THE STORY BEHIND CREATING "THE MOST PROGRESSIVE ARTIST COMMUNITY IN THE GUITAR WORLD"
Although FRETMONKEY™ RECORDS formed in late 2015 as an audio and music video production studio in Conway, Arkansas by Kevin Blake Goodwin and his family (Dennis and Alicia Cotabish), it was an inspired vision of uniting independent, talented musicians across the globe under one collaborative artist community that led to the unique formation of FRETMONKEY™ and FRETMONKEY RECORDS. What Goodwin found were 22 other award-winning and notable musicians spanning 10 countries who felt exactly the same way. The concept evolved and their efforts resulted in a one-of-a-kind, innovative artist community where the artists informed the decision-making and operations of the community, and are not bound to traditional label contracts that may prevent them from accepting other opportunities. With the premise that they are collectively stronger as a community of musicians rather than as solo independent artists, their mission is to capitalize on their collective voice to create career-changing opportunities for themselves and to create similar opportunities for Do-It-Yourself (DIY) musicians across the globe.
Fretmonkey founding members are Don Alder (winner of all top modern guitar competitions), Gary Lutton (winner of the UK-based televised competition Guitar Star), Jake Hertzog (winner of the Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition), Manan Gupta (winner of the prestigious international Lee Ritenour’s Six String Theory Competition), Travis Bowman (winner of the national Ernie Ball Acoustic Prodigy contest, and Walnut Valley - Winfield International Fingerstyle Guitar Competition), Kevin Blake Goodwin, Justin St- Pierre and Jamie Dupuis (winners of the international Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar Competition), and Ali Deniz Kardelen (Indiana Fingerstyle Guitar champion). Fretmonkey Records also represents acclaimed musicians like Adrian Bellue, Adam Crossman, Aaron Edward, Haythem Mohammed, Raf Qu, Oscar Mendez, Geordie Little, Anthony Troy, Joseph Lyle, Jacob Quistgaard (aka Quist; lead guitarists for the legendary Bryan Ferry), Kris Schulz, and singer-songwriter R&B sensation Tyler Sellers (winner of the junior division of the national Alchemy Singer-Songwriting competition).
Led by the company's owner, Alicia Cotabish, Fretmonkey has emerged as the organized international community of fingerstyle guitar players and has expanded it the company's branding across the globe. In 2019, Mark Grover was named Fretmonkey Manager and Director of Community Outreach. Other instrumental staff members are Bo Zhang, the manager of operation of Fretmonkey China, and Owen Kirshner (Kirschner Creative Artists) and Elliot Prestwich (Image Punch Entertainment) whose expertise in artist management and in the entertainment industry have been a guiding force since Fretmonkey's inception.
Since 'organized community' is the main focus of FRETMONKEY, the vision has expanded to include partnerships with music manufacturers and collaborative partnerships which has resulted in the creation of international monthly events like the Belfast Acoustic Guitar Night, Berlin Acoustic Guitar Night, Manchester Guitar Night, Colombia Guitar Night, and Edinburgh Guitar Night. In 2017, Fretmonkey replicated its model in China, and opened an office in Nanchang City in October 2018. In 2019, Fretmonkey joined forces with world-renowned record label Candyrat Records to jointly create an annual international fingerstyle community festival, camp, and guitar competition in the United States - "Fingerstyle Collective Guitar Festival" - a monumental music event showcasing the diversity and extraordinary talents in the international fingerstyle guitar community. The "Fingerstyle Collective Guitar Festival" is being replicated in Colombia in late 2019 and in Portugal in summer 2020.
We like to think our story is reminiscent of a famous quote by Margaret Mead - “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
The FRETMONKEY Family