SHULLSBURG—The Uehling family of Shullsburg focused their vacation plans around the 2012 Grammys in California earlier this month. With the star-sightings at the high-profile event, it won’t soon be forgotten.
The family—Eugene, Cherie and their children: Andrew, 18; Sam, 15; and Sadie, 10—left on Wednesday, Feb. 8, and returned on Monday, Feb. 13. Besides attending the event, they also did some sightseeing in California.
“Andrew is graduating high school this year and the kids have never gone before so we made it into a family vacation,” Cherie said.
The 54th annual Grammys was held on Sunday, Feb. 12, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif. The Eulings were able to attend the prestigious event because Eugene is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), the organization that nominates and votes for the artists recognized at the Grammys.
The family was split up to watch the performances. Sam and Andrew watched it from one area with Eugene and Sadie was with Cherie in another area. They were all seated above the celebrities who had seats on the lowest level.
Cherie said there were two stages; one was being set up while a performance was taking place on the other stage.
Eugene said the Grammys used to be at a smaller venue, the Shrine Auditorium, but was moved to the Staples Center to accommodate performing artists with larger stages and to allow for more of the academy to attend.
Eugene said he started shooting pictures at concerts in high school and was approached by the publisher of a music publication in Madison to purchase photos of a concert. He worked for two different publications photographing concerts for a few years before starting his own music paper in La Crosse.
His work was purchased by Epic Records for an REO Speedwagon record.
“They ended up buying more than 100 concert photos to use on an REO Speedwagon album that is called ‘A Decade of Rock and Roll,’” Eugene said. “That was sort of the beginning of recognizing that there was an opportunity to do more than just the photos and the music newspapers, that it was also an opportunity to work with bands on their albums.
Eugene then started working with more regional bands that were putting out their own independent records.
Eugene said one of the requirements for becoming a voting member is to have contributed to the creativity of a certain number of commercially released recordings. When he started in 1981, the requirement was six commercially released recordings; however, with the evolution of music formats, he said the number may be different now.
“One of the things that I really like about the academy is they really do change and grow as the times do,” Eugene said.
He said rap and hip hop were added to the list of categories over the years. Even this year there were new categories: dance and electronica music.
Eugene said there are NARAS chapters across the country. He belongs to one in Chicago and attends monthly events with guest speakers or three-band reviews.
“The main thing is you have to stay on top of the music that is in the categories that you would work with,” Eugene said. “Just because there are nearly 80 categories that are voted on, every member is not allowed to vote in every category because it is not possible to be versed in all of them.”
He said everybody votes in the four major categories—song of the year, songwriter of the year, album of the year and record of the year—as well as eight additional categories. He said he can also nominate records or songs that he thinks are worthy of being screened by the academy.
Eugene said he and Cherie went to the Grammys a few times in the late-1980s, early-1990s. Then they took a hiatus while raising their family. Eugene went by himself for the last several years.
“This is the first time that as a family all of us have gone,” Eugene said. “It was very exciting this year to have the kids see all of the fanfare that goes into it, but also being able to recognize all of those performers on stage. It’s really a large-scale concert to see all of those acts perform in a single venue in a single night.”
Cherie said things have really changed since she went in the 80’s. She said there was much more security.
“Before we were in the same lobby with all of the stars, even the parties afterward you were there with famous people,” Cherie said. “Now they kind of all go to their own parties.”
The family attended an after-party where Kenny Loggins and One Republic performed.
The show was 3 ½ hours long, starting at 5 p.m. Eugene said 70 percent of the awards were given in a pre-telecast ceremony.
“It’s always very well done,” Eugene said.
The family dressed for the occasion in black with a little color. Cherie said most people dressed nice, but they saw some people in jeans, too.
“You see everything,” Cherie said. “We worried about what to wear but we saw lots of variety.”
Sadie noted the extremely high heels of one artist.
Sadie said she recognized plenty of celebrities, but she was especially excited to see Adele, Fergie, Rhianna and Paul Shaffer.
“It was insane,” Sam said. “It was really cool.”
Cherie said they couldn’t take cameras in, but they were able to take some pictures of the event on their phones.
Every attendee was given two bracelets that lit up during the performance by Coldplay. A radio frequency caused them to light up at the right time. It was a way to have audience participation during the performance, encouraging people to stand up, raise their hands and move around a bit.
Eugene said he is proud to be a voting member of the event for more than half of the years it has been going. He is especially proud of the Music Cares program that provides medical treatment and rehabilitation to musicians as well as shows appreciation for the arts.
Voting for the 2013 Grammys will start in October, when nominations from October 2011 through September 2012 will be voted on.