A Kool Time Was Had By All at the Gretsch Kentucky Kountry Roundup!
“When you attend one of these Gretsch Roundups, you walk away with a comradery of people who love the Gretsch brand, who love playing music with other people, who love trading and stealing licks, and who love just having fun, man. It’s a blast. What can I say?” That’s how Joe Carducci describes the Gretsch Kentucky Kountry Roundup that took place in the picturesque Appalachian Mountains of Blaine, Kentucky from October 12 to 15, 2023.
For Joe, who started heading up the Gretsch Guitar team at FMIC in 2007 (and retired in 2020 after a 47-year career at Fender), it was the 16th Roundup he’s gone to with a special group of guitar lovers who’ve attended many of the events held in Nashville. “These Roundups aren’t sponsored by Fender or Gretsch, everyone pays their own way,” says Joe. “They were started around 2005 when somebody had the idea of getting fellow Gretsch enthusiasts from the Gretsch online forums together to meet each other, share their love of the brand, and play guitars. Since then, these Forum Friends as I call them, have held Gretsch Roundups in California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nashville, Brooklyn, and even in Canada and Germany. I’m not aware of any other guitar brand that has an event like these Roundups. Like Gretsch, they’re unique…and a bit quirky.”
When asked if there’s a structure or planned agenda at these 3- or 4-day events, Joe laughs and says, “It’s a very casual structure. The only structures are when you eat and on Saturday night, when I lead some entertainment that involves a bit of fun and games, along with prizes. This year I put together and hosted a G-TV Presentation showing 10 years of Gretsch Roundup photos set to music and we played a version of “The Price Is Right” game show. Contestants had to guess the price of guitars and gear listed on Reverb and other online stores. It was hilarious and they really got into the spirit of the old Bob Barker game show. And the ladies who attended this year’s Roundup were the best players, with three making it to the final Showcase round.”
Saturday night is also reserved for the unique G-Branding Ceremony. Held outdoors around a fire pit, every Roundup attendee receives a take-home memento: a wooden plaque with a proclamation attached and the opportunity to burn an actual G Brand into the weathered wooden plank (see video below). “The guy who writes the proclamations was a college professor who is a great guitar player, a great keyboard player, and is one of the main moderators on one of the Gretsch online forums,” says Joe. “He always comes and always writes these clever, creative proclamations. Usually, the person who hosts the event reads the proclamation out loud during the G-Branding. It’s quite a unique experience to say the least, and only something Gretsch can sort of own and do.”
Although attendance was a bit down this year, Joe says he’s received a lot of emails already about the 2024 Roundup from those — both men and women — who couldn’t attend this year’s event in Kentucky. When asked why he thinks the “Forum Friends” have been organizing and attending Roundups for over 18 years, Joe shares, “Well, I’m Italian. And I always describe to people that when one Gretsch owner meets another Gretsch owner, it’s like two Italians meeting each other, you have this common thing that you’re both Italian, you know what I mean? And it’s the same with the Gretsch brand. There’s a comradery and a connection there with people from all walks of life that makes being part of the worldwide Gretsch community so special. And a lot of fun.”
To visit the Gretsch-Talk Forum, go to gretsch-talk.com.
(Another Gretsch forum, gretschpages.com, is currently down for required maintenance software updates.)
View some G Branding and the reading of the 2023 Gretsch Kentucky Kountry Roundup proclamation. Video by Olivia Anne Morris Fuchs.