BONUS TRACKS: Changing the Grammys and Making Merch Cozy
It’s not 2020 anymore (and thank goodness for that), but that doesn’t mean everything’s immediately OK, as this week of an attempted coup at the US Capitol and skyrocketing COVID-19 cases has firmly reminded us. Live events, like everything else, will take a while to come back to something like normal, and that even includes the Grammys. The Recording Academy announced that this year’s Grammy Awards show, scheduled for Jan. 31, has been pushed back to March 14. The show was always going to be limited, with no in-person audience for on-stage presenters and performers and the winners accepting their awards remotely. But even so, a sharp rise in COVID cases in California led organizers to postpone. Here’s hoping things look a little brighter by March. Read more about the decision in this Rolling Stone story. And if you’d like a refresher on Grammy nominees relevant to your roots music interests, check out our list.
Speaking of the Grammys, controversy has erupted in probably the most unlikely of categories — Best Children’s Album. All five nominees in the category this year are white, and three of them have asked to be removed from the ballot both as a protest and in an attempt to open up room to artists of color. The three bands — Okee Dokee Brothers, Moock, and Dog on Fleas — joined forces with Family Music Forward, a group working to better highlight diversity within the children’s music genre. The Recording Academy did remove the three nominees from consideration, but has not replaced them with other nominees. Read more about the rich diversity in children’s music, and why it hasn’t been better recognized, in this great piece from Rolling Stone, which features interviews with Pierce Freelon, Rissi Palmer, Aaron Nigel Smith, and other important voices in the genre.
Even if you haven’t been to Nashville’s iconic Station Inn, you’ve definitely heard of it. It’s nothing special to look at (unless you like posters, which I do!), but its stage has hosted probably every roots musician you know and love at some point, and its importance to country and bluegrass music in particular can’t be overstated. Next week, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, also in Nashville, opens a year-long exhibit titled “The Station Inn: Bluegrass Beacon” that tells the story of this piece of Nashville’s history and its current culture. More info here.
If you’ve got more band T-shirts than you can possibly fit in a drawer (raises hand), you might like to know that artists have been branching out in their merch offerings lately, with a special focus on the trait most important to us in these times: coziness. This New York Times story interviews Kacey Musgraves about her self-care bundle, which includes a bath bomb, puzzle, and socks, as well as Phoebe Bridgers, whose recent ugly Christmas sweater was a big hit. Me? I’d love to buy some roots-music branded fuzzy slippers or softpants, please.
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
Here’s a sampling of the songs, albums, bands, and sounds No Depression staffers have been into this week:
Tony Rice – Church Street Blues
Brandi Carlile – “Black Hole Sun”
Slaughter Beach, Dog – At the Moonbase
Sangre de Muerdago – Xuntas
Steve Earle and The Dukes – J.T.