4 p.m.: We’re enhancing out Grammy coverage this year to bring you all the action. Instead of blogging only the televised portion, we’re backstage now and will cover the pre-telecast and the winners who come back to the print press room. All the action happens before the TV show starts at 8: roughly 70 of the 80 or so Grammy Awards will be handed out during the pre-telecast. We’ll then be back with a new live blog for the television portion.
4:08: The Grammy for music video short form goes to Rihanna’s “We Found Love.” Shockingly (yes that is sarcasm), Rihanna is not at the pre-tel to accept. The Grammy for long form music video goes to “Big Easy Express,” with Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and the Old Crow Medicine Show.” Two down, about 80 to go.
4:12 p.m. Host David Alan Grier must wonder what he has to do to get to host the big show. Krishna Das is now performing. It’s a lovely fusion of new age and world music, though the dude in the flannel shirt clearly didn’t get the dress code memo. This is the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time version of the Grammys (though in all seriousness some major awards in pop, rock, alternative, rap, country and R&B will be given out over the next few hours since only 10 or so awards are handed out during the televised broadcast. They are performing the Yardbirds’ “For Your Love,” which actually lends itself surprisingly well to chanting.
4:19: Contemporary Christian artist Britt Nicole is presenting several awards. How many times in her life have people thought her name was Brittney Cole? Chick Corea wins best instrumental composition for “Mozart Goes Dancing.” The jazz great is here and gives a full-on thank you speech and looking upward, thanks the late Dave Brubeck among others. Gil Evans wins best instrumental arrangement. The producer accepts the award because Evans is, well, dead. The best Instrumental arrangement with vocalists Grammy goes to former best new artist winner Esperanza Spalding and Thera Memory. I saw her this summer in concert. She is absolutely incredible. Made a believer out of me. Memory, Spalding’s teacher, is probably in his 70s and they were sitting in the back, so it took about five minutes for them to reach the stage. Very sweet. I wonder if he’s the oldest person to ever win a Grammy? Probably not by a long shot when you add in classical.
4:28: Best recording package goes to Bjork’s “Biophilia,” while best boxed or special limited edition package goes to “Woody At 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection.” Art director Fritz Klaetke put in a plug for, in this day of downloads, the importance of packaging for the rapidly decreasing physical goods market. Some of those packages are gorgeous. Billy Vera just took the award for “Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles” for best album notes. He says, “Holy shit,” as he takes the podium. If the name sounds familiar, Vera has a massive hit in the ’80s with “At This Moment.” He still performs, but his first Grammy is for liner notes. “Singular Genius” is a series of singles from Ray Charles. Best Historical Album goes to Brian Wilson, among others for “The Smile Sessions.” Wilson says, “I’d like to thank the Academy for this reward. Van Dyke [Parks] and I knew we were ahead of our time in 1965 and in 2004 we released it. Good.”
4:37: Best remixed recording Skrillex, Joseph Ray, and Daniel Stephans for “Promises,” and best surround sound album goes to Patricia Barber’s “Modern Cool.” Engineers are Jim Anderson, Darcy Proper and Michael Friedman.
4:44: The winners for best long form video are backstage. Producer Mike Luba says “you can hardly count on the four members of a band getting together for a day, for all of [these musicians] to have gotten along is remarkable.” They modeled the movie, somewhat, on The Band’s documentary that chronicled their road trip, although this outing was much less fractious. Shooting on the train is clearly not for the faint of heart, it sounds like. Easter morning everyone was far from home and was missing home. The dad of one of the members of the Old Crow Show led everyone in an Easter ritual and coloring Easter eggs. That’s the one scene they decided to keep out.
4:48: Billy Vera is now back stage. First question was did he mind that his first win was for liner notes as opposed to being a singer/performer. He appropriately says, “I’ll take it however I can get it.” Vera recorded produced four Lou Rawls albums for Blue Note and he brought in Ray Charles for a duet. Jerry Wexler advised him “you don’t produce Ray Charles, you just get out of his way.” Vera considers Charles the most important artist of the second half of the 21st century, Duke Ellington for the first.
4:51: “Woody At 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection” winning art director Fritz Klaetke is now backstage. Yes, he was well aware of Guthrie before he did the 150-page booklet. I’ll catch you up on winners we’ve missed in a minute. Best gospel/contemporary christian music performance goes to “10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord). Best gospel song goes to Mary Mary for “Go Get It.” There’s a tie for Best Contemporary Christian Music Song (a songwriters award) for “10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)”, written by Jonas Myrin and Matt Redman, and “Your Presence Is Heaven,” written by Isreal Houghton & Micah Massey. I missed the winner of best engineered album, non-classical, but will add that in when I can. Best Gospel Album goes to “Gravity” by Lecrea.
