As music fans, we all have a stake in tonight’s Grammy Awards.
We’ll feel a twinge of pride if an album we bought wins album of the year or if the artist we’ve seen 100 times (Springsteen?) wins some appropriate and career-affirming hardware.
But there’s a way to get yourself invested on an even a larger scale in the Grammy give-out: Take guesses.
Try to predict who is going to win in any of the 81 categories, even if those are categories that don’t represent themselves on your iPod. Then, when the winner for “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration” is “Wild Ones” by Flo Rida and Sia, you can say “Yes, I picked Flo Rida and Sia, though I’ve never even heard of them.’ “
Before you go picking all the Grammy categories, though, it might be interesting to see what other folks — maybe some more musically-astute Mainers — have to say about it. We went out and asked people who know a lot about music or work in the music industry to pick the winners in two to three categories each.
The folks we queried ranged from Portland club DJs El Shupacabra and Dynamo-P to Cumberland resident Dan Crewe, a professional in the music industry since the ’60s who helped manage The Four Seasons.
We also gained insight from Portland sound engineer Steve Drown, who has worked on six blues albums that have been nominated for Grammy Awards. And we sought out Portland mastering engineer Adam Ayan, who worked on several recordings and with artists up for Grammys this year, including Hunter Hayes for Best New Artist, the album “Hunter Hayes” for Best Country Album, “Wanted” by Hayes and “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood for Best Country Solo Performance, and “Blown Away” for Best Country Song.
We even gleaned a few picks from country superstar Vince Gill, who has 20 Grammy Awards on his shelf already and just happens to be playing a gig in Maine next week, on Valentine’s Day at Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield.
So without further ado, here are some Grammy picks from some pretty good pickers.
STEVE DROWN, recording engineer at The Studio in Portland; has worked on six Grammy-nominated blues albums in the past, including those by The James Cotton Band and Charlie Musselwhite:
Best Blues Album: “And Still I Rise” by Heritage Blues Orchestra. “They deliver a traditional, authentic sound without sounding stale. Add that to the jazz-influenced horn arrangements, and this comes off as something very fresh.”
Best Jazz Vocal Album: “The Book of Chet” by Luciana Souza. “It lets us hear the nuance of every syllable and melody.”
Best Rock Song: “Lonely Boy” by The Black Keys. “The Black Keys are such a refreshing presence in music now, because they are truly a rock band.”
DAN CREWE of Cumberland, co-founder of Gateway Mastering in Portland; music professional since the ’60s who worked with The Four Seasons and brother of songwriting legend Bob Crewe:
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: “A Holiday Carole” by Carole King. “I’ve got to go with Carole King, my contemporary. I know her quite well, and she deserves the recognition.”
Best Pop Solo Performance: “Set Fire to the Rain (Live)” by Adele. “Adele leaps out in her actual talent. That doesn’t mean the others aren’t capable. Kelly Clarkson shocked me with her performance at the inaugural; I was quite taken with it. But I think Adele stands in a separate category.”
Best Rock Song: “We Take Care of Our Own” by Bruce Springsteen. “His talent stands on its own. He’s just brilliant. Plus, he comes from New Jersey, and so do I.”
MARK CURDO, weeknight host on Portland alternative rock radio station WCYY (94.3 FM):
Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance: “Ghost Walking” by Lamb of God. “Great to see Anthrax, Megadeth and Iron Maiden all (nominated) here.”
Best Rock Song: “Lonely Boy” by The Black Keys. “Rock is way too broad of a title for these options.”
Best Rock Album: “El Camino” by The Black Keys. “It should win, but Bruce (Springsteen, for ‘Wrecking Ball’) probably will win.”
EL SHUPACABRA (Nate Shupe), house DJ at the weekly “Rap Night” at The Big Easy in Portland:
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: “Cherry Wine” by Nas featuring Amy Winehouse. “I play this song a lot, and it always gets a great crowd reaction.”
Best Rap Song: “N****s in Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West. “It seems like you couldn’t go anywhere in 2012 without hearing this song. It even spawned the now ubiquitous slang word ‘cray.’ “
Best Rap Album: “Based on a T.R.U. Story” by 2 Chainz. “I toured coast to coast in October, and it seems like people in every region of the country were playing and talking about 2 Chainz.”
ADAM AYAN, mastering engineer at Gateway Mastering in Portland; worked on several recordings up for Grammys this year and in the past:
Record of the Year: “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra. “I think Gotye is going to take it, but ‘We Are Young’ by fun. should be the winner!”
Best Country Duo/Group Performance: “Pontoon” by Little Big Town. “That was a big country hit this year, and everybody loves the group.”
Best Alternative Music Album: “Making Mirrors” by Gotye. “But my personal pick would be Fiona Apple. I have been addicted to her new album (‘The Idler Wheel’) since its release.”
DYNAMO-P, the performing name of Portland emcee Pat Jones; performs regularly at The Big Easy and other Portland nightclubs:
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: “Cherry Wine” by Nas featuring Amy Winehouse. “Salaam Remi’s excellent production and Nas’ storytelling lyrics knock this song out of the park. And it also celebrates the talents of the late, great and sadly lost Amy Winehouse.”
Best Rap Song: “Mercy” by Kanye West featuring Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz. “Its sound captures what hip hop sounded like in 2012.”
Best Rap Album: “Life Is Good” by Nas. “The formula and concept for this record shows why Nas is one of hip hop’s greatest of all time.
VINCE GILL, country music superstar with 20 Grammy Awards; playing with The Time Jumpers Thursday night at Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield:
Best Country Song: “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” by The Eli Young Band. “The guys who wrote that (Will Hoge and Eric Paslay) are good pals of mine. Great songwriters.”
Best Bluegrass Album: “Nobody Knows You” by Steep Canyon Rangers. “A lot of good records out, but I’ve got to go with them.”
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: