Chet Atkins Exhibit Extended Through July 15!

April 13th, 2012

From the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chet Atkins:  Certified Guitar Player Upcoming Programs Schedule

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

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

Fingerstyle Guitar Demonstration: Pat Kirtley

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

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

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

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

Family Program: Introduction to Thumbpick Guitar (FREE)

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

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

Fingerstyle Guitar Demonstration: Craig Dobbins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gretsch Celebrates Its Heritage at Elmhurst Jazz Festival

March 28th, 2012

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

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

The Elmhurst College Jazz Festival

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

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

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

Taking Support To The High School Level

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information on The Gretsch Foundation, click here.

Musikmesse–Where the Music World Comes Together

March 25th, 2012

With over 1,500 exhibitors, Musikmesse, “the world’s most international fair for musical instruments, sheet music, music production and marketing, and . . . the foremost meeting place for the musical-instrument industry for over 25 years,” took place from March 21 to 24 in Frankfurt, Germany.

This year Bigsby Vibratos worked in cooperation with the Warwick and Framus companies and set up shop at their booth.  In addition to showcasing the Bigsby vibrato line, product specialist Adam Seutter kept very busy conducting twice-daily installation demonstrations and answering attendee questions.

Framus Panthera with Bigsby

Guitars that received special Bigsby installations courtesy of Adam included the Framus Panthera and Mayfield models.

For all things Bigsby as well as a post-Messe report and pictures, please visit Bigsby.com.

Other Sights and Sounds at Messe:

Gretsch drummer Mark Schulman participated as part of the Fender Rock Trio along with Greg Koch and Roscoe Beck and gave standing-room-only daily performances on the Agora Stage.

GuitarPoint Vintage Instruments brought along a beautiful 1955 Gretsch Roundup to display at the International Vintage Show. A very nice example to be appreciated by all, not just vintage guitar collectors.

1955 Gretsch Roundup

Gretsch Brushed Brass Snare

And Gretsch Drums released a new Brushed Brass Snare combining the sound of a brass shell with the look and feel of a hand-finished shell.  Due to the hand-brushing process, no two shells are identical.

Bigsby Display Looking Good

Gretsch USA Brooklyn Kit

Tower of Gretsch Drums

And Here’s Some Photos of Dinah, Fred, and Friends (Old and New).

Dinah & Fred with Messe thumbpicking enthusiast Roger, a regular visitor. Nice t-shirt too!

The GuitarPoint Germany family photo: Detlef, Fred, Petra, Wolfgang, & Karolin.

Fred and Mark Schulman

Musikmesse 2012 is now in the history books.  It was another great trade show for Gretsch Guitars, Drums, and Bigsby Vibratos.  We look forward to being back in Frankfurt in 2013.

Bigsby Daily Install Demos Planned at Messe

March 12th, 2012

From Bigsby.com -

Each year, early spring time means only one thing in the music business–MusikMesse Frankfurt! The extraordinarily large grounds in Frankfurt are the perfect place for manufacturers from all around the globe to meet. Showcasing new products, celebrity performances, and incredible live shows MusikMesse is where you want to be!  Taking place March 21-24, organizers are expecting more than 100,000 attendees! Working with the Framus and Warwick companies, Bigsby will be on hand showcasing our vibrato line as well as doing daily installation demonstrations.

Adam Seutter

Performing demonstrations in the morning and afternoon of each day, Adam Seutter will detail each step in the vibrato installation process. Guitar models to be included in the demonstrations are a Framus Earl Slick Signature and a Framus Mayfield. Be sure to stop by Hall 4.1 booth E12 to check out the process and get your questions answered. If you can’t make it to Germany to visit in person, follow Bigsby on Twitter or “Like” them on Facebook for updates throughout the show.

For more information on Framus and Warwick, check out the links below:

http://www.framus.com/

http://www.warwick.de

Chet Atkins: CGP Exhibit Presents New Programs in March

February 24th, 2012

Update:

Check the Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player Programming Calendar page for the latest special programs added in March.

RECENTLY FROM THE COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM:

COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME® AND MUSEUM TO CELEBRATE THE LEGACY OF CHET ATKINS WITH TWO MARCH PROGRAMS

Programs are in support of the exhibition Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player, Made Possible Through the Generous Support of the Gretsch Company

NASHVILLE, Tenn., February 23, 2012 – The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum will present two special programs next month in support of the exhibition Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player.

