Check out more photos in Lina Lecaro's Grammy Magic Nightranger slideshow.
Willy Go ’Round
The Grammys’ struggle to remain relevant while righting past wrongs and entertaining today’s shorter attention spans might have made for a disjointed program, but they definitely weren’t boring — either offstage or on. Legal dramas (the Chris Brown incident, Joe Satriani’s subpoena threat to Coldplay), an about-to-pop mama (M.I.A.) and the relentless rain-o-rama that threatened to put a damper on the week of festivities may have been what everybody was talking about, but magical music moments all over town (some rivaling those on the telecast) outshined it all. The party procession started off on a pouring yet painterly Monday at Worlds on Fire, will.i.am’s pop-up art gallery featuring portraits of ’09 Grammy nominees (Jay-Z and M.I.A. likenesses dominated) by the likes of Mr. Brainwash and Shepard Fairey. The downtown space at the Electric Lodge Lofts offered a bright and airy space to view the works and the equally colorful bods in attendance (including boho fro’d types and tatted ones like LA Ink’s Kim Saigh and BF Shawn Barber, as well as Travis Barker and ex [?] Shana Moakler). Proceeds went to the Peapod Foundation, the Black Eyed Peas’ charitable org bringing music education to inner-city youth.
A couple nights later, the Peas’ annual stew of flava-full music friends, the Peapod Foundation Benefit, raised even more dough for the charity. Though this year’s event featured more newbies than chart-toppers, it might have been the best one yet, thanks to the more intimate locale — the new Conga Room — and the diversity of pop-ins. Like the Grammy ceremony’s obligatory disparate duets, this one had some interesting pairings: Nikka Costa and Lupe Fiasco; Warren G, will.i.am. and Roots drummer ?uestlove; and Fergie (who finally got rid of that icky eyebrow piercing!) with Slash on “Sweet Child of Mine,” during which Mrs. Duhamel revealed that the guitarist gave her a stripper pole as a wedding gift. Boyz II Men (100 percent manly men now) won over the ladies by handing out roses while crooning “I’ll Make Love to You,” while Colby O’Donis, Solange, Janelle Monae (who’s freakin’ amazing live) and Mix Master Mike (ditto) offered selections later in the eve. Also seen at the Thursday-night Pod pumper: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (who dubbed himself and Will fellow “Black-xicans”), MC Hammer and Rihanna (sans Brown).
Before the shocking announcement of her post–Clive Davis Bash attack on Saturday, RiRi was seen at other parties as well; she even performed at the BlackBerry/Verizon event at Boulevard 3 Friday night. She was obviously a no-show for her label’s House of Hype fete Sunday night. Though the celebratory record label–thrown ragers were understandably scaled back this year, there were enough “unofficial” fetes to keep party hoppers, A-list or otherwise, pretty busy. Grammy winners Justice (for best remixed recording)spun at My House Thursday, while the band they mixed, MGMT, managed the decks at La Boum at Bardot the night before. The Friends and Family gathering at Paramount Studios with sets by Talib Kweli, Pete Rock and DJ AM brought out bigwigs and artists including The Jonas Brothers, Chris Tucker, Lil Jon, Jill Scott, Eve, David Banner, Slash and ?uestlove, the latter of whom became an unwitting Grammy-week correspondent via his Twitter page, on which he gave insightful, often hilarious blow-by-blows of each fete he attended (bro was actually punching his celly onstage behind the kit during the aforementioned Peapod jam) — and the ceremony itself. His comments about Radiohead’s Thom Yorke “dancing like a Muppet” at one Hollywood shindig were all the buzz on the music blogosphere.
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While crack-is-wack-ster Whitney was staging another “comeback” at the Davis affair, we favored Saturday night’s more real-feeling rock-flavored happenings over the R&B/pop-machine-driven mashes. The Rhino/Los Angeles mag event with The New York Dolls saw a spindly and spectacled David Johansen and youthful looking Sylvain Sylvain kiss and hiss onstage for fellow musicians Perry Farrell, Tim Burgess, Dead drummer Mickey Hart, Urge Overkill’s Nash Kato and director Jason Reitman (who spun for the crowd earlier under his “DJ name” — yes, he’s a DJ now — Bad Meaning Bad with partner Mateo Messina, the dude who co-scored Juno). The Dolls did all the classics and some swingy new tunes from a forthcoming Rhino release being produced by Todd Rundgren. After the Trash-tastic set, Nightranger was off to the Roxy for more glammy week action with Chelsea Girls, the all-chick supergroup featuring Sam Maloney, Corey Parks, The Donnas’ Allison Robertson and sexy celeb-DJ Tuesdae (singing). Jane Wiedlin, who we reported a few columns ago was in the group, is no longer, but we hear the split was amicable. Lemmy Kilmister joined the gals for “Ace of Spades,” while Taylor Dane’s guest vox saw the femmes getting funky on the disco tune “Take Your Time.” Though Cherie Currie and Carmen Electra were rumored to join the jammin’, no cherry — or Cherie — bombs went off, and Electra and BF Rob Patterson stayed to the side of the stage ogling their pal Parks’ busty bass quakes. Catch Chelsea Girls at the Roxy on the last Thursday of each month. Next gig is Feb. 26, with Sweethead featuring Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens of the Stone Age).
And finally, nothing caps off a raucous eve like a house party, and musician Jimmy Thrill Quill’s birthday bash in WeHo fit the bill late Saturday night. Designer Henry Duarte and actor Michael Des Barres were among those still hanging by the time we got there, but it was U.O.’s Kato who provided the ultimate Almost Famous, or, should we say, Pulp Fiction–like moment, when he crooned a bit of “Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon” to us and our gal-pals in Thrill’s bedroom, and gave us the scoop about performing it for Neil Diamond at Friday’s MusiCares honorary event (they had never met before!). Kato then participated in a drunken, decadent (but tame) impromptu photo shoot with us ladies. See the snapshot saturation in our online slide show.