4:58: Brian Wilson is backstage. “We knew we were ahead of our time,” he say. When he went back to record “Smile” in 2004 with his new band, he says he learned “They were much better musicians than we were.” He was asked what kind of advice he gave Paul Tanner, who played the theremin on “Good Vibrations,” and who died earlier this week. “We called him down to RCA Victor and said, can you play “wha…wha.. uh,” and he did it.” Coming up, Wilson is going into the studio, “we’re starting for scratch.” On another Beach Boys reunion: “I doubt it.” Favorite song he wrote, “California Girls,” followed by “God Only Knows.” A little tip from having interviewed Wilson a number of times: his answer changes every time you ask him.
5:04: Best Latin rock, urban or alternative album goes to “Imaginaries” by Quetzal, best Latin pop album to Juanes for “MTV Unplugged Deluxe Edition” (I love Juanes, but hate it when a live album wins. Doesn’t seem fair. The Grammys should start a Live Album category and put them all there. Best gospel album goes to “Gravity” from Leecrae. Best Regional Mexican Music Album (including Tejano) goes to “Pecados y Milagros” by Lila Downs. She says, “Thanks mama for feeding me through my belly button the love and strength to communicate through music.” Best tropical Latin album goes to “Retro,” Marlow Rosado y La Riquena.”
5:10: Newly learned info: Eighth Blackbird, a chamber music outfit, took its name from the Wallace Stevens’ poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Blackbird.” The only bit of that information that I knew before five minutes ago was who Wallace Stevens was. Feeling much smarter now. Eighth Blackbird, who are performing now, are nerdy cool.
5:15: Winners of Best Contemporary Christian Music Song for “10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)”, Jonas Myrin and Matt Redman, are backstage. Redman, who was primarily influenced by U2 and the Beatles, says it really is an honor just to be nominated. Yeah, right. I don’t see him offering to give back the Grammy. Myrin is talking about hearing his song in Bangalore and how thrilled that was.Janis Ian is presenting awards right now. Love her. No one has written anything that has ever captured the pain of being a teenage girl better than “At Seventeen.” Best engineered album, classical, goes to “Life & Breath-Choral Works By Rene Clausen. Classical Producer of the Year is Blanton Alspaugh, and Best Orchestral Performance goes to “Adams: Harmonielehre & Short Ride in a Fast Machine.
5:21: Mary Mary’s Erica Campbell on how best gospel song winner “Go Get It” came about. She and act-mate Tina Campbell are both moms and the song came out of frustration. ” A lot of times when you’re a mom in this industry, they tell you it’s not easy to succeed, so we wrote ‘Go Get It.'” You go girl! Isreal Houghton, backstage now, is celebrating his 5th win out of 17 nominations. He’s the Meryl Streep of the Grammys. On the Grammy bump that mainstream albums get, not so much for Inspirational: “My mom goes out and buys a few more for her friends, we get a bump there,” Houghton says with a laugh.
5:25: Leecrae, who was on the red carpet and missed getting to accept his award for best gospel album, says: “I do honest hip/hop, kind of ironic that my album has been embraced by the gospel community. It goes against the grain. It’s not misygogistic. I’m not killing anybody.”
5:29: Next trend in surround sound: adding height instead of five on the floor and a subwoofer, according to surround sound winner Darcy Proper. If you understood of that, please explain it to me (just kidding, kind of).
5:36: Catching up a little: best spoken word album goes to Janis Ian, who beat Bill Clinton, Rachel Maddow, and Ellen DeGeneres. Grammy voters clearly wanted to award one of their own for her honesty and art. Best children’s album goes to “Can You Canoe” by The Okee Dokee Brothers. I’m leaving out some of the best classical winners, but if you want a complete list, go here, , where we also running a tally. Chick Corea just won best improvised jazz solo with Gary Burton. They are the big winners so far with two Grammys. Esperanza Spalding just nabbed Best Jazz Vocal Album for “Radio Music Society.” That makes two for her too. Pat Metheny Unity Band stops Chick Corea’s winning streak by winning Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Corea was competing with himself in that category with “Further Exploration” and “Hot House,” so he probably split the vote for himself there.
