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Save Club Mezzanine: Inside The Efforts To Rescue San Francisco's Iconic Music Venue

Photo by Thomas Jack

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Save Club Mezzanine: Inside The Efforts To Rescue San Francisco's Iconic Music Venue

A major rent hike could force the Western SoMa nightclub to close down in October; here's a look at how its owner and city officials are attempting to save it

GRAMMYs/Jul 27, 2019 - 12:21 am

Concert and club venue Mezzanine has been a pillar of San Francisco nightlife for nearly 16 years, but, due to a 600% rent increase from the building's owner, its days of showcasing underground talent and GRAMMY winners alike may be sadly numbered. As it currently stands, the beloved venue is projected to shut down in October of this year. Remarkably, though, officials at San Francisco City Hall are helping to fight for its survival.

"Mezzanine is one of our only medium-size concert venues," San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney told SF Weekly last month when he introduced legislation that could protect the future of the business. "It’s woman-owned, and I think it has an incredibly important role in our community as providing a space for the LGBT community, and for local acts. There's rightfully a lot of fear and outright anger that it would be shut down."

Speaking to the Recording Academy, Haney’s legislative aide Honey Mahogany elaborated on Mezzanine’s vital role in the LGBTQ community.

"Mezzanine is an incredibly important venue for San Francisco," Mahogany said. "San Francisco's entertainment real estate is pretty tight, especially when it comes to LGBT[Q] venues. When queer parties get a little too big for their home bars—I’m thinking of parties like Honey Soundsystem, Hard French [and] Swagger Like Us—Mezzanine has been a good next step helping queer promoters to expand their audiences, bring in bigger artists and generally continue to provide creative and fun nightlife experiences for diverse communities."

Haney's proposed legislation would give entertainment venues in his district (Western SoMa) an 18-month buffer should a landlord try to push out tenants and obtain a change of use permit to convert into office space, which is what building owners Dave and Todd Chritton plan to do with the space that is rented by Mezzanine come October. After the lease was set to expire, the brothers had proposed a rent hike from the current $10,000 per month to $60,000 per month, which owner Deborah Jackman can’t weather on her own. (The Chrittons could not be reached for comment.)

The brothers made the announcement that the Chritton family’s 54-year-old security company Microbiz would be taking the space only after Jackman had thought that they'd agree to a three-month lease extension so that all of the events that had been booked in good faith through New Year’s Eve could go ahead as planned.

Microbiz "will be taking over the entire building as of October 11, 2019—ensuring their legacy in the Northern California marketplace," reads a release sent to SF Weekly. "It was their parents' wish that someday Microbiz would occupy the entire building."

If approved, Supervisor Haney's legislation would at least buy Mezzanine some more time to try and negotiate a new lease with the building owners to preserve one of San Francisco's nightlife cornerstones, or a fighting chance to relocate.

"I don’t anticipate any opposition from the Board on this legislation," Mahogany said. "Our colleagues have expressed support."

"I don't think it would be great," Maggie Weiland, the executive director of San Francisco Entertainment Commission, said of the potential impact of Mezzanine's closure on the city. "I don't think that we would be pleased with another venue that provides live music to go away and to turn into another use such as office space. [Mezzanine] is an asset to San Francisco, a very valuable venue that has been around for 16 years. Personally, I would be very sad; I've been going there since I was 21. But also just on a professional level, it’s not a great storyline for our city."

Deborah Jackman was more into bands like the Grateful Dead and Phish when she became manager of Mezzanine in 2008 after relocating from New York City, where she had been opening restaurants, bars and venues for 17 years.

"I moved out here thinking, 'Oh, I’ll get a job running the Fillmore' and found out very quickly that the people that hold those positions in San Francisco, they either retire or die," Jackmain explained. "No one is just leaving a general manager position at the Warfield or the Fillmore or one of those legendary venues that an out-of-state person would think of when they think of San Francisco. So I lucked out when I got the call from Mezzanine that they wanted to meet me."

