2014 Grammy Awards – Mining Gems in the Lesser Known Categories

Last night’s Grammy awards may have delivered a few surprises in the major categories, but our enthusiasm for Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” and its hit song “Get Lucky” were matched by the Recording Academy’s. It was also nice to see a couple of awards go to Dave Grohl for the “Sound City” CD, including one to him and Paul McCartney for the track “Cut Me Some Slack”.

But scrolling way down the nominees and winners list on the Grammy website, you can find some gems that didn’t make the telecast or the mainstream media coverage.

In the Best American Roots Song category, comic genius and banjo player Steve Martin teamed up with Edie Brickell, wife of Paul Simon and former chanteuse of the New Bohemians, to write and perform “Love Has Come For You”.

In the category of Best Instrumental Arrangement, Gordon Goodwin put out a very nice take of the jazz classic “On Green Dolphin Street” performed by his Big Phat Band. Goodwin has won a Grammy before and picked up 13 nominations, and is also a three-time Emmy Award winner for his compositions and arrangements.

Twenty years after the release of Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Cracked Rear View”, the 16th best selling album in U.S. history, frontman Darius Rucker won this year’s Best Country Solo Performance for “Wagon Wheel”.

And finally, Best Traditional R&B Performance went to Gary Clark, Jr. for “Please Come Home”. Though most celebrated for his guitar playing (the solo comes at about 1:35), he shows off a fine falsetto on this tune. To hear Clark at his bluesy, guitar-slinging best (sans falsetto), check out his performance at the White House.

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The Kennedy Center Honors – 2038

2013 Kennedy Center Honors were presented to music legends Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana and Billy Joel last night in Washington, D.C.   The Awards are in their 36th year and have done a pretty good job of honoring artists of truly monumental lifetime achievements.  In the Awards’ early years the Kennedy Center recognized Ella, Sinatra, and Count Basie and in more recent years Dylan, Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Brubeck, McCartney, Brian Wilson, and James Brown.

So, who might they be honoring 25 years from now?  What musical artists are on a trajectory to possibly stand in that company?  Looking at this year’s awardees who range in age from their mid-60’s to mid-70’s and who made their first musical marks 40 to 50 years ago, we need to think of artists currently between their mid-30’s and mid-40’s who have already been at it for 15 years or more.  Being a bit parochial and limiting the possibilities to musicians featured on this blog, here are our predictions for the 2038 Kennedy Center Honors.

Alison Krauss should definitely be there.  She’ll be 67 by then, and we hope will still have her pure, angelic voice.  She might not need to make one more recording to be viewed as one of the best and most influential artists of her time. She’s already won 27 Grammy Awards and countless country music awards. Here’s a cover of a pop tune from the Queen of Bluegrass.

Dave Grohl will be 69, bringing a legacy that already includes Nirvana, the Foo Fighters, drummer of choice for pretty much everyone, and documentary filmmaker. Here’s Dave practicing for 2038 by making nice at the White House. Things start to rock at about 3:00.

Jack White will be a 63-year old in 2038.  In addition to his recent solo work, he’s led The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather, but his greatest musical legacy may be the work he’s doing at his Third Man Records – preserving American roots music and developing new artists.  White has produced albums for country icon Loretta Lynn, rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson, and rock and roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis. Here’s another side of Jack, performing a duet with Alicia Keys of the theme song he wrote for the 2008 Bond movie “Quantum of Solace”.

In case you want to hang around for a few more minutes and sample the early works of the honorees of 2013, here are the first songs that made Herbie, Carlos and Billy famous. And, oh yeah, please feel free to comment with your picks for the 2038 Kennedy Center Honors.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2014 Nominees, Still At It After 25 Years – Or More!

Last week the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the nominees for the class of 2014.  You can see the full list and contribute to this year’s fan ballot on the Rolling Stone magazine website. To be eligible for induction an artist or band must have released its first record 25 years ago, but many of this year’s nominees are still putting out new music.

Nirvana is nominated this year; their first single “Love Buzz” was released in 1988. Dave Grohl wasn’t with the band at that time, he joined in 1990, but he has carried the torch as a prolific musician, producer and filmmaker. And here’s “Love Buzz” in case you’ve never heard it.

Chic is also up this year, nominated for the eighth time. Nile Rodgers’ funky guitar was a central part of Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” CD released earlier this year – maybe that will put Chic over the top this time around.

Hall & Oates are on the ballot, and Daryl Hall is planning to add more episodes to his series “Live at Daryl’s House” soon.

The Zombies first became eligible for induction in 1989 (just when Nirvana was getting started!) but are nominated for the first time this year. The classic “She’s Not There” was released in 1964, and “Time of the Season” followed in 1968. Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, the core of The Zombies, released “Breathe Out, Breathe In” in 2011 with some jazz-inflected tunes featuring Rod’s fantastic keyboard work and Colin’s clean vocals. Check out this very retro video for “Time of the Season”, and see the gray-maned men still at it after 50 years.

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Dave Grohl Documents the History of Sound City

Dave Grohl’s 2013 plunge into documentary filmmaking “Sound City” mines the history of the recently shuttered studio where Nirvana’s “Nevermind” was recorded.  Grohl weaves many story lines together in his film, from the people who built and ran Sound City, to the technology that made the studio famous and the later technology that doomed it, to the string of major artists that passed through its unassuming front door.  He concludes with a strong statement about the virtues of musicians hunkering down in a studio till inspiration and perspiration get it just right, and shows us what he means by releasing “Sound City 606”.

Check out the trailer for “Sound City”, then listen to one of the first songs released from the CD featuring Paul McCartney rocking as hard as he has since “Helter Skelter”.

Here’s a link to page on the Sound City Studio website that lists every album recorded there: Sound City Recordings.  It is an amazing list,  and the very first album ever recorded there was Spirit’s masterpiece “Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus”.  If you’re not familiar with that album or have forgotten what a tour de force it was, listen to “Nature’s Way” and “Mr. Skin”.

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