A Gretsch Retrospective
The year 2013 marked Gretsch’s 130th Anniversary—a milestone that was celebrated with a wide variety of activities and events throughout the year. Here’s a chronological retrospective of the excitement that marked this historic achievement.
Announcing The Celebration
The year kicked off in January with a message to the music world from Fred Gretsch himself, inviting everyone to join the entire Gretsch Family in celebrating their 130th year in the music business. Said Fred: “When my great-grandfather, Friedrich Gretsch, opened his instrument-making shop in Brooklyn, New York back in 1883, he couldn’t know that he was establishing a musical dynasty that has continued over four generations.”
The celebration was officially kicked off in January at the 2013 NAMM show in Anaheim, California, where the Gretsch Guitars’ Custom Shop launched the beautiful G6118T 130th Anniversary model guitar. It’s a gorgeous instrument, with a high-gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finish in Metallic Gold on the top and Black on the back and sides, with multiple silver-sparkle bindings. (Details and specs at Gretschguitars.com.) Let me just say here that it definitely reflects 130 years of Gretsch craftsmanship.
On the percussion side, Gretsch Drums introduced a limited run of USA-made Anniversary drumsets and snare drums, to be released throughout the year. Distinctive in sound and in appearance, they represent the finest work of the best drum-builders in America. (Visit Gretschdrums.com for more info.)
The anniversary guitars and drums were made even more special by the addition of a special logo badge that boldly announces Gretsch’s 130th year as a manufacturer. “It’s a striking design,” said Fred Gretsch, “and I’m proud to see it on our instruments. I’m confident that you will be, too. So please join us in celebrating our 130th anniversary. It’s going to be a great year!”
Gretsch Guitars’ USA Custom Shop created this G6118T model to commemorate the company’s 130th Anniversary.
This limited edition USA Custom 130th Anniversary kit features a Gold Satin Flame Nitron finish and quintessential hardware appointments. Only thirty-five were manufactured.
This Satin Birdseye Maple model is one of three Gretsch three special limited edition snare drums created to celebrate the company’s 130th Anniversary.
Take a look at some other great photos from the show: Gretsch NAMM Show Album, Bigsby gallery, Gretsch Guitars and Drums Facebook pages, and the GretschPages.
Tempe Guitar Show & Gretsch Anniversary Twang-O-Rama Concert
On March 23 the 2013 Tempe Guitar Show presented by CE Distribution hosted Gretsch Guitar’s 130th Anniversary Twang-O-Rama concert event. Featured performers included Lee Rocker and Buzz Campbell, the Mike Elred Trio, Big Nick & the Gila Monsters, and the Saucy Jacks. A total of 48 vendors, 5 bands, and 1,800 people attended the show.
Fred Gretsch In Germany–Presentations Prove You CAN Go Home Again
The month of April saw Fred Gretsch and his wife Dinah (who is also Gretsch Company CFO) in Germany, where they celebrated the 130th Anniversary in a unique fashion: by taking Fred’s legendary presentation of Gretsch Family history “on the road” to the family’s ancestral homeland.
Fred and Dinah started out by representing Gretsch drums and guitars at the world’s largest musical-instrument tradeshow—the Musikmesse, held in Frankfurt, Germany from April 10 through 13. A record 113,000 visitors from 142 countries attended. Bigsby Vibratos exhibited with TV Jones Pickups, and Gretsch Guitars and Drums had a great setup in Hall 4. Check out our picture gallery and the Bigsby site for a post-show report.
Following Musikmesse Fred made personal appearances at major German music retailers in Hamburg and Cologne. There he delighted his audience by delivering his presentation in fluent German. Gretsch fans in Germany greatly enjoyed hearing Fred relate the 130-year history of Gretsch, complete with personal anecdotes and humorous stories. For Fred, it was a particularly satisfying experience, since he was able to bring the family’s history “back home” to where it all began.
Fred W. Gretsch delivering his popular presentation on Gretsch Family history—in German—at No. 1 Guitar Center in Hamburg on April 17.
