Highlight Video created by our good friend and fellow musician, Radha Mehta, from our experience attending the 56th Grammy Awards on Sunday, January 26, 2013.
The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards was nothing short of an exhilarating ride for The Teaching and M&RL Camp! We are just completely overjoyed and grateful for the incredible experience we all had over the past weekend. We also couldn’t be more proud of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ success bringing home 4 Grammy Win’s and putting on an amazingly memorable performance with Madonna while 36 couples (same-sex & opposite) got married last night! That’s just a brief overview and the video above will also take you on a ride through the unforgettable day we spent attending the GRAMMY Awards.
The trip really began when Jeremy Jones and I (fresh from the LAX Airport) rushed to the Los Angeles Convention Center to pick up our official tickets for the GRAMMY Awards. Once we turned in our official invitations and had the tickets in our hands, it felt like the lever had just been pulled for a sensational roller coaster ride.
That first day in Los Angeles was kind of a blur as it was mainly spent running errands, getting my hair cut at Capsule Barbershop, getting my wife some fancy shoes, getting new Mophie chargers so our iPhones wouldn’t die mid-GRAMMY events, and things like that.
After a long day of running all around LA and braving the crazy traffic, we finally got time to get dressed and head to the GRAMMY Nominee Reception event held at the beautiful Wilshire Ebel Theatre. The Reception was a wonderful red-carpet event that was both glamorous and a little bit laid back as well. GRAMMY Nominee’s, musical artists, agents, press, music business people associated with certain higher-up music celebrities, and guests roamed freely throughout the many rooms wining, dining, socializing and listening to the fantastic live music provided by the GRAMMY Camp Jazz Band & Vocal Jazz Ensemble. It was truly an extravagant affair with folks beaming with excitement for the big event on Sunday. Some of the highlights that evening were getting our special 56th GRAMMY Medallions, taking some fun group photos (minus Evan unfortunately because he was in-transit flying to the LA at that time), listening to the wonderful live music provided by talented kids that were part of the GRAMMY Camp program (they really sounded quite amazing for their age group), running into local Seattle Jazz Drummer & Origin Arts Director John Bishop, running into fellow M&RL featured artist & GRAMMY Nominee Hollis Wong-Wear, and of course meeting & talking to lot’s of wonderful people throughout the night.
The following day was the BIG day we’d all been buzzing with anticipation for — the actual 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards Ceremony Events. The day started by us all meeting at Jeremy’s hotel which was conveniently located near the Los Angeles Convention Center. We decided it would be fun to rent a limo service to drop us off on the red-carpet the night before, so that morning we had a Cadillac Escalade waiting for us at Jeremy’s hotel. We all loaded into the car and enjoyed a nice drive around the Convention Center looking for the red-carpet entry point. There was more security and check-points than I’d ever seen for an event before and fortunately for us we had the proper limo pass and stickers to get our entourage through. From the moment we exited the car it seems like camera’s were flashing, dozen’s of security personnel checking our credentials, and GRAMMY staff helping direct us through the gauntlet of people. We first met a woman who was going to be our escort down the red-carpet. She helped coordinate 3 interviews with various news reporters as we walked down the carpet snapping photos and just taking it all in. Just seeing my feet on the red-carpet was totally surreal.
A few of the highlights from the red-carpet experience was seeing actual GRAMMY Statues in cases all along the red-carpet walk, seeing fellow featured M&RL artist Wanz and saying hello and giving hugs to him (we found out moments before seeing him that ‘Thrift Shop’ won a GRAMMY for Best Rap Performance of the Year – needless to say Michael was totally elated with the news), seeing Katy Perry getting mobbed by photographers (totally surreal), and going through this gauntlet of photographers at the end of the red-carpet & having a “canned” audience clap for us as we walked toward the Nokia Theater & Staples Center.
After the red-carpet experience we entered the Nokia Theater to watch some of the Pre-Telecast Awards. This portion of the GRAMMY Awards aren’t televised and actually included 3 of Macklemore’s GRAMMY Wins. Some of the highlights were listening to an actual live GRAMMY band play for each of the Nominee categories (they sounded so good), seeing Cyndi Lauper host the Pre-Telecast Awards, watching fellow Modern Jazz/Groove group Snarky Puppy win a GRAMMY for Best R&B Performance, seeing comedians Steve Martin win a GRAMMY award & comedian Tig Navaro announce some GRAMMY categories on stage, and of course being there when they announced Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (who were getting ready for their live GRAMMY Awards performance with Modana in Staples Center) winning Best Rap Album, Best Rap Performance & Best Rap Song ‘Thrift Shop’ in one fell swoop. Evan, Jeremy and I were nearly jumping up and down out of our seats as they announced the wins – it was hard to contain the excitement and rush of what it all mean in that moment. It simply was an unforgettable experience being there.
