Meet & Greet

Moments, Memories, & Magic: Nashville Roundup ‘09

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The 2nd Annual Nashville Gretsch Roundup was held Friday, October 16 through Sunday, October 18, 2009 at Hachland Hills Vineyard and Farms outside Joelton, TN. It was attended by 20-some Gretsch forum members, including Fred Gretsch, Marketing Manager Joe Carducci, Kim Falcon, Steven Stern of the Gretsch Custom Shop, GDP owner Tim Baxter – as well as friends and a spouse or two of members.

A full slate of activities and presentations fit into hours of non-stop jamming and visits.

This thread continues on from coverage already underway in the pre-event planning thread, here, and serves as a central point of coverage for readers coming in from GretschGear.com, as well as for GDP folks.

Audio files are available here.


Thanks for the memories.

I've heard it said, or read somewhere, that the purpose of parenting (and maybe grandparenting) is to create memories - and the better, the better.

Somehow that principle comes to mind in connection with the 2nd Annual Nashville Gretsch Roundup. For one thing, there's certainly a lot of family vibe in the event. There is, of course, the "brotherhood" of musicians in general and Gretschitude in specific, along with the multi-generational span of the folks involved, from Miss Phila calling us all her children, to Fred Gretsch the patriarch quietly and graciously taking us into his extended family, to the wide range of Gretsch players attending, to young Dylan tapping the veins of guitar tradition the old guys represent.

But more than all that, if life is about storing up good memories, then the weekend past stuffed the larders full. Good music, good times, good learning experiences, distinctly out-of-the-ordinary activities, and the open generosity (not least of spirit and time) of everyone involved are all stirred into the mix.

Those of us who have been to roundups had our expectations, and were not disappointed. Much was formally planned: the presentations, the giveaway, the communal meals, the branding ceremony, some performances. Those things all came off as well as the planners could reasonably have hoped. Other elements could not be planned – the damp, chilly weather, the mud, one guy's sudden inspiration to kick the branding up a notch – and these unpredictable elements were just as crucial to the character of an unforgettable weekend packed with magic moments.

In the end, though, it's really about the people. Despite what we know, or think we know, about forum members based on our online interaction, the flesh-and-blood reality is always a bit different, and richer. I don't know ANYone who's been to a roundup who came away with a worse impression of a member than they had before. Being there, as a part of the group, creates new understandings and a common bond. You leave knowing that all these people – from Fred to the guy who came at the last minute, on a whim, with his buddy – have the kind of deep and immediate friendship that comes from having shared something extraordinary.


The coverage that follows is necessarily from one guy's point of view. It can't be anything like complete without the input of the other fellers. Several better photographers than I were at work, at least one pro videographer captured some great stuff, and Curt recorded audio with a pair of mics and a pro recorder nearly all the time - all of which will be linked in due time.

Thanks also to SuprDave5150 and Paj for lending me their photos. (If it matters who took what, you can click on a pic and get its properties; if the prefix is "DM" it's SuprDaves; JdV is Paj. My pics have no prefix.)

And with that, on with the show...

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Getting there...

Yes, it's the customary travelogue.

The first Nashville Roundup, held in June '08, featured fabulously sunny (and amazingly, sweat-pie hot) weather.

When we planned for mid-October in Tennessee, we knew there was a chance the weather could be problematic. I figured a 30% chance it would be too cold, a 10% chance it would be too hot, and 60% that we'd have 60s. Rain, I figured a 30% chance.

Yeah, well.

I left from a job in Princeton, IN around noon on Friday, on US 41. (A sew-on Gretsch patch for the first person to come up with rock lyrics which refer to that highway.) Temperature was 43°, and the atmosphere had turned liquid.

Rain came in whut we-all call fits-n-starts the whole way, past the Toyota plant south of Princeton, the semis, the power plants, the white cows, the radio towers, and right on into Nashville...

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"Ramblin' Man" by the Allman Brothers. Course that 'Greyhound bus' didn't have a Nocturne pedal (or Dyna carcass) on the dash.

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Alex, tommy failed to answer the question. The correct answer is:

Well my father was a gambler down in georgia, He wound up on the wrong end of a gun. And I was born in the back seat of a greyhound bus Rollin down highway 41.

