Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci was having dinner with his wife and some friends at Pace's Steakhouse in Hauppauge when he got the news that the band was a Grammy nominee once again.
"My guitar tech, Matty, texted me the news," Petrucci says, calling from a tour stop in Spain. "It was funny. We were already out to dinner and had some wine, so we just raised a toast then and there."
The Long Island Music Hall of Famers -- Petrucci, singer James LaBrie, bassist John Myung, keyboardist Jordan Rudess and drummer Mike Mangini -- are nominated for best metal performance for "The Enemy Within" from their "Dream Theater" (Roadrunner) album.
The nomination follows their 2012 nomination for best hard rock/metal performance for "On the Backs of Angels."
"The first nomination was a huge, pleasant surprise," Petrucci says. "Two albums in a row? That's just incredible. It's a great feeling."
Dream Theater has never been short on devoted fans, as the prog-rockers' ability to sell out stadiums and arenas around the world has shown. However, the Grammy nominations are a sign of something different.
"To us it means we are garnering attention in other circles besides the one we're known in," Petrucci says. "It's one thing to be known in your genre. It's another to be recognized by your peers spread out across many different styles. It's a great feeling to be recognized like that."
Petrucci adds that the recognition is another example of the growing acceptance of progressive rock by a wider audience, with interest spurred by the induction of Rush into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year after a lengthy wait.
"It says a lot about the shift in the musical climate," he says. "We've been sort of swimming upstream, but it's great to see the influence and presence of music we believed in from the beginning."
Petrucci says the band will unfortunately have to miss the ceremony since it is in the middle of its European tour. (The American tour starts March 25 in Boston and includes a hometown stop at the Paramount in Huntington March 30.)
However, he says the band feels honored to be nominated, even if it doesn't win in a category that includes nominations for the reunited Black Sabbath and the legendary Anthrax.
"Who knows?" Petrucci says, laughing. "To be nominated in that category playing the kind of music we do -- that's amazing in itself."
Love is 'Better' for Chrisette Michele
Chrisette Michele says she broke many of her own rules when she was working on the songs for her recent "Better" (Motown) album.
"Singing about love has never come naturally to me," the Patchogue native said when the album was released. "I needed to break the 'love song' ice and work my way into the feeling that it's OK to fall back in love. 'A Couple of Forevers' was the one song that told a story about love and didn't apologize about it."
Well, the risk-taking paid off for Michele, who now lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Her "Better" album is up for the best R&B album Grammy this year, against Faith Evans' "R&B Divas," Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire," John Legend's "Love in the Future" and TGT's "Three Kings." (She won the best urban/alternative performance Grammy in 2008 for her song "Be OK" and was nominated that year for best female R&B performance for "If I Have My Way.")
"It's truly an honor to be nominated for another Grammy," she tweeted after the nominations were announced. " 'Better' was a work of healing and art for me and for you. Thank you Lord for this recognition. . . . I am grateful."