She's now been the owner of Mezzanine for seven years and credits her time there for opening up her mind to much broader sonic horizons. Her musical highlights from the past 11 years inside the venue are numerous and colorful.

"The most obvious [performance] that sticks out is Lady Gaga," Jackman says, remembering a fond Mezzanine moment. "My first year there we had her it sold out in five minutes of course, and we added a second show the same night and I had no idea who she was. Most average people didn't know who she was, at that time she had a cult following. And I remember seeing the first show and calling my husband and saying, 'You need to get down here and see the second show! This is the real deal, Holy Moses, she is the new Madonna.’ That was just an amazing moment having her, and then three months later she sold out Madison Square Garden; it was that quick of a turnaround for her.

"One of my other favorite memories is, we were having a fundraiser for Save the Waves—they do yearly fundraisers helping to save the ocean —and they had a couple local bands playing,” she added. "One of the bands happened to be friends with the guys with Green Day. Billie Joe [Armstrong] called up this guy and said, 'What are you doing tonight?' And the guys said, ‘Oh, I’m playing a gig at Mezzanine for Save the Waves Foundation,’ and Billie Joe said, ‘Oh, can we come play?’ Somebody called me at four in the afternoon, the event was at seven or eight, and said, ‘Hey, is it okay if Green Day plays tonight?’ I was thinking they would show up and play a song or two. They ended up playing a full hour-plus set of their greatest hits to 600 people. It was just insane! It was rock-and-roll at its most organic and raw form."

She's also gotten a crash course in rising superstar DJs: "Diplo and Tiesto, Skrillex [are] DJs that played Mezzanine so many times. Now they have residencies in Vegas and are paid millions of dollars, and it’s like, ‘Oh, he used to play at Mezzanine.’ One Coachella weekend, we had Florence & The Machine and Major Lazer back-to-back Friday and Saturday nights the year Florence & The Machine ended up winning a GRAMMY for Best New Artist [2011]. Again, it was so easy to recognize the greatness that was on our stage. It was like, ‘This is the real deal!'"

In 2015, Mezzanine’s original owner Patrick McNerney told Jackman, "This has become your baby and you've been running it autonomously for so many years now. I don't even know the people who work there anymore and I just feel like you should be the owner,” she recalled. “I was like, ‘Okay, yeah, okay!’ So we worked up a deal and he transferred ownership to me and in October of 2015 I went from the GM to the owner which was also amazing. Not only was it a dream come true, but to be the only independent venue owned by a female in San Francisco of this size, I am really proud."

Jackman is prepared to give that up for the future of the venue. When the building owners decided not to renew the lease, Jackman came to the negotiating table with a strong potential partner: Another Planet, the 16-year-old independent and local concert and production company behind Outside Lands and Treasure Island Music Festival. Another Planet already operates Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and The Independent in San Francisco, Fox Theater in Oakland and Greek Theatre in Berkeley.

"They want to come and basically co-own Mezzanine with me, which would allow us to pay the much higher rent that they want," Jackman said. "Again, it’s their right to raise the rent after 20 years to closer to market value. It’s just out of my range as an independent owner with no million dollar trust fund."

The Another Planet business model addressed one of the owners' parents’ original worries.

"The owners, one of their concerns when Pat [McNerney] sold me the business was, well, I’m not a multimillionaire with four homes and all this stuff that Pat had, so this gives them the assurance that there is a bigger entity behind the company and I would still be there as the managing partner. They would keep my whole staff, Mezzanine would continue running as if nothing ever changed, except for the fact that there would be some improvements and Another Planet would be booking it. So that is the dream solution, and [the owners] were open to discussions as far as we knew and they were very excited about Another Planet until May 1, when they just pulled the rug out from under us and said, ‘We’re not giving you your extension and we’re not interested in talking further with Another Planet.'"

