Posts Tagged ‘Gretsch Foundation’

Gretsch Foundation Underwrites Much-Needed Sound System For Historic South Carolina School

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

The Gretsch Foundation, the charitable arm of the Gretsch Family, recently underwrote the purchase and installation of a new, state-of-the-art sound system in the auditorium of the 108-year-old Brunson Elementary School in Brunson, S.C.

“We were made aware of this need and wanted to give back to a community near our Ridgeland, South Carolina factory where we’ve been making Gretsch drums for over 30 years,” said Fred Gretsch, president of the Gretsch Foundation. “The goal of the Gretsch Foundation is to enrich lives through participation in music. This small school, known for its fine arts as well as its academics, now has a world-class sound system in their auditorium for the students, parents, and community to enjoy.”

Gretsch said he was able to use industry contacts and had Sweetwater Sounds, Inc. provide the equipment and installation advice. The school received new speakers, an audio mixer, amplifiers, monitors, plus hanging and wireless microphones.

The new system was used for the first time for the school’s recent production of the play, The Ransom of Red Chief. The show also included performances by the school’s Girls Chorus and Blue Steel, the school’s Steel Drum Band.

“Our first show with the new sound system was a big success. The parents were absolutely thrilled,” said Principal Greg Ackerman. “I really do think the sound system added to the students’ confidence. They took a lot of pride in their performance.” Ackerman also shared how important music and arts are for students and said, “People don’t realize the discipline that’s required to learn music and plays. It just makes for a better student.”

The Gretsch Foundation has a long history of helping schools and promoting music participation. In addition to providing music scholarships at Berklee College of Music, Elmhurst College, Georgia Southern University, and the University of West Georgia, the Foundation’s unique GuitarArt program donates used guitars to schools for students and major artists to paint, decorate and auction off for fundraising efforts. It has also donated professional-level Gretsch guitars signed by musicians from bands such as R.E.M., Widespread Panic, Drive-By Truckers, Sugarland, and The B-52’s that have also been auctioned to raise funds for various music and arts education programs.

“The Gretsch family has been making drums and guitars for more than 130 years,” added Gretsch. “My wife Dinah and I represent the fourth generation of that family and believe the research that shows how participating in music helps children excel in all areas of learning. When we heard about this school’s specific need, and with all the budget cuts, we decided to step up and make a difference.”

Gretsch also said that the gift of the new sound system has perhaps sparked the generosity of others in the Brunson community. He was recently told that a parent wanted to donate 200 chairs to the school. “Maybe a seed has been planted in the community,” said Gretsch. “I couldn’t be happier for these students. They deserve it.”

Students from Brunson Elementary School's Steel Drum Band

.

.

Christmas 4 Kids Gretsch Guitar Auction 2012

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

The 11th annual Charlie Daniels Band and Friends Christmas 4 Kids Benefit Concert was held on November 19 at the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and the Gretsch Foundation once again provided another classic guitar–the G6118T Anniversary.  This guitar had been in the Gretsch Foundation collection for 10 years and was often used for photographic assignments.  It was modeled after the 1958 75th Anniversary guitar, which had an ultra-cool, two-tone smoke green finish, straight from that era’s Cadillac and featured a “G”-cutout tailpiece.  The Charlie Daniels Band and Friends Concert is the cornerstone of Christmas 4 Kids’ fundraising efforts.

Warren Thinn with Dinah & Fred Gretsch

A big “congratulations” goes out to new owner of this guitar, Warren Thinn, who won the silent auction with a bid of $5,700.

For over twenty years, Christmas 4 Kids has given the joy of Christmas to thousands of Middle Tennessee children who might not otherwise experience it. Each December, local businesses, volunteers, celebrities, recording artists, and their bus drivers set aside two days from their busy schedules for these special children.  Learn more about this great organization at the Christmas 4 Kids website.

Visit the Gretsch Foundation website to learn more about “Enriching Lives Through Participation in Music”.

.

.

Savannah Folk Music Festival a Great Success

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

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 12 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.  Savannah Folk Music Society President Chris Desa opened the show and Jim McGaw, Lauren Lapointe, Cynergy, and Pace Brothers 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. . . “ F R E E“.

