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Your guide to the Grammy Awards: A few locals, return of Adele

Dale Roe: Go to Guy

Staff Writer
Austin 360
Adele will perform.

The music world puts down its instruments for a lot of back-patting at tonight's "54th Annual Grammy Awards" celebration (good thing, too an errant drumstick or violin bow could poke an eye out).

Here's a handy guide to the Recording Academy's festivities at Los Angeles' Staples Center. Remember that performer and presenter lineups can change up until the last minute. For example, the Academy added a tribute to Etta James, who died last month, just before our deadline, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a similar remembrance of "Soul Train's" late Don Cornelius.

Austin ties

I spotted three Austin acts up for Grammys this year, and only one of them for performing. That hardly seems right.

Austin Music Hall of Famer Marcia Ball grabbed a nomination for Best Blues Album ("Roadside Attractions"), competing against Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo and Tedeschi Trucks Band.

Art directors Sarah and Shauna Dodds are up for Best Recording Package for their work on Austin-based Reckless Kelly's "Good Luck & True Love."

Finally, Austin-born, Wimberley-raised Sarah Jarosz's "Follow Me Down" received a nod for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.

Hip-hop host

Give it up for pioneering hip-hop artist and current "NCIS: Los Angeles" star LL Cool J. Born James Todd Smith, the entertainer is new to the awards telecast, but not to the Grammys — he's helmed "Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music's Biggest Night" since it began in 2008 (the Academy announced this year's nominations during that concert in November on CBS).

The Grammys haven't had an official host since Queen Latifah lead the 47th edition in 2005.

Leader board

Rapper and infamous acceptance-speech-interrupter Kanye West ("I'ma let you finish, Taylor Swift ...") leads the pack with seven nominations. The deeply personal Adele, rockers the Foo Fighters and versatile crooner Bruno Mars netted six each, and rapper Lil Wayne, electronic music creator/household cleaning product Skrillex ("Got too much Skrill? You need Skrillex!") and English rockers Radiohead each received five nods.

Here are the nominees in the biggest categories:

Record of the Year: "Rolling in the Deep," Adele; "Holocene," Bon Iver; "Grenade," Bruno Mars; "The Cave," Mumford & Sons; "Firework," Katy Perry.

Album of the Year: "21," Adele; "Wasting Light," Foo Fighters; "Born This Way," Lady Gaga; "Doo-Wops & Hooligans," Bruno Mars; "Loud," Rihanna.

Song of the Year: the songwriters of"All of the Lights" by Kanye West featuring Rihanna, Fergie and Kid Cudi; "The Cave," Mumford & Sons; "Grenade," Bruno Mars; "Holocene," Bon Iver; "Rolling in the Deep," Adele.

Best New Artist: the Band Perry, Bon Iver, J. Cole, Nicki Minaj, Skrillex.

Performers, presenters

The tribute to Etta James is set to feature Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt. A Clarence Clemons-less E Street Band (the saxophone player died in June) will be jamming with Bruce Springsteen, and so-hot-she-hurts Adele returns to live performing after last fall's vocal cord surgery. First-time Grammy performer Jason Aldean appears with pop diva Kelly Clarkson; music legend Glen Campbell appears with Grammy performance newcomers the Band Perry and Blake Shelton (Campbell and the Band Perry will be in Austin next month to perform at Rodeo Austin); and Coldplay performs with Rihanna. In another unusual pairing (the Academy loves to mash up genres) nominees Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood will duet.

Other acts performing on the broadcast include Foo Fighters, Bruno Mars, Paul McCartney, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and first-time Grammy performer Nicki Minaj.

Chris Brown, who is on probation from a 2009 incident in which he assaulted Rihanna (his girlfriend at the time) at a pre-Grammy party, has also been added to the performance roster. This is Brown's first appearance at the awards since the attack.

Announced presenters include rapper Drake, actor Jack Black, the Black Eyed Peas' Fergie, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson of the Roots, singer Marc Anthony, "shy Beatle" Ringo Starr, and the ubiquitous Ryan Seacrest. Country artists Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert are also handing out trophies, along with actress/sometimes country crooner Gwyneth Paltrow.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Turn and face the strange: The Academy has decided to fiddle with awards again this year (and not by adding a fiddling category). Sorry, but those of you hoping for Best Mike Check by a Roadie or Most Outrageous Rider Demand awards are going to be disappointed; the list is not being expanded. In fact, there will be only 78 awards as opposed to last year's 109.

The Pop category has been condensed from seven awards to four, as has the Rock category. The Academy cut the number of awards in the R&B category in half, to four. The Rap category is one award lighter, and the Country field lost three awards, pared down to four.

Jazz lost two awards, down to four. Gospel now has five awards instead of seven, and the category has been renamed Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music.

The Latin category now has four awards instead of seven, and the Academy was able to truncate the American Roots Music category by combining Traditional and Contemporary awards for both Blues and Folk music. In addition, Hawaiian, Native American and Cajun/Zydeco awards in the category have been combined into one award for Best Regional Roots Music Album.

World Music and Children's Field Categories now have only one award each, and the unwieldy Classical category, formerly the container for a whopping 11 awards, now holds only seven.

Other categories retain the same number of awards, but some of their names have been changed (though probably not to protect the innocent).

droe@statesman.com; 912-5923

"54th Annual Grammy Awards"