“It’s hard to get into [the owners’] heads and it’s been a challenging experience for Deb especially because she’s given hope by the landlord and then it’s squashed, and then she’s given hope again, and then it’s squashed again,” Weiland said. “So I don't see a lot of room for trust personally, and I think that’s why the city is taking this stance that we are out there saying that this is a valuable venue... We want it to stay and we’ll do whatever we can in our policy-making abilities to help protect it.

"I commend Deb for keeping a positive attitude throughout this process and essentially getting super-creative and scrappy and trying to find ways in which to remain," Weiland continued. "I think reaching out to Another Planet and coming up with that plan was really incredible and I think that could essentially be the hook. I would hope that they would take that offer seriously because they’d make an amazing tenant and could help the venue survive."

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors will vote on Supervisor Haney’s legislation on July 29.

Purple Pam Foundation Honors DJ Pam The Funkstress With Scholarship Contest

Ace Of Base's "The Sign" Turns 25: How America Fell Back In Love With Swedish Pop

Ace Of Base

 

Photo credit: Philippe Caron / Contributor

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Ace Of Base's "The Sign" Turns 25: How America Fell Back In Love With Swedish Pop

The Recording Academy takes a look back at the inescapable pop single's influence and legacy

GRAMMYs/Mar 11, 2019 - 10:15 pm

Only nine musical acts topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1994, and the publication declared one the bestseller of the year: "The Sign" by Swedish-pop torchbearers Ace Of Base. The song by the now-defunct quartet (siblings Jenny, Jonas and Linn Berggren and Ulf Ekberg) spent four weeks at number one starting the week of March 12, 1994, and returned to reign for two more weeks beginning May 7 after being displaced by R. Kelly’s "Bump n’ Grind" for four weeks in April.

"I got a new life, you’d hardly recognize me, I'm so glad," the Berggren sisters sang with sass on this withering, grooving breakup song. "How can a person like me care for you? Why do I bother, when you're not the one for me? Is enough enough?"

While Swedish duo Roxette hit the American pop charts in the late '80s, Ace of Base’s Stateside arrival coincided with an ABBA revival that brought Swedish music back into the international consciousness.



"I think the comparisons are quite obvious, we are four — two guys, two girls — and we make pop music and are from Sweden, but we have nothing to do with ABBA," Ulf Ekberg said in a French television interview in 1999. "We weren’t listening to them in the '90s — maybe in the '70s, when we were small kids like this, but we were never really inspired by ABBA. And when we started Ace of Base, ABBA was really out, out out. No one talked about ABBA; especially not in Sweden. But we were really lucky that a revival of ABBA came in ‘92, ‘93 with [greatest hits record] ABBA Gold. And we were out with the first single, second single and the album and then suddenly the wave of Swedish music from ABBA came out together with us and we were riding a little bit on the wave for sure."

"The Sign" is the title track to the group’s 1993 album release in America. The full-length was released sans the single as Happy Nation in Europe the year before and renamed The Sign once Clive Davis, the head of their U.S. label Arista, heard the newer song. When Davis got the demo tape for "The Sign," he passed it on to Swedish producers Douglass Carr and the late Denniz PoP to polish.

"They wanted something different from the European album, to make it more special," Jonas Berggren told Idolator in 2014. "I had 'The Sign' only just in my head. The first time anyone heard it was Denniz PoP, who got a rough demo. It was just instrumental and I remember that he thought the verse was the chorus. Arista loved the song!"

"The demo we got was very basic; it sounded like one of those preprogrammed tracks on a cheap family keyboard where you press a button and the band starts playing," Carr told Slate in 2015. "Denniz’s skills for making and mixing fat beats is here in full blast. He knew what the dancefloor needed, and we had the speakers and the volume to know what was going to happen in the clubs.”

What the dancefloor needed was a propulsive bassline, which Carr revealed was a little bit tricky.

