Disclaimer: I am not a member of the Board of Governors of HARA. What I write here is based on my prior experience as a board member, continuting interaction with them and other members, and continuing service on the selection committee. Hopefully it will help, inform and entertain you, but take it with a grain of salt, and a dash of sarcasm.
Since last December or so, I’ve gotten a lot of messages, texts, and emails from folks asking for help or advice about their entries for the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards (there is a different season for Grammy requests). Sometimes I feel like I need to add “Music Awards Program Consultant” to my résumé. While it may seem more convoluted than necessary, it’s really not. It is a challenge for the Board and office staff because of the number of categories and variety of criteria that guide them in placing releases in various categories. The changing landscape of the recording industry also requires that they adjust as necessary. Continue reading →
I found my preliminary ballots for the 2009 and 2010 Grammy Awards. Here’s a breakdown of the entries in the three primary categories that will compete for the “Best Regional Roots Music Album” Grammy in 2012 :
Best Zydeco Or Cajun Music Album 2009: 30 entries, 2010: 34 entries
Best Native American Music Album 26 entries, 2010: 32 entries
Best Hawaiian Music Album 20 entries, 2010: 32 entries
I should note that the Board of Governors of the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording arts went to extraordinary lengths to get entries in 2010. I personally entered half of the 32 entries into the Hawaiian category on behalf of various artists and labels. There likely would have been far less if we had not done so. Given the numbers above, I think it would be foolish for people to assume that Hawaiian releases have no chance of wining the award. It’s all going to come down to networking and PR, as it always has. Which means it will be business as usual for those that covet the trophy.
Today The Recording Academy, bestowers of the annual Grammy Awards, announced a major restructuring of the awards that reduces the number of awards from 109 to 78. This change will be implemented in next years awards–the 54th Annual Grammy Awards. One of the categories affected by this adjustment is the Grammy Award for Best Hawaiian Album–it has been eliminated. However, releases that would have been eligible in this category will now be eligible in the new “Best Regional Roots Music Album” at the 54th Grammy Awards. Other genre that previously had their own categories and will be entered in this category next are Best Native American Music Album and Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album. Or course, Hawai‘i releases in other genre categories can enter in those categories.
March has arrived, and with it comes the preparation, printing and mailing of the preliminary ballot for the 2011 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards. Like many, I was oblivious to the amount of work, consideration and communication that goes into this process until I joined the HARA Board of Governors four years ago and subsequently became a member of the selection committee. The amount of work is tremendous, the rewards few, and the consternation is sometimes overhwelming. It’s impossible to please everybody, and the job of finding the appropriate category for many releases is challenging, particulary when the majority are based on musical style (jazz, reggae, rock, etc.), others thematic (Christmas, religious, island music) and some based on language (Hawaiian Album and Language Performance). The committee did an admirable job, and I applaud my colleagues.
Another part of “March Madness” (as I fondly call it), is the beginning of the “awareness campaigns” that are popular during the preliminary and final balloting processes. Neither the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts (the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards) nor the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammy Awards) allows blatant solititation of votes, vote swapping, or other nefarious activities, though I doubt there are many that would deny that it happens with both awards.
In spring 1985 I moved to Hollywood to attend Musicians Institute. On the first day of instruction all of us students (@500) gathered in the school’s performance auditorium for orientation. As a “getting to know you” exercise they had all of us in odd number rows (I was in row 1) turn around and introduce ourselves to the person directly behind us, then stand up and introduce that person to the rest of the class. Yes it took a while.
The fellow sitting behind me was a guitar student named Nick Nolan, about 19 years old. He was also the winner of the Van Halen scholarship that the school offered that year, having beat out several hundred other entries and earning some very complimentary remarks from Mr. Eddie VH himself. But Nick was a very quiet, humble fellow, and turned out to be my best buddy during my all-too-brief stay at the school. Just out of curiosity I did a Google search for Nick to see what he had been up to, and found that he’s authored quite a few instructional books and DVDs on rock guitar. I heard that he was also hired as a teacher at MI, but don’t know if he’s still there or not.
Leaving MI after only three months remains on my short list of big regrets. If I could have a “do-over” year, it would be 1985.
One day I saw a Facebook status update from my friend Kama Hopkins, noting that he was on the Pali Highway and it was raining. I thought to myself, “why the heck is he updating his Facebook status while he’s driving?”. I wrote a single verse of a song to tease him about it and to remind him not to do such dangerous things (turns out he was stuck in traffic at the time and not speeding down the road). Within about 15 minutes I had 7 verses and posted it on Facebook. Kama (a member of the N? H?k? Hanohano Award-winning group Holunape) then recorded it. Read the rest of the story here.
I was saddened to hear that Steve Lukather officially disbanded the group Toto last month. They were on my list of acts that I hoped to see at some point. Luke explains the reasoning behind the end of the group pretty clearly. Toto was him, the Porcaro Brothers and David Paich. Singers and other band members came and went. Steve was the last man standing, and it must have been tough going out on tour without any of the other original band members.
Toto was ripped to shreds by critics in their day for their highly polished sounds and catchy pop songs. However the group was comprised of an A-list of studio musicians. Luke should be mentioned in the same breath with Clapton, Page, Beck, Hendrix and Van Halen in the pantheon of great guitarist. He’s the guitarist’s guitarist, and fortunately the end of Toto doesn’t mean the end of his performing and recording.
I had the opportunity to meet Steve and Larry Carlton back in the early 1990s, shortly before Larry was shot in the neck during the burglary of his home. I was glad to hear about his full recovery, and he’s playing better than ever, too. There are some great performances videos of Luke and Larry on YouTube as well.