasing Savannah Folk Music Society Members. The large audience, seated all around ELLIS Square and in the courtyard at City Market was entertained with a variety of different styles of music from the many genres that make up folk music. The Old Folkers, Jean Paul and Dominique Carton, Jamison Murphy, Hanson & Amburgey, Michael Maddox and Savannah Folk Music Society President Chris Desa performed for and were applauded by an appreciative audience of local area residents and out of town visitors who enjoyed the show. The best part was the ticket price . . . FREE.
On October 5th, Chris Desa and Fred Gretsch were hosted by local TV station WTOC on “Mid-Morning Live” to promote the festival and acknowledge the continued generosity and support of the GRETSCH FOUNDATION, with their donations of guitars for the Noteworthy Art Auction, which is the largest fund raiser for the festival. The entire interview and an abridged version of Chris’s rendition of Chet Aktins’ favorite tune “I Still Can’t Say Goodbye” can be viewed here.
Noteworthy Art and More Auctions
Friday, October 7, and Sunday, October 9 (Ellis Square and Forsyth Park)
All 14 guitars, generously donated by the GRETSCH FOUNDATION were sold at silent auction during the Friday and Sunday events. One brand new playable Gretsch Historic Series guitar, signed by all performers at the Sunday concert, was auctioned and sold on October 9th at Forsyth Park.
Additionally, a special multimedia art collage, created by Helen Weitz, was sold to the highest bidder on Sunday.
Saturday Old Time Country Dance: October 8th
Notre Dame Academy Gym was decorated with numerous colorful quilts in preparation for the Festival Dance, which was again very well attended by nearly 250 people, which also included a newlywed couple (regulars at SFMS dances) and their wedding party. The April Verch Band provided excellent music throughout the evening with veteran dance caller Janet Shepherd relied on to “call” and guide novices and veterans alike through a myriad of contras, squares, waltzes, and circle dances. April also gave the dancers a demonstration of her excellent dancing and fiddle-playing skills.
Sunday Concert at Forsyth Park: October 9th
Despite the threatening inclement weather, due to a developing gale offshore, the Festival began on schedule in Forsyth Park with Four Shillings Short, Boo Hanks, April Verch Band, and Tom Chapin each performing two sets for the benefit of audience members who could attend only a portion of the concert. It was a treat to see longtime fans of the performers position themselves on the grass in beautiful Forsyth Park, with small picnics and lawn chairs facing the band shell. Many others chose the steps in front of the fountain to gain a closer and better view. Every artiste gave a stellar performance to an appreciative and attentive audience scattered all over Forsyth Park
The wind and rain came down in full force for the latter half of the festival when Four Shillings Short and Boo Hanks took the stage for their second set, but many of the “die hard” folk music fans in rain coats and umbrellas stayed put. The remaining devoted audience members were invited onto the stage under the shelter of the band shell, for an up-close-and-personal concert for the second set of The April Verch Band and Tom Chapin.
Overall, the festival was a great success and next year we will be back in our usual location at Grayson Stadium, which was unavailable to us this year due to a previous commitment by the Sand Gnats said Chris Desa. The collective efforts of our SFMS leadership, members, volunteers, and numerous sponsors are greatly appreciated.
Major Festival Sponsors
City of Savannah Leisure Services Bureau: Dept of Cultural Affairs
The Gretsch Foundation
Portman’s Music Superstore/ Brighter Day Natural Foods / The River-FM 98.7
For more information call (912) 355-7172 or visit www.savannahfolk.org.
The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is paying tribute to one of country music’s most versatile and visionary artists, Chet Atkins, with Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player, a biographical exhibit which opened August 12, 2011 and runs through July 15, 2012 in the Museum’s East Gallery.
Get exhibition details and see exclusive online content here. Educational materials for children, families, and teachers recently added!
Schedule of Upcoming Special Programs: (All times are Central and subject to change)
*Sunday, July 15, 1:00 p.m., CDT, Fingerstyle Guitar Demonstration: Brooks Robertson
Oregon-based Brooks Robertson is a composer and arranger in the style of Merle Travis, Jerry Reed, Thom Bresh, and his own mentor, Buster B. Jones. In 2004, Robertson won first place in Prairie Home Companion’s Talent from Twelve to Twenty Contest.
*Sunday, July 15, 2:00 p.m., CDT, Film Screening: Austin City Limits: “Chet Atkins and Friends” (1987)
In this episode of the long-running public television series, Atkins demonstrates his trademark guitar style as well his love of collaboration. His guests include Thom Bresh, Larry Carlton, Johnny Gimble, Peter Ostroushko, Butch Thompson, and the Prairie Home Companion Band. Free.
Past Program Videos/Photos:
Photos from the October 1 concert in salute of Chet by Joe Robinson and Pat Bergeson can be viewed here.
A video of the August 13 standing-room-only panel discussion with Steve Wariner, C.G.P.; Billy Edd Wheeler; and Paul Yandell, C.G.P., can be viewed here.
Check out photos from the August 10 Opening Reception here.
The history of Gretsch drums is inseparably linked to the history of American music. And never was that more true than during the “Golden Age” of jazz that began at the end of the 1940s and ran through the early 1960s. In those years jazz dominated New York’s legendary 52nd Street club scene, with groups powered by stellar drummers playing on Gretsch drumsets.
