The Grammy Awards were on last night. There was a time when a broader variety of categories were featured, as popular music artists would step aside for the presentation of classical or opera awards. These days, it's one set of skanks after another, as the less mainstream categories are shown in a series of "grips and grins" from earlier in the day. So this writer waits to read about it in the papers the next morning.
As most people know, the Dixie Chicks walked away with five awards, including Record, Song, and Country Album of the Year, all in connection with their latest hit, "Not Ready to Make Nice," from their album "Taking the Long Way." "NRTMN" was their response to the backlash from country music fans after their antiwar statements. A casual observation would betray an irony that the Chicklets would win anything country, when they have taken pains not to classify themselves that way anymore. But one should remember that this is not a tribute from Nashville, but from Hollywood. So where country music really matters, and to a fan base that is traditionally patriotic to a fault, this doesn't matter anyway. It comes down to the music itself, and that some will accept their artistic merits and set the politics aside, while others will not.
Nor does it matter much that Jimmy Sturr, the pre-eminent polka artist of America, won Best Polka Album ("Polka in Paradise"), as he has nearly every year for nearly a quarter of a century. (A rare exception was the north Texas-based Brave Combo, who seized the title in 2000 for "Polkasonic.") On the other hand, it was a relief to read that Bruce Springsteen won Best Traditional Folk Album for "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions." An interesting comeback was Ike Turner, who took Best Traditional Blues Album for "Risin' With The Blues." Bryan Sutton and Doc Watson won Best Country Instrumental Performance for a fiddler's classic "Whiskey Before Breakfast." As if to prove he isn't out of the game, Bob Dylan took Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album for "Modern Times." (So there's a category for "Americana" now. Hmmm...) Meanwhile, the award for Best Reggae Album went to -- who else? -- Ziggy Marley ("Love Is My Religion"), and The Klezmatics won Best Contemporary World Music Album ("Wonder Wheel").
There were some interesting developments outside the "roots music" realm, at least where yours truly was concerned. Bryn Terfel, that dashing teddy-bear of a Welshman (Isn't that right, girls?), snapped up Best Classical Crossover Album for "Simple Gifts" with the London Voices and London Symphony Orchestra. Finally, the hometown Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, through its engineer Michael Bishop, won Best Engineered Album, Classical, for "Elgar: Enigma Variations; Britten: the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Four Sea Interludes."
Finally, Natalie Maimes announced that she's "ready to make nice" now. It's the very least she could do, dontcha think?
Or don't you?