“The bass took some figuring out,” Carr remembered. “I remember us talking a lot about the space that the reggae bass players always make in their music, and how important that is—that sense of air.”

The finished version was airy — and loud as hell.

“An interesting part is that the song was so loud that we had to reduce the volume by three decibels compared to the other tracks when we mastered the album,” Jonas revealed to Idolator.

25 years on since "The Sign" became a number one hit in America and the song is still instantly memorable.

“For us, the melody and the hookline come first,” Ulf told EuroMenTravel in 2016. "Lyrics come last. What we do when we write a song is something we call ‘cowboy lyrics.’. Meaning, we simply ad-lib to the music and later form this into actual lyrics. It’s the melody that counts the most. And the hookline has to be there, engaging, drawing you in. Everything else comes at a later time. You see, that really is key to making good music, you have to be passionate about what you do. In the end, making good music is not about making money. It’s about passion."

How SFJAZZ Center Established Itself As A Cultural Force In San Francisco

SFJAZZ Center's Miner Auditorium

Photo by Tim Griffiths

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How SFJAZZ Center Established Itself As A Cultural Force In San Francisco

After finding a permanent home in Hayes Valley, SFJAZZ Center has changed the way people think about jazz

GRAMMYs/Aug 2, 2019 - 12:54 am

When the SFJAZZ Center opened its doors in January of 2013, in the heart of San Francisco’s cultural district, it made a huge impact. Now recognized nationwide as a premier center for jazz, it has totally changed the cultural landscape of the city, and has established jazz as an essential, significant and legitimate art form. In addition to almost 500 shows a year by local and worldwide jazz luminaries, SFJAZZ offers extensive educational outreach, training, activities and performing programs for young musicians.

"We have helped put jazz on a similar level to the fine arts around us, so people talk about SFJAZZ in the same way they talk about the ballet or the opera," said SFJAZZ Founder and Executive Artistic Director Randall Kline, as we chatted in his office. Using the San Francisco Symphony as their model nonprofit, Kline had considered that, "If they could do that for symphonic music, why couldn't somebody do that with jazz?  And now after six plus years in this building, we are considered a cultural institution and a vibrant one."

Kline, who grew up in Massachusetts, originally aspired to be a professional string bass player. He moved to San Francisco in 1975, and began producing concerts and working at various clubs, eventually forming his own marketing and publicity company. Fortuitously, he hooked up with the City of San Francisco's arts granting program, Grants for the Arts for the San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, that was interested in promoting jazz, and in 1982, Jazz in the City was launched. A series of jazz concerts in small venues around the city, it became incredibly popular, doubling and tripling in size every year.

"I had a marketing and publicity business for the arts, Kline & Associates," said Kline. "But after six years, I had to make a decision, because Jazz in the City was growing and growing and it was going to be impossible to do both." Following his heart, Kline chose the non-profit path. 

Although the series did not initially do well, through hard work and careful programming, Kline worked out the kinks. By the early '90s, the series started getting national attention and major accolades like "best festival in the country," and "the crown jewel of American festivals," from major publications like the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune

Although at times Kline said he was almost ready to "toss it," by the 10th anniversary, things started to really break loose. He changed the name to the San Francisco Jazz Festival, and began bringing in some big names like Tony Bennett. "We were slowly developing a loyal audience of people who understood how we programmed, and our position as a cultural presenter and purveyor here in the Bay Area," remarked Kline. Thus, the fertile seeds were sown for the eventual creation of the SFJAZZ Center, and after many nomadic years, the decision was made to break ground for a permanent home for the festival.

The idea was that the center should be "transformational," a new model that was a cross between a club and a concert hall. "We realized that we had to get everything right," said Kline. "There was a lot of thought about this building not only being reflective of the art form, but also being welcoming." He and his accomplished design team spent a lot of time researching and analyzing the elements necessary to create what Kline describes as a "transcendent moment" in a musical performance, for the audience, as well as the musicians. Their extensive and innovative planning resulted in an impressive, state-of-the-art structure, featuring floor-to-ceiling glass windows, reflective of current architectural trends for performing arts centers.