Celebrating Two Anniversaries In May
Grey skies and occasional showers couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of those attending the Gretsch Company’s 130th Anniversary Event, held on May 4 at Randy Wood’s Pickin’ Parlor in Bloomingdale, Georgia—just across the river from the Gretsch USA Custom Drums factory in Ridgeland, South Carolina. The event was made all the more special by the fact that it also celebrated the wedding anniversary of Fred and Dinah Gretsch, who reside in nearby Pooler, Georgia. Friends, business associates, and family members were on hand to help the anniversary couple commemorate this unique occasion.
Comments made by Fred and Dinah during the event highlighted their pride in the Gretsch family’s history. As Fred put it, “I’m a fourth-generation member of the family business. My grandfather first brought me to the factory in the 1950s, and I’m still here some forty-eight years later. Dinah’s business skills and warm, outgoing personality have made her an integral part of the Gretsch operation—and my indispensable partner—for thirty-four years. And for more than nineteen years Dinah and I have been ably supported by our daughter Lena Thomas, who is a skilled administrator and operations guru. Between Lena, Dinah, and me, that’s just over 100 combined years of ‘sweat equity’ in the family business. And I’m pleased to report that the sixth Gretsch generation includes sixteen-plus grandchildren, many of whom are pursuing educational tracks that will help them continue the family legacy for years to come.”
Entertainment for the double anniversary event was provided by the husband-and-wife team of Richard Smith (guitar) and Julie Adams (cello), and by an exciting trio led by guitar phenom Joe Robinson. Virtuoso playing was the order of the day, and the 100-plus guests rewarded the performers with rousing ovations.
Fred Gretsch (shown at center with wife Dinah) represents the fourth generation of the Gretsch family business. The generations continue with (from left) cousin Paul Getchell, granddaughter Abbey Gretsch, grandson Will Gretsch, daughter Lena Thomas, and grandson Logan Thomas.
After leading his own trio in an exciting performance, guitar star Joe Robinson (left) joined Richard Smith for an impromptu finger-picking session that brought the house down.
The Fred & Dinah Gretsch 130th Anniversary Tour Kicks Off In June
Gretsch went all-out to celebrate the 130th Anniversary in 2013. Special promotional events in cities across the US and Canada showcased Gretsch guitars and drums, with concert performances by top Gretsch artists.
A special element at many of these events was the personal appearance of Fred Gretsch representing the fourth generation of the Gretsch Family. Fred was on hand to personally greet Gretsch fans, sign autographs, and act as emcee for the events.
Dinah & Fred Gretsch. Photo: Spark St. Jude/MagicOnFilm.
At several of the events Fred was joined by his wife Dinah. CFO of The Gretsch Company and a notable industry figure in her own right, Dinah is also the founder of the Mrs. G’s Music Foundation, a charitable organization that supports music education in rural schools.
Said Fred Gretsch, “Among the things Dinah and I love most in the world are traveling, meeting folks who appreciate Gretsch drums and guitars, and enjoying the performances of great Gretsch musical artists. And it’s a special joy for me to have the opportunity to share anecdotes and stories about my family’s 130-year history in the music business.”
The Fred & Dinah 130th Anniversary Tour kicked off on June 15 at StreetSounds in Brooklyn, New York (see story below). Then it was on to The Sweetwater Gearfest (Fort Wayne, IN, June 22), Bizarre Guitar (Reno, NV, June 29), the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society Convention (Nashville, TN, July 10-13), Sam Ash Music (Hollywood, CA, July 20), Rudy’s Music & Steve Maxwell Drums (New York, NY, August 3), Guitar Center (Chicago, IL, August 15), Cream City Music (Brookfield, WI, August 17), Blues Angel Music (Pensacola, FL, September 14), and Class Axe Guitars (Kemptville, ON, Canada, October 12).
Artists who appeared at these events included The Romantics, the Michelle Marie Trio, Jet Weston and his Atomic Ranch Hands, Foxy Studs, Fountains of Wayne, the Joe Robinson Trio, Rosie Flores & The Rivetors, Mister Barrington (featuring drummer Zach Danziger), The Octanes, Steve Ferrone, Paul Pigat & Cousin Harley, the Mike Elred Trio, Ed Roland & The Sweet Tea Project, Gretsch Lyles and the Modern Eldoradoes, and the Kimberly Thompson Quartet (featuring Beyonce drummer Kim Thompson).
Joe Robinson: Globe-Trotting Gretsch Guitar Great
Traveling is part of the job for any successful musician. But Gretsch artist Joe Robinson put in some “above and beyond the call” mileage on behalf of Gretsch Guitars and the 130th Anniversary.
