Thursday, December 04, 2008

First Look at the Grammy Museum

Inside the new Grammy Museum. Pic via the LATimes.

I had the opportunity to attend Wednesday night's Grammy Nominations concert/TV special at the Nokia Theatre (a bland venue I still don't like).. the Foo Fighters singing "You're So Vain," cool; Celine Dion singing "At Seventeen," er, not so much.

The concert, telecast for an hour live on CBS, was the Recording Academy's attempt to inject some excitement into the usual award nomination announcement. The show wasn't too bad (the exceptions being Dion and Taylor Swift -- I don't get, she'd be voted off "American Idol" after a few rounds) -- especially when the Foos' Dave Grohl ironically announced the country duos category.

Also, from the audience, watching groups of pre-teens attempt to walk up to the Jonas Brothers -- only to be denied by security -- was amusing (that look of frustration on those girls' faces -- 'We're so close, yet so far away!!' -- was especially great).

After the broadcast, John Mayer stuck around to perform an hour-long acoustic set, offering up his usual easy-to-swallow-but-not-too-interesting brand of guitar pop. Mayer took the opportunity to blast the tabloid attention to his personal life -- name checking his pals at TMZ. (Nope, didn't see Jennifer Aniston anywhere.)

(Flickr pic by Intellichick.)

MEANWHILE, the highlight of the evening was afterward, when I got a chance to check out the new Grammy Museum at LA Live.

Rather than offering up a static collection of music memorabilia and Grammy statues, the museum offers up 21st century-style interactivity. In this post's top pic, you can see one of the highlights: A touch screen that allows you to search through an entire history of virtually every music genre at your finger tips.

(Flickr pic by Intellichick.)

Plenty of other stations include lessons on how to remix from Paul Oakenfold; how to sing, from Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis; how to rap, with Jermaine Dupri; and creating beats with DJ Rap. There are several video displays devoted to things such as regional music; great Grammy performances; and more.

(Flickr pic by Intellichick.)

On the downside, sponsorship is everywhere -- logos from Target to JBL sprinkle the displays.

But on the bright side, there are plenty of cool pieces of memorabilia to see as well. One letter, from Elvis to a fan (sent right before he became famous)in 1955 reads:

"I don't love you and I doubt if I ever could, so please let's be friends and drop it there... P.S. If you write again, please send me a picture for my scrapbook."

Other items seen: Slick Rick's eyepatch; the handwritten album notes (by Tupac himself) for Tupac Shakur's "2pacalypse Now"; a 1957 letter from Buddy Holly to his mother (in which he notes that they were the only white act at a recent Washington D.C. show); a Guns n' Roses bass drum head from Matt Sorum; Billie Holliday's costume jewelry; Buddy Rich's drum sticks; a telegram to a promoter from Count Basie; the Presley Family bible; and one of B.B. King's suits.

Also: A sparkly dress from Celia Cruz; a 1964 concert program signed by Bob Dylan; the handwritten lyrics (by Eminem) to "Stan"; Louie Armstrong's neck tie; Glenn Miller's trombone; a 1966 bass owned by Jimi Hendrix; and a 1978 Davis clavitar (those cool, 80s-style keyboard guitars) from Herbie Hancock.

I'm no fan of how L.A. Live looks, but I'd say the Grammy Museum exceeded expectations. It's worth a visit, especially with visitors from out of town. And it's not a big time drain; the museum, which is spread over 4 floors, can probably be fully appreciated in 90 minutes. Tix are $14.95 for adults; $10.95 for kids 6-17.

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