Category Archives: Artists Blogs
Posted: October 17, 2016
In support of new album Gameshow, Two Door Cinema Club has been hitting the road hard, including back-to-back weekend appearances at Austin City Limits.
Courtesy of Red Bull TV, a clip of their performance is now available. Watch them run though oldie “What You Know”below, and stream Gameshow via Spotify here.
Posted: October 14, 2016
“The beautiful thing about art and music is that in just a minute you can capture a moment, a feeling, a story and even a lifetime,” reflects Abner Ramirez, who makes up one half of the husband-wife duo Johnnyswim. “You can capture that moment and share it with people and feel like they were reliving that with you. Like they felt that for the very first time with you. They were there. That’s definitely what has kept this more than just a hobby. Even from the beginning when I knew one chord and didn’t know what it was called, it was always a lifeline. There was always something magic with sound.”
A son of a pastor father and church choir director mother, Ramirez began his musical journey on the violin at age 6. And while he stuck with the instrument well into his days at art college, he was pushed towards the guitar via threat of eviction from his church youth band.
“I remember the leader of the band said to the group ‘We are going to switch the sound up; it’s going to be more aggressive, a little more rock ‘n’ roll,’” recalled Ramirez. “So it was basically, if you can’t play guitar, you are out of the band, and I was the only string player that couldn’t play guitar. I quickly said, ‘I can totally play guitar.’ I guess the violin translated well — it literally was just watching the guy in front of me and copying him and it was good enough to stay in the band. That’s where guitar started and it’s stuck with me ever since.”
Another special and fateful pairing came in 2005 when he met his wife, Amanda Sudano Ramirez, in Nashville, and soon instituted a songwriting partnership. They clicked together musically and personally, beginning a romantic relationship along with their creative connection. The couple married in 2009 and relocated to Los Angeles, and have continued to record and tour extensively with their blend of American folk, soul, blues and pop.
Regardless of “genre,” the underlining theme behind everything that Johnnyswim touches has a purpose, and is approached with honesty.
“I think most musicians can tell when someone is faking it — whether it is a song or even a riff or solo,” explained Ramirez. “You can tell it if a guy is meaning it or not, and our goal with Johnnyswim and with what we do is that every song has a purpose.”
“Let It Matter,” for instance, is the lead single off new album Georgico Pond, and is a song written after the deaths of his father and mother-in-law, famed disco queen Diana Summer.
“We lost them within a year of each other, and it felt like everybody that hasn’t lost a parent before just wants you to get over it,” said Ramirez. “They just want you to better and they feel uncomfortable with your grief. So, there’s a friend who came up to us and just said, ‘Listen, it’s okay to hurt,’ and told me about losing my dad and that ‘it’s okay that it hurts; he’s worth it.’ And there’s something so freeing about knowing that grief can be good, that it’s needed and it can be valuable. And so ‘Let it Matter” is about if it matters, let it matter.
“And there’s something beautiful to be able to stand in front of people and play songs, not because your artist relations guy said ‘It’s going to be a hit and make you a bunch of money.’ There’s a value in just being able to stand in front of people and hold a guitar and sing a song that you need to sing. It’s just something you have to do or else you wouldn’t be you.”
When Ramirez stands in front of audiences to support the new album, he’ll be doing so with a changeup to his usual guitar rig.
After years and years of strictly playing acoustic guitar, Ramirez found himself searching for a bigger sound.
“I remember this club in New York that we’ve played like 30 times, and I remember walking off stage and was so annoyed at the sound I was getting,” he shares in this exclusive interview. “I wanted to take up more space. I was playing this acoustic that I do love but it was just this space. I wanted to be bigger than the room and I couldn’t be and I remember being backstage mad yapping at my wife and manger. I remember then hearing this guy and he was playing a Gretsch electric. He was just singing and playing and it was filling the space I wanted to fill up.”
Ramirez has thus “gone electric,” and added a new Gretsch Players Edition Black Falcon to both his studio and live touring gear.
“Picking up a new guitar is like a making a new friend that you never knew you had, and you want to spend all your time getting to know them,” said Ramirez. “When I got this guitar, I couldn’t stop playing.”
Ramirez also revealed that his Black Falcon is all over the new album, even adding the missing piece to one song in particular called “Touching Heaven.”
“We didn’t know where it was suppose to go,” he explained. “It was just a piano vocal song and we had a choir and added a kick drum and a tambourine. That’s all it was, but it still wasn’t there yet. So I was thinking I needed to add something but didn’t know what and then a friend of mine, a great guitar player sat down, picked up this guitar in our studio at home and he just started playing these little plucks. That’s all he did for the chorus and it’s my favorite song on the album because of those plucks.”
