California Rocker

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This Time, Legendary Troubadour Club Takes Center Stage at Kennedy Center Honors on CBS

The Eagles, James Taylor, Mavis Staples, Al Pacino and pianist Martha Argerich Honored

By JOHN DALY

The Troubadour on Santa Monica Boulevard was as much in the spotlight at the Kennedy Center Honors broadcast last night as the performers the famous LA club has hosted over the years.

Among the many performers were Sheryl Crow, who honored James Taylor at the Kennedy Center Honors show which aired on CBS.

During the 39th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, Crow paid tribute to honoree Taylor with a moving rendition of his famous song, “Fire and Rain.”

The Troubadour also took center stage, mainly because it was the club where a lot of the legends of the evening got their start. In addition to Taylor, The Eagles and Linda Ronstadt, who introduced the famous California band via video, all had a legendary presence at the LA club.

Video courtesy of CBS

The Eagles, who were originally set to be honored in 2015 made their presence known, despite the death this year of Glenn Frey. Mavis Staples who has been honored by The GRAMMY Museum, was also given tribute during the  Kennedy Center Honors.

Mavis Staples Photo © Donna Balancia

Mavis Staples is honored – Photo © Donna Balancia

 

GRAMMYs 2016 – Dearly Departed Musicians Upstaged Those Still Here

Full List of Winners Here; Lady Gaga, Hollywood Vampires Mesmerize

Justin Bieber - Photo courtesy of CBS for CaliforniaRocker.com

Justin Bieber – Photo courtesy of CBS for CaliforniaRocker.com

By DONNA BALANCIA – It was a rough year for the music business and the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards reflected that, as dead musicians took the spotlight from today’s performers.

Lady Gaga honored David Bowie; Bonnie Raitt, Chris Stapleton and Gary Clarke Jr. performed in honor of BB King; and The Hollywood Vampires, alias Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Joe Perry, played in honor of Lemmy Kilmister.

As for the awards, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and even Justin Bieber got GRAMMY awards Monday night. And while many may have a hard time with Bieber, we have to admit he has a great voice and he does play guitar.

GRAMMYs: Rigged and Antiquated

CaliforniaRocker.com takes the position that the GRAMMY Awards event is a rigged and antiquated marketing function. The GRAMMY awards are highly irrelevant to 90 percent of aspiring musicians of today.  For established musicians, attending a GRAMMY Awards event and getting on national TV boosts recognition and sales.

Lady Gaga gave a fitting tribute to David Bowie during GRAMMY Awards - Photo courtesy CBS for CaliforniaRocker.com

Lady Gaga gave a fitting tribute to David Bowie during GRAMMY Awards – Photo courtesy CBS for CaliforniaRocker.com

But, big bucks are invested in the GRAMMY Awards. The annual event, and events like it, are important to musical instrument manufacturers who are having a very rough time getting young people to play traditional drums, keyboards and guitar.  The GRAMMYs can put a dream in a kid’s head, a guitar in his or her hands, and money into the empty coffers of today’s music schools.

So the industry props up Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and all the others, whether they have true talent or not, regardless if autotune is in their DNA, or whether they have truly “made it on their own” or not.

So congrats to the winners.

As for performances, a strong showing of the evening was that of The Hollywood Vampires, who busted their national TV cherry, putting on a tribute to Lemmy Kilmister. This Sunset Strip supergroup is so appealing and influential it could possibly single-handedly keep rock and roll alive.

The music business owes a vote of thanks to Johnny Depp and The Hollywood Vamps who make Rock N Roll Cool - Photo courtesy CBS for CaliforniaRocker.com

The music business owes a vote of thanks to Johnny Depp and The Hollywood Vamps who make Rock N Roll Cool – Photo courtesy CBS for CaliforniaRocker.com

CaliforniaRocker.com covered Johnny Depp’s compelling performance with The New Basement Tapes at The Montalban Theatre; Alice Cooper is an all-time original, whose “School’s Out” was a national anthem, and Joe Perry is pure class. And if we’re going for full disclosure we’re biased because we’re fans of not only outstanding producer Bruce Witkin, who is the bassist in the band, but also his beautiful and creative family.

Gwen Stefani, formerly of The Voice, debuted her single “Make Me Like You” via a high-dollar, one-take, but ultimately cheesy Target ad. Her record bows March 18.

Foo Fighters Still Together?

Foo Fighters, whose existence is in question since their long email note to the fans a few months back indicating they would stop touring, lost out to Alabama Shakes in the best rock performance category. The “wrap it up music” cued not only Alabama Shakes, but others during their acceptance speeches.