Joe Robinson and his trio celebrated Gretsch’s 130th anniversary with a performance in Tokyo.
Saturday, June 15 saw Joe performing in Tokyo, Japan at a celebration presented by Gretsch’s Japanese distributor, Kanda Shokai. The event also commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Gretsch/Kanda Shokai partnership. Joe wowed the audience with his combination of brilliant technique, tasteful musicality, and imaginative composition.
Joe took his talents 5,000 miles from Tokyo to appear at Sweetwater Gearfest in Ft. Wayne, IN. Photo: Jim Sites.
With barely enough time to catch his breath, Joe was on the road (actually, in the air) again. His next stop was 5,000 miles away, in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, where he appeared on Saturday, June 22 at the Sweetwater GearFest as part of yet another anniversary celebration (which also included a performance by Gretsch artists Fountains Of Wayne). Fred Gretsch himself was on hand to introduce the performers and thank all of the Gretsch fans in attendance.
Joe’s travels continued throughout the year, with additional 130th anniversary shows at Sam Ash Music in Hollywood on July 20 and at Guitar Center in Chicago on August 15. Fred and Dinah Gretsch acted as emcees for both events.
Brooklyn’s Street Sounds Stages Major Gretsch Day Event
Street Sounds, Brooklyn, NY
The first stop on Fred and Dinah Gretsch’s 130th Anniversary Tour was at Street Sounds in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday, June 15. Touting itself as “the world’s largest Gretsch dealer” (for guitars, amps, and related accessories), Street Sounds staged an all-day event that showcased Gretsch products and Gretsch artists alike.
Store owner Rocky Schiano began the festivities by giving the Gretsch fans in attendance a guided tour of the shop’s impressive array of Gretsch guitars. This presentation segued into a video about the Gretsch Custom Shop operation, introduced by Gretsch’s lead custom guitar builder Stephen Stern. Rocky then introduced Fred and Dinah Gretsch, who greeted the crowd on behalf of the Gretsch Family and Gretsch Guitars.
Fred spoke about the importance of family heritage to a business, commenting on how he and Dinah shared a multi-generational involvement in business with Rocky and his family. Dinah Gretsch offered her thanks to the audience for their attendance, then went on to express her deep personal conviction that music enriches the lives of those who pursue it. She encouraged all the musicians in the room to offer their time and skills to local schools as a way to promote and perpetuate the impact of music on young people.
The Foxy Studs. Photo by Mike Beitchman.
Entertainment for the day began with Foxy Studs—a talented young contemporary rock group featuring Rocky’s daughter Kristina on drums. They were followed by a video tribute to veteran studio and touring guitarist Al Caiola. On hand as an honored guest, Al came on stage to receive a plaque commemorating his long and distinguished musical career.
Al Caiola Sits in with Jet Weston & the Atomic Ranch Hands.
Next up was Jet Weston and his Atomic Ranch Hands, who offered an eclectic mix of western swing and jazz standards. Later in their set they invited Al Caiola to join them, and the 92-year-old guitar star added his special touch to several tunes . . . including his own 1960s hit, “Theme From The Magnificent Seven.”
Rocky Presents Fred with Anniversary Cake. Photo by Mike Beitchman.
Rocky Schiano returned to the stage to display a large sheet cake decorated with the Gretsch Logo and the words “Happy 130th Anniversary.” Everyone in the crowd was invited to enjoy the anniversary treat.
Michelle Marie on Stage. Photo by Mike Beitchman.
When introducing the next act, Fred Gretsch said that it was “great to see a girl playing guitar.” The “girl” in question was Michelle Marie, and play she did, leading her own trio in a set of primarily instrumental fusion and progressive jazz compositions.
Throughout the day Dinah Gretsch joined with Rocky to give away a selection of door prizes. These included Gretsch T-shirts as well as several Gretsch guitars. The day’s big winner took home a classic orange-finish Gretsch Electromatic guitar.
The performances closed with an appearance by 1970s New Wave recording stars The Romantics. The group immediately launched into their signature style of pop-punk rock, playing two tunes before stopping to greet the crowd, to thank Street Sounds for inviting them, and to acknowledge Fred and Dinah Gretsch. Then it was right back into the music, rocking song after song before closing with their monster hit “What I Like About You.”