On March 3, The Life and Times of Chet Atkins by Dr. Richard Hood will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the museum’s Ford Theater. Dr. Hood, a Chet Atkins scholar and finger-style guitarist, will trace Atkins’ life from his rural childhood to his career as a legendary guitarist and producer.  Ben Hall and Eddie Pennington, both winners of the National Thumbpicking Championship, will perform selections from the Chet Atkins catalog. Pennington will also present a thumbpick guitar demonstration on March 4, at 1:00 p.m. in the museum’s SunTrust Community Room.

On March 17, Chet Atkins at Studio B, a panel discussion featuring some of Atkins’ closest associates, will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the museum’s Ford Theater. RCA crossover artists Bobby Bare (“Detroit City”) and Jim Ed Brown (“The Three Bells”), background singer Delores Dinning Edgin, studio guitarist Ray Edenton, and hit songwriter John D. Loudermilk (“Abilene”) will share stories of their work with Atkins, providing insights into what made him one of country music’s most successful producers of all time. The program will be streamed live at www.countrymusichalloffame.org.

Following the panel discussion, museum staffer Ben Hall will present The House That Chet Built: A Chet Atkins Tour of Historic RCA Studio B. This unique guided tour will show how Atkins worked in his longtime recording home, logging many hours as a musician and a producer, and cutting records that helped define the classic Nashville Sound.

The Life and Times of Chet Atkins, the guitar demonstration and Chet Atkins at Studio B are included with museum admission and are free for museum members.

Tickets for The House That Chet Built: A Chet Atkins Tour of Historic RCA Studio B can be purchased as an add-on to museum admission or for $9 for museum members. Reservations are required, and seating is limited. The shuttle departs from the museum promptly at 3:30 p.m. For information call 615-416-2001.

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

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

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


Fred & Joe Show Visit Blues Angel Music

February 22nd, 2012

>>UPDATE: MUSIC TRADES APRIL 2012 ISSUE–STORY ON BLUES ANGEL MUSIC GRAND OPENING<<

Click HERE to read the story online.

The above images are of portions of pages from the April 2012 edition of The Music Trades, published by The Music Trades Corporation, Englewood,  NJ 07631, http://www.musictrades.com/index.html.

Original Story and Update #1 Here:

>>UPDATE:  POST-EVENT PHOTOS ADDED BELOW!!<<

The Fred & Joe Show will be making its first stop of 2012 at Blues Angel Music in Pensacola, FL on March 3 for their Grand Opening and charity raffle event benefiting the Red Cross and United Services Organizations (USO). The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in its brand new facilities at 657 N. Pace Blvd. The new 14,000-square-foot building replaces its previous location at 3733 West Navy Blvd., and boasts modern retail, music lesson, and musical instruments and electronics repair space.

In addition to the Fred & Joe Show featuring a multi-media presentation by Gretsch Company president, Fred Gretsch, and Joe Carducci, Gretsch product specialist, the event will feature continuous musical performances. A special exhibit paying tribute to George Harrison will also be on display and Gretsch Girl Kim Falcon will be on hand to autograph her new poster.

Entrance to the event is free of cost and raffle tickets are available in-store throughout the month of February for a minimal cost of $2. World class, fine instruments will be up for grabs, including a Gretsch George Harrison Signature Duo Jet valued at $5,000. All proceeds of the event will benefit the Red Cross and the USO.

For more information, visit the Blues Angel website.

>>EVENT PHOTOS:<<

Gretsch Wall at Blues Angel Music New Location

Grand Opening Draws 1K+. Photo: Phil Short.

Fred Gretsch Busily Signs Autographs. Photo: Phil Short.

Formal Portion of the Day. Photo: Phil Short.

Fred & Joe Show Presentation. Photo: Phil Short.

Bigsby on the Road in 2012

February 6th, 2012

Bigsby will be busy and on the road in 2012! Hitting the biggest and best consumer based guitar shows across the country, 2012 stands to be the best year yet! Whether you want to take advantage of FREE Bigsby Installations* on your favorite guitar or get your current Bigsby-equipped guitar playing great via a Pit-Stop, Bigsby will be there for you! From Pomona to Philly, Bigsby is traversing the country to visit you! Check out the list of events below.

Spartanburg Guitar Show

February 25-26

www.bee3vintage.com

Dallas International Guitar Festival

April 20-22

www.guitarshow.com

Chicago Guitar Show

May 19-20

www.texasguitarshows.com

SoCal World Guitar Show

July 21-22

www.texasguitarshows.com

GuitArlington

October 20-21

www.texasguitarshows.com

Great American Guitar Show

November 10-11

www.bee3vintage.com

*Some restrictions may apply.  Stop by the booth or email Adam Seutter at adam@bigsby.com for more details.