5:46: The lovely, gracious Arturo Sandoval just won his ninth Grammy for Best Lazz Jazz Ensemble Album for “Dear Diz (Every Day I Think Of You),” says from the stage that winning gets more precious as he gets older. His co-producer Gregg Field just thanked Chick Corea for not making a large jazz ensemble record this year. The trio from Nero are backstage. They say they wrote “Promises” with Skrillex in 2 hours. “He put a heavier drop on it,” says either Daniel Stephens or Joseph Ray (sorry, I missed which was which) “We are becoming more and more of an electronic band.” Alana Watson vocalist adds they will be incorporating more of a live feel into their concerts.
5:58: Best score soundtrack goes to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Best song written for visual media goes to “Safe & Sound” from “The Hunger Games” Taylor Swift, T Bone Burnett, John Paul White and Joy Williams of the Civil Wars. Swift says she can’t believe it. White jokes that they are tired of carrying Swift. and White says the Civil Wars will be touring! Williams says Burnett is one of the producers you always pick up the phone when he calls because you know “something fun” is going to happen. Williams thanks her 7-month old boy, Miles, who was with her on the stage in utero last year. Janis Ian is now backstage. She says music means more to her now. “Music is the great leveler, cuts across class, nation.” We’re missing Bonnie Raitt’s acceptance speech for best Americana album–she beat Avett Bros., Mumford & Sons an the Lumineers, but she’s sure to come backstage. “It was harder narrating” her spoken word book than writing it. To talk about my ex-husband’s abuse or being nominated, or the good things, it put everything in a different perspective…the only thing I did better than my contemporaries” was talk about the things that scare us. Best quote of the night so far: Ian: “I assume God knows what he’s doing, though I seldom agree.” Dr. John wins best blues album for “Locked Down,” produced by Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. Pat Metheny is backstage. This is his 20th Grammy. “This is one of the best bands,” he says of the Unity Band. “We’re going to do 2014 together and make another album.”
6:12: It’s getting really wild and wooly backstage (as opposed to when the televised show starts and it slows to a trickle until the end, so I’m going to concentrate on what folks are saying backstage. OK, I lied. Best Rap Performance goes to “Ni**as In Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West. I wish I’d heard how they announced that in the hall. Best Rap Song also goes to “Ni**as” in Paris. Miguel’s “Adorn” wins Best R&B Song. Usher’s “Climax” wins for best R&B performance. Arturo Sandoval, who is now backstage, met Dizzy Gillespie in 1977 when Gillespie came to Cuba for two days. He says be-bop is the hardest subset of jazz to play.
6:25: Chick Corea, who’s now backstage, first heard Miles Davis play on an album when he was six. “He was a real icon, inspiration and mentor to me.” Corea, of course, played with Davis from 1968-1971. “Still to this day, it was an important period for me.” Robert Glasper Experiment’s “Black Radio” wins Best R&B Album. That’s a bit of an upset. Though the album was critically lauded, I would have thought either Anthony Hamilton or R. Kelly would have won. Corea released six records this year and will release 10 albums this year. “It just feels right to make a lot of music.” Skrillex, who just won for Best Dance Recording for “Bangarang” (take that, Al Walser) says he was on tour and has a track, “it was pretty raw” and he thanks Sirah who turned it into a song. He doesn’t get far before he’s called back to the stage for another Grammy for best dance/electronica album for “Bangarang.” That makes three Grammys for Skrillex so far. He leads all winners. There are about 25 people with him on stage. “To all the producers out there who want to be up here, you have the opportunity. We’re a big community…let’s keep it going.”
6:34: We’ve got dueling music happening. The legendary South African artist Hugh Masekela is up on stage dancing around like a man 1/3 his age (he’s 73) and the Stone Canyon Rangers, winners of best bluegrass album are singing a capella to us in the press room. Both absolutely great. It’s one of those things that only happens at the Grammys. One of the Rangers credits their popularity to the fake that there’s “no faking it” in their music. They credit Mumford & Sons and Avett Brothers to popularizing the banjo on radio right now. “In all the ways the world is going crazy, that’s the one way we know we’re on the right track.” The group acknowledges that some folks may come first to see Steve Martin, who made their last album with them, “but leave fans of bluegrass.” Ravi Shankar just won best world music album posthumously for “The Living Room Sessions Part 1.” Little Big Town’s incredible year continues: they just won the Grammy for best country duo/group performance. Best Country song goes to “Blown Away,” recorded by Carrie Underwood and written by Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins.
