GRAMMY Museum Mississippi — Night On The River
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GRAMMY Museum Mississippi — Night On The River

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When Emily Havens casually mentioned that if I could get myself to LA, I could participate in the GRAMMY’s “Night on the River” event, it didn’t take long before I called Victoria Petway and booked that flight. I had gotten wind that the DMI Allstars would be playing, not to mention the actual heroes of mine that would precede them.

Again, I found myself in a room I’ve been striving to get to and didn’t yet know existed. Cedric Burnside, Dominique Jones, PJ Morton, Sean Ardoin, Hi Rhythm Section, Cha Wa, and Randy Houser all took the stage covering seven different nominated genres within a two hour span. Either from Memphis, Mississippi or Louisiana, each artist came to Los Angeles for GRAMMY week and gathered to celebrate the Southern roots of their work in a room filled with faces that could understand. 

DOE (Dominique) blew the roof off as she pivoted to new music when technology got in the way and the Hi Rhythm section made my dreams come true as they played “Love and Happiness” with Cedric on the drums, which they originally recorded with Al Green in '72. There was R&B, a head dress, interviews, dancing in the aisles and six horns on the stage at one point. I sat front row and relished in the artists’ ability to jump behind a different instrument, introduce themselves to the band, ask, “What key?” and play the song as if it was their own. They were unassuming, there to help, and the real deal.

Everyone that could fit got on that stage and sang “Rolling On The River” before moving on to the cocktail hour where the students of the DMI Allstars performed for an hour straight. As Tricia said when we spoke, “Here’s a kid that’s going to be in the DMI All Stars. Here’s a kid who’s probably never been out of the Delta. He got picked to be in this All Star band. He’s gonna go to Los Angeles. He’s never been on a plane. He’s never seen the mountains. He’s never seen the ocean.” We found ourselves on a roof top in downtown LA eating seafood, drinking tequila, and watching as one student played his keys from above as he stood on top of his stool in a room filled with managers.

I would bet that “Night On The River” was the most seasoned, legit, and relaxed of the GRAMMY parties last week. Just the way we like it.

In the mirror..

..and over-prepared.


 Tricia Walker's tips on "How to write a blues song" for the elementary school workshop.  

Cedric Burnside

DMI All Stars

Sean Ardoin blurring the lines of zydeco and jazz.