Rocky Schiano joined Fred and Dinah Gretsch in thanking everyone for attending and offering one more round of congratulations to Gretsch on its 130th Anniversary.
Gretsch Anniversary Honored In US Congress
Gretsch’s 130th anniversary celebration reached all the way to Washington DC on Thursday, June 25th, when the honorable Jack Kingston, representative from Georgia’s 1st congressional district, rose to congratulate Fred and Dinah Gretsch, and to note the history and achievements of the Gretsch Company.
As part of his remarks, congressman Kingston said, “Over a span of 130 years, the Gretsch Company has grown into an international business and produces some of the world’s finest drums and guitars. Because of the tireless dedication of Mr. Fred Gretsch and his wife, Dinah to their family business and the music industry, The Gretsch Company is celebrating a significant milestone that many small businesses never reach. I am happy to congratulate them on this accomplishment.”
Congressman Kingston’s remarks were entered into The Congressional Record, and may be seen in full at this link.
Congressman Jack Kingston.
Fred And Dinah Gretsch Attend Music Makes Us Event Celebrating Nashville’s Commitment To Music Education
On July 11 an event was held in coordination with the Summer NAMM musical-instrument trade show in Nashville, Tennessee. There the Music Makes Us luncheon celebrated the importance of music education in the enrichment of young people’s lives. Fred and Dinah Gretsch—well known for their charitable efforts on behalf of music education—attended the event as honored guests, accompanied by their grandson Logan Thomas.
Fred Gretsch commented, “Dinah and I were pleased to attend the Music Makes Us luncheon, where we were honored to sit with Nashville’s mayor, Karl Dean, and NAMM president Joe Lamond. We were also extremely impressed with the Music Makes Us program, and with the Nashville school system’s overall commitment to music education. I believe that Nashville’s progressive approach to music and arts education should be a model for the rest of the country.”
Postcard From Nashville
Each summer two exciting musical events happen simultaneously in Nashville. One is the annual convention of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society (CAAS), which draws Atkins fans and guitar aficionados from across the country. The other is the Summer NAMM trade show, which attracts thousands of music retailers to view the musical-instrument industry’s latest products. Gretsch Guitars is a sponsor and participant in the CAAS convention, and is an exhibitor at the NAMM show.
Fred and Dinah Gretsch (along with grandson Logan Thomas) attended both of these events this past July 10 through 14. Fred is grateful to those who visited with him, and offers the following photos as a “postcard from Nashville.”
Met lots of great folks in Nashville such as Osmond Patterson of Artesian Music, Jerry Ozee, Don Graham, Don Cerce, Carlton, Bill Lord, Eric Hartley, Joey Joy, and Harrison Woodlief.
Fred Gretsch Offers Insight at Summer NAMM, Participates In a Unique Panel of Industry Icons
With nearly fifty years in the music business, Fred Gretsch has earned the respect and admiration of his industry peers—including the organizers of the NAMM musical-instrument trade show. That admiration led them to invite Fred to participate in their “Insight—Hard-Earned Wisdom From Industry Icons” panel event on July 11. The event was a feature of the Summer NAMM show held in Nashville from July 11 through July 13.
The Insight Panel Along with NAMM President Joe Lamond and Moderators Tom Bedell and Vince Gill.
As part of the “Insight” panel Fred joined several other gentlemen whose family names are also iconic musical brands, including Chris Martin, Sterling Ball, Jim D’Addario, Bob Taylor, and Hartley Peavey. Other industry notables included Henry Juszkiewicz (Gibson Guitars) and Andy Zildjian (Sabian Cymbals). The panel was hosted jointly by country music superstar Vince Gill and NAMM director Tom Bedell.
Fred Gretsch Shares a Thought as Sterling Ball Looks On
The evening’s program gave each member an opportunity to address topics of personal interest, as well as to respond to specific questions posed by the moderators. The goal was to offer meaningful advice to the music retailers in attendance. “I was honored to be a part of this great program,” says Fred Gretsch, “and to share some of my thoughts about the current state of the music industry and how it can be improved. When we were asked what we would do if we were ‘king for a day,’ I responded that my ‘kingly decree’ would be to implement Nashville’s progressive music-education program in all 164,000 school systems in America. I got a terrific round of applause from the 1,000-plus folks in attendance.”
