A Gretsch “Country” Thanksgiving…at the Country Music Hall of Fame
On Monday, November 20, nearly two dozen members of the extended Gretsch family gathered at the landmark Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum in Nashville to spend time together at a pre-Thanksgiving luncheon.
“It was a pre-Thanksgiving thank-you to some special guests and artists who were in town,” said Fred Gretsch, president of The Gretsch Company and luncheon host.
The Donor Lounge at the Country Music Hall of Fame bustled with excitement as old friends caught up, shared memories, and expressed gratitude for “That Great Gretsch Sound” that has been a part of their own music for the last 135 years.
Dinah and Fred Gretsch are honored to have several “Certified Guitar Players” as part of the Gretsch family. Only five guitar players in the world share the coveted title of CGP, a title that was coined by the late great Chet Atkins to describe an artist who personified the ultimate in performance skill and musical quality. Three of those five were represented at Monday’s get-together: Tommy Emmanuel, with his wife Clara and their daughter Rachel; John Knowles; and the family of the late Paul Yandell–his wife Marie, son Micah Yandell, and Micah’s wife Sheri.
Mr. Gretsch expressed his gratitude for these “vignettes of coincidence and longevity.”
Other artist-cameos included Nashville Symphony Orchestra percussionist Sam Bacco and legendary guitarist and the “King of Twang” Duane Eddy with his wife Deed. Also in attendance were musician/producer Shawn Williams and master builder Chip Ellis and their wives.
Gary Forkum and Jack Gavin, two percussionists who are passionate about sharing their love of music with the next generation, enjoyed the opportunity to catch up. Gary is the owner of Forks Drum Closet–premier Gretsch drums dealer known for stocking more Gretsch sets, snares, and parts than anyone else. Jack Gavin, who has been a Gretsch endorser for over 30 years, was the first drum instructor in residence at Fork’s Drum Closet. Jack is an independent drummer and Lipscomb University professor who shares the Gretsch family traditions with his students in Lipscomb University’s Contemporary Music program.
Michael Bonagura of Baillie and the Boys and Jeff Hanna of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band brought their children to the gathering. Both Alyssa Bonagura and Jaime Hanna carry on the Gretsch family tradition in their personal careers. Alyssa Bonagura is a singer-songwriter and in The Sisterhood Band along with friend Ruby Stewart, the daughter of Rod Stewart. Jaime Hanna is a multi-talented musician and singer-songwriter.
Gretsch has played a part in the music industry for the last 135 years. Gretsch traditions carry from generation to generation through the music created on Gretsch instruments. Music, family, and the longevity of relationships are among the many blessings the Gretsches count this holiday season.
Mr. Gretsch expressed his “appreciation for the people who have been a part of our community for such a long, long time.”
This holiday season, it is family for whom all are most thankful. The Gretsches have a sincere gratitude for every member of the extended Gretsch family and worldwide community throughout the 135-year history of the Gretsch Company.
— Cheyenne Gavin
Photos: Ed Rode.