Posted: October 14, 2016
On Nov. 4, three-time Grammy-award-winner Brian Setzer will be releasing new concert Blu-ray/CD Rockabilly Riot: Osaka Rocka!, which was filmed on February 18 at Namba Hatch in Osaka, Japan.
Live and loud, the concert encompasses songs from the Gretsch signature artist’s acclaimed 2014 studio album Rockabilly Riot! All Original—a sizzling rockabilly effort from start to finish featuring his trademark twang and fretboard fire. Also included are classic hits from his Stray Cats days, Brian Setzer Orchestra tunes and tracks from his solo albums.
In front of the wildly enthusiastic audience, Setzer and his band—Noah Levy (drums), Kevin McKendree (piano and guitar) and Mark Winchester (bass)—are firing on all cylinders.
“When you look up rockabilly in the dictionary there is a picture of Mark Winchester,” says Setzer. “He grew up slapping the bass and is in a class of his own. And the relationship with the drummer and the bass player in rockabilly is very unique. The slap bass is a rhythmic sounding instrument, so the drummer has to be very in time with him in order not to sound sloppy. Noah Levy is a very on-the-beat solid drummer, whereas me, as a guitar player, I push everything while they hold it all in place. And when you’re talking about the great rockabilly piano players, it’s a very short list, and Kevin McKendree is on it. And he also plays guitar incredibly well.
“We all just complement each other.”
Setzer was also complimentary of the Osaka audience.
“This is the first time we’ve recorded the Rockabilly Riot on film,” he offered. “And also, just like in America, the cities differ in Japan. The Osaka fans are noted for generally being a very loyal and energetic audience. As you’ll see from the show, the Osaka fans are die-hard and know every single song and applaud after guitar solos, and even sing along to songs that I typically don’t see in other cities.”
Setzer and his 19-piece Brian Setzer Orchestra will visit 32 cities beginning Saturday, Nov. 12 in Appleton and make stops in Nashville, Los Angeles and San Francisco, among others (full itinerary here). Get your tickets to their 13th annual “Christmas Rocks! Tour,” presented by SiriusXM at www.briansetzer.com.
You can also watch a teaser video clip below from the upcoming live concert release, and place your pre-order at www.BrianSetzer.com.
Posted: October 11, 2016
In its October issue, Vintage Guitar magazine caught up with Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson, Gretsch luthier Chris Fleming and Gretsch Custom Shop Master Builder Stephen Stern to talk about the partnership, design and development behind Petersson’s new signature 12-string Gretsch White Falcon bass.
“I love the look of classic’50s and ’60s instruments, and Gretsch are a longtime favorite,” said Petersson, who keyed on the double-cutaway version for a very specific reason.
“George Harrison used a Gretsch Country Gentleman,” Petersson told VG. “There have been quite a few different White Falcons, but I like the double-cut Country Gent look.”
Fleming, who had the task of building the first prototype for the Cheap Trick legend also revealed some of the challenges he faced.
“It was a matter of creating something that could hold up to the huge pressure that 12 strings exert on an instrument,” said Fleming. “We’ve created many prototypes over the years, but none as unique as this. Most were variations on historical models like the White Falcon and 6120, but none had to stand up to that kind of tension.”
Pick up a hard copy of the magazine or click here to learn more about the adjustments that needed to be made to bring this unique instrument to life. But before you do, any guesses to where Petersson first debuted his Gretsch White Falcon bass live?
Posted: October 6, 2016
Photos and article by Ron Denny.
The History Channel could’ve joined Gretsch guitars as sponsors of the 2016 International Home of the Legends Thumbpicking Competition in Muhlenberg County, Ky., in late September. That’s because for the first time in the 28-year history of the event, two ladies – make that two teenagers – competed against eight men and took home the top two thumbpicking honors. They also walked offstage with new Gretsch guitars as a result of their picking prowess.
Katelyn Prieboy, 19, is from Lutz, Fla., which is just north of Tampa, and is a freshman at Belmont University in Nashville. She is majoring in audio engineering and minoring in classical guitar. Katelyn was crowned the grand champion and won a gorgeous Gretsch White Falcon guitar for being the first woman to sweep both the traditional and contemporary thumbpicking categories.
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New From The Gretsch Blog.
- Watch Two Door Cinema Club at ACL
- Music is a Lifeline for Johnnyswim’s Abner Ramirez
- Brian Setzer Announces New Concert Blu-Ray/CD
- ‘Vintage Guitar:’ The Making of the Tom Petersson Signature 12-String Gretsch Bass
- Young (Lady) Thumbs Make History; Sweep the Legends Thumbpicking Championship
- Nothing But Thieves Give Late Night ‘Wake Up Call’
- KT Tunstall Returns to Music with a New Carefree Mindset
- ‘Vintage Guitar’ Reviews Vintage Select ’55 Falcon
- Watch AC/DC Rig Rundown
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