Gwen Stefani's Target commercial hit the airwaves during the GRAMMY Awards - Photo © Donna Balancia

Gwen Stefani’s Target commercial hit the airwaves during the GRAMMY Awards – Photo © Donna Balancia

Adele, What Happened?

Adele, whose chart-topping album, 25, was a multimillion seller, had some challenges. She missed the high notes during her performance of “All I Ask,” and the best we can figure is she has the walking pneumonia that’s plagued everyone in LA recently. Extremely talented and appreciated, it wasn’t her night, but she can take comfort weeping into her millions. She blamed a microphone causing a clanging sound. Rihanna canceled her GRAMMY appearance because of that LA flu. Smart move.

For the people who were actually there, it was good to see those who had passed were honored by the likes of Gaga, and Jackson Browne and Joe Walsh.

Browne and Walsh led their version of “Take It Easy” in tribute to Glenn Frey who also passed away a few weeks ago. Gaga, who seems to be every old musician’s favorite pal — she is godmother to Elton John’s children and hangs with Tony Bennett — put on a ripping performance to honor David Bowie through the years.

The Hollywood Vampires - Photo courtesy of CBS for CaliforniaRocker.com

The Hollywood Vampires – Photo courtesy of CBS for CaliforniaRocker.com

Stevie Wonder led the the tribute to Lionel Richie singing “That’s The Way of The World;” his voice is still amazingly clear and he appeared in good nature.  He made a brief but poignant statement on helping to enable people with disabilities.

With fashion, short undergarments with draping skirts were the style of the night (for the gals) as many picked gowns with thigh-high slits or outfits that flashed short shorts. Wonder actually slayed in the fashion department too, wearing camouflage in introducing Song of the Year. For the men, the print shirts and black and white tuxedoes were the flavor this year.

Among those who received a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award was Run DMC. Reverend Run (Joseph Simmons, brother to Russell Simmons) with all his advice and words of wisdom said his story and music was always told from his heart.

Original Wrapper

East Coast Rocker readers remember the night Run DMC warmed up for Lou Reed during his Original Wrapper show at the Capitol Theatre in Pasaic, N.J. and they had a very rough time with the audience. The audience was having none of this rap warm-up band and was calling out “Lou! Lou!” and catcalling “Boo!” while Run DMC was performing and scratching. OK it was 1986.

Mavis-Staples-Photo © Donna Balancia

Mavis-Staples-Photo © Donna Balancia

Speaking of rap, Kendrick Lamar’s performances were spot on and interesting at least, if not costly — and hot! — with fire burning right in the middle of Staples Center.

And lest we forget, a special congrats goes out to the grande dame of rock music, Mavis Staples, who was awarded the American Roots Award.

GRAMMY AWARD RECIPIENTS:

Album of the Year – 1989, Taylor Swift

Song of the Year – “Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran and Amy Wadge

Record of the Year  – “Uptown Funk,” Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

Best Rap Album  – To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar

Best Country Album – Traveler, Chris Stapleton

Best Musical Theater Album – Hamilton

Best Rap Performance -“Alright,” Kendrick Lamar

Best Rap Song -“Alright,” Kendrick Lamar

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration -“These Walls,” Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise, and Thundercat

Best Rock Performance -“Don’t Wanna Fight,” Alabama Shakes

Best Music Video -“Bad Blood,” Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar

Best New Artist -Meghan Trainor

Producer of the Year, Non-Classical – Jeff Bhasker

Best Country Song – “Girl Crush,” Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, and Liz Rose (Little Big Town)

Best Country Solo Performance  -“Traveller,” Chris Stapleton

Best Country Duo/Group Performance – “Girl Crush,” Little Big Town

Best Pop Vocal Album – Taylor Swift, 1989

Best Pop Solo Performance  -“Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran

Best Rock Album – Drones, Muse

Best Alternative Album – Sound & Color, Alabama Shakes

Best Rock Performance – “Don’t Wanna Fight,” Alabama Shakes

Best Rock Song – “Don’t Wanna Fight,” Alabama Shakes

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance – “Uptown Funk,” Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

Best Metal Performance – “Cirice,” Ghost

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album – “The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern,” Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap

Best Traditional R&B Performance – “Little Ghetto Boy,” Lalah Hathaway

Best Dance/Electronic Album – Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü, Skrillex and Diplo

Best Dance Recording-“Where Are Ü Now,” Skrillex and Diplo with Justin Bieber

Remixed Recording, Non-Classical-“Uptown Funk (Dave Audé Remix),” Dave Audé (Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars)