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Friday Setup

Before I even arrived, SuprDave5150 (who figures prominently in the weekend's narrative) call me cell to ask if "that little barn down by the stream" was really the place, because there was no one there yet. He and his wife Karolyn had driven on up the narrow hilly past the barn through the woods to an overgrown field (which surely makes him the first Roundedupper to take THAT adventure, but Dave is fairly...let's say fearless).

I assured him all was well, and by the time I got there less than an hour later, a couple other fellers had pre-arrived and were waiting in Miss Phila's warm fire-lit parlor - but hadn't been down the hill to the barn yet.

It's hard to explain Hachland Hills Farms - or is it Hachland Hills Vineyard? Or Spring Creek Inn? The problem is that the place bears ALL those names. More precisely, various structures on Phila's property bear those names.

But there really is a vineyard, and it comprises the front yard of what we might call the "main lodge" which houses the parlor, kitchen, dining room, a gorgeous wood-paneled boardroom downstairs, a smallish party room on the main floor, and a warren of bedrooms on the main and second floors.

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Then you take the famously long, narrow lane down the hill to Spring Creek Inn (which we called "the cabin"), and a bit beyond it, across what must actually be Spring Creek, "the barn." (Itself bearing a "Hachland Farms" sign.) Confused? It makes perfect sense if you make the trip.

So here ya go - make the drive with me:
Down the lane and through the creek, to Phila's place we go...

Note: video shot Sunday morning. Blue skies...


The creek...the gazebo...the barn...

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See those sheep? They're outstanding in their field.

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Them is nawt sheep, councillor. Them is Kentucky Kows.

And I'll take both answers to the question, but Tommy gets extra credit for identifying the dashboard appliances.

Then I take Ric12's patch away, not for mis-ID'ing the cows, but for cheesoid humor.

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Fabulous coverage as usual, Protey et al.

Ric12string is disqualified for reciting horrid old puns to his imaginary friend Alex.

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Gee, puny little cows back there in Kentucky! They look like sheep from here.

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Great stuff... looks like such a fantastic setting.

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Names and Faces

Before proceeding with the people part of our presentation, the obligatory group shot – so's I don't have to caption every pic...

(Click for the big version where folks are actually visible - and a mug shot gallery MAY be coming to this location later.)

Back Row, L-R
Dave, paj, Nobody, Warren Wolf, Curt, Baxter, mauser, TartanPhantom, J.R., Dylan, Steven Stern, LiRM35, Steve-the-Bassman

Front Row, L-R
57Chet, FrequentFlyer909, Joe Carducci, Fred Gretsch, Proteus, redrocker, Brian_66, fieldhdj, Suprdave5150

Slackers not shown: Kim Falcon, Karolyn SuprDave, Angel

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Love the video, Proteus. That really gives us a great sense as to the way the place is laid out and conveys a bit of the atmosphere as well. Looks like a fun place to hang out.

On another note, aren't those propane heaters the things that kill people at night? Everybody was breathing okay in the mornings?

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Please tell me please you somewhere in the archive of clips and videos and such have something running thru Dylan's Executive with that Nocturne pushing the frontend! This bug started eating at the back of my brain working it's way forward to the front! I gotz ta know!

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I would also enjoy hearing the amplifier that Josh built for Curt at some point...hopefully someone got that on video or audio recording.

Oh yeah, +1 for Bax's shirt! Very cool, Tim. BTW, you were looking a bit bleary-eyed there, ol' Bax.

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I do have audio of Nocturne through the Josh-Curt amp (an aMAAAzing beast, more of which to come) - but not through the Exec. I'm a failure, I tell you!

Speaking of other failures, I don't think anyone else played the white Dyna Gent. I didn't think to put it in anyone's hands, and no one asked...either no one was interested, no one wanted to take responsibility for handling a one-off guitar, or they thought I'd be reluctant.

I wouldn't have been, though - I'd intended for EVERYone to play it. How else am I gonna get some momentum to have it made into a production model?

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Upon entering the hallowed hall of the tobacco barn, the first thing I noticed was my breath - which was as visible as the atmosphere outside.

Suprdave had already toted in his PA system and other gear, AND fired up a fine and friendly propane space heater, which was doing its best...


