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A Prince Tribute, The Red Carpet and Metallica Duet With Lady Gaga To Highlight 2017 GRAMMYs

By JOHN DALY

James Corden hosts an ambitious GRAMMY broadcast this year, with highlights of the show including a Prince Tribute and a duet by Lady Gaga with Metallica.

“Prince is living through all of us and there’s not a day that goes by that his influence on us isn’t out there,” said Jimmy Jam, who with Morris Day, form The Time. “So this is for him our performance is something we know he would enjoy. We know he’s gonna have a good time because we’re gonna have a good time. And that’s just a reminder of how he is in everybody’s life. We’re going to celebrate.”

Morris Day and Jimmy Jam anticipate a great tribute to Prince - Photo courtesy GRAMMY.org

Morris Day and Jimmy Jam anticipate a great tribute to Prince – Photo courtesy GRAMMY.org

Robert Trujillo and Kirk Hammett of Metallica said their collaboration with Lady Gaga is going well.

“You know how the GRAMMYs have their duets thing, so when it was suggested that Lady Gaga do it,  I thought ‘That’s interesting,'” Hammett said. But when she came to work with us on the song last night it turned out really reaally really well. She was really open and willing to work with different arrangements and see what worked well over the course of the song.”

Robert Trujillo and Kirk Hammett - Photo courtesy of GRAMMY.org

Robert Trujillo and Kirk Hammett – Photo courtesy of GRAMMY.org

“She has a lot of edge and attitude which is important for what we do,” said Trujillo. “She actually came to see us play, we did a small show, at the Henry Fonda Theatre, she saw the whole show, stayed for it, enjoyed it, she started rockin’ out and magically this all started happening.

Ultimate-Guitar.com discovered a tweet from producer Northern Lights that indicated the duet of Lady Gaga and Metallica would  perform “Moth Into Flame.”

The GRAMMY Awards broadcast begins at 8 P.M. ET/ 5 P.M. PT on CBS.

 

Jack White: Producers Should Not ‘Control’ The Music, But Instead, Bring Out Performers’ Best

Jack White, The Ultimate Indie GRAMMY Winner, Honored by Recording Academy

Photo by SASSY BLACK CAT

The Producers and Engineers Wing of the Recording Academy honored 12-time GRAMMY winner Jack White for his commitment to music.

White’s speech at The Village Recording Studios held true to his indie outlook, he spoke about allowing music to flow and accepting its fluid, creative nature.

The 12-time GRAMMY winner told the highbrow gathering: “You let the music tell you what to do. You don’t tell music what to do, it’s not an ego trip. You’re not in control.”

“The music tells you what your actions should be especially when you’re helping other people,” White said.  “Producers aren’t supposed to tell people what to do, they’re supposed to bring out the best. If you can’t bring out anything in them, if there’s nothing you can add to it then you shouldn’t take the job.”

Jack White: 'Don't Control The Music' - Photo by Kris Krug

Jack White: ‘Don’t Control The Music’ – Photo by Kris Krug

Also on hand were GRAMMY winners and current nominees Rivers Cuomo and Scott Shriner from Weezer, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam, three-time GRAMMY winner Nile Rodgers, and 13-time GRAMMY winner T Bone Burnett.

Three-time GRAMMY winner Peter Asher, who recently gave a nice interview to CaliforniaRocker.com was also there to crack a few jokes, as were GRAMMY-winning producer Jack Douglas, two-time GRAMMY-winning producer Dave Cobb, current nominees Kaskade, King and Blink-182, Regina Spektor, Billy Bob Thornton, producer Alex Da Kid, Feist, Lisa Loeb, Geoff Emerick, Sassy Black, author DR. Daniel J. Levitan, Vassy and ZZ Ward.

Also in attendance were Recording Academy President-CEO Neil Portnow,
Recording Academy Chair John Poppo, and members of The Recording Academy Producers and Engineers Wing, along with musical artists, producers, and other prominent music industry figures.

The producers and engineers wing of the Recording Academy celebrates its 10th annual GRAMMY week event, this year honoring White, who has impacted the music world with his excellence and support for the craft of recorded music.

The event was held at The Village Recording Studios 1616 Butler Ave. West Los Angeles.

Paul Nelson GRAMMY Nom: ‘My Friend the Late Johnny Winter Would Be Proud of Joe Louis Walker and Me’

EXCLUSIVE: Producer of GRAMMY-Nominated Blues Album Chats with California Rocker

By DONNA BALANCIA

Blues great Joe Louis Walker is getting some.  After all, that’s what he asks for in his GRAMMY nominated album ‘Everybody Wants a Piece.’

