For the second year in a row the 11th annual Latin Grammy Awards were celebrated on Thursday November 11th at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. When it comes to Latin Award Shows this is it. Many of Latin Americas chart topping stars take over Las Vegas for an entire week.
I flew in on Monday to catch the show rehearsals and got a sneak peek at who was performing. I was very impressed with the arrangements and performances especially all the Vegas acts that would accompany the artists. That’s one thing I love about this show over the regular Grammys. Visually there is a lot more there although I have to say that Pinks performance at last year’s Grammys still takes the cake.
Once arriving at the venue on Monday I checked in the credential room to get my All Access Pass to the show rehearsals. At the rehearsals I was able to run into many acquaintances and was able to finally meet people I have been talking with on the phone for a while regarding endorsements. As soon as I got backstage I saw my good friend and my Gibson counterpart Juan “Piolly” Lopera. Piolly was there to hand a guitar to Choc Quib Town for their rehearsal. Perfect timing since I was called by their manager a couple weeks before to chat about an endorsement. I watched them rehearse their hit “De Donde Vengo Yo” which was nominated for Best Alternative Song and won. They tore it up as if it was show night. Their energy and their flow is captivating. No wonder Snoop and Pharrel are fans. I couldn’t wait to see them perform on show night. I highly recommend they hit your radar if they haven’t yet. After their rehearsal I chatted with their manager about the possibility of an endorsement. We had a really good talk. More regarding that soon…
After watching a couple of great rehearsals and talking to a few more people I went to the Business Center of the Hotel to pick up 6 boxes full of mics intended for our newest endorsers from Argentina Banda de Turistas. I had shipped them to myself from Niles in order to hand deliver them in Vegas. Talk about service ;). After getting them up to my room it was dinner time and them sleepy time. Big day tomorrow so better get my Z’s.
6AM!!! Why am I awake? One thing I hate about traveling west… My body is programmed for Central time so no matter what time I sleep I always wake up two hours earlier than I am supposed to. Ugh! Emails from Chicago are already coming in. Oh well, might as well get office work done and get some breakfast.
After breakfast I went to the venue to check out the rehearsals. First up was Spanish songstress Rosario who was rehearsing “Cuentame Lo Que Paso”. I love this song. The set was a 1930’s beach party which was off the chain. If that’s what beach parties were like in the 30’s I’m very upset I missed them although I can’t complain about growing up in the 80’s.
After salseros Gilberto Santa Rosa and Johnny Ventura rehearsed “Hay Que Dejarse de Vaina” Prince Royce rehearsed one of my favorite songs of all times “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King. And guess who is going to perform with him? Yup Ben E King himself… Wow how cool. I love Prince Royce version since he didn’t change it too much except for a little Latin flair with the reggaeton beat. This performance will be special. I also got a chance today to meet with another band we are in talks with from Uruguay named Cuarteto de Nos who are also nominated for an award.
After a couple more cool rehearsals I got a text from our endorsers Banda de Turistas saying they were at the Mandalay Bay to pick up their mics. I packed it up and met them by the elevators. After our hellos we went upstairs to get their boxes. Their eyes lit up like little kids eyes do when they see presents under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning when they saw their six boxes.
They opted to carry them themselves all the way to the Luxor where they were staying. I offered to help and we walked from the Mandalay Bay to the Luxor with these heavy boxes. We got very strange looks from everyone as we marched across the casino floors at each hotel with these boxes. I’m sure we looked very strange with these ambiguous and heavily taped brown boxes. If you’ve ever been to Vegas you know how far this was and how random this is.
Once we got to their room they wasted no time turning on some “We’re going to rip these boxes open” music and busting out some plastic box cutters. Don’t ask I don’t know where they got them… Once they were able to cut through the tape and open the boxes their eyes lit up… they couldn’t believe it. They were so thankful and instantly started talking about how they were going to go to Guitar Center the next day to buy a rack to put it all in. They couldn’t wait to use their gear at tomorrow’s performance at the Nacional/Heinekin pre-Grammy party they were asked to perform at. After answering some of their questions about the gear we decided to catch some dinner. Not all of the guys went though since they were too excited with their new gear and opted to stay behind to read the manuals. These kids are going to be great endorsers…
Wednesday was another great day of rehearsals but the real magic to be had would be later at the industry pre-Grammy parties. Many of our endorsers would be playing/hosting many parties around the strip and being the great AR guy that I am it was my duty to make it to as many as I could to show face and spend some time with our endorsers. It’s not often that they are all in the same 5 mile radius so although I was tired, off to the ball I went.
First stop was the BMI’s “Los Producers Charity Show” at the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay. The Los Producers Show was a charity event for Education through Music and many of the Grammy nominated artists hit the stage with an all-star house band made up of industry trendsetters. The artist all performed their 80’s favorites. My favorite was Shure Endorser Alex Cuba singing Grover Washington’s and Bill Withers’s “Just The Two Of Us”. It was very well done and perfect for his voice and style.
Next stop on the crazy nights agenda was the Nacional Records Party at the Palms where Banda de Turistas who were nominated for Best Rock song for “Lo Comandas” and Best Alternative Album for Magical Radiophonic Heart were scheduled to perform. They rocked the party with their “Beetleesque” groove that had all the hipsters – me included – dancing. They rocked the stage with their new mics and in-ears I just delivered the night before. Gotta love Rock en Español!!!
After that I made it over to Beauty Bar in old Vegas to catch an acoustic set by our endorser Ely Guerra who was nominated for two Grammys for Best Alternative Album which she won and Best Recording Package for Hombre Invisible. It was freezing cold but she hit the stage with her KSM9 and kept us warm with her beautiful voice. Inside the party raged on with DJ sets from Fonseca and Mexican Institute of Sound, both also Shure Endorsers. It was a lot of fun to party with them all but I was exhausted after all the running around. It was time for bed. I had to be fresh for the show tomorrow.