The center includes a spacious lobby, a casually elegant café and two performance halls—the 700-seat Robert N. Miner Auditorium, and the smaller, more intimate Joe Henderson lab that faces the street, allowing passersby to catch a glimpse of the performances. "At night, all that glass disappears and people can see in from the street, and understand that there's something happening. That’s a real 21st century idea—the idea of openness."

One of the factors that has contributed to the success of SFJAZZ is the creative and diverse programming, done by a team of five people, including Kline, and Director of Programming Lilly Schwartz. Kline explained that he believes that there are jazz influences in many kinds of music, including hip-hop, world music, contemporary classical and even country music. The extensive brochure attracts a culturally diverse audience of all ages who often plan as much as a year ahead when buying tickets.

"SFJAZZ has had a tremendous effect on our local jazz scene. It’s such a beautiful venue to see concerts, and every year their lineup has a great blend of legendary jazz artists—those who are currently making waves in the genre, and also local musicians who are doing great things," said pianist, emcee, producer and bandleader Kev Choice via email. He is currently a governor and the secretary of the board of the San Francisco chapter of the Recording Academy, and has been involved with SFJAZZ for a number of years, both as a performer and an educator.

"I also appreciate SFJAZZ for their dedication to educating the next generation of great jazz musicians," he added. "They host jazz education presentations to students at the venue that expose youth to musicians performing and engaging them about jazz, the tradition, and it’s importance to our culture.  They also host the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars Band, which some of my students have been a part of. It provides them with an amazing opportunity to play with other top young musicians in the Bay Area, have great instruction, and perform and travel around the world."

Kline said there are several new projects underway at SFJAZZ. Research and planning is currently in progress to launch a digital campaign, a subscription-based, on-demand series for people who aren’t able to attend the live concerts. They are also looking at ways to do more creative things with the lighting in the hall, and are in the process of designing an immersive AI-designed system done with laser projectors that works in real time, so the music itself will create the colorful patterns.

But most important, Kline and his team are passionate about making the experience at SFJAZZ as enjoyable and memorable as possible, for both the audience and the musicians. "Jazz washes away the dust of everyday life," said Kline, quoting jazz legend Art Blakey. "The music has a chance to really move you—you can go on a journey with somebody and have that transcendent moment. That's what the artist wants, that's what the audience wants, and if you can do that together, what a great thing."

Save Club Mezzanine: Inside The Efforts To Rescue San Francisco's Iconic Music Venue

Purple Pam Foundation Honors DJ Pam The Funkstress With Scholarship Contest

Pam Warren

Photo by Alex Mejia

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Purple Pam Foundation Honors DJ Pam The Funkstress With Scholarship Contest

Two women will learn the craft of mixing records in Pam Warren’s memory

GRAMMYs/Apr 4, 2019 - 10:00 pm

As a DJ on her own and as part of the Oakland rap group The Coup, Pam Warren was known for decades as "Pam The Funkstress." But that changed when the one and only Prince handpicked her to play with him, dubbing her "Purple Pam" just months before his passing in April 2016. Soon after, Warren tragically passed away in December 2017 at age 51.

Her mother, Helen Warren, and family friends set up the Purple Pam Foundation in her memory last year and are now reaching out to the creative community with a special opportunity for women in California: the Pam The Funkstress DJ Scholarship. One scholarship will grant a woman access to the DJ 101 course at Pyramind in San Francisco, while another will be good for the Intro to DJing track at Beat Junkie Institute of Sound in Glendale. Both recipients will also receive a gift basket from 1-Stop DJ Shop in Modesto.

