Mike Huckabee News
Laura Ainsworth is a Dallas-based radio comedy writer whose parody songs were heard often on “The Mike Huckabee Show.” She’s also a serious jazz/standards singer who should have been nominated for a Grammy. Her music can be heard at www.lauraainsworth.com or on Facebook.)
I’m here in la-la land for the 2014 Grammy Awards, though I’m not sure if it should be called “2014” because it honors recordings released in 2013, and that’s just one of many things that confuse me about the Grammys. Anyway, one of the CDs released in 2013 and on the ballot for nominations this year, 2014, was my most recent jazz album, NECESSARY EVIL. Perhaps you heard me on the Governor’s radio show when he interviewed me live on-air and played a few excerpts. You can hear much more at my website, lauraainsworth.com. Numerous tracks are getting lots of airplay on jazz/standards radio stations around the world and online.
Okay, so I didn’t make the final list of nominees. But, hey, neither did Harry Connick, Jr., who certainly deserved to, or Michael Feinstein. To my mind, so did Molly Ringwald, who has morphed from talented and lovely teen actress to talented and sophisticated adult band singer. Our category is “Traditional Pop Vocal,” which is supposed to mean standards, as in “The Great American Songbook,” and new material in that style --- you know, the classy, jazzy stuff that Frank and Ella used to do. I’m kind of a throwback to the likes of Peggy Lee and Julie London. But I have learned that the “Traditional Pop” category now includes such novelties as Cee-Lo Green’s R&B Christmas album. In fact, it’s one of the five nominees. Not to knock this album in any way but…….are you confused yet?
The category of “Traditional Pop” isn’t even included in the Grammy Awards show that’s telecast on Sunday night. Such “lesser” (?) awards are given out in the afternoon, while the star-studded nighttime show is reserved for major-label superstars of R&B, Pop (the current kind), Country, etc. Few awards are actually given out on the televised portion anymore; this is really more of a SHOW. Without a doubt, much of the finest musical talent in the world is in the fields of traditional pop and jazz.
When I told my friends I was going to the Grammys, they no doubt imagined me posing on the red carpet, getting fluffed-and-puffed by my team of stylists and exchanging fashion tips with Lady Gaga. Maybe discussing politics with Jay-Z and Beyonce (on second thought, no.) In reality, I flew coach into LAX, rented a Chevy Impala and drove with my husband Pat to a moderately-price chain hotel on Sunset Boulevard (he calls it “the Ritz for writers”). The traffic was so bad at 5pm, it took almost as long to get from the airport to the hotel than it did to get from Dallas to L.A. But long stretches of highway were surprisingly free-flowing, even compared to Dallas. This phenomenon is due, of course, to the mass exodus of many Californians who’ve been chased away by high taxes and ridiculous overregulation. Those people are now living in Dallas, starting new businesses and tying up the traffic.
That’s my theory, anyway.
We have the entire third floor of the hotel to ourselves, not because I’m a big music star like J-Lo but because the hotel is doing renovations on this floor and apparently ours is the only room that is finished. The hall carpet is covered with dropcloths and tape, and the smell of fresh (wet?) paint fills the air. Our closet, just painted, has no clothes rack.
J-Lo would FREAK!! Not that her floor was being renovated --- I think a fresh coat of paint for her suite is always specified in her contract --- but that it wasn’t finished before she arrived and also that the walls and furnishings were not the perfect shade of white, and that the suite was not filled with white flowers and the scent of gardenia. I have heard that big celebrities have things called “contract riders” to ensure their requirements are fulfilled.
Being processed into the audience at Warner Bros. for Conan O’Brien’s show is like being in a herd of cattle --- if cattle were suspected of posing a security risk. The screening process there was more involved than at the airport, though the security people were incredibly nice about the whole ordeal. We convened a few hours before showtime on a designated floor of a designated parking garage, presented our tickets and IDs, went through metal detectors, had our hands stamped with invisible ink, were given wristbands and color-coded tickets and were told it was okay to leave for awhile, though we’d have to go through the metal detector again if we did. (We did and we did.) When it was time to go to the studio, we walked literally miles through caverns of gigantic soundstages, the ones where they shoot “The Big Bang Theory” (great show) “Two and a Half Men” (not my favorite) and “2 Broke Girls” (a really nasty sitcom which I suggest you do not watch unless you happen to like undiluted filthy humor). Fortunately, the weather was nice; I can’t imagine how this process would go if it were pouring down rain.
The show itself was an unforgettable experience, in large part because we were sitting near the band. (Keyboard player Scott Healy – a Grammy nominee for his jazz instrumental, “Koko on the Boulevard” - was the one who got us VIP tickets; he’ll never know my gratitude!). That band is the hottest I’ve heard --- my favorite of all the late-nite TV bands, and those horn players have no problem grabbing a mic and heading out into the audience to sing and play around. They’re as much a part of the audience warm-up as the pre-show comic. Being comedy writers ourselves, Pat and I loved seeing Conan and Andy Richter in action. That’s one show they don’t have to sweeten with a laugh track. The laughter is actually louder in the studio than it sounds on TV.
I’ll have much more to tell about my week at the Grammys, but right now I have to dash off to a party and do some serious networking!