And Paul Nelson is helping him. Paul is the force behind the music, who rose the ranks as performer and as producer to, most notably, the late Johnny Winter. Paul produced and and also performed on Everybody Wants a Piece, which has been nominated for a GRAMMY Award this year in the Blues category.

“What I like about Joe Louis Walker is he’s a contemporary blues artist but he respects the tradition of the older musicians,” Nelson said about Walker.

 

Paul Nelson and Pork Chop

Nelson is no newbie to this GRAMMY business. He won a GRAMMY two years ago for producing the Johnny Winter album, Step Back, Johnny’s last record.

But with every musician there are different styles and different results from collaboration, Paul said.

Paul’s beloved dog, Pork Chop will be memorialized on the record – Photo courtesy of Paul Nelson

“With Joe, I wanted to get the best performance possible,” Nelson said.

The songs were recorded at Chop Shop, Nelson’s studio in Connecticut.

“We had a lot of fun,” Paul said. “And the album also features my dog Pork Chop, who died. He was a miniature Pinscher. He barked on one of the songs. So, he’s now a GRAMMY-nominated dog! He will be forever remembered.”

Nelson said he was proud of the work.

“Everyone on the record did a fantastic job,” he said.

Is the Blues Genre a Dying Breed?

Nelson says he doesn’t think the blues as a genre is going away any time soon.

Paul Nelson: The Blues Will Live On

“I don’t think the blues is dying, it’s meshing together with other types of music, like southern rock, or with music from New Orleans, that kind of mixture. There’s been a huge influence from Britain. Everyone’s looking at the Claptons, a lot of British fans know the tradition. Jeff Beck, a lot of singing guitar players. We’ve lost the art of frontman. It’s hard to find the next Bobby Blue Bland.”

Nelson said the music may be evolving and so is the presentation.

 

Paul Nelson – Photo courtesy of Paul Nelson

Acoustic Blues Guitar

“There’s a big call for acoustic because of the economy and it’s easier to hire one artist,” he said. “There are pockets of places in Florida and New Orleans where you’ll see that. It’s really becoming difficult for artists to survive these days. But the Blues isn’t going away. It’s the first thing people learn to play to this day. It’s not going anywhere.”

Paul says he thinks of Johnny often and still has a hard time without his friend and mentor.

‘Johnny Wanted Me to Succeed’

“Johnny wanted to be considered blues but he always had rock stigma because of the clothes, because of his style,” Paul said. “He always wanted me to succeed, he wanted me to do well. When we were finishing up recording Step Back, he leaned over to me and said ‘If we don’t get a GRAMMY for this, they’re nuts.'”

Paul said he had to keep his resolve when he accepted the GRAMMY for Step Back.

“When I hit the podium at Staples Center it was difficult,” Paul said. “It was very emotional. Edgar came up with me.”

As for this year, Paul said he is thankful.

“I’m just crossing my fingers and I appreciate everyone thinking of me for a second time,” Paul said. “And the great thing is, my phone is ringing off the hook.”

 

‘Billie Jean’ Facebook Guitarist Alexandr Misko a Social Media Phenom With More than 10 Million Views

‘Billie Jean’ Guitarist Alexandr Misko a Facebook Phenom – EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

By DONNA BALANCIA

Guitarist Alexandr Misko performed the song “Billie Jean” and posted it to YouTube. Little did the 19-year-old Russian guitarist know his excellent “Billie Jean” video would go viral on social media and his performance would be watched more than 10 million times on Facebook.

So who is Alexandr Misko, where is he, and how did he get so good at guitar?  CaliforiaRocker.com asked the remarkable young guitarist Alexandr the important questions.

CaliforniaRocker.com: How do you do it? I have never seen a guitar player who uses the top hand to play the strings?

Alexandr Misko: Well, how do I do it? It’s a hard question for me to answer. To say briefly, I just play what I love in the style which I love — it is called Fingerstyle. I try my best to make my own music interesting and original and to become a successful musician. Also I am working hard on my playing abilities and techniques because I want to sound just as good live as I sound on my recordings.

Alexandr Misko Tells of ‘Billie Jean’ Technique

CR: What is this unusual style of finger picking with the top hand?

