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Being There [Grammy Recap]

Hey Soul Mates,
Check out your boy. Yes, I did look that damn suave at the Grammys last night. Look, the tickets very clearly said "black tie." What could be less rock and roll than black tie? Not wearing "black tie." Frankly, the hipsters and the club girls just looked silly. Maybe I'm getting sartorially conservative, but you must be clean for the Grammys.

We arrived early in the afternoon. A beautifully mild afternoon in downtown L.A. and not a sign of the predicted rain. I wanted to experience the whole nine, so we got there in time for the "Pre-telecast" ceremony. This is where 97 of the 108 gramophone statuettes are awarded. It was much more entertaining and endearing than the actual broadcast. The winners were genuinely moved, were not limited in their speech time and came in all stripes.

Now, very few of the acts I voted for won. But the day did start off with a bang as OK Go won best short form video for the treadmill hopping video for Here It Goes. One-for-one, but that was about it. I think I pegged about 7 winners. I must tell you at one point I felt absolutely horrible for someone who did not win. Unlike the larger event in the Staples Center, seating at the Convention Center for the pre-show festivities was open, that meant sixth row, just inside the middle aisle. Close to all of the action.

Halfway through, one of my heroes, Stax legend and nominee Sam Moore of Sam & Dave and his coterie, arrived and plunked himself down right across the aisle. I waved to him, gave him a big thumbs up and he smiled heartily and waved back. As his category (best traditional R&B vocal performance) was announced we made eye contact again. Sam beamed as I crossed all fingers. But dammit, George Benson and Al Jarreau won. They play jazz! Anyway, I was so dejected I wanted to cry for Sam. Mr. Moore remained fairly stoic and I was glad for that. I wanted to talk to him afterward as he left once his category was awarded. But I was so upset, I figured I'd stay put. Sam, just know I was feeling you!

Other notable folks in attendance at the pre-game festivities included Weird Al, Ike Turner, Keane, Carrie Underwood, the Chilli Peppers' drummer Chad Smith, Peter Frampton, Keb' Mo, American Idol's Randy Jackson, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Lynn Redgrave, Jonny Lang and Kirk Franklin. A veritable musical who's who. The best acceptance speeches came from Grammy winners Ruby Dee (spoken word album) and comedian/curmudgeon Lewis Black (comedy album). The Hawaiian winners did an impromptu vocal performance with layered harmonies in Hawaiian that brought the house down.

There were several standing O's; for another Stax veteran, Irma Thomas and the most beloved recipient of the evening, Tony Bennett. When he passed us going down the aisle for his Grammy, I was blown away. He's much smaller than I reckoned. But I must respect an artist who at 80 topped the pop album chart! The audience was tickled when he thanked Target for being the best sponsor he ever worked with. Cute and sincere.

I won't say much about the national broadcast, which was fairly pedestrian. You saw it with your own eyes on TV. But "being there" was superb. The Police were amazing to see. Their performance of the now standard Roxanne was quality, if vaguely hesitant. This was a group I thought the world of in their prime and figured I'd never see them in person. They were the highlight and they opened the show.

The audience as a whole, seemed surprised at the Dixie Chicks perfect 5-for-5 evening. And this was the crowd that voted for them. Odd that the boo-birds appeared after the Chicks won the big prize of the evening. I was not and am still not a fan of their music, but their performance on the show was impressive. Needless to say, I was again bummed that the artists I voted for were shut out on TV.

I was anticipating seeing several acts in person for the first time, but no one had what the show's producers like to call "their Grammy moment." Gnarls Barkley did an interestingly bombastic, but ultimately dulling version of their ubiquitous hit Crazy. Smokey Robinson was fine on Tracks of My Tears and I actually enjoyed Christina Aguilera's tribute to James Brown on It's a Man's, Man's World. She was hitting and holding notes that were thrilling. I still think CBS should've opened up the checkbook and given Prince anything he wanted to pay homage to James.

Sadly, too many acts took the opportunity to lull the audience to sleep with ballads or midtempo material. Earth, Wind And Fire were utterly wasted backing up Ludacris and Mary J. Blige. During the commercial breaks, we were treated to highlights of past performances (U2, Usher and James Brown, Eminem and Elton John, Prince and Beyonce, Gorillaz & Madonna), all of which were more exciting than just about anything we saw last night. Plus, several acts seemed to lip-sync, which should be outlawed.