Best Urban Contemporary Album-Beauty Behind the Madness, the Weeknd

Best Comedy Album-Live at Madison Square Garden, Louis CK

Best R&B Album-Black Messiah, D’Angelo and the Vanguard

Best R&B Song-“Really Love,” D’Angelo and Kendra Foster

Best R&B Performance-“Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey),” the Weeknd

Best Blues Album-Born to Play Guitar, Buddy Guy

Best Folk Album-Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn

Best Reggae Album-Strictly Roots, Morgan Heritage

Best New Age Album-“Grace,” Paul Avgerinos

Best Surround Sound Album-“Amused to Death,” James Guthrie and Joel Plante (Roger Waters)

Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media-Birdman, Antonio Sanchez

Best Song Written for Visual Media-“Glory,” performed by Common and John Legend

Best Music Film-Amy, Amy Winehouse; Asif Kapadia, video director; James Gay-Rees, video producer

Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media-Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me

Best Spoken Word Album-A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety, Jimmy Carter

Contemporary Instrumental Album-“Sylva,” Snarky Puppy and Metropole Orkest

Best Improvised Jazz Solo-“Cherokee,” Christian McBride

Best Jazz Vocal Album-“For One to Love,” Cécile McLorin Salvant

Best Jazz Instrumental Album-“Past Present,” John Scofield

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album-“The Thompson Fields,” Maria Schneider Orchestra

Best Children’s Album-“Home,” Tim Kubart

Best World Music Album-“Sings,” Angelique Kidjo

Best Regional Roots Music Album-“Go Go Juice,” Jon Cleary

Best Bluegrass Album-“The Muscle Shoals Recordings,” The Steeldrivers

Best Americana Album-“Something More Than Free,” Jason Isbell

Best American Roots Song-“24 Frames,” Jason Isbell

Best American Roots Performance-“See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” Mavis Staples

Best Latin Pop Album-“A Quien Quiera Escuchar (Deluxe Edition),” Ricky Martin

Best Tropical Latin Album-“Son De Panamá,” Rubén Blades with Roberto Delgado and Orchestra

Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album-TIE: “Hasta la Raíz,” Natalia Lafourcade and “Dale,” Pitbull

Best Regional Mexican Music Album-“Realidades, Deluxe Edition,” Los Tigres Del Norte

Best Roots Gospel Album-“Still Rockin’ My Soul,” the Fairfield Four

Best Contemporary Christian Album-“This Is Not a Test,” Tobymac

Best Gospel Album-“Covered: Alive in Asia [Live] (Deluxe),” Israel & Newbreed

Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song-“Holy Spirit,” Francesca Battistelli

Best Engineered Album, Classical-“Ask Your Mama,” Leslie Ann Jones, John Kilgore, Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum, and Justin Merrill, engineers; Patricia Sullivan, mastering engineer (George Manahan and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra)

Best Producer, Classical-Judith Sherman

Best Orchestral Performance-“Shostakovich: Under Stalin’s Shadow — Symphony No. 10,” Andris Nelsons, conductor (Boston Symphony Orchestra)

Best Opera Recording-“Ravel: L’Enfant Et Les Sortilèges; Shéhérazade,” Seiji Ozawa, conductor; Isabel Leonard; Dominic Fyfe, producer (Saito Kinen Orchestra; SKF Matsumoto Chorus and SKF Matsumoto Children’s Chorus)

Best Choral Performance-“Beethoven: Missa Solemnis,” Bernard Haitink, conductor; Peter Dijkstra, chorus master (Anton Barachovsky, Genia Kühmeier, Elisabeth Kulman, Hanno Müller-Brachmann, and Mark Padmore; Symphonieorchester Des Bayerischen Rundfunks; Chor Des Bayerischen Rundfunks)

Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance-“Brahms: The Piano Trios,” Tanja Tetzlaff, Christian Tetzlaff, and Lars Vogt

Best Classical Instrumental Solo-“Dutilleux: Violin Concerto, L’Arbre Des Songes,” Augustin Hadelich; Ludovic Morlot, conductor (Seattle Symphony)

Best Classical Solo Vocal Album-“Joyce & Tony — Live From Wigmore Hall,” Joyce DiDonato; Antonio Pappano, accompanist

Best Classical Compendium-“Paulus: Three Places of Enlightenment; Veil of Tears & Grand Concerto,” Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Tim Handley, producer

Best Contemporary Classical Composition-“Paulus: Prayers & Remembrances,” Stephen Paulus, composer (Eric Holtan, True Concord Voices, and Orchestra)

Mavis Staples is Awarded The Woody Guthrie Prize at LA’s GRAMMY Museum

Mavis-Staples-Photo © Donna Balancia

Mavis Staples performs at GRAMMY Museum – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA — Mavis Staples was awarded the Woody Guthrie Prize at the GRAMMY Museum in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday night.