For more information on Bigsby Vibratos, visit the Bigsby website.

Gretsch 2012 NAMM Show Highlights

February 6th, 2012

2012 NAMM Show at the Anaheim Convention Center

The 2012 NAMM musical-instrument show took place January 19 through 22 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. This year’s show was the 110th edition, and attendance reached a record high. A whopping 95,709 visitors filled the halls with an all-new level of energy and excitement.

Gretsch Drums and Gretsch Guitars were a major reason for that excitement, with plenty of new products to display. In addition, Fred and Dinah Gretsch were on hand—joined by other members of the Gretsch family—to lend their special personal touch to all of the Gretsch-related activities.

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.

Fred Gretsch and New Brooklyn Series Kit

The focus of the 2012 NAMM display was the launch of the new Brooklyn Series. Made in Gretsch’s US factory, the new series is a tribute to the city in which the Gretsch Company got its start back in 1883.  And who better to help introduce the new series than Fred Gretsch himself?

Among the beautiful new Brooklyn series kits in the Gretsch booth was a classic five-piece configuration with a Smoke Grey Oyster Nitron wrap. The drums feature Gretsch maple/poplar shells with classic 30-degree bearing edges and the legendary Silver Sealer on their insides. Toms and snares come fitted with new “302” model 3mm double-flanged hoops, which are reminiscent of hoops used by Gretsch up until the mid-1950s.

Gretsch Brooklyn Display

These hoops have the same height profile as the classic Gretsch die-cast hoop in order to provide a playing experience that feels the same as traditional Gretsch USA Custom drums. All other drum hardware components—including lugs, claws, brackets, and spurs—are the same as those used on USA Custom kits. And perhaps best of all for Gretsch “purists,” the return to Brooklyn means a return to a round badge. The Brooklyn Round Badge has a black/pewter color scheme with a classic embossed Gretsch design.

Brooklyn Jazz Kit

Aficionados of jazz will recognize this classic configuration. It’s a Brooklyn Series kit in small “bop” sizes, finished in a mahogany lacquer.

Gretsch Snares

This bevy of beautiful snare drums includes one wood-shell (top left) and three metal-shell (bottom row) Brooklyn Series models, along with two brand-new Brushed Brass snares that feature a hand-brushed finish that creates a distinctive two-toned vintage patina effect.

A just-for-fun monster setup showcased a Gretsch USA Custom kit with a Chrome Nitron finish mounted on an ultra-customized Gibraltar rack.

The distinctive Gretsch Renown 57 kit debuted last year, with a design inspired by the great American car manufacturers of the 1950s. The new Motor City Red finish introduced for 2012 was so hot that the kit had to be displayed behind a plastic shield!

Gretsch Energy Kit

This eight-piece, double-bass kit is from Gretsch’s new affordable Energy Series. “Quick”-sized toms on GTS mounts produce maximum tone, cutting attack, and thunderous low end. Classic Gretsch features include 30-degree bearing edges, 5-lug configurations for the 8”, 10”, and 12” rack toms, and Gretsch-style lugs.

For more highlights-related photos, please visit our photo gallery here.

Goings-On at Gretsch Guitars

Gretsch Guitars Main Display

There’s nothing like a room full of the world’s finest guitars to attract the attention of NAMM show-goers. So there was no shortage of visitors to the Gretsch Guitars exhibit. The fact that Fred Gretsch was also often on hand to greet and chat with Gretsch guitar fans made this year’s exhibit even more special.

Although Gretsch is best known today for the manufacture of great guitars, the company got its start in 1883 making an even more traditional type of American instrument: banjos—as demonstrated by Fred Gretsch.

Fred Gretsch on the Banjo

Not long afterward came mandolins, flat-top guitars, ukuleles, and other instruments that contributed to what we now call “roots” or “Americana” music. Gretsch celebrated this important contribution to American history with a display of authentic recreations of those classic instruments.

Gretsch Roots Disply

When it comes to a recognizable guitar sound, there’s no mistaking the unique twang of rock pioneer Duane Eddy. A long-time user and aficionado of Gretsch guitars, Duane was honored at this year’s NAMM show by having his signature guitar as the focal point of the Gretsch contemporary guitar display.

And a great Gretsch name also returned with the re-introduction of the Rancher acoustic guitars. The richly resonant Rancher first appeared in the early 1950s with its highly distinctive triangular sound hole and sweepingly elegant pickguard. Gretsch proudly re-introduced the model at the show with a great new five-instrument selection of body sizes, styles, and features.

