SAMARA JOY, the Soraya – courtesy photo
Samara Joy

GRAMMYS RANT – First off, why do they insist on all caps for their name? “Grammy” is not an acronym, it’s just a cute name for the award they give that looks like a gramophone. (For those unfamiliar, start with “record player.”) Starting with that lack of humility and perspective might explain some of their other shortcomings.

They started off in 1959 by passing over Ella, Frank and Van Cliburn for Henry Mancini’s orchestration of a TV show theme. They ignored The Beatles’ first four LPs until finally nominating “Help!” while giving the top award to comedy albums two years out of three. Not even a nomination for “Revolver” or “Rubber Soul.” “Sgt. Pepper” finally won in ‘68 – gosh, tough call – but again not even a nom for The White Album or “Abbey Road.”

How does a music orgnization snub The Beatles? But the list is long and should be highly embarrassing. Who has never won Album of the Year, or any Grammy? Yes, The Who, and Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Kendrick Lamar, Prince, Queen, The Beach Boys, Janis Joplin, Patsy Cline, The Kinks, Velvet Underground, The Dead, Radiohead, Amy Winehouse, The Ramones, and more. Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” lost out to Christopher Cross, fer godsakes.

Which brings us to the 2023 Grammys. Beyonce’s last two albums, at least, have been breathtakingly excellent, yet “Renaissance” lost the top award, for the fourth time. In 64 years, only three black women have ever won Album of the Year: Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston and Lauryn Hill. It’s not a matter of numbers, but of who is producing the best music. Aretha, anyone?

Her win for Best Dance/Electronic Album did make her the winningest ever, and while they made a big deal of that (as they should) I found it curious that they never said who she took the record from. Probably because it was yet another popular music failure for The Grammys. It was classical conductor George Solti, a giant, but no Beatles or Bob Marley.

The best music number, in my book, came early on with Chris Stapleton, a gruff-voiced big bearded hunk of country music, duetted with Stevie Wonder on his amazing “Higher Ground.” Not a big production number with dazzling sets, costumes and choreography, but, well, this is supposed to be about the music, right? I’ve been a big fan of Stapleton since day one and look forward to Sunday’s Super Bowl for only one reason, him singing the national anthem (which should be “America the Beautiful,” not that old song about rockets and flags and tough-to-hit high notes. Ray Charles version please.)

The final numbr, outdoors, teased and taunted all night, was a yawn.

BONNIE AND THE DEAD

It is so disrespectful tha the Grammys botches their annual “tribute” to beloved musicians who have died, nearly every time. Often the camera was so far back that you couldn’t read the names projected, especially because they flashed them for less than two seconds. There seemed no real logic to who got featured and who didn’t. Which is certainly insulting, not consoling, to families and fans. Many of these legends are, of course, not young. I suspect some 20-year-old was handed the job. Jeff Beck? – you mean Beck, right?

They also could have used names flashed on the screen when they paid tribute to 50 years of hip hop by trotting out a hall of fame who’s who. But some appeared literally for 15 seconds, and 50 years later are you going to recognize everyone? A learning moment, blown.

Bonnie Raitt certainly deserved Song of the Year, but I have never, at any awards show, seen a look on a winner’s face of such complete astonishment. She beat out some big names.

DUDAMEL IS LEAVING!?! AND LEBRON?

For the Dude, it would seem so. By his own admission. For New York. He made the LA Phil the greatest orchestra in the Americas, maybe the world, but performers on his rarified level are always thirsty for the next big challenge, and restoring the NY Phil to its once lofty reputation may be that task. If so, we will miss him greatly, but should be thankful for the time we had with him. His conducting of Beethoven’s Ninth last year was one of the top music moments of my life.

The same could be said for LeBron James, at this moment the king of basketball for having broken Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record of nearly 40 years, for the most points ever scored in a career in the NBA. He surprisingly commented afterwards that he felt, at the ripe old basketball age of 38, that he was good for at least another two or three years (maybe more?) For the best players it’s all about championships, and if he can’t get one next year, his last one on contract for the Lakers, I think he will go somewhere else to seek another ring or two. No player has ever won titles with four different teams, so that would be a feat. Also, he has expressed an interest in playing with his sons, now in high school and very talented.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:

Here’s the problem. When I write about other music topics it leaves me less room for the recommendations. They are just as heartfelt, but I don’t have the space to “convince” you. So just trust me, go to ALL of these, and let me know if you were disappointed in any. I doubt it.