Among those on hand for the prestigious event were Bob Santelli GRAMMY Museum executive director, and Deana McCloud, executive director of the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Okla.

“Music can be a great tool for social justice,” McCloud said. “We want to change lives and change the world. In this country our history isn’t necessarily pretty but we’re looking for ways to do better.”

Megan Ochs, the daughter of Phil Ochs, accepted the Woody Guthrie Legacy Award on behalf of her father.

“As  patriot it’s not only the right but the responsibility to challenge the government,” Ochs said. “My father found a way to interpret political times through music.”

Staples said she was honored to receive the Woody Guthrie Prize, particularly since The Staples Singers — comprised of patriarch Roebuck “Pops” Staples, Cleotha, Mavis and Pervis Staples — always loved Guthrie’s songs.

Mavis-Staples-Photo © Donna Balancia

Mavis Staples performs at GRAMMY Museum – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

“I was a teenager when I heard Peter, Paul and Mary sing “This Land Is Your Land,” and we loved the song so much that we recorded it.”

The lively leader of The Staples Singers, Mavis gave an audience of GRAMMY members and guests insights into her inspiration to sing and record freedom songs.

The Staples Singers had a history of gospel, but it was during the time of the preachings of Dr. Martin Luther King that they found their calling.

She said until the Staples Singers came along, gospel had not previously been blended with blues and it was something that made her family unique — even though their sound was met with a degree of resistance.

Staples said some things have improved, compared to the day and age in which she was raised.  She said her father was 18 and her mother was 16 when they married and that her father was proud of her mother’s cooking.

“My father would invite people over for dinner,” she said. “Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson… Ray tried my mother’s Sweet Potato Pie and said, ‘We should franchise,'” she recalled. “We could make big ones, little ones,'” she recalled. ”  My father would bring sweet potato pie to the disc jockeys,” she said. “They would say, The Staples Singers don’t need payola, they have ‘Pie-ola.”‘

Mavis-Staples-Photo © Donna Balancia

Mavis Staples discusses civil rights at GRAMMY MUSEUM -Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Staples said she was influenced by Guthrie and a host of artists like Joni Mitchell and others who used the guitar.  She told her father she wanted to learn the guitar.

“Pops had me cut my fingernails,” she said. “He gave me three lessons it was too much for him, I wasn’t learning fast enough. I wanted to pick I wanted to strum.”

Staples said she was flattered to be included in the Martin Scorsese film, The Last Waltz.  By the time the film was actually going into production, she had formed a strong bond with Levon Helm and The Band as well as Bob Dylan.  She said Dylan was always close to her brother Pervis.

Pervis is living in their parents’ house in Dalton, Ill., and he’s doing well, Staples said.

“He’s still frisky at 80,” she said. “He thinks he’s a player.”

As far as finding their successful niche, Staples said it was the sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King that influenced the Staples Singers.

“Pops had been hearing Martin Luther King on the radio and said he has a church and he would like to go to the 11 o’clock service,” Staples recalled. “We were ushered in and greeted by Dr. King who said he was glad to have Pops and the Staples.  After service, Dr. King used to shake hands. Pops shook hands and spoke to Dr. King for a while.  When we got home Pops called us in and said listen, y’all, if Dr. King can preach it, we can sing it.”

Staples said she was disappointed there aren’t more singers singing songs of freedom today and said she remains hopeful someone would come forth.

Staples sang a selection of songs and closed out the night with the GRAMMY-winning 1972 hit “I’ll Take You There,” which she said was initially scorned in the church because of its rythmn.

Mavis-Staples-Photo © Donna Balancia

Mavis Staples and GRAMMY Museum’s Bob Santelli discuss her Woody Guthrie Prize – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

“They said it was Devil’s music,” she recalled. “I said, ‘The devil ain’t got no music, all music is God’s music.'”

Eventually, when she proved her point and was asked back to the church, she said the first request was “I’ll Take You There.”

Staples said she has felt fortunate to have worked with some of the top names in music.

She joked that after seeing all the memorabiliia in the GRAMMY Museum that’s devoted to Taylor Swift, she decided she would like to sing a duet with the young songstress.  “I would make more friends I think.”

In addition to collaborating with some of the greats, including Ry Cooder, and Curtis Mayfield, Staples said she enjoyed her recent work with Bruce Hornsby and Galactic.  The work won’t stop, she said.

“I’m not retiring as long as I have a voice,” she said.

And the best advice she ever received?  She said it was from her father.

“He said, ‘Sing from your heart, be sincere,” she said. “He said, if you’re singing from your heart, you’ll reach the people.'”

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