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Bob Dylan to perform at the Grammy ceremony alongside Mumford & Sons and the Avett Bros.

In the days leading up to Sunday's Grammy Awards, which Pop & Hiss will be covering live, this blog will tackle various Grammy artists, personalities, categories and just plain oddities. For even more Grammy info, check Awards Tracker and The Envelope.


The producers of the Grammys want a show for the ages, but they also want a show for all ages — which is why Bob Dylan will be bringing his acoustic guitar to perform this weekend on the same stage as Justin Bieber, Drake and Katy Perry.

The official announcement is expected Thursday that the great bard of rock will sing at the 53rd Grammy Awards — which air Sunday on CBS — marking just his fifth performance on the show despite a recording career that dates back to the Kennedy administration. He’ll perform alongside two rising folk-rock bands whose work draws from the same well: Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers.

Dylan is just three months shy of his 70th birthday, but he may bump into some generational peers backstage — Barbra Streisand is scheduled to sing one of her signature 1970s hits, while Mick Jagger’s participation in a tribute to the late Solomon Burke will result in a bit of history, since the Rolling Stones frontman has never before performed on the Grammy stage.

Dylan’s first performance on the Grammys didn’t come until 1980, when he and his band were greeted with a standing ovation as they played the opening notes of “Gotta Serve Somebody.” That show was also the first Grammy broadcast produced by Ken Ehrlich, who has done every one since; Ehrlich and Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, have been working to secure Dylan’s booking for months.

“When you see that name and think about what it represents, those are the things that we want to be part of the show — those are things that have to be part of the show,” Ehrlich said.

This year’s show also features performances by Eminem (who leads this year’s field with 10 nominations), Arcade Fire, Lady Gaga, Miranda Lambert, Muse and Raphael Saadiq (who will partner with Jagger on the Burke sequence). The team of Yolanda Adams, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride and Florence Welch, meanwhile, will salute the career of Aretha Franklin, who underwent serious surgery last year, reportedly related to a cancer diagnosis.

Ehrlich’s plan for Dylan — which, he noted, is “all subject to a certain person’s approval” — is for Dylan to perform during a three-act suite with the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. The former hail from North Carolina and the latter is a British band, and Ehrlich sees a bright line connecting their music to the pioneering push by Dylan to connect folk and rock.

Mumford & Sons will perform their soaring, banjo-laced song “The Cave,” which will give way to the Avett Brothers and their pulsing folk anthem “Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise.” Then comes Dylan, but Ehrlich declined to reveal what song he might sing and hinted that it had not entirely been decided.

“I don’t think either of these bands would be on a stage if it wasn’t for the music of Bob Dylan,” Ehrlich said. “I think for the harmonies alone it should be something special. You don’t know what you’ve got, what the blend is, until you see it, but I think it could be fantastic.”

It was 46 years ago that Dylan “went electric” and ushered in a new era in rock. While his Grammy history is limited, it has been memorable — it was during Dylan’s 1998 performance of “Love Sick” that a performance artist ripped off his shirt (revealing the words “Soy Bomb” written on his torso) and did a strange spastic dance while the singer continued with his number.

While many of the scheduled Grammy performances this year seem to be looking back, all five nominees for best new artist will perform on the show — which is uncommon — and Portnow says the goal is to present “the very best of today” and make connections to the past through performances and pairings.

It’s interesting to note that this installment of the show abandons the viewer-voting segments that had been added in recent years as a nod to the success of “American Idol” and the popularity of “starmaking” contests. Portnow seemed pleased to see the change, and the extra time it would permit for “keeping the focus on the world-class musicians.”
-- Geoff Boucher

Photo: Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (43)

That "Soy Bomb" guy's not going to be there this time,is he? I remember Dylan couldn't figure out who the hell he was.Neither could anyone else.It was funny though.Learned how to dance. :-D

You beat me to it Kim... had a "Soy Bomb" flashback myself.

Wow! This performance is going to be nothing short of amazing. More than likely the best of the night. Hands down! Glad real music is finally getting the credit it is due!!

There's no question about Bob Dylan's tremendous influence on folk and rock n roll. But sadly his voice has gone tremendously downhill in recent years and it's painful to listen to. How I wish people could hear the Dylan of a younger time when he sang with a clarity and a verbal dexterity with skipping reels of rhyme that would raise the hair up on your arms. Bob, reach back and give us the real Bob Dylan at this upcoming Grammys.

Poor Bob.

Mumford & Sons are a very poor and bland example of something inspired or influenced by Dylan. Their music is so bland. Dylan's is inspiring and visceral. No doubt Bob will be uncomfortable and give an awkward performance.

Why do these execs always misunderstand Dylan.

I hope he refuses to participate.

Now had they invited acts like Wilco or P J Harvey, then fair do's.