A Special Card For Bill
July 13 marked the 90th birthday of Bill Hagner—a gentleman who figures highly in the history of Gretsch musical-instrument manufacturing. Bill started working at Gretsch’s Brooklyn factory as a clerk in 1941 and eventually rose to the position of plant manager. When Fred Gretsch brought the Gretsch Company back to family ownership in 1985, Bill’s help proved invaluable in getting the operation up and running in its new home in Ridgeland, South Carolina.
All in all, Bill Hagner spent fifty-eight years associated with Gretsch. His contributions over that time are a significant part of the Gretsch legacy. So it was important to Fred Gretsch to do something special to mark Bill’s 90th birthday. To help him in this project, he turned to Rob Cook—producer of the Chicago Drum Show, noted drum historian, and author of the recently released Gretsch Drum Book.
Rob picks up the story saying, “I immediately thought of all the drummers coming to the Chicago Drum Show in May who would want to send their best wishes. So we created a giant birthday card that could accommodate lots of signatures. And we definitely got them, from drummers across the country.”
This special card was created to mark Bill Hagner’s 90th birthday. It was signed by over ninety drummers at the Chicago Drum Show this past May
After collecting all the signatures, Rob forwarded the card to Fred Gretsch. Fred and his wife Dinah added their own congratulatory message, and then arranged to have the card presented to Bill Hagner on their behalf by Ken “K.C.” Kramer—who lives in Florida not far from Bill’s home in Fort Myers. Ken is the son of Duke Kramer, who was himself a key figure in Gretsch operations for almost seventy years.
Ken “K.C.”Kramer (right) presented the card to Bill Hagner.
“Bill was extremely appreciative of the card and all the well wishes that came with it,” says Ken. “In addition to the card, my wife Gail and I gave him ninety Florida lottery scratch-offs, just for fun. He told us that this was the best birthday he’s had in many years.”
Along with the card, Bill received ninety Florida lottery scratch-off sheets to commemorate his ninety years.
Party At 12,000 Feet! – Taking Gretsch’s 130th Anniversary Celebration To New Heights
After criss-crossing the United States to attend 130th Anniversary events this year, Fred and Dinah Gretsch took the celebration international. Following a stop at the Sam Ash Music store in Hollywood on July 20th, they left Los Angeles on the 22nd for a flight to Tokyo, Japan. Because they crossed the International Date Line they arrived on the 23rd—an auspicious date in itself, since it was Fred Gretsch’s birthday.
The Gretsches were actually in Japan to celebrate two anniversaries. The first is the Gretsch Company’s 130th. The second is the 25th anniversary of Gretsch’s distribution partnership with the Kanda Shokai Company. To make that celebration particularly special, the directors of Kanda Shokai arranged for Fred and Dinah to take part in a unique excursion: a journey to the top of Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji.
Fred Gretsch left at 4:30 a.m. for his ascent of Mt. Fuji. It takes twelve to fourteen hours to make the climb up and down.
On July 26 at 4:30 a.m. Fred Gretsch left his hotel for a car trip to a point nearly 8,000 feet up on the mountain. (Dinah followed in a car a bit later to a station at 6,600 feet.) After spending an hour acclimating to the lower air pressure at that elevation, Fred embarked with a Kanda Shokai team and an experienced mountain guide on a six-hour climb to the summit. There—at an elevation of just over 12,000 feet—Fred proudly displayed Gretsch drum and guitar banners to commemorate his accomplishment and celebrate the double anniversary. Then it was another six-hour descent back to the 7,300-foot point and a welcome car ride back to the hotel.
Dinah Gretsch traveled by car to Mt. Fuji’s 4th station, at 2020 meters (6,300 feet). “It was a three-hour wait to go any higher,” says Dinah. “Beautiful ride.”
Fred Gretsch and Kanda Shokai director Mr. Sakurai at the 8th station, on their way towards the summit.
Taking a break.
