Gretsch on Display in Savannah and Frankfurt

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 . . .

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