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Q&A with Duane Eddy

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Fred Gretsch’s company website, Gretsch.com, recently posted a wonderful Q&A with King of Twang Duane Eddy.

In the piece, Eddy chats with interviewer Ron Denny, covering a variety of topics including his longtime career, influence on other artists, working with George Harrison, and how he feels about his Gretsch guitars.

Here’s a quick excerpt:

What circumstances led to you and George Harrison crossing paths and working together in the ’80s?

In 1986, the Art of Noise decided to do a remake of “Peter Gunn” which had been a hit for me back in 1959. So, I flew over to England with my guitar and opened up the guitar on “Peter Gunn” for the Art of Noise and it was a worldwide hit. As a result of that, I went to a few shows with them, one of which was the Montreux Rock Festival in Switzerland. Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra and I met backstage and Jeff said, “I know after this hit you’ll be doing an album and I’d love to be a part of it, whatever you’d like me to do. Write, play, produce, anything I can do to help. I’d love to do a few tracks with you.” And I said, ”Okay, I’ll keep that in mind,” and took his number.

Sure enough, later that year I got an album deal with Capital Records. So I did a couple tracks with the Art of Noise, one with Ry Cooder, and then I called Jeff Lynne and said, “Well you were right, I got the album deal. Do you still want to work on some things?” He says, “I would love to Duane, but I’m working with George Harrison at the moment on his new album.” He says, “I’m just all wrapped up in that and I wouldn’t be able to.” I said, “Fine, no problem.”

I hung up and forgot about it. Twenty minutes later the phone rings and he says, “It’s Jeff. Well, I told George we were talking and I told him you just called me and asked me to help with the album, and George wants to put his album on hold and do yours, do a couple of tracks with you.” I said, “Great, we’ll be over next week.”

This was on your 1987 Duane Eddy album?

Yes. My wife Deed and I, and my ’57 Gretsch, flew over and went to George’s house and recorded three tracks with George. One of them was a song that Ravi Shankar had hummed to him. It had a flat note at the end and George said, “That’s the greatest note I ever heard.”  I said, “Yeah, that’s very interesting.” So I took that line and finished writing that part, then put in a middle part which was not weird, but rather ordinary and common to offset that weird part, and it became “The Trembler.” It was used in Natural Born Killers in a real dark scene with tumbleweeds blowing and rattlesnakes and a dust storm and all that. It was very effective.

You’re so strongly identified with your ’57 6120. How do you feel when you see another Gretsch?

Basically I just love them and it’s like coming home. It’s like seeing a family member. I don’t care where it is, if it’s in a pawnshop or a guy’s house. I’m immediately drawn to it, especially if it’s a hollow body. And, when I see a 6120, I wonder if it’s as good as my ’57, if it has that same slim neck.

Read the full piece here, and be sure to also check out a journal entry by Fred Gretsch about his relationship with Eddy here.

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Black Veil’s Andy Black Releases New Video

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Black Veil Brides singer Andy Biersack has been working on a new solo project called Andy Black and his debut album, The Shadow Side, is slated for a May 6 release.

But fans are already getting an advance sampling with the new video for its lead single “We Don’t Have to Dance.”

Biersack has stated that his Andy Black music tends to be poppier than his work with Black Veil Brides, joking that it’s been described as “goth Springsteen,” and we see some of that goth vibe in the new clip. Shot in dramatic black and white, Biersack sings the catchy tune as we see alternating scenes of him in leather threads overlooking the Hollywood Hills, performing with his band or surrounded by women or booze.

Produced by John Feldmann, The Shadow Side is expected to include collaborations with Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, Gerard Way, Good Charlotte’s Joel Madden, 5 Seconds of Summer’s Ashton Irwin and All Time Low’s Rian Dawson.

Enjoy the video below, and pre-order the album here!

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Gretsch Parties at SXSW with Brooklyn Vegan

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Brooklyn Vegan hosted an excellent three-day SXSW showcase at Cheer Up Charlies in Austin, Texas, and Gretsch was grateful to partner with the indie music blog to host the artist lounge area.