Warren considered herself more of a party rocker than a precise cutting-and-scratching turntablist, but the truth is that she mastered both with consummate ease—and with more parts of her body than her male counterparts. (But more on that in a minute.)

"I call myself "Pam a.k.a. The Party Slapper" 'cause I like to slap the party, but I want to slap them with hit after hit after hit," Warren said of her mixing style in a 2009 interview with Davey D TV. "Scratch a little bit, bring something else in—you don’t have to play all the new stuff to get the party going. There's a lot of music out there and if you know how to rock certain songs, new stuff, old stuff, R&B, hip-hop, even if you go East Coast, West Coast, whatever, if you know how to play the songs and know how to mix it in, your party's going to be off the chain."

When he first saw her DJ in 1991, The Coup's frontman Boots Riley thought Warren was "one of the most exciting, animated, show-stealing DJs I had ever seen,” he wrote in a tribute posted to Facebook after her passing. Riley later tracked her down when she was the DJ at a San Francisco release party for Tupac Shakur’s debut album 2Pacalypse Now and asked her to join The Coup.

"She was mysterious to me," he continued. "Maybe partly because I wasn’t yet well-traveled socially—she displayed a confidence in a way that I hadn’t personally seen from a performer, much less a female performer. [She had] a boisterous, comical energy that can only come across on stage once you’ve totally mastered everything you’re doing... She also dressed, at that time, in a way that these days might be described by others pigeonholing her while attempting not to do so as 'gender non-conformist.' It was clear that this person couldn’t give less of a fk. We were being totally sh*t on by this woman wearing a giant smile, big baggy jeans, a giant Ben Davis work jacket all the way buttoned up, and a black beanie with all her hair tucked in. Dancing all over our identities. That was Pam The Funkstress."

Deep experience or perfect technique isn't necessary to apply for the Pam The Funkstress DJ Scholarship, though part of the application process does require having access to some type of gear for long enough to film a video. Applicants are asked to submit proof that they’re aged 18 and over with a high school diploma or GED and a woman (or identify as female) along with an indication of whether they want to be considered for Pyramind or BJIOS. They also must submit a one-to-two-minute performance video using turntables or a controller and an essay of no less than 500 words stating why they should be selected. Applications are due by April 20.

Both schools are looking forward to taking on these special new students in the future.

"There are no egos; they really take constructive criticism really well,” BJIOS professor DJ Babu, who first met Warren in the '90s on the battle DJ circuit, said of the girls and women who take classes there and comprise almost half of the student body. He says they consistently excel at DJing in and out of school. "A lot of times with the male students you really gotta break down some barriers to get a point about a concept or something they’re having trouble with," he explained. "It’s an ego issue, like a, 'Don’t help me, don't help me, don't help me' kind of thing. But we love the female presence here."

One technique that students won’t learn from the schools is the one that Pam called the "titty scratch," a result of an ample bosom and a symbol of eternal playfulness from a DJ who will forever be remembered in the mix.

From Radio To The Club: The Recording Academy Celebrates National DJ Day

What’s Inside the 61st GRAMMYs Gifting Lounge?
61st GRAMMYs Gifting Suite

Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images for NARAS

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What’s Inside the 61st GRAMMYs Gifting Lounge?

From luxurious skincare products to a virtual-reality trip to Kyoto, here's a sneak peek at the high-end GRAMMY gifts performers and presenters will receive this year

GRAMMYs/Feb 9, 2019 - 02:15 am

Performing artists and presenters of the 61st GRAMMY Awards have the option of taking a stroll through the GRAMMYS Gifting Lounge to receive some fabulous (and fabulously free) items during rehearsal days.

"We're thrilled to be a very small part of a very big show,” said Lash Fary, founder of Distinctive Assets, which has produced the GRAMMYs Gifting Lounge for the past 20 years. "It’s something that the artists now, over the years, have grown accustomed to as a perk they are very well aware that they get for coming on the show, which is very cute."

