Raitt gives Grammy thanks to Bros. Landreth ‘Never could have imagined in a million years someone would win a Grammy for one of our songs’
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When Bonnie Raitt walked on stage Sunday to accept her Grammy for Americana performance of the year, the iconic artist had two brothers from Manitoba on her mind.
“I want to thank the Bros. Landreth for writing this kick-ass song,” she told the audience at Los Angeles’ Crypto.com Arena, referring to the track Made Up Mind.
Dave and Joey Landreth were 3,000 kilometres away when Raitt, the winner of 13 Grammys throughout her 50-year career, said their names out loud, forever linking the pair to one of their artistic heroes. It was not something the brothers expected, because if they did, it would seem too much like a far-flung dream to believe it was possible.
Raitt’s Grammy win was only the latest twist in an epic songwriting story that began when the brothers, who formed their current band in the early 2010s, were little boys listening to their parents’ extensive record collection; albums like 1989’s Nick of Time — Raitt’s mainstream breakthrough — and later on Fundamental (1998) and Silver Lining (2002) helped forge the Bros.’ sound and approach to musical exploration.
“These were the records that marked our soul,” Dave Landreth says on the phone the day after a win that he reiterates is for Raitt’s performance. “They run so deep and are so much a part of our musical DNA.”
Before the band’s debut album, Let It Lie, won a Juno in 2015 for roots & traditional abum, the Landreths made a pilgrimage in 2014 to the musical mecca of Nashville. Let It Lie had been previously released to little fanfare, and in the home of the Grand Ole Opry, the brothers were introduced to Jonathan Singleton, a Tennessean songwriter who in 2015 was nominated for a Grammy himself.
In the studio with Singleton, the brothers wrote and cut the song in a single afternoon. The resulting version of Made Up Mind was included on the deluxe version of Let It Lie.
But before the Juno award came, the Bros. Landreth had a more sentimental and meaningful honour: the band was hired to play the opening slot on the main stage of the 2014 Winnipeg Folk Festival, the annual extravaganza of music held each July at Birds Hill Provincial Park.
Also on the folk fest poster, in much bigger font, was an American music icon listening closely.
“The lore would have it that she heard us play (Made Up Mind) and purportedly said, ‘I’m gonna put this on a record some day,’” Landreth says.
After Raitt took the mainstage, the Landreths were hustled backstage, because “Ms. Raitt wanted a word.” There was no time to be nervous, Landreth says.
For a few hours, the Bros. Landreth shot the breeze with their hero, who knew and played with Lowell George of Little Feat, another source of musical inspiration. “Here we were with this living legend, and she was giving this intimate picture of her friend (George) who was another of our major influences.”
“She was the epitome of class,” he says.
“She was the epitome of class.”–Dave Landreth
In the intervening years, the Bros. Landreth carved out their own niche in Canadian music, earning critical acclaim and building a devoted local following. Their live performances often draw raves for sounding nearly identical to their recorded songs. Raitt, now 74, continued to build her legend, which to Landreth is cemented in artistic integrity, blending disparate genres, and taking risks.
In the summer of 2021, the Bros. — whose current live touring band consists of the siblings along with local multi-instrumentalist and singer Roman Clarke — began hearing rumblings that Raitt’s guitar player was looking for some gear that Joey Landreth favoured. “That was our first inkling (that something was going on),” Landreth says.
Then around Christmas time, the brothers got an email from Raitt’s management. “Congratulations, Bonnie has covered your tune for her next record.”
What followed was a “cascade of ever-increasingly better news,” Landreth says. Made Up Mind was selected as the lead single for Raitt’s 2022 album Just Like That; the album landed at No. 1 on various Billboard charts, where it stayed for weeks.
Then in November came the news of the Grammy nomination, which floored the Landreths. “For us to have that unerasable connection to one of our favourite artists ever is just so surreal,” Landreth says.
On Sunday, the unerasable connection was outlined in permanent ink when Raitt accepted her golden gramophone.
Other than the win, it was just like any other Sunday night: the brothers were enjoying their weekly family dinner with their parents at Joey’s house. Dave’s son came down with a stomach bug, so the two brothers were separated when Raitt — who also won song-of-the-year and American-roots-song-of-the-year honours — walked on stage.
“My son was watching Paw Patrol on the big screen and I was in the corner watching on my iPhone,” Dave Landreth says.
“When you find a good song, and you’ve got a great band, man … there’s nothing stopping you.”–Bonnie Raitt
The moment was a decade in the making, and while the brothers technically are not Grammy winners, Landreth says that is not what the story is really about.
“It isn’t about celebrating our achievement,” he says. “Bonnie plucked a song from us, and it was a surprise that it would be a part of her record, a surprise that it would be a lead single. I never could have imagined in a million years someone would win a Grammy for one of our songs.”
After thanking the brothers, Raitt expressed a similar sentiment.
“When you find a good song, and you’ve got a great band, man … there’s nothing stopping you,” she said.
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Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.