“Fred & Joe Show” Summer Tour Recap

September 8th, 2009

Redbone Guitar Boutique - Gretsch Day 043It’s not at all unusual to see Gretsch guitars being played by major artists on summer tours at venues across the country. But it is a little unusual when the man whose name is on those guitars is also on tour. But that’s exactly what Fred W. Gretsch has been doing this past summer.

In the company of Gretsch guitar marketing manager Joe Carducci, Fred has been visiting Gretsch guitar retailers from coast to coast.  Dubbed “The Fred & Joe Show,” the tour has provided Gretsch enthusiasts with a chance to get to know Fred Gretsch — up close and personal — in a casual open forum.  The tour has also been celebrating the music that the Gretsch family has been a part of since their guitar production began in the 1930s.  At each stop, Fred has shared behind-the-scenes stories, as well as recalling great musical performances that helped catapult the iconic family business to prominence.

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Gretsch Family Supports Arts Camp for Kids

August 31st, 2009

Gretsch Institute Summer Camp 2009Today’s economic climate has resulted in a dramatic decrease in funding for early education. Programs across the country have been slashed, particularly in the area of arts education. Yet exposure to the arts has been proven to be a critical element in the intellectual and emotional development of young children.

Recognizing this fact, Fred and Dinah Gretsch recently took extraordinary steps to ensure that the children of Savannah, Ga. are given an opportunity to experience and participate in the creative arts.

With the help of generous support from The Gretsch Company, the 2009 Gretsch Institute Music, Art & Dance Camp was held on the campus of the Savannah Country Day School from June 8 through July 3. This unique camp offered rising 2nd through 8th graders an opportunity to expand their creativity and their artistic skills through an inspiring multi-dimensional arts curriculum. Small-group settings paired students with talented artists, musicians, and instructors during four one-week sessions of full or half-day camp.

Read press release >

Les Paul Remembered

August 14th, 2009
Les Paul with one of his signature guitars outfitted with a Bigsby Vibrato

Les Paul was a true disciple of the guitar, an innovator in the fields of guitar design, amplification and recording, and a consummate — and lifelong — performer.

In 2005, my wife Dinah and I had the pleasure of attending Les’s 90th birthday celebration show at Carnegie Hall. We were impressed with his humility and his sense of humor…to say nothing of his playing ability. Two years later we saw Les again, this time in the more intimate setting of the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City. We had the opportunity to meet with him personally between shows, and we found him to be a gracious host and a true gentleman.

When guitar great Chet Atkins was ready to design a signature model for Gretsch back in 1954, he turned to his friend Les Paul for advice. Les had designed his namesake guitar for Gibson by that time, and Chet’s own design ultimately proved a similar success for Gretsch. The two great guitarists remained lifelong friends, and when Les came out of retirement in the mid-1970s, he teamed up with Chet for two recordings — including the 1976 Grammy Award-winning Chester And Lester album.

Anyone even slightly connected with guitars or recording owes a tremendous debt to Les Paul for his immeasurable contributions to the art and science of music. He was a genuine American original, and we will miss him very much.

Fred Gretsch
The Gretsch Company

Gretsch Family Memories of Les Paul

In 1934, a young Maxine “Sylvia” Elsner (destined to become the wife of Bill Gretsch and mother of current Gretsch Company president, Fred W. Gretsch) attended the Chicago World’s Fair.  She had her picture taken by a street photographer and the handwritten note “Chicago World’s Fair 1934” is the only memory that has been passed down of her visit.

At the fair a 19-year-old guitarist from Wisconsin named Les Paul was playing in a trio with Fry Peters and Joe Wolverton for the Reliance Manufacturing Company.  They played at the General Exhibition Pavilion.  Their style was popular hillbilly-country, jazz-flavored tunes.  Les and Joe had played previously as the Ozark Appleknockers on radio shows around St. Louis and Chicago.  (The Early Years of the Les Paul Legacy, Robb Lawrence, Hal Leonard Books, 2008).