Fred Gretsch and Kanda Shokai Team at Top of Mt. Fuji 7-26-13
Gretsch’s Anniversary Celebration Comes “Home” To NYC
Events celebrating Gretsch’s 130th anniversary took place all over the U.S. this year—as well as in Canada and Japan. But it was particularly fitting for two of those events to be held on August 3 in Gretsch’s “home town” of New York City. The Gretsch Company was founded in 1883 when Friedrich Gretsch opened his musical-instrument shop in Brooklyn. The company grew over the next several decades, ultimately being located in the famous Gretsch factory building at 60 Broadway, in the shadow of the Williamsburg bridge. And although the company vacated that building in the late 1960s, it still stands today as a monument to the legacy of a great New York-based musical enterprise.
And so it was that Fred Gretsch—representing the fourth generation of the Gretsch Family—came to New York City on August 3 to bring the anniversary celebration “back home.” Accompanying Fred (who himself grew up in Forest Hills, Long Island) was his grandson Logan Thomas—a sixth-generation Gretsch family member.
Meet And Greet At Maxwell’s Drum Shop
Fred and Logan’s first stop was at Steve Maxwell’s Custom & Vintage Drum Shop on Seventh Avenue at 48th Street. In addition to serving drummers across the country with vintage sales and custom repairs, Maxwell’s is the second-largest dealer of new Gretsch USA Custom drums in America. The shop is filled with new and vintage Gretsch drums, posters, and memorabilia, including a drumkit that once belonged to jazz legend Elvin Jones.
At Steve Maxwell’s Custom & Vintage Drum Shop, celebrating Gretsch’s 130th anniversary and the release of Rob Cook’s The Gretsch Drum Book. From left: Steve Maxwell, Fred Gretsch, Rob Cook, Logan Thomas, and John Sheridan. Rob presented Steve, Fred, and John with special leather-bound editions of the new book.
Owner Steve Maxwell offered his shop as a site for a meet-and-greet between local drummers and Fred Gretsch. In addition, the shop hosted a book-signing party celebrating the release of The Gretsch Drum Book, a new in-depth chronicle of Gretsch drums and the Gretsch Company authored by noted drum historian Rob Cook with researcher John Sheridan.
A special guest at the event was Sam Ulano, who himself is an NYC drumming icon. Sam has been an active player and a highly revered teacher since the early 1950s. And, at the age of ninety-three, he’s the oldest living Gretsch drum endorser.
Fred Gretsch spent most of the time chatting with drummers, signing autographs, and even adding his signature to several drums. One was a 1961 Starlight Sparkle kit owned by jazz drummer Brandon Sanders. Another was a snare drum belonging to Pavel Timoveev, who had just come to America from Moscow a week earlier dreaming of owning Gretsch drums and who couldn’t quite believe his good fortune.
Distant cousins Bill Gretsch (at left) and Sally Gretsch Coulson presented Fred Gretsch with an album documenting many generations of Gretsch Family history.
Fred himself received a pleasant surprise with the arrival of two distant relatives—Bill Gretsch, of Maryland, and his sister Sally Gretsch Coulson, of New Jersey—who had traveled to this event specifically to present Fred with an album illustrating Gretsch Family history back to well before Friedrich Gretsch came to America. Fred commented that having documentation of the family that far back in his hand while his grandson was at his side placed seven Gretsch generations in the room.
Gretsch’s anniversary celebration at Maxwell’s was also attended by several key figures in the Gretsch Drums manufacturing and sales operation. These included Jim Druckrey (COO of distributor KMC Music) and his family, John Palmer (Gretsch Drums product manager for KMC), Steve Nigohosian and Kim Graham (KMC artist relations), and Paul Cooper (production manager for Gretsch USA Custom drums).
The indomitable Sam Ulano was a special guest at the anniversary event. At ninety-three Sam is the oldest Gretsch drum endorser. He’s still an active player and teacher in NYC. Here Sam autographs a drumhead for an admirer.
Russian jazz drummer Pavel Timoveev (at right) got the thrill of a lifetime when he was able to purchase the Gretsch snare drum he’d always dreamed of owning—and then have it personally autographed by Fred Gretsch himself.
Concert at Rudy’s Music
Rudy's Gretsch Guitar Wall and Posters
In quintessential New York fashion, Fred Gretsch and Logan Thomas then took a subway from Midtown south to SoHo for the second event of the day: A concert held at Rudy’s Music on Broome Street (just across the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn, and thus even “closer to home” for Gretsch). Rudy’s is an upscale shop specializing in upscale new and vintage guitars, and Gretsch guitars of both types were on display.
