Weekly Wire
NewCityNet Slammin' Grammy

By Dave Chamberlain

JANUARY 10, 2000:  If Raw Material had a vote for the Grammy Awards, Susan Tedeschi would get every vote there was to give—even if she wasn't nominated.

Tedeschi was part of the nomination ceremony for the forty-second annual Grammy Awards, held in the office in the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences at the Symphony Center. NARAS, the 43-year-old organization—members of which vote for the national Grammy Awards—raised the bar on nomination ceremonies this year.

The collection of celebrities assembled for members of the print and television media was impressive, to say the least, boasting equal parts local musicians and national musicians, all of whom are either nominated this year for an award, or were past winners. In addition to Tedeschi (nominated for Best New Artist), others procured to read included Ministry's Al Jourgensen (Best Metal Performance), Metallica's Jason Newsted (Best Hard Rock Performance), former Grammy winner Kurt Elling, Silk Hurley (Best Remixer of the Year, non-Classical) and the piéce de résistance, Kid Rock (numerous nominations, including Best New Artist).

Also assembled were some non-presenting nominees, including Chicago's legendary Ella Jenkins (whose "Pulling Together" on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings grabbed a nomination for Best Musical Album for Children), Muddy Waters' pianist Pinetop Perkins (whose "Legends" on Telarc Blues Recordings, recorded with Hubert Sumlin, was nominated for Best Traditional Blues Album) and R. Kelly (whose "When a Woman's Fed Up" is up for Best Male R&B Performance). Winners will be announced February 23 during the televised Grammy celebrations from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Give it to our local NARAS chapter, they didn't just secure the stars for a quality photo op, they gave the stars something to do, and injected a sense of humor into it.

Leading off the nomination reading was Al Jourgensen, he of the brutally-loud industrial metal, garbed in black leather pants, leather jacket, Blackhawk jersey and—of course—sunglasses. Naturally, Jourgensen read the nomination for Best Children's Album. Although press crews missed this photographic chance of a lifetime, it's worth imagining the precious Ella Jenkins, a beautiful older African-American woman, standing side-by-side with the long-haired Jourgensen, the living definition of chaos.

Next up, to announce the nominations for Best Record of the Year and Best R&B Record of the Year, Kid Rock, who approaches the podium, hands in the air, shouting "In the house! What Up?" Rock, also in rockstar sunglasses, adds character to the droll nomination litany; when announcing Whitney Houston's record, he reads "My Love,'" then pauses, looks at the audience, "Is Your Love." And solemnly nods his head. Not to go out without a flourish, Rock departs with "I'm the captain!"

Eighty-six year-old Pinetop Perkins makes a brief appearance at the podium, though he doesn't seem to understand why. Some random press idiot barks out, "How does it feel to be nominated for a Grammy?" Perkins doesn't understand the question, or doesn't hear it. Either that, or his near ninety years of wisdom has taught him not to answer stupid questions.

Then Jason Newsted, guitar player for Metallica, in town for two nights' worth of shows (with Kid Rock) at the Allstate Arena. Newsted is put in two unusual situations while reading the nominees for Best Metal Performance. As he begins the read the first nominee, he's thrown for a loop. "Best Metal Performance," he says. "Um, 'Iron Man,' Black Sabbath?" An eyebrow raises subtly. "I guess it's about time, huh?" Newsted is in for another bump when he gets to the third nominee. "'Enter Sandman'"—a hit for Metallica in the early nineties. He pauses. "By, um, Motorhead."

Finally, up comes Susan Tedeschi, as effervescent and unpretentious as she is friendly, smiling at and bidding 'Hello' to everyone in the room. She's off quickly after reading the nominees for Best Vocal Performance, which segues into a group photo for all the nominees (except Jourgensen). Photographers quickly scramble to click pics of Tedeschi, securing Perkins in the middle of the group shot, R. Kelly standing next to Ella Jenkins.

The nominees scatter as pen-scratching reporters and television crews snap for precious soundbytes. The older musicians return to their seats. It's 11am, and a WGN reporter moves in to interview Kid Rock, who managed to wait out the entire press conference before busting open a beer—Budweiser in a can, the Kid drinks the King.

At last comes the meeting and moment that Raw Material has waited for: Kid Rock—nominee for Best New Artist—beer in hand and sunglasses firmly secured, meets Susan Tedeschi—nominee for Best New Artist—the friendliest and most startlingly attractive musician on the premises. In between shaking hands and reaching out to anyone that would like to meet her, she meets Rock and asks in a warm voice, "Have you ever been nominated before?"

Rock seems baffled, his jaw drops slightly. Is it the question, or the beer? In a voice gripped by unusual uncertainty, he answers. "Well, um, no."

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