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Kids Learn About Making Music Hands-On at New Interactive Gretsch Family Gallery


Innovative exhibit teaches young visitors how to record and write songs, be a performer and more; class and group tours encouraged

Youngsters can record a song, mix a band, learn how hits are written and hear working musicians, band managers and other industry professionals talk about their jobs at the  Dinah and Fred Gretsch Family Gallery at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Located within the Taylor Swift Educational Center — which includes a replica of Swift’s tour bus – the Gallery provides a close-up, top-to-bottom look at the process of creating music that’s geared to youthful learners, using artifacts from the Museum’s collection and such learning tools as a giant guitar, touchscreens and a do-it-yourself studio were young visitors can record and mix tracks.

Student and youth groups interested in visiting the Dinah and Fred Gretsch Family Gallery and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum can call 800-852-6437 for information and group reservations.

The gallery was created through a generous donation by Gretsch Company president Fred Gretsch and his wife Dinah, who is the historic guitar-and-drum builder’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, through the Gretsch Foundation, which funds a plurality of concerts and music education initiatives.

“The museum needed a new and exciting interactive gallery that connects visitors with the creative process – from recording to packaging music,”  says the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s vice president of museum services Carolyn Tate. “The Dinah and Fred Gretsch Gallery is that space, bringing to life the Gretsch’s long-time commitment to music education for the benefit of our over 900,000 annual visitors.”

The seed for the gallery was planted when the Gretsch family became involved in the curation of the Museum’s “Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player” exhibit in 2011. But its conception and construction required two years and input from many sources, including educational experts. It was determined that interactive experiences, contemporary stories and the ability to make things should be at the core of the gallery, which also covers multiple genres.

“An effort was also made to illustrate that there are many ways to be creative within music, beyond being an artist,” says Tate.

The Gretsch Family Gallery’s activities and exhibits — which include historic instruments — are tied together by nine stations with touchscreens where students can learn about songwriting, music business jobs, awards, design, costumes, recording, cross-genre collaborations and more. At one station, working professionals from all aspects of the music business explain their jobs via video presentations. Completing each station’s activities earns a badge. After collecting all nine badges visitors are “Certified Country.”

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Fred and Dinah Gretsch Receive Georgia Governor’s Award


Governor Nathan Deal, Dinah and Fred Gretsch and Sandra Deal

Governor Nathan Deal, Dinah and Fred Gretsch and Sandra Deal

Earlier this week, Fred and Dinah Gretsch (president and CFO, respectively, of The Gretsch Company) were honored as recipients of the third annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities.

Presented by the Office of The Governor in partnership with the Georgia Council for the Arts and the Georgia Humanities Council, the award recognized the Gretsches for their significant contributions to Georgia’s civic and cultural vitality through service to the humanities or excellence in the arts. The awards program was held at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta.

“It was a special pleasure to meet with first lady Sandra Deal,” said Fred Gretsch. “She has visited schools in every county in Georgia promoting education—and Georgia has the most counties of any state in the union. In keeping with our personal goal of ‘enriching lives through participation in music,’ we’d love to see Georgia step forward as the most musical state in the USA!”

Following the ceremony, a reception for award recipients and their guests was held in the Capitol Rotunda, where Gretsch artist “Hot Rod Walt” provided entertainment.

Hot Rod Walt

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How the Gretsch Bi-Plane Was Built


A longtime woodworking enthusiast, Gretsch Master Builder Stephen Stern does not just make some of the most beautiful and painstakingly-crafted guitars.

Recently, Stern built a biplane to live in the Gretsch Custom Shop in Corona, Calif., complete with the iconic Gretsch logo and a striking orange color.

The plane is made of balsa wood and is covered with tissue paper, and Stern himself estimates that it took between 75-100 hours to build.

Just how did this beauty come to fruition?  Luckily, Stern documented the entire process, which you can watch below.

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Parade Interviews Fred Gretsch About Beatlemania


Fred GretschFifty years ago, on Feb. 9, 1964, the Beatles made their U.S. television debut appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. With George Harrison rocking a Gretsch Duo Jet that night, business skyrocketed for Gretsch guitars.

President and CEO Fred Gretsch recently spoke with Parade about how Beatlemania transformed his family-owned company.

“Overnight, thousands of garage bands were created that wanted to emulate the Beatles…[Demand] went up 25 percent,” said Gretsch. “You know, the baby boom generation was teenagers at that point in time. Rock and roll had begun mid-’50s [and] was gaining steam, [so] everybody was prepped and focused on the Beatles when they arrived…everybody was ready for them.”

Read the full interview here.

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50 Years Ago: The Beatles—and Gretsch—on The Ed Sullivan Show


The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show three times in February 1964. George Harrison (center) is seen here with the Gretsch Country Gentleman model he played during the historic television performances. Photo courtesy Getty Images.

Has it really been 50 years?

Seemingly incredibly, it has. And you could make a compelling case that the 1960s actually started on the evening of Feb. 9, 1964. That’s when the Beatles made their historic U.S. television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, drawing the largest viewing audience in the history of the medium at the time (73 million people—nearly half the nation—tuned in to the telecast).

President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated only 10 weeks earlier, and the still-stunned country was in a grim and uncertain mood. Who would’ve expected that a much-needed lift in spirits was imminent, winging its way across the pond on Pan Am flight 101 from London?

Two days before that first Ed Sullivan Show appearance, on the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 7, 3,000 screaming teenagers who were supposed to be at school that day mobbed Kennedy International Airport in New York. They were there to greet the Beatles on their first U.S. visit, a whirlwind two weeks that saw the group make two live appearances on Sullivan’s show; one in New York and one in Miami (the Beatles also taped a third appearance to be aired later that month). The group was topping the U.S. charts, general pandemonium surrounded them wherever they went, and the Beatlemania that had already swept across the U.K. now morphed into a potent new U.S. strain.

For their debut appearance on his show, Sullivan cannily had the Beatles perform twice—three songs at the beginning (“All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” “She Loves You”) and two at the end (“I Saw Her Standing There,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand”), presumably to ensure that his audience watched the entire hour-long show. The cameras seemed to spend as much time on the surging throng of screaming teenagers in the audience of CBS TV Studio 50, where the show took place, as they did on the group.

Nobody had ever seen (or heard) anything like it. By the time the broadcast ended an hour later, something fundamental had changed not just there in New York, but across the nation. The rest is well-documented history, but you very well might be able to say that with that one raucous event, the 1960s started in earnest between 8 and 9 p.m. on Feb. 9, 1964. (more…)

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