The RiverWell another year has gone by and once again, I’ve enjoyed watching the music industry’s top-award show and glad to know Herbie Hancock walked away with Album of the Year.

I haven’t heard the “River – The Joni Letters” compilation, but after more than 40 years, it’s great to know a jazz artist won this coveted award. I’ve seen Herbie three times locally and it was a real treat to know that he beat Kanye West and celebrated his 12th Grammy.

Some folks scoff at awards shows and rightfully so. They’re pompous and most often don’t credit the real winners of the year, but if one show stands out – it’s the Grammy Awards. Now in its 50th year, it was good to see several old cronies and celebrate some upcoming artists that were truly ‘ear-candy’ this year.

Alisha Keys opened the show with a media duo with the ‘Chairman of the Board’ and she continues to prove her place in the 21st century as a terrific singer/songwriter and the neat pairing with Frank was a good way to start off the past/present analogy – the underlying theme of this years show.

This awards show features great performances and cameos leading artists and I was surprised to see Prince come out early in his red suit. he usually stays away from events like this and his appearance preceded a reunion of Morris Day and the Time which was a blast from the nineties and a decent live set too.

The only problem was my HD television was blinking in-and-out with compression fragments as Charter’s HD signal really blows, especially with all of the lighting and special effects, but it was a colorful experience otherwise.

Carrie Underwood is a gifted young country artist and I was reminded of the Blue Man Group as her performance included a choreographed set with dancers banging on old car parts as she sang her Grammy nominated, “Before He Cheats.” She didn’t win this year, but no doubt she’ll be a regular presence for years to come.

Tom Hanks was the perfect host to start a round of Lifetime Achievement Awards as he inducted The Band into this prestigious hall of fame.

He also set up a mesmerizing and goose-bump performance of George Martin’s Cirque du Soleil ‘Love’ featuring ‘A Day In The Life’ and the performers from the motion picture ‘Across the Universe’ who sang ‘Let It Be’ while Ringo, Yoko and George Martin watched a “dream come true on stage.”

The Beatles celebrated 40 years of music this past month and it was also fitting to see Ringo and George Martin on stage to receive a Grammy for the Cirque De’ Soleil project itself.

Other Lifetime Award Recipients included some of my favorites – Cab Calloway, Earl Scruggs, Doris Day and jazz legend Max Roach who passed away last year and was memorialized later in the production along with other artists including Joe Zawinel, Dan Fogelburg and Pavarotti.

Dave’s Bad Fashion Awards went to Cyndi Lauper and Aretha Franklin. I’m one to talk, but Cyndi looked a bit too old to be wearing that lacy dress and Aretha looked like a lemon-colored Michelin Man singing a Gospel duet with BB Wynon. Great performance though as usual for the churchy section of the Grammy Awards.

Th sexy awards this year go to Beyonce and Cher.

I’ve never paid too much attention to Beyonce, but that girl can sing and when she performed with Tina Turner…Damn! That girl is easy on the eyes! Cher was a surprising delight for me too. I thought she would never show up again, but her beauty has maintained quite well underneath the plastic surgery. The camera angle and lighting made her look radiant as a presenter and she had one of the best gowns of the evening.

Enough of the sex and fashion, how about the rock and roll?

Honestly, that was the sad part. Whatever the Grammy Awards are, there’s not much rock and roll and even then I like the Foo Fighters, their performance and corporate/commercial presence was a bit disheartening. Dave Grohl needs to drop the chewing gum while he’s singing – it looks like a wad of crap in his mouth in high-definition. It was kind of cool to see John Paul Jones lead an orchestra, but I was hoping for a bit more originality and edge from the rock performances.

Kid Rock will be in Bristol next month, but his performance with Katie Smith proved to me once again that he’s no singer. His rendition of ‘Old Black Magic’ next to this seasoned jazz performer made him look like a beer-drunk punk who works best with an X-Box controller and Guitar Hero.

One of the most memorable rock performances was by John Fogerty who still has some lead in his pencil. He worked a cool set with Jerry Lee Lewis (who seemed to be on rollers) and Little Richard who is still smilin’ and screamin’ as he always did and yes…he’s still pretty too. Maybe he has Cher’s plastic surgeon?

Kanye West was completely obnoxious again this year and it’s a real shame he represented Rap in the Grammy context. He’s such an immature and ungrateful recipient that I had to walk away for a minute. It was pleasing to note that Vince Gill gave him a hard time when he won his Grammy for Country Song of the Year and joked to Kanye, “I just got an award given to me by a Beatle. Have you had that happen yet, Kanye?”

One of my favorite personal performances was by Herbie Hancock and classical pianist Lang Lang who performed an outrageous performance of Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue.’ It was thrilling to watch these two masters and the overhead camera angles of this orchestra ensemble made it even more enjoyable as the dual pianists ran up and down the keyboards on this masterpiece of music.

I also enjoyed hearing Leslie Fiest who made her way to the Grammy’s via her Ipod commercial. Her acoustic performance was refreshing and notable as was Amy Winehouse who gobbled up a couple of Grammys in LA while she performed live via satellite in London. Her wreckless style was further proof that a new wave of originality is still a big part of popular music.

I’m not all that familiar with Winehouse and reading into some of the post-Grammy media, this soul singer took home honors for Record of the Year, Pop Female Vocalist of the Year and Best New Artist. Her stage performance was entertaining too and she’s got a great live sound that beckoned me to know more and the 24-year old who seemed truly grateful as they announced her award. She celebrated with her band on stage and seemed a bit aloof too with her mother on stage as she accepted the award.

Altogether, this year’s award show was entertaining. It’s hard to represent all flavors of music in the Grammy Awards and there were plenty of other deserving winners tonight that didn’t make the 3 and half-hour television special, but I enjoyed it all the same.

Certainly glad to see the jazz cats accept the big award tonight. Herbie Hancock has been playing music for more than four decades. He’s played with Miles and Coltrane and he recreated himself several times with everything from Fat Albert to Rockit and he’s one of my favorites so I came away quite surprised and satisfied.

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