The Pre-Telecast GRAMMY Awards ended up running a bit long and we needed to make it into the Staples Center by a certain time before the doors closed, so we left before the rest of the categories we’re announced. At the entrance of the Staples Center was more security and a huge mass of people making their way to their seats for the Live Telecast. It’s funny because in the sea of people you’d imagine there would be at least a handful of recognizable famous musicians/artists that you’d see, but honestly, I don’t think I recognized a single person out of the crowd – just 100’s of unrecognizable people who you knew had some connection/status in the Music Industry – it was totally surreal seeing that many music folk. It wasn’t until we sat in our awesome floor seats that I actually started seeing artists I recognized. Surprisingly, we ended up sitting one seat away from GRAMMY Award Winner & Incredible Jazz Bassist, Christian McBride. A good friend of ours is very close friends with Christian and needless-to-say when the photos of us got onto FaceBook she was freaking out with joy that we were seated next to each other – Worlds colliding! Evan considers Christian as one of his top influences on the Upright Bass and I certainly was inspired by his playing as well from being exposed to his playing early on through Bob James’ album ‘Straight Up’ with Brian Blade (an amazing album by the way). So, as you can imagine we were pretty stoked to be sitting next to Christian and getting a chance to chop it up with him throughout the GRAMMY Awards. In front of us, behind us and to either side of us seemed to be all folks that were part of an album. Either featured artists or on the engineering side of things for a CD that was likely up for a major award such as ‘Album of the Year’. Directly behind me was a female vocalist named Anna Wise, who much like us, was a credited artist who just ended up being in the right place at the right time (which for her was being found online by Kenrick Lamar leading to doing all the background vocals on his GRAMMY Nominated album Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City (which Macklmore & Ryan Lewis beat out for ‘Rap Album of the Year’ early that day)). Throughout the evening we saw numerous famous artists & bands trickling out from the side entrances into the arena. People like Cee Lo Green, Kacey Musgraves, Pink, John Legend, Lorde, etc. would traipse back and forth by our row – many of which were going by with production people with props & music equipment because they were performing on a smaller stage only 25-50 feet from where we were sitting. It was like being in the front row and seeing amazing intimate performances by so many of these musicians/bands that we’ve grown up with and respect a great deal. So, needless to say, even though we weren’t in the “main” section where the BIG musical celebrities are seated up front and often get seen on live television, we still had an amazing view of the entire show.
The actual GRAMMY Awards were essentially like seeing every major legendary & popular musical artist / band perform their hit song in an arena setting. Imagine paying a ticket just to see these artists playing that “Apex” song you wait all evening for and then multiply that by all the artists you’d want to see all year long doing that all night long!? Some of the highlights from the show were certainly seeing Paul McCartney, Ringo Star, Stevie Wonder, Kendrick Lamar’s passionate performance with Imagine Dragons, and of course the most emotional and moving performance by Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert & the Legendary Madonna…which nearly had us all in tears seeing 36 couples getting married to a song I played piano on! It was incredibly touching! Some of the more interesting experiences were certainly having “staging people” fill in empty seats in our row anytime someone got up to leave, hearing an ominous “God” like voice come on and off over the Staple Center loud speakers anytime we were coming back from a commercial break (“Clap for LL Cool J – back in 10, 9, 8…”), seeing the “behind the scenes” stuff that no one else in America really gets to see during the commercial breaks, and of course — sitting in semi-comfortable folding chairs (we were pretty cramped on the floor actually) for nearly 2.5-3 hours…definitely not a great situation if you drank a lot of water prior to the GRAMMY Ceremony.
All in all, the Award Show was simply amazing to experience live in person, and of course once they got to the categories M&RL were nominated for, we were all on the edge of our seats, hearts pounding…waiting for the results. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won ‘Best New Artist’ during the live show and lost to Lorde’s ‘Royals’ for Song of the Year and then Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’ for Album of the Year (which if they won that category would have meant we would have officially been GRAMMY Winners – can’t tell you what a trip that is to be SO close in that moment). Once we got to the ‘Album of the Year’ we were almost 99.9999999% sure M&RL were going to scoop the win with how things were feeling that night. It was such a nail bitter because we also knew that meant we would be going up on stage with the entire M&RL camp — so our hearts were pounding through our chests as they read the nominee’s in the ‘Album of the Year’ category. Unfortunately they did now win as much as we prayed and hoped, however, 4 GRAMMY wins for their first major self-produced DIY album ‘The Heist’ is still an unbelievable accomplishment and an uproar for new independent artists at the GRAMMY Awards. It truly is an unprecedented feat that has been done by so few in the Music Industry. Amazing! Despite not getting the official GRAMMY win status or statue, everyone is The Teaching is still shocked that we’re able to even call ourselves GRAMMY Nominee’s featured on M&RL’s multi-GRAMMY Winning Album.
