Grammys 2012: Not So Chorney

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Fev 26 2012, 18h33


The good news about the 54th Grammys is that it could have been worse. Without reason, I continue to hope that this venerable institution will do right by the music. Instead, the collective continues to do right by the marketers. It's who you know, not what you know. One day I'll learn that lesson.

Select Results of Some Americana-ish Interest in the 2011 Grammy Season, awarded in February 2012

Best New Artist: Bon Iver I've at least heard.

Rock Performance, etc: I don't mind the Foo Fighters (not an Americana-ish comment, just a complimentary comment in the could-have-been-worse vein)

Most of the "Country" categories: Nashvegas marketers win again (insert disparaging remarks about Taylor Swift here, tho I will say this, she's the best pop star out of Nashville since Faith Hill)

Best Country Duo/Group Performance: Barton Hollow Many of my go-to Americana tweeters like The Civil Wars. I've avoided them simply because it's a stupid name for a band. (Like MTV I also asked Who the hell are The Civil Wars?) Definitely defiantly file under coulda-been-worse. I had a guilty favorite in Thompson Square due to a family member in the band, but oh well, see above Country comments there.

Best Americana Album: Nominations for the much anticipated category 43 caused quite a commotion this year. Unknown New Jersey pop singer Linda Chorney's bid exposed major flaws in the system... or highlighted that faith, hope and determination can overcome all barriers (including talent). Take your pick. My biggest beef with Chorney is the same beef as with the marketers overall--they have no idea what "Americana" is, and didn't care.
Other Americana nominees included Ry Cooder (Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down), Emmylou Harris (Hard Bargain) and Lucinda Williams (Blessed). I would love to see a Linda v Lucinda cage match--Williams would blow the upstart off the stage before ever picking up a guitar. Levon Helm brought the trophy home for Ramble At the Ryman, an safe choice, but a hundred other artists on the AMA radio charts were worthy.

Best Bluegrass Album: Alison Krauss & Union Station take it home again for Paper Airplane. Love Alison Krauss, yes I do, tho I consider this album more Americana than Bluegrass like so much of her work... (They got another trophy in cat 64, Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, in which Gillian Welch's album The Harrow & The Harvest was also nominated.) Other nominees, all worthy, included Jim Lauderdale, Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, The Del McCoury Band, Ralph Stanley, and Chris Thile & Michael Daves.

Best Blues Album: Tedeschi Trucks Band, Revelator. Meh. Not bad. Not terribly memorable, but not bad. Other nominations: Gregg Allman, Marcia Ball, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo.

Best Folk Album: Here's where The Civil Wars' Barton Hollow is more at home. Some wags were worried that Eddie Vedder's Ukulele Songs would take the win on name recognition alone. Meh, again. I don't know I've ever listened to Fleet Foxes. However, I absolutely liked both Steve Earle's I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive and Gillian Welch The Harrow & The Harvest. Pox on the Academy for overlooking these fine artists.

And kudos to Béla Fleck for Best Instrumental Composition.
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