AM: The technique that you are talking about is not really new – it’s called “tapping” and many players have been using it all over the world since the ’50s, though mostly on electric guitars. The main thing is the ability of a composer or arranger to use it in appropriate way. I mean, you can move your hands all over the guitar and use many unorthodox techniques, but it all won’t make any musical sense. The music itself is primary, and all your ideas should be concentrated around it. If it’s not, then it is all just “flashy” maneuvers for a circus.

CR: Did you think your video “Billie Jean” would catch on so quickly?

AM: Rob Poland from Candyrat Records really helped me with the promotion of my video, but I never thought that it will become so viral. I hoped that it would be great if my video reaches 100 or 200 thousand views, but now it has more than 10 million of views! It’s just amazing. And I am incredibly thankful to all that people who are sharing it and watching it. Also I want to personally thank Rob for posting this video on his page and channel.

CR: Are you happy about all the views on “Billie Jean?”

AM: Yes, views are coming really quickly, it’s a viral video. It took my video less than a week to reach more that 10 millions, that’s why it’s even more surprising for me. I really hope that this success will help me to tour in other countries. Also, kind words from all my fans are really motivating me to become a beter musician. I won’t dissapoint them.

Alexandr Misko and Learning ‘Billie Jean’

CR: What was the your process on learning this song?

AM: Well, when I listened this song some good ideas started to pop up in my head, like “Hmm, I can play that bass with one hand, Hmm, and I can put a little scrunchy on 2 low strings to mute them and create that signature sound…”  Then I just picked up guitar and started to work on my arrangement. After a couple of days it was finished, but it took me a whole week to practice to play it properly without any technical and rhythmical mistakes. Yeah, it’s really complicated song and definitely not easy to play.

CR: Where were you born and have you ever come to the United States?

AM: I was born in Russia, in the little south town called Krasnodar in November of 1997. Unfortunately, I have never been anywhere outside Russia, though I do lots of gigs around my country. I really hope that someday I will make tours in other countries and I’m ready to work hard to achieve my goal.

CR: Do you live with your parents and do you have any other talented brothers and sisters?

AM: I live with my parents at the moment, and I’m the only child in my family.

CR: Do your parents play music?

AM: No, my parents don’t play music at all. Though, my mother graduated from musical school in her teens many years ago, but it turned out that music is definitely not her cup of tea, so she completely abandoned it and threw away her piano long before my birth.

CR: Do you want to play music in the United States?

AM: Yes, definitely. It would be so great for me to do some gigs in a foreign country, especially in the USA, though it’s so far away from my home.

CR: How do you know so much American music? Do you listen to American radio or Internet radio?

AM: Well, American music is really popular in every country, so everybody knows many foreign hits even though the lyrics and the language itself can be a mystery for that people. As for me, I don’t really like to listen to popular music, I’m fond of underground and complex music. Many modern American composers influenced me, for example Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Alex De Grassi, Trevor Gordon Hall and others.

CR: Have you made any recordings?

AM: Yes, in February of 2016 I released my debut album The Songs Of Adolescence and it’s available through all world’s popular music services (including on iTunes and Amazon). This record is very personal and important for me because it’s the collection of my best songs that were written in the period from 16 to 18 years. Also, I need to mention that there are no covers, only my original music, so it’s rather hard to promote and to sell it. But I am ready for obstacles like that because I’m sure that my own music should be primary. To be a composer for me means much more, than just an arranger, that’s why I’m really interested in recording and playing my originals on gigs.

Billie Jean Alexandr Misko Facebook

Billie Jean by Alexandr Misko has gotten more than 10 million Facebook views

CR: What is your favorite band? Do you have more than one favorite?

AM: I have many favourite bands, so it’s better to say something about genres that I love, because the list of the bands would be almost infinite. I like deathcore, progressive math metal, technical death metal, slamming brutal death metal, shoegaze, cloud rap, chill step, trip hop, nu metal, minimal music of 19th and 20th century, instrumental new-age music, and many many other genres. I try to be very versatile in my musical tastes because it reflects in my own music.

CR: Is music your favorite thing to do?

AM: I have many hobbies and interests, but music is definitely my favorite thing to do. Not only because I’m in love with music of any kind, but also because I see it as my future profession.

CR: What is the secret to being a great musician? Do you have to feel the music to play well?

Well, I think the secret lies in dedication and many hours of hard work. I don’t really believe in a “talent” and some natural abilities to play music. If the talent exists, it gives you only 3 percent of the success. The other 97 percent of the success are made only by you.

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