By David Hellmuth, Blake Nelson and Mick Spence
"When one of our clients was nominated for two Grammy Awards, we just had to go!" said Blake Nelson, Managing Partner of Hellmuth & Johnson, PLLC ("H&J").
The adventure began when musical artist Stokley Williams, from the Minneapolis-based band and H&J client, Mint Condition, collaborated with New York-based R&B singer Kelly Price on the song "Not My Daddy." The collaboration resulted in two Grammy Award nominations; for Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song! The song was released on Mint Condition's album entitled "7" and Price's album "Kelly". Mint Condition, originally from St. Paul, has been performing together since the 1980s. After a string of Top 100 R&B songs over the years, Mint Condition (or "Mint" as they are commonly called) recently released its seventh album, "7," celebrating the band members' 20+ years together.
The day the Grammy nominations were released, Mint's management contacted the band's attorney; H&J partner Mick Spence, to inform him of the fantastic news! As legal counsel for a nominated artist, and as a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (the Grammy organization), Spence had the opportunity to purchase six tickets for the awards ceremonies. So, on February 10, 2012, H&J partners David Hellmuth, Blake Nelson, Mick Spence and their significant others flew to Los Angeles for the spectacle.
Things started to become interesting when Mick and Blake were presented with a baby blue Crown Victoria as their rental car. After trading numerous police car and taxi cab jokes, they pulled into The Roosevelt Hotel in West Hollywood (on Hollywood Boulevard, the famed "Avenue of the Stars"). The hotel valet was also clearly amused with the vehicle, and felt the need to confirm with Mick that the "land yacht" was indeed a rental, before he parked it amongst the less-than-Midwestern Ferraris and Lamborghinis.
Their challenges continued immediately thereafter, when at check-in, the polite hotel staff informed the travelers that they had no record of their reservation. For a time it looked like the valet might need to fetch the Crown Vic, but the mix-up was eventually straightened out and the parties found their rooms. After some Los Angeles sightseeing Saturday and Sunday, it was time for the show.
Attired in tuxedos and formal dresses, the group made its way to The Staples Center in downtown L. A. After some searching, they soon learned that the red carpet is hidden from view in an unknown location, and only major celebrities and paparazzi were allowed to traverse that hallowed ground. "Suits", as the lawyers and other non-musically-inclined attendees are described, get to enter the arena just like they always do-through revolving doors on concrete sidewalks. So much for that.
After entering the arena, having their tickets scanned and belongings searched, the group took in the sights of a world class event. Subsequent to strolling the concourse with eyes peeled for celebrities, the travelers found their seats as they had done for numerous prior concerts. Of course, this time they were in formal dress and about to see 32 major acts in rapid succession, including Paul McCartney, Adele, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Rihanna, The Foo Fighters, Taylor Swift and even The Beach Boys.
One might think it would be better to watch a major event like the Super Bowl or the Grammys from the comfort of home, taking full advantage of the different camera angles or seeing things one might miss in person. Not so with the Grammys. The sound, excitement and production values of each act were overwhelming. It was also thrilling to watch the stage hands change each of the elaborate sets during the commercial breaks, while friends and clients frequently sent text messages asking "what do they do during the commercials?" At one point, while preparing for Katy Perry's set a huge, towering ice statue fell over and shattered into a million pieces while the group the Civil Wars was performing. All was quickly cleaned up and the show continued. (Legal pitch alert... A perfect example that when you are prepared for potential issues, it is amazing how quickly matters can be cleaned up and move on.) As they say, the show must go on!
The 2012 Grammy Awards received even greater attention due to the passing of Whitney Houston, the day prior to the show. She was clearly in the thoughts and prayers of many attendees and artists who knew and worked with her over the years. Emotions in the arena ran high when Jennifer Hudson sang the seminal Whitney Houston song "I Will Always Love You."
Interestingly, the televised Grammy broadcast is not a presentation of all of the Grammy Awards handed out. There are actually 78 Grammy Awards, yet only about 10 are actually presented during the show. Mint's categories were not part of the broadcasted ceremonies. Unfortunately, our client did not win---THIS time! Cee Lo Green won in the best R&B Performance category and Corrine Bailey Rae took home the Best R&B Song Grammy. That's pretty stiff talent competition, so our client is in great company! Merely earning the nomination was its own great accomplishment. And for us other six Minnesotans, who attended, it was a wonderful experience and another item crossed off our proverbial "bucket lists."
But this may not be the last time H&J team members are lucky enough to attend such a major event in the entertainment industry. H&J attorney Mick Spence is a nationally-recognized entertainment attorney, serving local and national (and Grammy nominated!) clients. His practice entails all aspects of the entertainment business industry; from negotiating talent and entertainment asset contracts, to advising and developing creative artists and the businesses that exploit their works in commerce, all the way though litigating any and all disputes that arise in the constantly-evolving entertainment industry. He loves to help other entrepreneurial business owners, too-so don't be shy if you would like his perspectives and experience assisting you in your business matters. Who knows, we may have other future clients nominated for Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, CLEOs or other prestigious business awards. If so, we may have to pack our bags again!