Bobby Karl Works The 18th Annual Grammy Block Party

BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM

Chapter 528

Jason Isbell, Kelsea Ballerini, Robert Randolph. Courtesy of The Recording Academy/photo by Ed Rode/WireImage.com

Jason Isbell, Kelsea Ballerini, Robert Randolph. Courtesy of The Recording Academy/photo by Ed Rode/WireImage.com

The Nashville chapter of The Recording Academy stages many events throughout the year, but I think it’s worth becoming a member because of its annual Grammy Block Party alone.

This fabulous event always showcases music from widely diverse genres, all of it first rate. On Tuesday evening (May 10), the Block Party more than matched its reputation in that department.

Opening the festivities was Belmont University student and pop singer-songwriter Brad Blackburn. He is the winner of this year’s Grammy U Songwriter Showdown competition. Hosts The Warren Brothers next offered a bevy of their songs, including the party-hearty anthem “Red Solo Cup.”

Diarrhea Planet Courtesy of The Recording Academy/photo by Ed Rode/WireImage.com

Diarrhea Planet
Courtesy of The Recording Academy/photo by Ed Rode/WireImage.com

Then Nashville’s own Diarrhea Planet rocked hard. Chicago’s Jonathan McReynolds offered jazz-inflected urban and Christian tunes. The Grammy nominee records for the Nashville label Entertainment One.

Americana music great Jason Isbell turned in a gripping set. He suggested that the giant Grammy statues flanking the stage emitted a force field between them. Pure-voiced young country sensation Kelsea Ballerini now has three hits in her quiver, “Love Me Like You Mean It,” “Dibs” and “Peter Pan.” Sacred steel guitar superstar Robert Randolph was booked as the virtuoso closer.

The setting was just as fabulous as the sounds. The outdoor amphitheater at Cumberland Park on the East Bank of the river is a lovely place, and way underused. The Grammy Block Party moved there last year and returned due to the attendees’ rave reviews about the venue. Breezes from the river wafted through the crowd.

Tracy Gershon took credit for the fact that the predicted rain never materialized. She said she focused on there being a 60 percent chance of sun while everybody else was worried about a 40 percent chance of showers.

Kelsea Ballerini (far right) was introduced by Pentatonix, prior to the group's show at Bridgestone Arena. Courtesy of The Recording Academy/photo by Frederick Breedon/WireImage.com

Kelsea Ballerini (far right) was introduced to the stage by Pentatonix prior to the group’s headlining show at Bridgestone Arena. Courtesy of The Recording Academy/photo by Frederick Breedon/WireImage.com

The drinks were free. So was the fabulous food by Peg Leg Porker. Plates were piled with barbecued pork or roasted chicken quarters, superb cornbread muffins and your choice of delicious mac & cheese, baked beans, coleslaw and/or green beans. Goo Goo Clusters were dessert.

Like I said, it’s worth joining the Recording Academy, just for this fab, fab, fabulous party. Several attendees were evidently hip to this, since the booth signing up new members and renewals did steady business, particularly early in the evening.

Here’s another reason this is a fabulous gig: You can’t beat the networking. Having the schmooze of their lives were Patrick Clifford, Cliff O’Sullivan, Dusty Miller, Daniel Miller, David Corlew, Dave Brainard, Scott Robinson, Sherod Robertson, LeAnn Phelan, Fletcher Foster, Ben Fowler, Leslie Fram, Garth Fundis, Chris Farren, Asheville’s Jessica Tomasin (the Nashville chapter takes in Louisville, Asheville, Knoxville and other nearby music communities), Brad Kennard, Chris Keaton, Mark Bright, Mike Sistad, Allison Jones, Lisa Harless and Beverly Keel.

Todd Cassetty was introducing his young artist Kalie Shorr to one and all. Other artists and writers in attendance included Brett James, Billy Falcon, Casey Donahew, Jenny Tolman, Zach Crowell and current chapter president Shannon Sanders.

Earle Simmons, Whitney Daane, Allen Brown, Erika Wollam Nichols, the Symphony’s Alan Valentine, Vanessa Davis, Justin Levenson, Doak Turner, Scott McDaniel, Jensen Sussman, John Styll, Tom Luteran and Dan Daley merrily worked the balmy outdoor “room.”

This was the 18th annual Grammy Block Party. Has it really been going on that long? Time flies when you’re having fun.

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