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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: January 22, 2018

Root for fellow Mainers at the Grammys

Written by: Ray Routhier

Alex Pall, left and Freeport native Drew Taggart are the pop duo The Chainsmokers. They are nominated in the category of best pop duo/group performance for “Something Just Like This” at Sunday’s Grammy Awards.
Photo courtesy of The Chainsmokers

The Chainsmokers, give Mainers a rooting interest in Sunday’s 60th annual Grammy Awards.

The Grammy Awards are all glitz and glamour, a showcase for music stars with more money in their pockets than most Mainers spent on their house.

So, the Grammys seem like something for people from away — far, far away. Except, they aren’t.

Bob Ludwig, right, and Adam Ayan of Gateway Mastering Studios in Portland. Ludwig is up for his 12th Grammy Sunday night, while Ayan contributed to the work of eight artists up for awards.
Staff photo by Derek Davis

At least three Mainers are part of the pageantry of the 60th Grammy Awards, which will air on CBS Sunday night. Portland mastering engineer Bob Ludwig will try for his 12th Grammy over a 45-year career in music, while Freeport High School graduate Drew Taggart is up for his second Grammy as part of the pop music duo The Chainsmokers.

Ludwig’s colleague at Gateway Mastering in Portland, Adam Ayan, had a bunch of clients nominated for Grammys this year, including Reba McEntire and Shakira.

Here, then, are some things to know about this year’s Grammy telecast, so you can watch it with a focus on what’s really important: the impact Mainers have on the rest of the world. In this case, the music world.


This year the Grammys start a little early, at 7:30 p.m., and are scheduled to be done by 11 p.m. Which doesn’t mean they will be. The show is live on CBS stations, locally on WGME, Channel 13. You can tune in at 6:30 p.m. if you want to see the stars walking the red carpet and hear people commenting on fashion. Taggart is a pretty popular guy with his fans, but in most photos he wears a plain white T-shirt, so it’s hard to say whether he’ll walk the carpet or not. You can also follow the Grammys and various backstage happenings via the Twitter hashtag: #Grammys.


Taggart is a 2008 graduate of Freeport High School who began producing electronic music as a senior project. He went to college to study the business of music and ended up deejaying at clubs afterwards. He and fellow Chainsmoker Alex Pall first got national attention in 2014 with the viral web hit “#Selfie.” By the end of 2016, they had several big hits, including the No. 1 smash “Closer.” Last year, they were nominated for three Grammys and won one: best dance recording for “Don’t Let Me Down.”


Taggart and The Chainsmokers are nominated in one of the major categories, best pop duo/group performance, for their hit “Something Just Like This.” Their competition includes some monster hits from last year, including the one everybody says they are sick of but still listens to: “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, featuring Justin Bieber. “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons, “Feel It Still” by Portugal, The Man and “Stay” by Zedd & Alessia Cara are the other nominees.


Ludwig has worked with the biggest names in music, including Bruce Springsteen and Led Zeppelin and hundreds of others. He started his career in the late 1960s in New York City as a mastering engineer. His job is to make the final artistic tweaks and adjustments to a song after all the vocals and instruments are recorded. He moved to Maine in the early 1990s and opened Gateway Mastering, where music stars continued to send him their work. Some, including Springsteen, like to come to Portland to watch Ludwig while he works. He has won 11 Grammy awards, a mighty feat considering mastering engineers can only win a Grammy with their name on it in five of the 80-plus Grammy categories. So he might master a song that wins best rock song, but the Grammy will go to the artist, not him. From 2013 to 2015, he won three consecutive Grammys for album of the year, for work with Mumford & Sons, Daft Punk and Beck.


Ludwig is nominated in the category of best-engineered album non-classical for “Is This The Life We Really Want?” by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters. That award will be given earlier Sunday, in a non-televised part of the Grammys.


Ayan, the mastering engineer who works with Ludwig at Gateway, put the final touches on the work of eight artists that are up for Grammys, though not in categories where he can get his own statuette. If any of the songs he worked on win, he will get a nice Grammy certificate to prove it. Ayan’s nominated works are:

“Wintersong” by Sarah McLachlan, best traditional pop vocal album

“Lust for Life” by Lana Del Rey, best pop vocal album

“El Dorado” by Shakira, best Latin pop album

“I Could Use A Love Song” by Marren Morris, best country solo performance

“You Look Good” by Lady Antebellum and “Drinkin’ Problem” by Midland, best country duo/group performance.

“Drinkin’ Problem” by Midland, best country song.

“Heart Break” by Lady Antebellum and “Life Changes” by Thomas Rhett, best country album

“Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” by Reba McEntire, best roots gospel album.

So remember, a win for any of the above artists, is a win for Maine.

And that’s what it’s all about.

Here’s some other albums that Ayan and Ludwig have mastered through the years

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