Once again Fred and Logan represented the family, signing autographs and chatting with Gretsch fans. Meanwhile, a stellar roster of performers was on hand to entertain the enthusiastic crowd. Fred acted as emcee, introducing each of the artists.
Kim with Her Band.
The first performer the talented Kimberly Thompson. Well known as the former drummer for pop star Beyonce, Kim is also extremely skilled at jazz, as was made evident by the playing she did with her own quartet. Up next were the CAAS Cats, a group named for and drawn from the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society. Led by long-time Gretsch guitar artist Bobby Gibson, the group demonstrated the finger-picking playing style made famous by Chet Atkins (himself an iconic Gretsch artist and the namesake of several Gretsch guitar models).
The CAAS Cats ably demonstrated the finger-picking style of guitar playing made famous by Chet Atkins.
Shop owner Rudy Pensa took the stage next to thank the audience for coming, and to deliver a heartfelt description of how he came to America from Argentina with the dream of operating a professional guitar shop. He offered his thanks to Gretsch Guitars for helping to make that happen.
Fred Gretsch returned to the stage to make some special presentations. The first was plaques for Rudy Pensa and Steve Maxwell honoring their achievements in the music business and particularly on behalf of Gretsch guitars and drums. The second was framed copies of the Gretsch 130th Anniversary Timeline Poster, which graphically depicts significant milestones in the company’s history.
Fred next introduced the day’s closing act: Paul Pigat & Cousin Harley. This Vancouver, Canada-based trio played an eclectic set of rockabilly, country, Latin, swing, and blues—all founded on Paul’s blazing guitar technique and roots-rock vocals.
Guitar ace Paul Pigat led his trio through a rousing and eclectic set of rockabilly, country, swing, blues…and much more.
Fred Gretsch closed the show with his thanks to everyone for their support of the day’s events and for their ongoing allegiance to Gretsch guitars and drums. It had been an amazing party, celebrating an equally amazing 130 years of That Great Gretsch Sound!
Video clips from the concert event at Rudy’s Music can be seen on the Gretsch Company’s YouTube channel.
Twang-O-Rama Concert at Guitar Center Chicago
On August 15 the anniversary celebration moved to Chicago, where Guitar Center Chicago hosted a concert event at their North Halsted location. Music was provided by the Joe Robinson Trio and Mister Barrington.
Twang-O-Rama Concert at Cream City Music
The next stop in August was Cream City Music in Brookfield, Wisconsin. There the Twang-O-Rama concert event on Saturday, the 17th, featured Paul Pigat & Cousin Harley, The Mike Elred Trio, and Jet Weston and his Atomic Ranch Hands. In addition, the appearance of Fred and Dinah Gretsch delighted attendees.
Twang-O-Rama Concert at Blues Angel Music
In September the anniversary celebration moved south to Pensacola, Florida, where a Twang-O-Rama concert was held at Blues Angel Music on Saturday, the 14th. There the music was provided by The Romantics, Rosie Flores & the Rivetors, Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project, The Octanes, and Gretsch Lyles and the Modern Eldoradoes.
Gretsch Guitar Round-Ups
Clair Tappaan Lodge
From Thursday September 5th through Sunday the 8th Gretsch Guitar aficionados came to the Claire Tappaan Lodge in Norden, California for the first Guitar Round-Up of 2013. Organized and run annually by Gretsch guitar aficionados from across the country, the weekend-long Round-Ups feature camping, camaraderie, story-swapping…and lots of guitar playing.
From Thursday September 26th through Sunday the 29th the scene moved to Hachland Hill Farms in Joelton, Tennessee, nestled in a rural setting in the Tennessee hills. More info and photos can be found at Gretschpages.com, under “Happenings.”
The Nashville Gretsch Guitar Roundup
130th Anniversary Multi-Media Presentation at Class Axe Guitars
The final 130th Anniversary event—originally scheduled to be held at Class Axe Guitars in Kemptville, Ontario, Canada on Saturday, October 12—generated such a high demand for tickets that it had to be moved to a larger venue. That evening Fred and Dinah Gretsch hosted a special multi-media presentation that explored the remarkable musical journey of the Gretsch Family that began in 1883. There were also great prizes including a Gretsch G5420T Electromatic® guitar. It was a true Gretsch extravaganza and a fitting close to a year of 130th Anniversary celebrations.