The only thing missing is Adam Lambert singing with Barbra Streisand.

Never too much cared about the Grammy Awards. Seen as Bob Dylan will be making an appearance I'll make sure I'm watching. Bob Dylan. Legend.

I love the Avett Brothers. They bring so much energy to the stage. I can't wait to see their Grammy performance. This is a huge stepping stone for them. So excited!!! I'm tired of Bieber and Perry hogging all the awards show stages.

I agree with Dave below. I've seen Dylan numerous times and the gigs I've seen in the last ten years have been painful. His voice is thin and reedy, no longer strident at all, and sometimes barely intelligible with all the mumbling.

I truly hope he can stand among the younger acts and belt one out at the Grammy's. Let the world know there is still some passion and fire within Bob...please?

Bob's voice is wore ~ from 50 years of non-stop performing, yes. So, just seeing him there will impress me; but, I hope his voice is up to a great rendition of whatever song he will chooses ~ so that those who have never known "him, as the singer "~ of all those magical songs ~ might be able to say,, " WOW, sothat'sBobDylan!"

I'm totally pumped about the Avett Brothers on the Grammy's They deserved a nomination for their latest CD but i heard it came out 1 month too late. Maybe next year. I can hardly wait to see them. Mumford and Sons is good, too.

The Grammy Awards are the perfect place to NOT see or hear good music. Year after year, they have awarded mediocre performers and ignored far greater ones. I cannot understand why Dylan would want to partake in this ridiculous ceremony with people who have no idea who he is and what he has contributed. While I still love seeing Dylan live, I agree with the above poster who said that his voice has declined in recent years. I would like to point out that the Grammys ignore the great performers during their peaks and when they are in the twilight of their careers/lives, decide to acknowledge them. Sometimes, in fact, they wait for someone to die before acknowledging their contribution to society. While I love Dylan's "Time Out of Mind" album which won for album of the year in '98, what about his great albums of the '60s and '70s? Same goes for a lot of other performers/bands. I suppose during this horrible and embarrassing era for the music industry (which no doubt started with MTV and continued with the computerization/faking of voices and instruments, and on into the American Idol years) it is all to be expected.

Bob Dylan is inspiring and visceral. The only reason I will be watching is to see this genius. Beiber yuck childish $$$ is the only reason he has nothing to say. Well Bob Dylan has "said" it all

Well, if Dylan is playing the Grammys, then maybe I'll tune in this year.

I can tell most of you and especially Mr Trev Gib, Have NEVER seen Mumford and Sons besides on VHI... ESPECIALLY LIVE!
They have the same energy and are as potent as the Avett bros... Bland, wow... I don't hate on any music, but gimme a break, take time to listen to more than just the 2 songs released.


I've seen Bob about 35 times. My favorite was in 2009 in Seattle, WA. Bob's voice is fine; I don't know why people ignore the fact that critics and fans have savaged his singing since the year of 1961, have booed him off the stage around the world in 1965-1966), etc. etc. Let go of the past Bob and enjoy the present Bob and you will still love Bob. Let those who have ears hear.

I would not have watched but with Bob on I don't dare miss it!I and Love and You is a great great song.

Shoulda been Old Crow Medicine Show with him

Well then, I'll be watching for the first time in a long time. It'll be great to see at least one true artist on the Grammy stage!

COME SEE THE ECLIPSE! As a lifelong Dylan fan and now a devoted Avettski I wouldn't miss this for anything. Bob has pulled the train of enchantment and wonder for years and though there's seems to have been a hundred singers "discovered" as "The New Dylan" no one has ever come close to his power and vision. If his voice is "disappearing down the smoky wisps of time" don't complain for what it isn't, just enjoy what's left. But wait- the Avetts are pulling a train of their own on a nearby track. They write intelligent intimate songs that reach the highest levels of emotion and then deliver them with power, enthusiasm, love and grace. Best to see them live but if all you can get is this Grammy show, go get it, tune it in. Then lie in wait until you can get there in person. This will be one for the ages. And Mumford and Sons can just play nice, watch Dylan and the Avetts, learn something and maybe get better.

First of all, if the crappy music of pop is able to perform at the Grammy's then there is no question that Mumford and Sons should be playing. They had the best album of 2010 and are better than half of the people in the line-up.

The Grammy's should be about rewarding good music not appealing to the masses who don't have a clue what good music is.

Bob Dylan and the avett brothers thats something that i will absolutly not miss. i'm so exited to see the Avett brothers, they haven't been preforming every much but to see them at the Grammy's will blow my mind. thinking about it makes my heart race. they are so amazing and preforming with Bob Dylan on certifies that. wow i cant wait.

Gotta watch the Grammys for Bob Dylan .

If he sings a song from the past it should be "Political World". Man, I love that song and it's appropriate in these times.

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