The videos are now available from the Polar Prize website at http://www.polarmusicprize.org/home/prize-ceremonies/2014-2/
. And they included another very nice cover version which was not shown in the original broadcast: Sabina Ddumba and Melinda De Lange singing Havana Moon
Next to his induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, the Polar Music Prize is probably the most important award given to Chuck Berry for his lifetime role in creating most of modern rock music.
On Tuesday (August 26th, 2014), the prize ceremony took place in Stockholm, Sweden. Chuck Berry did not attend, neither on stage in Stockholm, nor by use of a video message. The official reason is that due to illness Berry is not able to travel. But not only Berry missed this important event. None of his family did attend either. We would have expected Charles Jr. or Ingrid to at least accept the prize on behalf of their dad. Instead someone choose British singer and producer Dave Edmunds to stand on stage, shake hands with the King of Sweden, and read a three-sentence letter from Berry. Even though Edmunds covered several Berry numbers such as Promised Land
(1972) and Run Rudolph Run
(1982), Edmunds is not necessarily my first choice for a Berry stand-in.
The video of the ceremony is not yet available at the Polar Music Prize website (www.polarmusicprize.org
). However, in case you missed to watch it live, you can view the full ceremony as broadcast by Swedish TV4 from the TV station's website today and until Friday. So if you accept watching (too much) Swedish advertising, go ahead and have yourself an interesting hour.
The link to the broadcast is http://www.tv4play.se/program/polar-music-prize?video_id=2950197
Do not be confused that the first segment containing interviews on the red carpet and a small film about the manufacturing of the prize statuette are in Swedish language. The full ceremony afterwards is in English!
You will be confused, though, at how easy the Swedish manage to mix Rock 'n' Roll music and classical music into a single program. It's kind of easy this year because the other winner, opera director Peter Sellars, is more of a "modern" classical artist, while Berry is more a "classical" modern artist. In mixing both styles, during the concert you'll see the full orchestra perform a number called "The Guitar Battle of Wartburg" which includes steel and electrical guitars.
There is not a single recent image or video snippet from Berry shown during the whole show. His biography and such is underlaid with segments from the "Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll!" movie. Thus the most recent Chuck Berry is from 1986! While film makers from the committee were in St. Louis during a Berry show at Blueberry Hill, all they show is the announcement outside the doors plus a few sentences by Joe Edwards of Blueberry Hill and by Chuck's son Charles Jr. To me this looks as if there was some other problem besides Berry being ill.
Another video message shown during the ceremony is - as usual - by Keith Richards.
During the one-hour show several Berry numbers are performed, each by well-known Swedish artists from the 1960's 'til today. Some cover version are quite nice, others ... well ... judge yourself. You'll hear:
- Amanda Jenssen - Rock And Roll Music
- Jerry Williams - You Never Can Tell
- Maria Andersson (ex Sahara Hotnights) - Come On
- Nisse Hellberg (Wilmer X) - Little Queenie
- Kim Cesarion - No Particular Place To Go
- Kajsa Grytt (ex Tant Strul) - Memphis, Tennessee
- Dregen and Nicke Andersson (ex Hellacopters) - Johnny B. Goode
At TV4 the last track (which is quite goode) is faded early. If you want to hear it in full, you have to watch the second broadcast as well. It is from the after-show banquet: http://www.tv4play.se/program/polar-music-prize?video_id=2950877
. It's worth watching, especially when you see the Queen of Sweden really enjoying Chuck's music. And it contains some snippets of Dave Edmunds and Nisse Hellberg performing "Roll Over Beethoven". Did I say that Edmunds is not my favorite Berry interpreter?