Author Archives: Chrissy Mauck

Fred Gretsch Receives Honorary Degree from Elmhurst College

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Fred W. Gretsch, fourth-generation leader of a family business that has helped shape American music history, was presented with an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Elmhurst College at the school’s Spring Commencement over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

An Elmhurst alumnus, Gretsch is also president of the Gretsch Company, which was founded by his great-grandfather in 1883 and continues to make guitars and drums for musicians who appreciate “That Great Gretsch Sound,” top-quality craftsmanship, and classic style.

Elmhurst College confers honorary degrees on individuals whose commitments and achievements embody the College’s mission, vision, and core values. Fred Gretsch was recognized for his ongoing contributions to the music industry, as well as to his and his family’s stated mission, which is “to enrich people’s lives through participation in music.”

Fred, his wife and business partner Dinah, his family company, and the Gretsch Foundation have been generous supporters of Elmhurst College and its Department of Music. That support has funded a variety of scholarships, as well as the state-of-the-art Sylvia and William Gretsch Recording Studio (established in 1987 to honor Fred’s parents). In 1993, the Gretsch Electric Guitar Ensemble became a regular element of the music program, and in 2015, arrangements were made for the music department’s ensembles to perform exclusively on Gretsch drum kits. Gretsch has also been a major supporter of the annual Elmhurst College High School Invitational Jazz Festival.

“Fred Gretsch’s support has helped us develop one of the top music business programs in the country, from the Gretsch Music Business Student Scholarship fund to his multiple gifts that have allowed us to build and continually upgrade our state-of-the art Gretsch Recording Studio,” said Elmhurst College Music Business Program director Tim Hays. “The College, the Music Department, and generations of students have benefited from his vision and generosity.”

Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Joseph Emmick added, “We’re pleased to honor Fred Gretsch. Who better to receive an honorary degree than someone who has distinguished himself in his service to the musical community? Fred and Dinah together form one of the music industry’s most formidable teams, and their international success enhances Elmhurst College’s reputation across the globe.”

After receiving his honorary degree Fred Gretsch said, “I’m grateful and I’m honored. When it comes to enriching people’s lives through music around the country and around the world, I recognize that Elmhurst is a great place to start. I look forward to working with the college to create more music-makers in the generations ahead.”

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Live from Plum Creek Sound Studios: Matthew Vasquez

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As previously blogged here, Austin-based alt-country rock artist Israel Nash hosted an intimate event during SXSW called “Live From the Hills With Love,” an afternoon of good old southern hospitality, outstanding performances and free beer. For fans everywhere, Nash and his Plum Creek Sound Studios team are making those performances available to everyone with a unique video series.

The first video to be rolled out features Matthew Logan Vasquez (Delta Spirit), who played what he introduced as a “really, really f*ing long song, but it’s all about growing up here, and then doing drugs, and then finding Jesus and then not finding Jesus, and then drinking a lot and then meeting my wife in Fresno and then moving back here.”

Indeed, the song spans 14 minutes so grab a beer and enjoy “Austin” below …

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Andy Babiuk Dishes on Gretsch and Chet Atkins

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The Bachman-Gretsch Collection exhibit is going strong at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame, featuring 75 rare and historic Gretsch guitars.

The instruments are among more than 300 Gretsch guitars purchased by Canadian guitarist and songwriter Randy Bachman, a key member of the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.  His collection was purchased in 2008 by the Gretsch Foundation, the charitable arm of the Gretsch Family.

In this clip below, musician, artist, and guitar expert Andy Babiuk and CMHOF museum curator Mick Buck discuss the history between Gretsch and the legendary Chet Atkins, while taking a look at some of the guitars in the exhibit inspired by Atkins.

Enjoy below, and find out more details about the exhibit here!

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Live From Plum Creek Studios Trailer

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Relix.com and Jambands.com recently debuted the new trailer from Israel Nash’s “Live From Plum Creek Studios.”