Noteworthy Art and More Auctions, Friday, October 12 & Sunday October, 14 (Ellis Square & Grayson Stadium)

Chris Desa and Fred Gretsch with Alison Krauss & Union Station signed Gretsch Guitar Auctioned During Festival

All 14 guitars, generously donated by the GRETSCH FOUNDATION and some of which were artfully transformed by local Savannah artists (see below), 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 14 at Grayson Stadium.

Youth Songwriting Competition, Saturday, October 13

The Youth songwriting competition, with $1,000 in prizes sponsored by Portman’s Music Superstore was held at Stewart Hall, First Presbyterian church where 3 finalists performed their original songs.  Declan Berkley of Savannah won First Prize – a $500 gift certificate for his song “North Pike Island”, Catherine Altomare also of Savannah placed second and received a gift certificate of $300 and Kent Woods of Ridgeland, SC was third and received gift certificate of $200.

Blues Guitar Workshop with Doug Macleod, Saturday, October 13

Immediately following the songwriting competition, a two-hour acoustic blues guitar workshop was hosted by headliner DOUG MACLEOD with about 12 local guitarists and listeners in attendance.  It was a great opportunity for attendees to spend quality time and learn from one of the best blues performers in the country.

Old Time Country Dance, Saturday, October 13

Savannah Arts Academy gym was decorated with numerous colorful quilts in preparation for the Festival Dance, which was again very well attended by nearly 250 people.  The “Curley Maple” Band provided excellent music throughout the evening which 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.

Concert at Grayson Stadium, Sunday, October 14

The Sunday Festival Concert began on schedule in Grayson Stadium with Deidre McCalla, Curley Maple, Al Petteway & Amy White, and Doug Macleod 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 long time fans of the performers position themselves at vantage seats in the stands to get a close up view.  Every artist gave a stellar performance to an appreciative and attentive audience scattered all over the stands behind home plate at Grayson Stadium.

The Youth Songwriting Competition winner Declan Berkley performed his winning song “North Pike Island” on stage at the Sunday Concert.

Overall, the festival was a great success and next year we will be back again in our usual location at Grayson Stadium said Chris Desa.  The collective efforts of SFMS leadership, members, volunteers, and numerous sponsors is greatly appreciated.

Major Festival Sponsors

City of Savannah Leisure Services Bureau: Dept of Cultural Affairs

The Gretsch Foundation

Portman’s Music Superstore

Quality Rock Q 105.3

Brighter Day Natural Foods

For more information about the Savannah Folk Music Society, call (912) 898-1876 or visit www.savannahfolk.org.

.

Four of the beautiful art guitars auctioned during the festival:

.

.

Gretsch Celebrates Its Heritage at Elmhurst Jazz Festival

Wednesday, 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.

Savannah Folk Music Festival Great Success

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

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.

Chris Desa (left) and Fred Gretsch (right) on WTOC11

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.

Collage Created by Helen Weitz

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.

Gretsch Foundation Supports Savannah Folk Music Fest

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

The Gretsch Foundation—the charitable arm of The Gretsch Family—is proud to support the 2011 Savannah Folk Music Festival. The event will present concert performances in Savannah’s Ellis Square on Friday, October 7, and in Forsythe Park on Sunday, October 9. In addition, an old-time country dance will be held at the Notre Dame Academy gym on Saturday, October 8.

The Festival serves as a showcase for the quality and diversity in musical talent found among members of the Savannah Folk Music Society. Performances will span the range of traditional, old-time, blues, international, folk revival, and contemporary musical styles. All events are free and open to the public.

"The Garden" by Barbara Gentry

In support of the Festival, the Gretsch Foundation has donated fourteen Historic Series acoustic guitars that have been individually and originally painted, carved, and sculpted by some of Savannah’s most creative and talented artists. All fourteen of these Art Guitars will be sold at silent auction during the Friday and Sunday concert events at Ellis Square and Forsythe Park.

The Sunday concert will also feature a second special auction, at which a playable Gretsch guitar—signed by all the performers—will be the prize item.

“Goodnight Irene” by Joni Bishop

According to Fred Gretsch, president of the Savannah-based Gretsch Company, “Gretsch guitars have been an important element of folk music for generations. So I’m proud that fifteen uniquely crafted Gretsch guitars will be a part of this year’s Folk Music Festival.” Fred himself is currently scheduled to promote the Festival with a personal appearance on WTOC Channel 11’s Mid Morning Live program on Wednesday, October 5.

