As a voting member, I went to the Grammys for the first time in 2001, when the wild after-party was still in the cavernous downstairs at the Biltmore…ice sculptures spouting endless margueritas, top bands playing in room after room all at the same time, Grammy winners and nominees and friends all mingling. It really was an amazing experience for a music lover like myself. And Chris didn’t want to go to the televised award ceremony, so he gave us his very good tickets. (Many awards like his are handed out in the afternoon.)
That night, with Chris’s tickets, we got to sit right behind the many Native Americans who had nominations, pretty near the front of the room. I mean these were great seats! You haven’t lived until you’ve seen what Native American formal wear looks like. Feathers, sequins, the finest buckskin evening gowns–and the men in full regalia. It was great.
I had contributed a few photographs to the Grammy-winning box set, The Journey of Chris Strachwitz, an Arhoolie project. One of the photographs was a great portrait of Chris in his lair at Arhoolie–and it got quite a spread. The other was a cover photo I took of the Paramount Singers when I went with Chris over to a sanctified church in San Francisco’s New Addition neighborhood to attend a speaking-in-tongues service. It was exciting to be there in Los Angeles with Chris and Elijah Wald when the Grammy was called out for the project!
I attended for the second time the year that Bob Dylan won (and also got an Academy Award) for Cry A While (Love & Theft). When they did a sound check during a commercial just before they played, one chord and the whole Staples Center audience knew who it must be. I’ve never seen a crowd gasp like that in instant recognition. That was also the year that O Brother, Where Art Thou? swept almost everything. All the performers were there, too, including Ralph Stanley.
The last time I went, with Robert below, was about 2011. The awards have gotten much tamer now, but still a real cool experience–and a great excuse to wear an evening gown! How often does a gal get to do that? And this was Rob’s first time in a tuxedo. It was like prom night for us late bloomers….and i mean late!