The annual Music Row social calendar always begins with the fabulous Grammy-nominees party, so that’s what transpired on Tuesday eve (Jan. 7) as we welcomed a new year, a new 365 days of schmoozing.
There was actually a lot “new” to celebrate. This is the first year of a new decade. The party was held at a new venue, The Hutton Hotel’s elegant Vista Ballroom. And the event celebrated a newly impressive and seldom-equaled diversity of Music City nominees.
Several attendees lined up to take selfies with enduring star Billy Ray Cyrus, nominated for his Lil Nas X phenomenon. Walking the red carpet and doing press were such other nominated greats as Miranda Lambert, Jerry Salley, Keb Mo, Matthew West, Dan + Shay, for KING & COUNTRY, Tim Menzies and Steven Curtis Chapman.
The CCM world was out in force, as illustrated by the presence of nominees Andrew Ripp, Chris Stevens, Colby Wedgeworth and Ethan Hulse. Our bluegrass community was represented by nominees Doyle Lawson, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, Missy Raines and The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys.
Nashville has an unprecedented number of blues nominees this year, which is why Delbert McClinton, Lenesha Randolph and Larkin Poe members Rebecca & Megan Lovell were there, as well as Keb Mo. Our children’s-music nominee Daniel Tashian attended, as did rock nominees The Rival Sons (but alas not fellow Nashville rock nominees Cage the Elephant).
Among the country attendees were Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley of the nominated Pistol Annies, plus their compatriot Miranda, Dan +Shay and the other country folks mentioned above. That genre’s top nominee is Tanya Tucker, who was a disappointing no-show.
One of the Song of the Year nominees is H.E.R.’s “Hard Place,” co-written by our own Ruby Amanfu and Sam Ashworth. Nominated engineer John Baldwin also attended, as did such stellar secular songwriting nominees as Liz Rose, Bobby Pinson and Hillary Lindsey.
“We are proud that our nominees this year are so diverse,” said chapter executive director Alicia Warwick. “Our chapter leads,” added Nashville board president Jennifer Hanson, pointing out that Nashvillians have 118 nominees spread across 34 Grammy categories. By the way, Jennifer is our third female NARAS chapter prez; Katie Gillon served in the role from 1994-1996, while Trey Fanjoy held the role from 2017-2019.
“A Grammy nomination is a true symbol of dedication to your craft,” quoth Jen. “We are so excited to have so many of these nominees with us here tonight.”
This party is always a great way to wish a “Happy New Year” to your pals. Fabulons working the room included Mark Bright, Mark Brown, Chris Keaton, Chris Farren, Christy Walker Watkins, Dan Hill, Dan Rogers, Daniel Miller, Leslie Fram, Leslie DiPiero, Leslie Roberts, David Macias, David Preston, Pat McMakin, Pat Higdon, Terry Hemmings, Terry Wakefield, Fletcher Foster, Troy Tomlinson, Ronna Rubin and Susan Stewart.
Oh, I’m just getting started, gentle readers. Also grooving at the gig were such industry women as Chandra LaPlume, Tracy Gershon, Lisa Harless, Kris Wilkinson, Allison Jones, Marion Kraft, Diane Pearson, Cyndi Forman, Debbie Carroll, Whitney Daane, Susan Niles, Joanna Carter, Carol Ann Ford and Claire Ratliff.
Men of valor working the room included Mason Hunter, Joe Baldridge, Shane Tarleton, Earle Simmons, Frank Liddell, Rod Essig, B.J. Hill, Ed Morris, James Elliott (who has a song on the nominated Steven Curtis Chapman CD), Brad Kennard, Wes Vause, Kos Weaver, Tom Roland, Scott Robinson, Kerry O’Neill and Lightning 100’s Gary Kraen.
“It would be easier to have a list of everybody in the industry and cross off the names that AREN’T here,” Mark Ford sagely observed.
How about adding some power couples to the mix? Like Erika Wollam & Roger Nichols, Trey Fanjoy & Eddie Perez, Joe & Linda Chambers and Ron & Regina Stuve.
I met Lij Shaw. He’s the guy notable for activism on behalf of home recording studios. Alan Valentine introduced me to the Nashville Symphony’s new CEO Steve Brosvik. Steve was behind the “Violins of Hope” exhibit at the Library, and now those Holocaust instruments are becoming a Symphony recording.
I greeted Sister Sadie’s Tina Adair, who says that she and bluegrass queen (and fellow bandmember) Dale Ann Bradley are recording a guitar-mandolin “sister duet” album. Can’t wait.
Alecia asked for a round of applause for John Prine, who was not in attendance. Prine is this year’s Lifetime Achievement honoree from Music City.
The Hutton proved more than up to the challenge of feeding the throng. The cocktail-party fare included sliced pork loin, pimento-cheese croquettes, lump crabcakes, a charcuterie spread, mushroom-and-goat-cheese torts and assorted cheeses and veggies. Not to mention sweets.
We were serenaded throughout the gala by the smooth jazz stylings of The Birdsong Trio. Breezy and tasteful, this ensemble was the perfect accompaniment to a luscious event.
Gigantic golden Grammy statues flanked the stage. Guests merrily posed for snapshots with them, as well as in front of the Grammy backdrop in the ballroom lobby. We all got souvenir Grammy posters.