I know we’ve been staging these things annually for more than 20 years, but this really, really was the best Nashville Grammy nominees party ever. Hosted by Loews Vanderbilt Hotel on a frigid Tuesday evening (Jan. 22), it was truly a blast of a bash.
Let’s start with the nominees, themselves. “The talent that comes out of this town is amazing,” said Recording Academy Nashville prez Jon Randall Stewart. “We have so much diversity in this town.” Added Nashville NARAS director Susan Stewart, “We’re represented in 23 categories with more nominees than ever.” National NARAS board prez George Flanigen stated, “We have seven acts in three of the four overall categories [Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Best New Artist]. Nashville is well represented.” He also reminded us that the Grammy nominations concert special was broadcast from Music City, the first time this has ever been held outside of L.A.
Okay, the party lacked such top Nashville noms as Jack White, Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift and The Black Keys, all of whom are on the road, Susan averred. But look at who did show up – country stars Dierks Bentley, Carrie Underwood, Ronnie Dunn, Little Big Town and Hunter Hayes, plus honorees representing many other genres. Janis Ian (spoken word), TobyMac (contemporary Christian), members of Old Crow Medicine Show (music video), Dailey & Vincent (bluegrass), Shawn Camp & Tamara Saviano (folk), Tamara “Taj” George (traditional r&b as a member of SWV), Matthew West (contemporary Christian), Larry Carlton (jazz), members of The Grascals (bluegrass), Will Hoge & Eric Paslay (country song), Rhett Walker (contemporary Christian), Josh Kear (country song) and such members of The Time Jumpers as Kenny & Dawn Sears, Doug Green, Andy Reiss and Vince Gill (country group) all sashayed down the red carpet.
Best party ever? How about the food? Loews Vanderbilt has been our gracious host for lo these many years, but this year its chefs outdid themselves. The buffet tables held pimento cheese beef sliders, mini brie & fig grilled cheese items, smoked beef tenderloin, duck tater tots, white bean hummus, mini pickled fried chicken biscuits, smoked bacon deviled eggs, southern cured meats & cheddar biscuits and pickles and raw veggies with a variety of delish dips. I ate all of them.
Best party ever? How about the music? While guests mingled, they were serenaded by the jazz stylings of The Birdsong Trio, led by bass player deluxe John Birdsong.
Best party ever? What about that guest list? The crème de la crème of Music Row attended. The list of babbling fabulons included Randy Scruggs, Steve Scruggs, Steve Gibson, Chris Farren, Chris Keaton, Erin Morris, Ed Morris, Pat Higdon, Pat McMakin, Pete Fisher, power couples Ron & Regina Stuve, David & Carolyn Corlew and Steve & Ree Guyer Buchanan and also the triple named Erika Wollam Nichols and Mary Ann McCready, not to mention Jon Randall Stewart.
They were joined by Jim Myers, Jimmy Carter, Jessie Schmidt, John Ingrassia, Jason Owen, Jody Williams, Jeff Walker, Carla Wallace, Hunter Kelly, Holly Bell, Fletcher Foster, Frank Liddell, Dan Hill, Doug Howard, Dennis Lord, Debbie Carroll, Drew Alexander, Diane Pearson, Denise Stiff, Mike Sisted, Nancy Shapiro, Earle Simmons, Terry Hemmings, Tree Paine, Tim Fink, Tracy Gershon, Gary Overton, Ansel Davis, Autumn House, Allen Brown, Rod Essig, Ronna Rubin, Sherod Robertson, Susan Niles, Garth Fundis, Mark Bright, Lori Badgett and Scott McDaniel.
Politicos working the room included Mayor Karl Dean, Metro Council’s Megan Barry and Court Clerk Howard Gentry. Celebs sprinkled around included Deana Carter. She was a nominee last year and is back in her hometown mixing a new record and co-writing songs. She was staying in the hotel, so she came downstairs to join us. Eddie DeGarmo was there as a CCM exec nowadays, but I’ll never forget his music as a Christian rocker. I kept staring at this one guy I thought I recognized. Then I realized it was “Avery” from the Nashville TV show, a.k.a, singing actor Jonathan Jackson. Stylish Susanne Mumpower, a.k.a. Iodine, was on the arm of her hubby, Grascal Jamie Johnson. Irish singer and recording artist Michael Londra is in town making a record. He was totally starstruck gazing at the nominees, as were we all.
The internationally telecast 55th annual Grammy Awards will take place in Los Angeles on February 10.