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By 5:00, Joe and Steven Stern had flown in (yes, Ric12, their arms were tired), and, considering that we comprised a quorum, we old-ladied around about whether, in view of the weather, we should keep the barn as our base of operations. We inspected the lovely boardroom and party rooms in the lodge - and they would have provided a great location, with their own vibe.

The thing about a tobacco barn is that it has the high ceilings where the tobacco used to hang. And there's a reason you can see light betwixt the boards. (It's not because suthnuhs are tew dumb to caulk the holes, neither.) It's to facilitate airflow and the gradual drying of the one-time money crop.

But the picturesque construction wasn't doing us any favors. It was high-40s in the barn, even with SuprDave's Heater going, and didn't promise to get much warmer.

So we waffled. Some of us dillied, and some of us dallied. In the end, Joe encouraged us all to man up like real cowboys and embrace the hardship. The Nashville Roundup is about THE BARN, and muddy parking and see-yer-breath atmosphere notwithstanding, a vote established that the barn it would be. The too-cool of this year's event balanced the too-hot of last year's, and whatever doesn't kill us makes us...you know...right?

Thus, in fairly short order, the PA and keyboard rigs were assembled, Paj's drumset deployed, and Curt's, Bax's, Dylan's, and Warren Wolf's guitar amps arrayed. Guitars were ferried to the upper room for safe storage till needed.

Meantime, Steven Stern, LiRM35, and SuprDave gathered 'round the ol' fireplace to assemble a couple of Gretsch stools.

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Proteus: said: I do have audio of Nocturne through the Josh-Curt amp (an aMAAAzing beast, more of which to come) - but not through the Exec. I'm a failure, I tell you! Speaking of other failures, I don't think anyone else played the white Dyna Gent. I didn't think to put it in anyone's hands, and no one asked...either no one was interested, no one wanted to take responsibility for handling a one-off guitar, or they thought I'd be reluctant. I wouldn't have been, though - I'd intended for EVERYone to play it. How else am I gonna get some momentum to have it made into a production model?

Just be glad I wasn't there I would absconded that beast for a year.........plus! Buddy!

You know Curt's amp is just fine! That bug stopped nawling for awhile.

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Continued Friday night setup & jams...

With so much going on, and as I felt as much like a participant as a reporter on this gig, I didn't attend to taking pictures and notes as carefully as I should have - and can't report definitively on who played what with whom and when.

SuprDave's and Paj's pics fill in, and Curt's will be available as well, along with his audio. I'm hoping that will tell the story.

Before the jams, Friday night supper was a cookout prepared on the patio of Spring Creek Inn, aka the cabin, with ingredients sourced by Nobody and a charcoal grill ably manned by SuprDave. The hot dogs and hamburgers were among the best I ever had, and little did we all realize how SuprDave's relationship with fire would flare up a scant 24 hours later...

We generally ate while standing around in the kitchen and little dining room of the cabin (a bit chilly still, as none of us had thought to look for a thermostat...); it was especially nice to chat with Steven Stern and get a sense of his job at Gretsch, and his background and interests.

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And after the jams (till at least 1 in the A of M), those who were staying in the main bunkhouse caught rides up the hill, and the rest bedded down in the cabin. I had the same room as last year, looking out over the stream and toward the barn, hearing the rustle of wind and the patter of rain.

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Suddenly it was morning...

but not much warmer, and only marginally drier, than the previous evening.

All, however, was warmth and goodwill at Phila's dining table, with the dinner bell ringing at 8:30. (Yes, literally.)


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Bacon, grits, biscuits (with molasses if needed), hard-boiled eggs, sausage, grape juice...if I recall correctly.

During breakfast we laid out a possible/probable schedule for the day:

9:30 - 12:30: Open season jams in the barn, and Tartan Phantom's Replace-the-Pickups-in-Brian66's-Electromatic workshop at the cabin
12:30: Lunch at the lodge
2:00: The Proteus Project (Prot & Steve-the-bassist) (barn) 2:45: Nobody's Theory seminar (barn)
3:30 - 6:00: Open season jams (barn)
3:00: Warren Wolf's Fingerpicking Seminar (cabin)
4:30: Proteus Playing with Pedals (cabin)

Some of this schedule kinda held, and we trekked to the barn to get started.


