On Thursday evening, I attended the red carpet and the Grammy Foundation's "One Night Only: A Celebration of the Live Music Experience," the foundation's 14th annual music preservation project.
The show was held at the Saban Theatre on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills, right next to the home of Larry Flynt Publications. I was directed to park my car in Mr. Flynt's office building, thought I felt shady about it and nervously searched for hand sanitizer after handing the valet $16. As I walked out of the parking garage, I looked for porn stars, but didn't see any. Darn. I needed a date for the evening. (My wife was in Salt Lake City at the time.) Just kidding, sweetie.
The red carpet was like all other red carpets: crowded and irritating. Luckily, I met a nice Us Weekly reporter and I helped him ID musicians as he helped me learn gossip about celebrities.
On the red carpet, I met and talked to Mavis Staples, Robert Cray, Beverly McClellan (first season of "The Voice"), a member of the Platters, Steve Vai, and Dave Koz, the latter who is up against Utah native and violinist Jenny Oaks Baker in the Best Pop Instrumental Category.
I asked Koz about being torn between wishing him good luck while in actuality wanting to see Baker win. The saxophonist told me that he hadn't heard of Baker before her nomination, but checked her out on YouTube after the nominations were announced and being impressed with what he saw. He also mentioned that he thought she was "gorgeous." I finally asked him point-blank about whom I should root for. He told me, "Go Utah!"
During other red carpet interviews, I learned that Staples is a big fan of Adele, Mary J. Blige, Trombone Shorty, The Band Perry (whom she called the Perry Family), Arcade Fire, and, incredibly, "Moves Like Jagger." Steve Vail said that 100 years from now, people will be listened to preserve works by Stravinsky, Led Zeppelin and Tom Waits. The guy from the Platters said in a 100 years, people will still be listening to the Platters.
Finally, on the red carpet I talked briefly with McClellan, who competed against Utah native Dia Frampton on the first season of "The Voice." McClellan said of Dia: "Dia should float down on a star — she is angelic and her voice is angelic."
I missed a chance to talk to Bret Michaels and Sharon Osbourne because I wanted to get to the show on time, and I had the crazy idea that this show would start on time. Stupid me. Music concerts NEVER, EVER start on time.
But once the music started, it quickly became obvious who had star potential: Trombone Shorty, a person I had never given much thought to before. (Bad memories of junior high band always played into that.) But with a house band behind him and Koz being his foil, Shorty received the biggest standing ovation of the night, most likely because he played one note for, no joke, between two to three minutes. He also killed during Staples' too-short set, which also drew the second largest standing ovation of the night.
Another stand out was the powerhouse singer-songwiter L.P., who delivered two songs with vocals that brought to mind Bjork and the charisma of Amy Winehouse. Her set ended with a startlingly good rendition of Radiohead's "Creep," which was poignant because you would have thought that she would be out of place among all of the great performers of the evening. But rather than being a "creep," she shone.
I left before Bret Michael's closing set because I wanted to beat the traffic — I had a 90-minute commute to make it home — but I left with a smile after remembering what a publicist had asked me earlier in the night once I said I was with the Salt Lake Tribune. "Is that radio?" he asked.
One more laugh I also remembered: Steve Vai said he briefly went on tour with Bret Michaels. "He did more than penetrate the masses," he deadpanned. "He penetrated everyone."
After that, I went back to Mr. Flynt's parking garage.
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