When the Nashville Grammy Nominee Party calls, you always rsvp.
This annual event is a significant marker on the music community’s social calendar. The holidays are over, a new year is beckoning with promise and we’re all well over our families and eager to reconnect with our real family. It is the first significant gathering of the fabulons of the year and one of the only ones that unites the diverse elements of Music City.
“I love this party,” said Drew Alexander. “I get invited, I show up,” said Rod Essig. They spoke for the whole merry-making room.
The Tuesday evening (1/17) event was held, as is customary, at the Loews Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel ballroom. As indicated by the attendees, the 54th annual Grammys are throwing a spotlight on all kinds of Music City music makers.
“As everyone here knows, the talent that comes out of this town is extraordinary,” said Dan Hill, the current president of Nashville’s Recording Academy chapter. “The nominations for Nashville this year come from everything from rock to classical, including Best New Artist.”
“There are 20 categories represented [by Nashville nominees],” added George Flanigen, who is serving his second term as the Recording Academy’s national president. “This year’s nominations reflect the respect that the voters have for Music City.”
In addition to categories such as the predictable country, bluegrass and Christian musics, Nashvillians popped up in such categories as rock album, pop group, blues, folk, children’s, spoken word, engineering, classical, instrumental composition and soundtrack song.
Blues nominee Keb Mo’ said he was proud and pleased to call himself a Nashvillian. In one of the cooler, only-in-Nashville moments, he walked the red carpet alongside Lifetime Achievement honoree George Jones.
Several nominees elected to face the media in groups. Matraca Berg, Deana Carter and Kenny Chesney (in a black stocking cap) made a grand entrance. Tom T. Hall, Peter Cooper and Eric Brace united as well.
Alas, the children’s-music Grammy is a producer’s award, lamented Cooper of their Songs of Fox Hollow project. “But we’ll find a way to get Tom T. one. He’s never won for an album.”
Jim Collins, waiting to walk with fellow nominee David Lee Murphy (“Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not”), recalled opening a Texas concert for Tom T. years ago where nobody showed up: “It wasn’t promoted very well, but he went out there and told his stories and sang his songs and gave those few people his full show. He’s an old-school pro.”
Also meeting the media on the red carpet were such diverse stars as Jason Aldean, Natalie Grant, Jerry Douglas, TobyMac, Royal Tailor, The Del McCoury Band, Brandon Heath, The WannaBeatles, Dave Barnes and Steven Curtis Chapman. Twinkling in the welcoming throng were the Nashville Symphony’s Alan Valentine, plus Jon Randall Stewart, Jeff Hanna, Charlie Chase & Lorianne Crook, Eric Paslay and Mayor Karl Dean.
“Will you introduce me to him?” enquired first lady Ann Davis of hizzoner when she spotted George Jones in the valet-parking area. I love it when celebs are starstruck, since I am too, perpetually.
The Loews staffers outdid themselves in the catering department. We were treated to a mac-and-cheese station with smoked chicken and gouda. Pulled barbecue pork nestled in red-potato skins. The catfish tacos with pickle slaw were delish. There were grits, veggies, condiments and a roast-beef carving station. Full bars flanked either end of the ballroom and waiters circulated with wine trays.
“They are such good partners for our Chapter,” said South Regional Director Susan Stewart in presenting Loews with a framed 2012 Grammy poster. Jones got one, too.
The décor was dominated by two, massive, gleaming-gold Big-Ass Grammys, worth more than $10,000 apiece, I am told. They travel in their own road cases from L.A.
The organization is flush with cash, having recently re-signed a multi-year TV contract with CBS. The network was doubtless pleased that last year’s Grammy telecast drew 26.6 million viewers, setting a record. Flanigen termed it, “one of the longest partnerships in television history.”
Jon Freeman was there, fresh from the Brantley Gilbert No. 1 party and celebrating his promotion at this very publication. Wishing each other Happy New Year were Pete Fisher, Joanna Carter, Ben Fowler, Arthur Buenahora, Tracy Gershon & Steve Fishell, Carla Wallace, Gilles Godard (there, I finally spelled him right), Garth Fundis, Clint Higham, Stacy Weidlitz, Ron Stuve, Gary Overton, Steve & Ree Guyer Buchanan, Wes Vause, and Norbert Nix.
Also Fletcher Foster, Lori Badgett, Diane Pearson, Pat McMakin, Sherod Robertson, LeAnn Phelan, Nancy Shapiro, Nancy Jones, Scott & Sandi Borchetta, Doug Casmus, Allen Brown, Kay West, Terry Hemmings, David Corlew, Lisa Harless, Tamara Saviano, Doug Howard and Paul Barnabee.