The footage was captured during Austin’s annual SXSW festival when Nash opened the doors to his new studio outside of Austin for a free recording session featuring the likes of T. Hardy Morris, Delta Spirit’s Matt Vasquez, Midlake’s Eric Pulido, Bee Caves, the Wild Reeds and Kirby Brown.

Each artist, including Nash, gave an intimate live performance for a small number of special guests, friends and family.

“As many people know, I’m all about writing, recording, living, and talking about the Hill Country and my tiny town, Dripping Springs, TX,” wrote Nash in his invite. “It’s just a purely magical place for me to really be myself as an artist and person. I also believe that those things that bless us should be shared. So we are literally swinging the front gate open and inviting people to come out to my new studio, Plum Creek Sound to hear some amazing bands, take in some incredible hill country views, and just get away from the hustle of SXSW. And hopefully, that peace I get from being out here can be bestowed on others. It’s just the beginning for the studio and in the future, we will host a series of events like these focused on the land, the vibes, and the music. It’s all so special to me. It’s about giving back to those people and those places that have given to you. It’s about people coming together and making this life work out. And it’s about smoking a j and drinking a beer in the middle of the country. Incredible things happen that way.”

The incredible things that happened at the event were fortunately captured on camera, and will be shared on Reliv over the coming weeks as part of a unique video series.

Watch the trailer for the series below.

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‘Guitarist’ Magazine Reviews Players and Vintage Select Edition Models

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In its May issue, UK’s Guitarist magazine reviews a few of the new Gretsch Players Edition and Vintage Select Edition models, bestowing the Guitarist Choice awards on both the Vintage Select G6120T- ’55 Chet Atkins and G6118T Players Edition Anniversary with String-Thru Bigsby®.

“Workingman’s Gretsch with great upgrades, not least the locking tuners and String-Thru Bigsby,” notes the mag of the Anniversary model.

As for the Vintage Select G6120T-55GE, the mag noted that it’s a “classic guitar with high build quality, great playability and huge ‘twang’ factor.”

The review includes a full feature breakdown of the aforementioned models, in addition to the Vintage Select G6136T-59 Falcon and the Players Edition G6119T Tennessee Rose.

The final verdict?

“Beautifully made and with some lovely period-correct details mixed with more modern concessions, there’s little we don’t like here. Choosing your fit, however, may be a more difficult decision. The White Falcon is a serious investment, although its sturdier build and longer scale (not to mention those Filter’Trons) give it perhaps the most versatile sonic palette. Considerably lower in cost, our two Players Edition models are close cousins and either would be perfect for those for rockier, less ‘Gretsch-style’ outings, the new string-thru Bigsby alone will cure what most of us find a chore: restringing.

“That just leaves the Chet Atkins G6120T-55 hollow body, which with its lighter build and those DynaSonic-style single coils, really gets to the essence of the ‘Gretsch sound.’ If you haven’t played a Gretsch for a while, you might be very surprised. These are some serious guitars.”

The mag also features an interview with rock ‘n’ roll rebel rouser and longtime Gretsch artist Darrell Higham, who was asked to weigh in on the newest Gretsch models in the review section.

“On a 6120, like the Chet Atkins Reissue we’ve got here, you want a nice dainty neck, because it’s a guitar you feel you should play quite fast on — and, actually, the 6120 is very versatile and you can use it for lots of different types of music. It’s not just great for rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll, especially with lighter gauge strings than the 0.011s that are on here.

“I think the updates they’ve made on the Players Edition guitars here are good,” he also noted. “If someone’s looking for a semi, but worries that Gretsches are too genre-specific, they should go for one of these, like this Tennessee Rose. It could be an indie guitar or jazz – there’s no reason you couldn’t do anything on a guitar like this. I really like this one – it feels really solid and it could become your main warhorse. There’s nothing delicate about it, even the scratch plate feels welded on.”

Be sure to pick up the new issue, and also check out the video demo below.

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