There’s something marvelous about the fact that every year, the first big music-biz party of the season is also always one of the very best.
I refer, of course, to the annual Grammy Nominees Party. Staged on Jan. 11 this year at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, the gig had it all – schmoozing fabulons, great food, stargazing, lovely music and enormous joie de vivre.
“Thank you for joining us here tonight,” said the Recording Academy’s Nashville chapter executive director Alicia Warwick. “On behalf of the board, we are proud to recognize this outstanding group of nominees.”
She reminded the crowd that the Grammys are all about celebrating diversity. This is reflected locally in the fact that Nashville chapter members are nominated in 26 different categories.
So the party attendees included blues nominees Keb’ Mo’ and Robert Randolph, country stars Little Big Town and Thomas Rhett, members of the nominated reggae band Morgan Heritage, Americana greats Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and bluegrass stars Rhonda Vincent, Bobby Osborne and Noam Pikelny, plus CCM performers Danny Gokey, Matt Maher and Bernie Herms. Gospel and CCM Grammy-nominated songwriters were especially well represented. Chuck Butler, Ben Glover, David Garcia, Alvin Love III, Dwan Hill and Jonathan Smith rsvp’d. Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum worked the red carpet, as did nominee Glen Campbell’s widow Kim Woolen and daughter Ashley Campbell.
“A Grammy nomination is a true reflection of your dedication to your craft,” said Warwick. “We are honored to have many of our nominees here tonight. Please give them a round of applause.”
Cocktail party attendees were serenaded by a suite of jazz standards performed by the superb John Birdsong Trio. Buffet tables held truffled mac & cheese, poached shrimp bruschetta on flatbread, blistered brussel sprouts, chicken skewers with root vegetables, shaved pear/apple & walnut salad, cipillini & fig tarts and beef sliders with mayo, tomato and bacon jam. Yum.
The bars stayed busy as the crowd swelled. Sally Williams, Jody Williams, Jennifer Hanson, Jed Hilly, John Huie, T.K. Kimbrell, Terry Hemmings, Sherod Robertson, Shawn Silva, Shannan Hatch, Steve Buchanan, Ben Fowler, Brett James, E. T. Brown and Lori Badgett made merry.
Ron & Regina Stuve, David & Carolyn Corlew, Erika Wollam Nichols, Allison Brown Jones, Christy Walker-Watkins, Hunter Kelly, Victoria Shaw, Ralph Murphy, Chandra LaPlume, Leslie Roberts, Mark Bright, Dan Hill, Rod Essig, George Flanigen, and the proverbial cast of thousands wished each other Happy New Year.
Chris Keaton introduced me to Jeff Fincher, Lipscomb’s assistant dean of its College of Entertainment and the Arts. Who seemed way too young for that gig. But, then, everybody seems young to me nowadays.
Judy Simmons told anecdotes about choosing the Symphony’s Harmony Award recipients. You will recall that last year’s baffling honoree was Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. The accolade supposedly recognizes a person “who best exemplifies the harmonious spirit of Nashville’s musical community.”
“Are you ready for the Snow Apocalypse?” wisecracked Pat McMakin as we headed for the door. We’d been in Publix just a couple of hours earlier, and it was mobbed. Schools and businesses were canceling their Friday openings left and right.
Mind you, the whole time we were at the Grammy party, the temperature was 65 degrees. I have covered this event during blizzards, thunderstorms and sub-zero conditions. But this was the first one where we were all too warm. Which is why it seemed so wacky that freezing rain was predicted for the following morning, and the entire city was in a weather panic.