Fary noted that Distinctive Assets' GRAMMYs Gifting Lounges have won over some big names.

"In the past people like Mary J. Blige have shown up and said, 'Where’s the gift lounge?' And even when artists don't have the time or interest to come through the lounge, like Adele, the last time she was in LA and on the show she asked for some of the kids’ stuff. We had Hasbro Games here, so she asked that the kid stuff be brought to her dressing room so her son could play with them.

“We have artists like Ricky Martin and Faith Hill, who don't do gift lounges typically but they’ll do ours because they know that we are here as a true artform of the GRAMMYS and we respect them," he revealed. "They know if we say we aren't doing photos then we won’t do photos, that we have great stuff, that we respect their time and get them in and out quickly. So it’s just great! These are my favorite three days of the year, GRAMMYS rehearsal days, and we've got amazing thank-you gifts for them. There’s something for everyone."

ReFa Massager
Photo credit: Tamara Palmer

The Recording Academy took an exclusive spin through the Gifting Lounge when it opened on Thursday afternoon and got a peek at some of those perks that stars can take home. This year, there are a number of vendors focused on beauty and wellness, including ReFa's Japanese microcurrent beauty rollers and collagen-enhanced drink mixers, Source Naturals' vitamins and herbal supplements, Neoteny’s age-fighting kits (including a mask called Resting Bitch Face), It’s a 10's pro hair care tools and entertainment industry’s makeup that breathes and heals skin as it conceals, pitched as a smart choice for the entertainment industry's heavy makeup needs

Oxygenetix
Photo credit: Tamara Palmer

Guests are invited to experience ishiki, a Japanese sense of consciousness and well-being, via a virtual reality trip to Kyoto; stars will be gifted a pair of virtual reality glasses to take more transportive trips at home or while on the road.

23 and Me will allow stars to dig deeper into their ancestry, teasing that they never know what they might discover. Truth Initiative packed backpacks full of Xbox games, hats, sunglasses and fanny packs from their forthcoming retail collection to say "don't get played" when it comes to vaping and smoking.

Dr. Tabatha Carr flew from Oklahoma to California to showcase her gluten-free, dairy-free and naturally sweetened Good Girl Chocolate at the GRAMMYs Gifting Lounge. After showing us before and after pictures of her 100-pound weight loss, she offered us a taste of a lush vegan dark chocolate-encased agave and cashew butter filled caramel that could easily become a happy habit.

Ishiki
Photo credit: Tamara Palmer

Grossé, a costume jewelry designer that designed collections for Dior for over 50 years, hopes to drip stars in convincing baubles, while Millianna is introducing "shoelery," chains meant to be draped around boots or stilettos. PRSVR, a Chicago lifestyle brand that recently opened a by-appointment showroom just blocks away, is hoping to gift Cardi B with a pair of fur sleeves—vegan or fox, her choice.

"We've been fortunate to really use Instagram to connect with celebrities,” said PRSVR's Margaret Williamson. "So our client list includes Tank, Diddy, Ciara, Teyana Taylor, Meek Mill, Fabolous and Nicki Minaj."

Good Girl Chocolate
Photo credit: Tamara Palmer

Alpha Priority, a worldwide meet and greet airport concierge service, was looking forward to catching up with the stars planning on coming through the Gifting Lounge, many of whom a rep said are already clients. They’ll be gifted with a free meet and greet that will be arrange at their convenience.

As the longtime GRAMMYS Gifting Lounge producer, Lash Fary certainly isn't one to get star-struck, but there is one particular luminary who he hopes to see in there this year.

"Dolly Parton,” he said, name-checking the MusiCares Person of the Year without hesitation. "Just because she’s so nice! Dolly is one of my favorite people. I’ve met her at a few award shows so I love her and I’m hoping that we get to see her. There’s not a lovelier person on the planet than Dolly; she just makes you feel good about yourself."

Watch the 61st GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Feb. 10 on CBS.