The Grammys would do well to feature more uptempo performances for the audience in attendance and the viewing audience. That and add another 4 or 5 categories to award on the big broadcast. It felt like the same 5 or 6 nominees were up in each category with little variation. In years past, they've televised Producer of the Year, best video, best rock performance by a group, etc. Those could provide some colorful acceptances and fresh faces to say the least.

Trivial notes: I've now seen both Al Gore and Bill Clinton at Staples Center. Will Ferrell (not in attendance) and Chad Smith were separated at birth. Oh, and the presenters weren't always announced before they took the stage. So how did I know it was Scarlett Johannsen with Don Henley at the end of the night? No other legit female celebrity has that top half and I said as much out loud.

The whole experience was inspirational. Seeing all of the winners and being among peers all day long got me psyched for our sessions this coming weekend. 2008 I'm determined to be there, on the list of nominees who's awards are televised. Watch me! Watch us!

Thanks for reading. Have a great week and a Happy Valentine's Day.
Love, Power, Peace


Unknown said…
And were you close to Prince at all? Answer: no. No way you would be allowed to get that close with a possibility to upstage...
Anonymous said…
I'm so envious homie!! I'm quite surprised the Dixie Ho's won every category..but thankful JT only won one (and I have valid reaons for this). Too bad I didn't see ya on the telecast (like I did when u were at the Cavs/Clippers game last year). The only reason I tuned for the Grammy's was to catch the very first 5 minutes of the telecast. The Police Synchronicity tour was my first ever concert (at my tender age of 13)..I remember them closing the show with "Roxanne"..very similar rendition to that on the Grammys but longer. A true feast for the eyes and ears as I waited 23 years for their reunion. Having said that, I now am anticipating RHS to open next years show :).
Peace, love, and popcorn.
Unknown said…
NORM! The sizource! And Scarlett was... smashing, baby, to say the least. Yes. Too bad Don Henley, whose music I love, but whose Clooney-like tendencies don't stay bottled up enough, had to blow it while I was feasting the eyes - only momentarily while next to my beautiful wife, of course - by saying something gushing about the Dixie whatever-whatevers... I'm still absolutely blown away that the Dixie Bi... haHA!... the Southern Women of... um... whatever... Nate and Dave would agree with my assessment, I'm sure... actually got all of those awards. Couldn't you have at least stuffed the ballot box, Norm? Goes to show - CBS's vote counts for more than yours and mine. But I digress.

As for the Police? Too short. 3 and a half more minutes and one other song would have been SO much better, even if they were awesome to see together for only one song. The JT performances were excellent. Had to turn it up for my wife, since she still doesn;t get the FS/LS disc at all - not sure it worked. That disc deserved a better fate at the awards. The Peppers should have done Dani California so that my wife would get it. I like that track they performed, but it's not Dani California. The Christina Aguilera tribute to JB translated extremely well to my HD widescreen - it ain't no small screen - and I think it was top tier. 2 and a half minutes, lovingly and well done, commercial break please. 6 minutes would have been tedious with her vocal gymnastics. But it was nowhere near as tedious as they whose name shall not be spoken/typed again and their 5 awards. And the JB robe at the end of Christina's performance? Priceless. Prince doing the tribute, though? Yeah, no question they should have had him rock the house and have Christina back him up - or something like that. The Carrie Underwood and Rascal Flatts dueling performance was really good, too. I did not know that Michael Brecker died until the tribute video montage. Sad. I would love for them to do a "real" jazz jam to represent on the broadcast. And based on what you described, I want them to broadcast the pre-awards on E! or A&E or some cable/satellite channel. Lord knows I still pay them enough money via my trips to Best Buy to help them find a slush fund to pay for it.

Here's to Rush Hour Soul being there as the favorites of the 2008 Grammies to replace Carrie Underwood. Nothing personal, but Dave informed me you all wouldn't look as good as she... Psyche!

Love you guys. PEACE!

-C.P. Numero dos (because terming myself Number 2 just ain't right)
Anonymous said… could u be gushing over Scarlett when sitting next to ur wifey (Kim looks greaaattt!!) ha ha. Was hoping CBS would allow Prince to do a tribute to JB..but c'est la vie (oohhh...that rhymes!!).
C.P. Numero Quatro (now THAT sounds groovy)
Vailpete said…
Love the Bowtie Cuz!

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