"Trumpeting the Spring" by Kathy Miller

The Gretsch Art Guitar exhibit is viewable from now until October 7 at the Ellis Square Visitor Center in downtown Savannah. The Center is open from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. Photos of the guitars are also available for viewing at the Savannah Folk Music Festival’s website.

For more information about the Savannah Folk Music Festival, including performer names and schedules, go to the “Festival” page at savannahfolk.org.

The Gretsch Foundation: Raising Funds for Nuci’s Space

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Guitar Art by Lou Kregel

With the help of The Gretsch Foundation’s Guitar Art Program, musician-focused nonprofit Nuçi’s Space (www.nuci.org) presented its inaugural “Guitar Art Show and Music Memorabilia Auction” in Athens, Georgia earlier this year. The unique event raised $8,000 for the musicians’ support and resource center.

Nuçi’s Space is named in memory of Nuçi Phillips, a talented musician and student at the University of Georgia who committed suicide in 1996 after a long battle with depression. The organization’s mission is to prevent such tragedies by providing obstacle-free treatment for musicians suffering from depression and other psychological disorders, as well as to promote the emotional, physical, and professional well-being of musicians. Since opening in 2000, Nuçi’s Space has provided direct financial assistance for mental health treatment to over 1,000 musicians.

Guitar Art by Chris Gholson

The idea for the auction event was first conceived nearly four years ago when The Gretsch Foundation’s Guitar Art Program awarded Nuçi’s Space four small acoustic guitars, three full-size acoustic guitars, and a beginner-level drumset.

“Athens is the perfect home for this type of event,” says Nuçi’s Space executive director Bob Sleppy. “The music and arts scenes are so intertwined as to be nearly indistinguishable from one another. Almost every musician is an artist, and every artist is a musician. And although it took us several years to get this show together, the collection of instruments and music memorabilia we had available for auction was very impressive.”

The Guitar Art Show and Auction was an unforgettable night, filled with great music and art. Musicians Kyshona Armstrong and the Artie Ball Swing Band performed for an appreciative crowd throughout the evening. Featured “Gretsch Guitar Art” artists included Lou Kregel, Chris Bilheimer, Chris Wyrick, Chris Gholson, John Gholson, Jamie Calkin, Wes Freed, Jason McFarland, Lamar Wood, Jeff Hannan, and Wilma Pittard. Music memorabilia included items autographed by the B-52s, Kenny Rogers, Drive-By Truckers, Colt Ford, Green Day, R.E.M., Counting Crows, Kris Kristofferson, and Oscar winner Jeff Bridges (from the film Crazy Heart).

Guitar Art by Wes Freed

Since the Guitar Art program began nine years ago, Gretsch has donated over 1,000 guitars that have raised more than $400,000 in support of worthwhile programs and projects. For more information on how to apply for this donor program or to see other examples of Gretsch Guitar Art projects, visit www.guitarart.org.

Gretsch Foundation Supports 4th Banjo Workshop

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Participants of the 4th Banjo Assembly Workshop

The fourth annual Banjo Assembly Workshop presented by the Savannah Folk Music Society ended with a happy group of participants walking out the garden gate with good-looking and good-playing banjos in their hands. The event, which took place on June 18 on the grounds of the Ships of the Sea Museum in Savannah, Georgia, drew 27 enthusiastic participants this year.  The workshop focused on the construction of real, playable banjos by amateur banjo enthusiasts. Kits, tools, and instruction were provided by the Savannah Folk Music Society and the Ships of the Sea Museum.

Workshop participants spent an intense day learning how to create instruments for themselves using banjo parts donated by the Gretsch Foundation, the charitable arm of the Gretsch family, as well as strings donated by LaBella Strings. Fred and Dinah Gretsch—owners of the Pooler, Georgia-based Gretsch Company—are long-time supporters of the Savannah Folk Music Society.

As usual, the Gretsch Company and the Gretsch Foundation were pleased to be a part of this unique workshop for the benefit of Savannah area musical enthusiasts.

For more information on the Savannah Folk Music Society visit  www.savannahfolk.org . For more information on the Gretsch Foundation and the Gretsch Company, visit www.gretsch.com.