“First among equals” in a group that included Max Roach, Elvin Jones, and “Philly Joe” Jones was the inimitable Art Blakey. Art’s unique drumming style combined a primal force and an elemental simplicity. With a driving 2/4 hi-hat pulse, a hissing ride cymbal sound, and loud snare and bass drum accents in triplets or cross-rhythms, Art streamlined the swinging groove of bebop, making it less busy and spasmodic.
Art established himself in the 1940s, working as a sideman for some of the biggest jazz artists of the day. During that same period he visited West Africa—after which he converted to Islam and took the name Abdullah Ibn Buhaina (which led to his nickname of “Bu”).
In the early 1950s Art formed the Jazz Messengers, a group based on his belief that a jazz group should be a solid cohesive unit, not just “five guys blowing on the same changes.” Accordingly, the Jazz Messengers rhythm section didn’t just play time behind the horns. Instead they backed up the horn section solidly and would set up the soloist—who, in turn, would listen and pick up cues that would be thrown his way.
For more than thirty years this legendary group served as the launching pad for young players who would influence music for generations to come. Just a short list of Messengers alumni includes Clifford Brown, Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, and Wynton Marsalis.
One of the pinnacles of Art’s career was his appearance on the unparalleled jazz classic album Gretsch Drum Night At Birdland. Recorded live at the famous New York City nightclub in 1960, this remarkable album documents performances by four great Gretsch drum artists: Blakey, Charlie Persip, Elvin Jones, and “Philly Joe”Jones.
Long-time Gretsch AR director Phil Grant said of Blakey, “Art was everybody’s all-time drummer. He was an individualist, a soloist. Not the greatest technician, by far. But he made up for that with his ideas and innovations; the way he did things. When he played a roll, it wasn’t the greatest roll, but it did things for you. He was quite a guy.”
Art continued to perform with the Jazz Messengers into the late 1980s. Over the years his force and fury on the drums eventually cost him much of his hearing. At the end of his life he often played strictly by instinct. Art died in 1990, leaving behind an enviable legacy and an approach to jazz that’s still the model for countless hard-bop players.
Enjoying Art Blakey
YouTube has an abundance of clips that showcase Art Blakey in his innovative prime, as well as clips from his later years when he was as much a musical mentor as a bandleader. To begin with, check out a great Blakey drum solo from 1965 here.
Who says jazz can’t groove? Listen to “Moanin’,” performed by Art and The Jazz Messengers live in Belgium in 1958 here.
Art’s dynamic approach is evident on “Dat Dere,” played with the Messengers on a TV appearance in 1961 here.
A trademark drum intro and a dynamic solo by Art spice up a super-cool jazz waltz called—appropriately enough—“Kozo’s Waltz”—from the classic ANight In Tunisia album. A clip from the record can be seen here.
You can see and hear the terrific interplay between Art and the various soloists in the Messengers playing “Close Your Eyes” on another TV clip from the 1960s. The sidemen are Lee Morgan – trumpet, Wayne Shorter – sax, Jymie Merritt – bass, and Walter Davis – piano. The clip can be seen here.
Art Blakey’s discography as a solo artist, as a sideman with other jazz greats, and as the leader of The Jazz Messengers is a study in itself, which you can pursue at WikiPedia or AllMusic.com. Just to get you started, three classic Blakey recordings to check out include The Big Beat (Blue Note, 1960), A Night In Tunisia (Blue Note, 1960), and Ugetsu—Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers At Birdland (Riverside, 1963). They’re available through Amazon, CDUniverse, and other online sources.
Two Music Greats Meet In The North
Every so often fate aligns to bring major figures in music history together unexpectedly. Such an alignment occurred this past September 26.
It happened when Gretsch Company president Fred W. Gretsch and Canadian rock great Randy Bachman (founding member of The Guess Who) met in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Fred was there—in tandem with Gretsch Guitars product manager Joe Carducci—for the pair’s popular “Fred & Joe Show”, Canadian tour edition. Randy was there to sign copies of his recently released book, Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap Stories.
“The Fred & Joe Show” is the only event of its kind in the music industry. Where else can guitarists and music fans learn about the history of Gretsch instruments, the Gretsch Company, and the Gretsch family—all directly from the man whose name is on the products? The show combines rare film clips and photos with Fred’s personal reminiscences and anecdotes, creating a direct connection between the past, present, and future of Gretsch guitars.
Over the past four years Fred Gretsch and Joe Carducci have logged thousands of miles, taking their uniquely educational and entertaining presentation to music stores and guitar shops across North America. The Canadian tour included stops at GuitarWorks in Calgary, the Edmonton Fall Guitar Show, and Edmonton’s WestEnd Rock Shop. These shows were extra special due to the addition of a George Harrison tribute–a traveling exhibit of George Harrison memorabilia commemorating the Gretsch G6128T-GH George Harrison signature Duo Jet guitar. View more tour pictures.
Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap Stories features tales and anecdotes taken from Randy’s popular Saturday-night show on Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) radio. Included are stories about making music, discovering new guitar licks, and the often meandering route to achieving commercial success in the music business. Randy’s stories are told with humility and a folksy charm. Though a star in his own right, he describes the euphoria associated with meeting his own music idols, including Gretsch guitar great Chet Atkins. To bring the reader more closely into the musical context of the book, each chapter ends with a suggested playlist, while other individual cuts are referenced throughout.
Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap Stories is full of incredible stories about many of rock’s greatest artists—taken from the memory vault of one of the best-known among them. Read a review.