After the Live Telecast of the GRAMMY Awards, everyone exited the Staples Center for the Los Angeles Convention Center for the Official After Party. Needless-to-say, we were all feeling famished and ready to stretch our legs after being seated in the Staples Center for the past 3 hours. We were part of a giant herd of GRAMMY attendee’s, nominee’s, winner’s and guests making our way very slowly to the after party – it was pretty funny being in such a large mass of some of the Music Industry’s biggest names just shuffling our feet wanting to get some eats and use the restroom as fast as possible! Upon entering the Convention Center, it felt like we were stepping into a giant scene straight out of the ‘Great Gatsby’ – models dressed up in Roaring 20’s Type Outfits, Staging & Props that seriously looked like they were from the movie, and then bars & buffets everywhere you looked. It was an extravagant and fantastic display – I’ve never scene a party like it before – quite possibly a several million dollar production put on by the Recording Academy. There was also a giant stage with live music going on and an entirely different “Jazz Lounge” room where we found out Seattle Jazz Pianist Aaron Parks was supposedly playing with the GRAMMY Camp Jazz Orchestra. After grabbing some great food and drink and enjoying the incredible scene in the main room, we decided to check out the Jazz Lounge room and see what was going on. By the time we got there Aaron Parks and the GRAMMY Jazz Orchestra had already finished and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies were just starting to tear up the stage. The room looked like a scene straight out a Casino in Ocean’s 11. We ran back into Christian McBride who we talked to and took some more pictures with, and later we caught Aaron Parks and had a nice conversation catching up with him (Evan used to play in Aaron’s group when he lived in Seattle). Soon we were wrapping things up at the After Party and trying to figure out how and where to meet the M&RL camp. I texted Ryan Lewis one more time hopping he’d respond and sure enough he did. I figured all my earlier text’s got lost in the shuffle of communication he was probably managing leading up to their big live show for the GRAMMY Awards Ceremony. So, we were elated to get a response and opportunity to go visit those guys and congratulate them in person.
We took a taxi cab to a private Art Gallery where Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were holding there own modest GRAMMY After Party. It dawned on me that really none of the celebrity Artists or Bands probably went to the main GRAMMY After Party (or none that I really noticed), and instead probably held there own away from the hustle and bustle of the GRAMMY crowds. So needless-to-say, it felt really special to be invited to their gathering after the GRAMMY Awards Ceremony. When we arrived at the gallery there were all the familiar faces (with the exception of Mary Lambert who I believe was attending her Record Label’s After Party) – Michael Wansley (Wanz – ‘Thrift Shop’), Hollis Wong-Wear (‘White Walls’), Andrew Joslyn (Macklemore’s Violinist), Ray Dalton (‘Can’t Hold Us’), Owuor Arunga (Macklemore’s Trumpet Player and our fellow Seattle Jazz Scene cat/friend) and a lot of other friends, family and people that were part of the Macklemore / Ryan Lewis “Family”. It was a wonderful relaxed gathering without a bunch of pretense and glamor like the Official GRAMMY After Party – it felt like a real NW / Seattle Music Community hang. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis welcomed us with big hugs and smiles as we talked about the whole surreal experience we all just had that evening. I suppose we hung out there for a couple hours just catching up with members of the M&RL camp, having lot’s of laughs and sharing in a truly amazing celebration of M&RL’s GRAMMY Wins. We can say with confidence that Macklemore & Ryan were extremely humbled by the whole experience and made us feel that we “all” won that evening.
Going to the GRAMMY Awards whether you’re a Guest, Recording Academy Member, Nominee, or anyone for that mater, is a truly life changing experience. Evan, Jeremy and I will have memories from our time attending this weekend that will last a lifetime — and continue to inspire & motivate us on figuring out how to get back! It is incredibly unique to be dressed to the 9’s with handsome looking suits, ties and shiny shoes on the red-carpet and to have camera’s flashing from every-which angle, and it’s another experience waking up the next morning realizing there are 364 days of work ahead of you if you want to get back to that moment and place. And, at the end of the day, the GRAMMY Awards is just a big fun event that recognizes Artists and Bands who have worked hard and have become very popular in the Music Industry. Although, despite some of the politics and perspective you may have experiencing it on TV, the Tabloids, News, etc. this event creates a certain type of energy that allows the Music Industry at large feel accomplished and appreciated by the world. A moment in the “Grand” spotlight to take a bow and say “Thank You” back to all the supporters and fans who got us there. This goes way beyond the “Celebrity Ego/Status”, Limelight/Spot Light, Glitz & Glamor and the rest – if there were no listeners to support our music this event simply would not exist.
The Teaching feels incredibly blessed to have had the honor to attend the GRAMMY Awards in support of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ album ‘The Heist’, and to represent the wonderful collaborative work that is being done here in the Northwest. We’re incredibly proud of their accomplishments and perseverance to share their music with the world and we truly look forward to working with them again in the future. There’s something absolutely special about the fact that they made our featured track ‘BomBom’ the only instrumental song on the entire album and supposedly opened all their World Tour performances with the song as well. Just think about that the next time someone tries to say “Jazz” is dead – an Instrumental Trio from Seattle made it onto a multi-GRAMMY winning album and in turn became GRAMMY Nominee’s ourselves. I don’t know why or how all this came to be, but I can say that our love for music, being good to people, and having a willingness to show up and make great music (whatever the situation) has a powerful, powerful effect – and dreams can come true!
Thank you one and all!
Here’s an official recap of the 56th Annual Award’s Ceremony on GRAMMY.com: