The 50th Annual Grammy Awards happen this Sunday, February 10. The Grammy’s wouldn’t appear to have much relevancy for Echoes listeners or most people interested in non-commercial or alternative music. And as far as the TV spectacle goes, you’re right. There hasn’t been an interesting non-Rock act on there since forever. The New Age Grammy, always a dicey proposition anyway, has never been televised, even back when Peter Gabriel was winning for Passion.
Despite these omissions, artists are always stumping for votes, even in the lesser categories. Everyone is looking for the Grammy Bump, that boost in sales that comes from winning a Grammy, but the fact is, unless your award is given on TV and combined with a performance or video, there’s no bump at all. Your Grammy falls in a forest, without a sound. Guitarist Will Ackerman won his first Grammy a couple of years ago, and despite his label’s best efforts to promote that, realized virtually no increased sales for his CD, Returning, post-Grammy show. His award was given off-camera, relegated to a scroll during prime time.
When we put together Echoes at the Grammys, which runs on Friday February 8, it’s surprisingly easy to come up with enough Echoes-relevant artists, but we often find them lurking in unusual categories like Best Album Packaging or Classical Crossover. Bill Frisell’s Floratone and Viktor Krauss both slipped in through the Best Engineering Category.
As a member of the Recording Academy, I see a need for another venue for getting these lesser categories and less mainstream artists some recognition. In the era of cable and satellite TV, Internet and multi-media platforms, there should be alternate ways of getting other winners out into the world. With cable networks like MSNBC only getting numbers in the 100,000 range, surely there is a commensurate, if not larger audience out there for something besides the Foo Fighters and Beyoncé.
Although the Grammys are far from perfect and leave many musicians at the margins, there could still be a great Grammy show based on the current nominees. My fantasy Grammy Award show would include performances from Loreena McKennitt, a collaboration of string pickers with Keola Beamer, Ottmar Liebert and Eric Tingstad. I could see Oregon getting together onstage with their former employer Paul Winter for the first time in 30 years. R. Carlos Nakai and Johnny Whitehorse (Robert Mirabal) could duet on Native American flutes and Béla Fleck & Chick Corea, Floratone and Viktor Krauss could converge on a set of improvisational Americana. Now that would be a great Grammy show.
Here’s my personal picks in a couple of Grammy categories:
Eric Tingstad-Southwest, an Echoes CD of the Month from March
R. Carlos Nakai-Reconnections a CD of the Month Pick in October of 2006
WORLD MUSIC CONTEMPORARY
Loreena McKennitt-An Ancient Muse, a CD of the Month Pick in December 2006
John Diliberto copyright 2008