For more highlights-related photos, please visit our photo gallery here.

Gretsch Artists In The House!

A welcome visitor to the Gretsch Drums booth was great Gretsch drummer Stanton Moore. Van Romaine was also on hand to greet and sign autographs for Gretsch drum fans.

Steve, Will, Dinah & Rane

Gretsch artists are considered “part of the family” by Fred and Dinah Gretsch. So it was a family gathering when touring and studio star Stephen Ferrone (far left) stopped by the drum exhibit to sign autographs for show-goers, and to visit with Dinah Gretsch and sixth-generation family members Will (left) and Rane Gretsch.

Gretsch Guitars sponsored a number of artists in live performances throughout the NAMM show. These included guitar stars like Paul Pigat and Duane Eddy, as well as roots musicians Nik & Sam.

Stellar among all the Gretsch artists was Australian guitar phenom Joe Robinson. After breaking onto the scene at the age of sixteen as the youngest-ever winner of Australia’s Got Talent, Joe has gone on to become one of the most exciting and promising young artists on the scene today. His combination of compositional skill and unbelievable technical abilities had jaws dropping at each of his performances.

Fred and Friends

When your name is on the finest drums and guitars in the world, you tend to enjoy the company of others who share a similar status. So it was with Fred Gretsch at the 2012 NAMM Show.

Before the start of the show on Friday, January 20, Fred had the opportunity to share a convivial breakfast with Robert Zildjian and his wife, Willi. After working for many years in the family business that bears his name, Robert Zildjian left in the early 1980s to found his own company: Sabian Cymbals. With generations of business as well as family history behind each of them, Fred and Bob enjoyed swapping stories at breakfast.

Fred and Jeff Pevar

Later in the show Fred enjoyed a visit at the Gretsch Guitars booth from Jeff Pevar. In addition to being a first-call guitarist for artists like David Foster, Rikki Lee Jones, and David Lindley, Jeff is the “P” in CPR, a band in which he plays with rock icon David Crosby and keyboardist/composer James Raymond.

Big Doings At Bigsby

Bigsby Booth

This year saw the Bigsby Vibratos booth taken to a whole new level. The display featured new custom-built vintage-style vibrato cases (like the ones Paul Bigsby made all those years ago) as well as two racks of guitars supplied by thirteen different manufacturers—showcasing the wide array of makes and models that sport Bigsby Vibratos. Visitors to the booth repeatedly expressed how surprised they were at the number and variety of different guitars with Bigsby tailpieces.

Bigsby also set some new records at the show. A total of thirty-two different guitar manufacturers were utilizing Bigsby Vibratos, not only on guitars displayed in their booths, but also in the hands of their performing artists on stage. This was an incredible 39% increase over 2011. In addition, 160 individual Bigsby Vibratos were on display in various booths throughout the exhibition halls—an astounding 44% increase over the number at last year’s show.

Supporting the USPTO

Bigsby Helps Out at USPTO Booth

For the second straight year, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) exhibited at the NAMM Show in an effort to encourage patent and trademark protection and discourage copying within the music industry. Bigsby was happy to aid in this effort by providing a display board that was originally created for the USPTO Trademark Expo in Alexandria, Virginia this past year.

A Celebration of 129 Years

There’s nothing like an anniversary to inspire a celebration. So, to mark the 129th year of business for Gretsch, Dinah and Fred Gretsch invited a group of family, friends, artists, and business partners to a dinner party on Saturday, January 21. The event was held at the Jazz Kitchen restaurant within the Downtown Disney complex in Anaheim.

At one point during the evening Fred and Dinah rose to toast those in attendance, thanking them for helping to make Gretsch an ongoing success. Fred pointed out that between his forty-seven years in the music business and Dinah’s thirty-three, it added up to eighty years of experience…during which time, he said, “We’ve partnered with the best.”

Fred with Alvino Bennett, Mark Schulman, and John Palmer

Gretsch artists in attendance at the dinner included drummers Mark Schulman, Stephen Ferrone, and Alvino Bennett, “roots” musicians Nik & Sam, and guitarists Duane Eddy, Paul Pigat, and Joe Robinson. At Dinah Gretsch’s request Joe pulled out an acoustic guitar and entertained the guests with one of his recent compositions.

When Joe had concluded, Dinah Gretsch expressed her pride in the youth associated with Gretsch. “We need youth and passion to continue the business for the next hundred years,” she concluded. “It’s all about passion for what we do.”

For all highlights-related photos, please visit the photo gallery here.