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Warren Wolf and RedRocker offered up an impromptu run of classic 50s tunes in the rock & roll and rockabilly vein for Saturday morning listening. Both apparently have an extensive knowledge of the repertoire, and both delivered convincing vocals and fine period guitar in structured arrangements that made the most of the backing band - which included Steve-the-bassman, a rotation of Mauser, Dylan, and Paj on the Gretsch drums.

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I sat in on piano and organ. In other lifetimes I've played hundreds of hours of such material as a backing keyboard utility guy, and the style came back - though the chops were pretty lame. Right wrist suffered quick fatigue, and hand independence seemed a fond memory.

BUT - in such multi-player jams, less is quite often much more, and the secret is to find a simple part that contributes, and that someone else isn't playing, and to support the song. I aimed for that, anyway.

Nobody grabbed the keyboard throne from me (it was his piano after all, and he's a REAL piano player), and he and Steve-the-bassman lit into some gen-u-wine supper club jazz that sounded fine in the morning as well. I switched over to some lead noodling, and Curt joined in for some rhythm.

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Moving in Stereo

Before relinquishing the jam corner, I dragged out one of my surprises – my 6122-62 DUAL STEREO Country Gent.

Of course there's no such thing. But I'd wangled a set of stereo Filtertrons from our friend Mr. Jones, and put my local guitar guy, Dave Baas of Roadworthy Guitars in Bloomington, to the task of figuring out and installing a wiring scheme. The job was just done Wednesday, and this was literally my first chance to try the guitar.

Without adding any knobs or switches, Dave gave me three different stereo options:
1 - Neck bass strings (4-5-6) through one output and bridge treble strings (1-2-3) through the other;
2 - Bridge bass strings through A and neck treble through B;
3 - Entire neck pup to A, entire bridge pup to B.

No tone controls, master volume and kill switch are inactive, and pickups are switched on and off with their own volume knobs.

After I made some sense of this, and tweaked a pair of amps for complementary tone for each output (Warren's Vibrolux and Curt's Lawrenceville), the guitar started producing some grins as basslines popped out on this side, and melodies on the other.

It didn't take me long to exhaust my fangerpackin' chops, and I turned the guitar over to Warren – who plugged a slapback delay into the bass side and had a blast. Audio and video are coming. It's truly impressive what a good fingerstyle player can do with such a setup – and Warren was quick to hear and gleefully exploit the possibilities.

(Now since there are TWO stereo pickups, I'm thinking...QUAD, baby! Four amps! Four effects chains! Four loopers!)

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QUAD and FOUR LOOPERS!.... I have to change my shorts.. be right back!

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In the meantime...have you had your Vitamin G today?

This new product was introduced at breakfast, and the proprietor did a brisk souvenir business for the rest of the weekend at a mere buck each...

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Looks like a great time. Are novice noodlers welcome at these events?

I'm impressed that Messrs. Gretsch & Carducci, & Ms. Kim Falcon, attend these get-togethers. What an amazing way to instill loyalty in the Gretsch guitar brand.

Proteus, you look familiar. Did you attend a Johnny A demo/clinic at the Woodwind & Brasswind music store in South Bend, IN about a year and a half ago?

You resemble a guy who stood near me, in the back, & asked Johnny if he had considered performing at a CAAS event.

If I recall correctly, the fellow next to me was the only person attending that night who didn't need to use the microphone that was being passed around, in order to have his question audible to all in the large, open room . . .

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Joe Warms the Place Up

We couldn't, and didn't, expect SuprDave's heater to warm the whole outdoors (though it served admirably as a pot-bellied stove) - and it was out of propane by morning.

However.

Joe Do-It-Right-or-Don't-Do-It Carducci had scouted around and found a truly industrial 130,000 BTU propane heater of the sort used to heat the lawn tents of Nashvul Society Debutantes who inSIST on having their weddings in November.

He and a crack crew of GDP assistants wheeled it in sometime before lunch, and set it up on the porch with its duct tucked inside a door. We stuffed the gap with packing materials from the extensive swag shipment, and fired it up.

Yeah! In short order the chill had been lifted, and no one could credibly use cold fingers as an excuse for their playing anymore...

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And the jams heated up along with the barn...


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