The venue provided an indoor and outdoor stage of non-stop music from noon until six to keep concert goers energized with plenty of options to suit all tastes.

Festivities kicked off into high gear on the outdoor stage on Thursday with White Reaper, a garage punk band from Louisville, Ky. Their set was followed up by another punk act, Plague Vendor, who gripped their audience with a very theatrical performance from singer Brandon Blaine. The punk momentum continued with Mean Jeans followed by Radioactivity, who both offered up a lighter pop-punk, Ramones-like vibe. Pop band Turnover and rock band Citizen, who share the same label, brought an interesting twist before handing it over to hardcore act Power Trip, who ended the day with an explosive show that engaged a riotous audience in moshing and crowd surfing.

Meanwhile, the indoor stage showcased an eclectic set of musicians that ranged from pop to folk to country to well, hard to classify. Kansas-based pop band Your Friend began the event, playing tracks from debut album Domino followed by Julia Jacklin, a folk rock newcomer from Australia, who was joined by a three-piece ensemble. After Jacklin, came Canadian country singer Danial Romano, who has been challenging genre boundaries lately. As the day progressed, the bands became more varied and included, Little Scream, Ezra Furman, PWR BTTM, Spookyland, and finally, Sorority Noise.

Friday’s party started off strong with two groups from Israel, Vaadat Charigim and Ninet Tayeb. We couldn’t help but notice Tayeb’s very talented and spirited guitarist, who stole the show with his excellent skills on a bright orange Gretsch Chet Atkins model. Other notable performances include feminist punk quartet Tacocat, Pennsylvania duo Slingshot Dakota, American rock band Pinegrove, and singer/songwriters Margaret Glaspy and Kevin Morby.

Already getting buzz, Seattle’s Car Seat Headrest gained even more traction with eight concerts during the SXSW festival. They began their sixth performance by opening Saturday’s party, and we were happy to loan lead singer Will Toledo a Gretsch G65439 Pro Silver Jet we had onsite. The excellent set included songs, “Ending of Dramamine,” “Vincent,” “Drunk Drivers,” “Unforgiving Girl”and “Stop Smoking.”

Saturday’s outdoor stage included sets by Diet Cig of New York, Alex Luciano, Pure Bathing Culture, Fear of Men, Le1f, Julien Baker, Into It. Over It. and Protomartyr.

Inside acts included Lucy Dacus, Girls Names, Guerilla Toss, Big Thief, Gwenno, Japanese Breakfast, Margo Price, and Mothers. Price, a country artist from Nashville signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records label drew a heck of a crowd, including comedian Bill Murray who came to the venue just to check out her set.

During the event, Gretsch set up a special selection of guitars in the artist tent. It was the perfect retreat for the talent to sit back, relax, plug-in, and talk tech. Not only did we host the Brooklyn Vegan lineup, but we were also treated to surprise pop-ins from many artists including The Big Pink, Everything, Everything and Bob Moses.

Canadian country artist Corb Lund also dropped in with his Gretsch Setzer Hot Rod, which he’s made some interesting mods to. We’ll bring you that interview in the coming weeks.

Gretsch was honored to participate in a monumental affair with Brooklyn Vegan to support live music. Be on the lookout for the lucky grand prize winner of the Gretsch Streamliner guitar we offered up to those who RSVP’d to the Brooklyn Vegan parties.

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The Cult Headline Austin City Limits Live During SXSW

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The Cult headlined the Austin City Limits Live set at the Moody Theater late Friday night playing for a packed SXSW crowd looking to end their music-filled day with a bang, and Billy Duffy and crew did not disappoint.

While lightning raged outdoors, cancelling many SXSW showcases, the groundbreaking band entertained the indoor masses at the premier venue with songs from their recent release Hidden City, including “Dark Energy,” “Hinterland” and “Birds of Paradise.” They also mixed it up with classics “She Sells Sanctuary,” “Sweet Soul Sister,” “Lil’ Devil” and “Wildflower.”