TONIGHT!- MOZART’S “THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO,” LA OPERA – Don’t give me any excuses. You’ve always wanted to see if the LA Opera is as good as I have been preaching for years, so what better way to check it out than with a new production of the master Mozart’s reknowned “Figaro,” for crying out loud. Only three more performances after these, and they may all sell out. Sat, Thurs 7:30 p.m., Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, LA, $49-399.

TONIGHT! – CELSO AND DARRYL – Bluesmen nonpareil. A force of nature, singing and playing. I’ve written about them so mny times I have no more words. Thurs 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $10.

DAREK OLESZKIEWICZ BD CELEBRATION (with PETER ERSKINE 2/11) – I’m excited about these shows, especially Saturday. I found Darek when he started playing with Erskine, years ago, and the more I hear him the greater my admiration. He’s not flashy but every note is exactly what’s needed. The lineup Friday is all-star, but the next night Peter is sitting behind the drum kit, and that’s something you don’t want to mis. You probably have never seen such an understated, melodic and absolutely virtuosic drummer in your life – unless you’ve seen him before. Fri, Sat 7:30, 9 p.m., Sam First, LAX, $25 per set.

SOUTHSIDE SLIM – Bluesman nonpareil. A force of nature, singing and playing. I’ve written about him so many times I have no more words anyway. SAT 9:30 p.m., $10 2/11

THE HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES – It’s just outside Santa Monica, street parking is easy, it’s a friendly little neighborhood bar where you can see and hear everywhere in the tiny room, the sound is great, the stage is maybe a foot high and right next to the patrons, drinks are reasonable and there is no cover. (But there is no room for swing dancers unless you want to go out on the sidewalk.) Hot Club’s brand of virtuoso, sometimes breakneck Django-style 1930s gypsy swing jazz is found nowhere else and even if it was, it couldn’t possibly be this good. It’s a show worth 50 bucks cover, and worth waiting a year for. These guys are masters, individually and collectively. You will find it hard to stop smiling all night. Mon 9 p.m., Cinema Bar, Culver City, no cover.

EM – She’s back! One of the most gifted and dynamic entertainers you will ever see. Really! Go see her and then tell me I’m lyin’. After a little break she might even be over the top with energy and new creativity, so, now’s the time! Tues 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, $12.

RECOMMENDED:

TONIGHT!- RICK SHEA – I love Rick Shea, like a soft, very comfortable pair of cowboy boots that you look down at and realize the quality is still there, after many years, you feel good about them, and always look forward to spending that time. Thurs 9 p.m., Cinema Bar, Culver City, no cover.

TONIGHT!: “RACHMANINOFF WAS HERE Festival: Avant-Garde: From Surrealism to the Sunset Strip,” The whole series sold out. But, you know… Thurs 7 p.m., Beverly Hills Women’s Club. sold out.

THE CLAYTON-HAMILTON JAZZ ORCHESTRA with SAMARA JOY – I just found out about her through her Grammy nomination and win as Best New Artist (and Best Jazz Vocal Album), and from what I’ve heard she is old school and fabulous. The good news is the CHJO is always worth seeing. The bad news is that the terrific Soraya is a long ways north of Santa Monica. Tthe good news is they are doing more excellent jazz, and the bad news is this one is sold out. Is it worth that long a drive for the chance to beg a ticket? Mebbe. Sat 8 p.m., The Soraya, Northridge, $??.

TOLEDO DIAMOND – Unique, riveting, first class act. There’s nothing like it, it is high performance art and great fun. Degeneracy is rarely so well disciplined. Sun 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $12.

JOHN LEGEND – He barely had a minute on the Grammys but now you have your chance for an entire performance. The man does not hit a bad note, and that includes his social activism too. Mon 8 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA, $89-299.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: MOZART’S “THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO,” LA OPERA, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 2/19, 23, 26; TOLEDO DIAMOND, Harvelle’s, 2/19, 26; HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES, Cinema Bar, 2/20, 27; EM, Harvelle’s, 2/21, 28; “RACHMANINOFF WAS HERE”: at the Greystone Mansion & Gardens,” 2/18; DAMN WELL PLEASE ORGAN TRIO, Harvelle’s, 2/21; LANG LANG PLAYS GRIEG, BRAHMS, Disney Hall, 2/23; CHRIS PIERCE, Hotel Cafe, 2/25; WILLIE NELSON 90, Hollywood Bowl, 4/29.

Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 3,000 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 37 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com