The 55th Annual Grammy Awards – Best New Artist, Must See Performances

Every year I look forward to the annual Grammy Awards celebration on the CBS Television Network. It is an opportunity to witness unique music performances and collaborations offered nowhere else. It is a must see broadcast as a music journalist and a lifelong music consumer.

The Best New Artist Award category poses a tough choice in 2013. My head tells me that Frank Ocean is the odds on favorite to receive this award. Frank Ocean had a phenomenal year in music. His début studio recording Channel Orange was chosen as the top recording of 2012 in many Top 10 reader and critic polls. There is typically a correlation between year end music poll and Grammy Award winners.

The music of our heart says something different in me about Best New Artist. The Lumineers are my sentimental favorite to win this year. It helps that I have seen The Lumineers perform live just as their star began to burn brightly. The Lumineers continued their ascension as they carried out an extensive global tour. The Lumineers are more than a “one-hit wonder” with the song, “Ho Hey”. Their début album is repeat play and balanced. If they don’t win the Best New Artist award they are also nominated for the Best Americana album which is more likely with the rise of roots music.

The must see performances I want to witness are dedicated to two musicians who died in 2012. There will be all-star tributes to Levon Helm and Dave Brubeck from fellow musicians who want to share their love for these two musical giants. I miss them both terribly and share in the adoration that will be shown for the music legacies they leave us all.

Donald Fagen – Sunken Condos

I bristle at the notion that Donald Fagen will soon be releasing his fourth solo album, Sunken Condos, on October 16, 2012. Donald Fagen is one cool cat in my book. I own his first three solo classics, The Nightfly, Kamikiriad, and Morph The Cat. Combined they are considered The NightFly Trilogy. They are superb recordings with engaging musical scales, tasty lyrics, and top flight engineering production.

Sunken Condos builds on that Fagen sound excellence we’ve come to love and respect. It then expands his music vision to the next level of sophistication with new tapestries and stories that entertain our sensibilities.


The nine tracks on Sunken Condos were co-produced by Michael Leonhart and Donald. All but one track, an Ashkenazi recasting of Isaac Hayes‘ “Out of the Ghetto,” are Donald Fagen originals. This thrills me to no end as I am constantly enchanted by his creative genius. Some familiar names from the Steely Dan family of players are on hand for Sunken Condos such as Jon Herington, the Steely Dan horns, Freddie Washington plus we’ll be treated to some new faces. The word is that, from now on, everything Donald Fagen does has got to be funky. Ain’t it cool 😉

Sunken Condos Track Listing

1. Slinky Thing
2. I’m Not the Same Without You
3. Memorabilia
4. Weather in My Head
5. The New Breed
6. Out of the Ghetto (Isaac Hayes cover)
7. Miss Marlene
8. Good Stuff
9. Planet D’Rhonda

The vinyl release is a special collectors edition 2 LP set pressed in 180 gram high performance clear vinyl. I especially like the artwork on the inside sleeves.

The first track from Sunken Condos has been released, “I’m Not The Same Without You”. It’s available on iTunes.

Donald Fagen, 'I'm Not The Same Without You'

Here is the video 😉

It won’t be longer before we have the full recording to savor and spin 😉

Ryan Montbleau Band – Heavy on the Vine

When I received my order from Village (the new Mavis Staples CD produced by Jeff Tweedy, You Are Not Alone, which I am lovin a lot) inside was a promotional postcard promoting the brand new Ryan Montbleau Band record, Heavy on the Vine, produced by Martin Sexton. On the back of the card it was signed, Thanks Edward! ☮, Trader Dan.

Well I gotta tell you, the Ryan Montbleau Band record is stellar. The combination of the band with Martin Sexton producing is a winning collaboration. I can’t stop playing the tracks and watching the videos on

So if you are looking for an infectious, repeat play, have fun recording by all means check out Heavy on the Vine by the Ryan Montbleau Band. You’ll be awfully glad you did 🙂

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