In addition to The Cult’s epic performance, the crowd was treated to several supporting acts, including the Joe Scarborough Band, the New Regime featuring Ilan Rubin (drummer NIN, Paramore), Fantastic Negrito, and Blue October.

The Cult’s U.S. tour continues through April. Check out their tour dates here.

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Israel Nash Hosts Triumphant ‘Live From the Hills with Love’ During SXSW

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“A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet,” Israel Nash told those who had gathered out at his Plum Creed Sound studios in Dripping Springs, Texas, on Thursday for “Live From the Hills With Love,” an afternoon of good old southern hospitality, outstanding performances and free beer.

About 45 minutes away from the madness of South by Southwest musical festival in what’s called Texas Hill Country, sits Nash’s labor of love.  And for those who scored a ticket to the intimate hang and ventured down an old gravel road to the studios on the side of a hill to watch sets by Nash, Bee Caves, Kirby Brown, T. Hardy Morris, Eric Pulido (Midlake), Matthew Logan Vasquez and the Wild Reeds, they were definitely treated as newfound friends by a very welcoming host.

Originally from the Ozarks in Missouri, Nash and his wife transplanted to the Austin area from New York in 2011, after falling in love with the scene during the annual SXSW fest.

Critically-acclaimed 2013 breakthrough album Rain Plans was inspired by country life on his new 15-acre ranch, and Nash and his top-notch band  (comprised by Joey McCllelan on guitar, Eric Swanson on pedal steel, Aaron McCllelan on bass and John Fleischman on drums) made sure to perform a few of its tracks during their Thursday night headlining set. Rootsy sing-along number “Rexanimarum” earned instant cheers from the crowd with its downright country lyrics:  “Oh, my baby, settle in. Take your worries and put fire to them. Pour me out just like sour wine. Got the money if you got the time.”

Nash shared stories throughout the set, revealing the stress and team effort that went into converting an old barn into a studio to record 2015’s Silver Season, a masterful blend of psychedelia and country that was produced by Grammy-award winner Ted Young (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth).

As Nash recalled, just as everyone had arrived to get to work on the album in May 2015, Austin was pummeled with historic flooding, and instead of laying down tracks, the guys were sandbagging and building a trench around the studio.

And although rain drizzled for most of Thursday morning, there was nothing but blue skies and a glorious sunset as Nash and company immersed themselves and the audience in Silver Season cosmic-sounding cut “Strangers,” the beautiful harmony-soaked “LA Lately” and the Neil Young-ish like ode “Parlour Song,” which Nash was inspired to write after the Sandy Hook shooting.

Nash’s on-stage swagger is undeniable, yet he also showcased a special humility and true appreciation for his family, bandmates and the fellow artists who came out to play sets throughout the afternoon.

The intimate event felt every bit like a communal and triumphant celebration for Plum Creek Sound, and indeed, if you arrived a stranger, you felt like you left as a friend.

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We missed catching Kirby Brown’s live set, but we sure enjoyed the Texas-born, New York based artist’s front porch pickin’ and strummin’ on our Gretsch Roots Honey Dipper Resonator.

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Eric Pulido of Midlake has been working on a debut album with newly formed supergroup Banquet, featuring fellow Midlake bandmates McKenzie Smith, Joey McClellan and Jesse Chandler, as well as Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell, Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos, Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle and Travis’ Fran Healy.

Joined by McClellan (on a striking Silver Jet) and Chandler on keys/flute, Pulido gave a sneak peek of one of their new songs, recorded a few hours away in Denton, Texas, and well, let’s just say, we can’t wait until the album drops.

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Matthew Logan Vasquez of Delta Spirit, who is a fellow Texas Hill Country, played what he introduced as a “long song about doing drugs, finding religion, moving back to Austin, and meeting his wife in Fresno.” He wasn’t kidding about the long – the song sprawled  a good 15-20 minutes.

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T. Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate) kept it simple, just a man and his guitar as he played songs off his 2015 album Drownin On a Mountaintop, which was described by Pitchfork aswild, prickly, and unsentimental. The twang remains, but this time grunge and punk are the driving impulses.”

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