6:45: Paul McCartney wins best traditional pop vocal album for “Kisses On The Bottom.” He is not here. Halestorm beats vets like Megadeth, Anthrax, and Iron Maiden, not to mention Lamb of God, for Best Hard rock/Metal Performance. The first people they thank are their parents. They dedicate their award to “all the Halestorm freaks.” Best rock song goes to “Lonely Boy” by the Black Keys, beating Jack White, Mumford & Sons, Muse, and Bruce Springsteen. Pay attention: That may be a sign of things to come for the rest of the evening. AND is: The Black Keys just won Best Rock Album for “El Camino.” Gotye wins best alternative music album, beating Fiona Apple, Bjork (who remains Grammy free) M83 and Tom Waits.
6:50: Robert Glasper is now backstage. He says a lot of the album’s music was composed in the studio. “That’s how I wanted to be. Every song was a first take.” Among their inspirations, EW&F, Faith Evans, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Shuggie Otis. “We’re one band who plays everything authentically and the best,” he says of the group’s ability to embrace so many different styles in its music. Hey, it’s no time to be modest after winning a Grammy.
6:59: The pre-telecast just ended. Dan Auerbach just won producer of the year. He’s three for three (oddly, he doesn’t get a Grammy for producing best blues album for Dr. John. i’m trying to get some clarity, but unlike for album of the year, that may only go to the artist). Is is too late to change my prediction for album of the year to “El Camino.” Also, Goyte and Kimbra also captured best pop/duo group performance for “Somebody That I Used To Know,” which bodes well for it winning Record of the Year.
7:02: Little Big Town just came backstage. Though it’s been a long road, finally winning a Grammy “feels like the beginning of something,” says Phillip Sweet. Adds Karen Fairchild, the band has lost four times before, “When you’re in a category with Taylor Swift, you’re often not going to hear your name.” Josh Kear, winner of best country song, says “we sat down that day to write a song for Carrie Underwood, which is something we never do. We were talking drama. We started messing around with sound effects, which normally I would tell him to stop doing.” Tompkins says, “we just were pulling out all the tricks and then it takes on all this darkness and it sounds like something’s going down. It led us into thunderstorm-type atmosphere.” He adds they didn’t realize they were going to kill the dad until they were working on the song for the second day.
7:17: Up next for Halestorm is a cover EP, but when I asked them to spill at least one song they are covering, they deferred. Perhaps Lamb of God will be on there, though. They said they wrote their winning song, “Love Bites (So Do I),” after listening to Lamb of God. The band, in its current line-up, is celebrating its 10th year together. Nothing says 10th anniversary like a Grammy.
7:25 p.m. Skrillex is in the press room, talking about himself. “I don’t really do much press and I don’t like to talk about my music too much before it’s out… With ‘Bangarang,’ i just put it on my Facebook. I’ve always kept it organic. Electronic came up out of the underground.” On winning again after last year, he says, “I thought I would get used to it, but i tripped over every word with my acceptance speech. I felt like I fell into a pool of ice water.” Skrillex loved working with Harmony Korrine on “Spring Breakers,” especially for the fact that the movie twists the image of several former Disney stars. He also wants to continue to keep outside influence way from his music. “It can take one A&R exec to say one thing about your song to uninspire you, and you feel like you’re not doing the right thing, so I keep my team very tight.” Electronic and hip-hop are so similar, he says, noting he’s going to Rio de Janeiro next week to shoot a video for his collaboration, “Wild For The Night,” with A$AP Rocky. “It’s a beautiful place to shoot a crazy video.” Chris Robinson will direct the video.
7:32: Gotye says he’s tinkered on some tracks for years, but that “Somebody That I Used To Know” was written quite quickly in 3 different sessions, but it took six-to-eight months to find the right singer. He tried with two other vocalists, a third vocalist, whom Gotye felt was right, and then it took a few months to find Kimbra. He admits everything that’s happened since he finished the track “feels disconnected” from. Given all the remakes of the song on YouTube, Goyte says a solo guitar version by UK guitarist Mark Dawes is his favorite. He’s also done a mash-up of more than 150 different versions of the song. The song’s inspiration came from a sample of “Seville” a 1967 track by Luiz Bonfa that Gotye discovered in a record shop. Kimbra says Gotye’s direction was to be “very raw” and not attempt her usual acrobatics. They recorded her part in his bedroom. “It’s crazy to think it happened in such a casual place,” she says. “The emotion was so genuine.”
7:50. We’re getting ready to change to a new live blog for the live telecast. Thanks for reading.