After the fair, Les went on to play at the Bismarck Hotel in Chicago.  He would become famous in the years to come but in those early years in Chicago, he was a young newcomer to the world of music.

Bill Gretsch was also a newcomer.  He had gone to Chicago around 1933 to work for his father’s company, The Fred Gretsch Mfg. Co.  He was full of energy and his father, Fred Gretsch Sr., felt that Chicago offered more room for his energies than the stayed offices of the company in Brooklyn.  Bill Gretsch was looking to make his mark in the family music business which his grandfather had started and his father was then running.  Bill noticed the young talent of Les Paul both at the Fair and at the Bismarck and he encouraged him, introduced him to others in the business, made some connections for him in New York, and generally welcomed Les into the world of music as Bill had known it since his childhood.

When Sylvia attended the fair she knew nothing yet of Bill Gretsch.  It would be another 3 years until they met and 8 years until they were married.  But, perhaps, she stopped to hear the trio who played such fascinating music for the company which made “Big Yank” work shirts.  Perhaps at that same moment so many years ago, young Bill Gretsch stood near her also listening to Les Paul and his friends.

Fred & Joe Show: Redbone did it right!

July 31st, 2009

What a great event at Redbone Guitar Boutique in San Antonio on July 18. Redbone did it right! The Fred & Joe Show started at 4:00 p.m. with 75 plus people in attendance - some enthusiasts driving over two hours to attend. Richard Turner (owner) and Scott Stephens (manager) estimated at least 40 percent of attendees had never been to Redbone before. It was a great turnout for sure. King Pelican played two sets of surf and 60s instrumental music before the Fred & Joe Show began, and they killed it! And, yes, they play Gretsch! Thanks to Richard and everyone at Redbone as well as the fans that came out for the event.

Redbone Guitar Boutique - Gretsch Day 043

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Richard “Dick” Gretsch Sr. Celebrates His 101st Birthday!

July 29th, 2009
Uncle Dick 101st Birthday

Dick Gretsch (seated, left) enjoying a birthday luncheon with family including Fred Gretsch (standing, right).

On June 14, 2009 we celebrated the grand occasion of Richard “Dick” Gretsch Sr.’s 101st birthday in Danbury, CT. Brother to past Gretsch presidents Fred Jr. and Bill, and Uncle to current company president Fred W. Gretsch, Dick shows no signs of slowing down.

Read all about Dick’s amazing life in a 2008 story on the Gretsch website.

Gretsch Takes Part In CoverBand 2010 Contest
Get The Great Sound Of Gretsch Drums . . . And A Trip To California!

July 21st, 2009

Attention Gretsch drummers (and those who’d like to be): I want to let you know about a great new online contest that Gretsch is proud to be a part of.

It’s called CoverBand 2010, and it offers you the opportunity to have your performance viewed by thousands of music fans around the world. Those fans, in turn, will cast their votes, and the top five vote-getters will become the contest finalists. A panel of celebrity judges will select the winners in seven performance spots. Besides naming the best drummer, the judges will also select the best bassist, vocalist, two guitarists, and two percussionists. These winners will become the members of CoverBand 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

My Japan Trip Journal – Calvin Rane Gretsch

July 11th, 2009

Calvin Rane and TV JonesI was fortunate to have the amazing opportunity of traveling to Japan last month to meet and greet customers during a series of visits to Gretsch Guitar and Drum dealers. As a member of the sixth generation of the Gretsch family, it was great to meet other young musicians and share with them the history of the Gretsch family business. I was accompanied by well-known guitar and pickup manufacturer, TV Jones. It was a great trip with memories I’ll long cherish. Read the rest of this entry »

You Asked For It and Now You Got It

June 24th, 2009

Thanks for celebrating our 125th anniversary with us last year. As we kick off the next 125 years, we wanted to give Gretsch.com a hot new custom finish — just the way our friends wanted it. So we put it out to vote, and in just a few days, nearly a thousand Gretsch friends from around the world voted for the “look” they liked the most, and here it is, in all its glory. In case you didn’t see the other designs, here they are:

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