It’s not a bad party when — within the space of an hour — you get a hug from Rhonda Vincent, shake the hummingbird-fast picking hand of the great Bobby Osborne and chase a departing Charles Kelley through a hotel lobby to tell him how much you love his song, “The Driver.”
Such was my lot at the gala held Thursday night (Jan. 11) at Loews Vanderbilt Plaza in Nashville to honor this year’s Grammy nominees. Winners will be announced Jan. 28 during the 60th annual Grammy Awards special to be telecast from New York’s Madison Square Garden.
By now, the Nashville nominees party has become something of a homecoming for the folks on Music Row and the first big get-together of the new year.
As in years past, one room was set aside for red carpet arrivals and media interviews, while a larger space — equipped with a stage, three bars and two food tables — was devoted to schmoozing. A large replica of a golden Grammy Award sat on a pedestal to serve as a backdrop for photos.
The Birdsong Trio — another time-honored element — occupied the stage, playing free-form jazz and occasionally dipping into the Great American Songbook for a more recognizable tune.
Vincent and Osborne are both competing for the best bluegrass album Grammy. Kelley, as a member of Lady Antebellum, is up for best country album and best country duo or group performance.
The food, as always, was thought-provoking. One table was given over to bowls of truffled macaroni and cheese. The other offered up blistered Brussel sprouts; pear, apple and walnut salad; chicken skewers with vegetables; poached shrimp bruschetta; beef sliders with tomato and bacon jam; and cipollini fig tarts.
Missing this year were the trays of sweets that spelled an early doom for so many New Year’s resolutions.
Alicia Warwick, executive director of the Recording Academy — the organization that dispenses the Grammys — explained to the crowd that the Grammy show was returning to New York from Los Angeles after a 15-year hiatus.
She also announced that Nashville has nominees in 26 of the 84 categories in which Grammys are awarded.
Just for the record, I’m equivocal about the truffled mac and cheese, but the blistered Brussel sprouts were divine.