The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
The Death Whisperer Series available at

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Da funk and Sangiovese

I’m a little late for 2009, but what the heck. My first review of 2010 will be a review of bass players I loved in 2009…not that I still don’t love them. And to go with da funk, how about a 2007 Sangiovese Di Majo Norante. It’s a delicious, full-bodied wine that compliments the low end (and is especially good with pizza). The grape is the same used in Chianti, but this is a bit more delicate with a bouquet of berries and violets, deep red color, and a fruity palate that’s smooth and juicy. Nice, long, polished finish. Wine Advocate gave it a 90 and I concur, especially since I only paid $12.00. Now it’s time to get down! Happy New year!

Jeff Berlin:
Bebop solo:
Tears in Heaven:
Bass Logic:
With Frank Gambale:

Mark King:
Mr. Pink:
The Chinese Way:

Billy Sheehan
Crazy Solo:
Sheehan + Vai:
G3 solo:

Alain Caron:
Slap solo:
Ink Illusion:

Jaco Pastorius
Teen town:
Black Market:

Dominique di Piazza
With John McLaughlin: 
New Rumba:

Rocco Prestia
Only so much oil on the ground: 
At bass day:

Victor Wooten
U can’t hold no groove: 
Solo & amazing Grace:

Stanley Clarke
School days:
Hot Fun: 

Jack Bruce:
Never tell your mother she’s out of tune:
Sunshine of your love:


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Electric Guitar Review & Bogle Phantom

Today, it’s time for electric guitarists. But first gotta get the wine set. It has to have some heft to it and since I’m sitting in the midst of two feet of snow and frigid temps, let’s go with a 2006 Bogle Phantom. It’s a mixture of 55% syrah, 42% zinfandel, and 3% mourvedre. Bouquet has plenty of dark fruit, i.e. blackberry, blueberry, and a hint of carmel. Palate is luscious with the fruit coming through strong and mild tannins. It’s a powerhouse at $18.00. For heaven’s, sake don’t spill it on the carpet when you get down to the music.

Steffan Shackinger
Perfect Waves:

Now or Never:
Drive Away:

Jeff Beck
Cause we’ve ended as lovers:
Goodbye Porkpie Hat/Brush with the Blues:

Joe Satriani
Satch’s boogie:
Flying in a blue dream:

Kirk Hammett & Metallica:
Enter Sandman:

Stevie Ray Vaughn
Scuttle Buttin: 

Mark Knopfler
Sultans of Swing Guitar later version:
Money for Nothing: 

Eric Clapton
Crossroads (Cream):

Larry Carlton
Don’t Give It Up:
Oui Oui Si:


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chandon Champagne & Acoustic Guitar Review

Three days left of the year, so let’s start out with a recap of some of my favorite acoustic guitar work that I’ve reviewed this year. And so you’re not left high and dry wondering what to get for the New Year, get yourself a bottle of Chandon Blanc de Noir “Champagne.” Actually it’s called a sparkling wine because it’s from California and not grown in the Champagne region of France, but it’s made by Moet & Chandon, the makers of Dom Perignon. It has a bouquet of freshly sliced strawberries and currents. The taste follows the bouquet adding hints of raspberry with a light mousse texture. It’s served at White House banquets, so you know it’s a good one. And you can probably find it on sale for about $15.00 a bottle right now. Normally it runs around $18.00. Get a bottle now and you’ll be set for sitting safely at home watching some of the videos below.

Adam Rafferty 11/12:
Chameleon (Hancock):
Billie Jean:
Ain’t no sunshine:

Tony Haven (11/8)

Kotaro Oshio 9/4
Dancing Crickets:

Andrew Winton 9/2
Pink Palace:
When your number’s down:  

John Mayer 8/2
Message in a bottle:
In Your Atmosphere:

Tommy Emmanuel 6/28
Classical Gas:
House of the Rising Sun:

Phil Keaggy 6/9
Salvation Army band:
Shades of Green:

John Goldie 4/26
I heard it through the grapevine:

Eric Mongrain 4/15
Air Tap:

Erick Turnbull 2/24
Bomba Checka:

Kelly Valeau 2/2
Another Brick in the Wall:

Thomas Leeb 1/26

Eric Roche 1/24
Smells like teen spirit:
She drives me crazy:


Sunday, December 27, 2009

B&B and Bruce Cockburn

Have I mentioned how much I hate winter? If not, let me tell you, I HATE WINTER! Got back late last night from Chicago driving through a blizzard and tunnels carved through eight-foot snow drifts by some massive machine. Thank God for four-wheel drive. A trip that normally takes eight hours took twelve and I reached Omaha only to find that I-80 had been closed. Fortunately, my family and I stopped for dinner and while searching for a hotel through my iPhone, I saw that I-80 had just reopened. So we crept home at 35 mph on a highway whose speed limit is seventy-five. It took another two hours and I was able to power through the deep snow of our subdivision and get into the garage. Once again, I HATE WINTER!

Be that as it may, this being the last week of 2009, I will be doing a review of the year: one blog on acoustic guitarists, one of electric, and, of course, a bass guitar review. But today, one last review of an old favorite of mine. I like him for his sense of melody and lyric as well as his guitar work.

Bruce Cockburn is a sixty-four year old Canadian singer/guitarist/song writer. He studied at Berklee in early to mid-1960’s and although he started out playing in various bands, went solo in 1968 and has been playing alone since then. He’s released thirty-three studio CD’s/albums of his music over the years of his career. He is an outstanding guitarist and a poignant lyricist with a style ranging from 1960’s-folk to jazz-influenced rock to blues. His songs have been performed by the likes of Dan Fogelberg, Bare Naked Ladies, and even U2. For those of you who are techies, he’s been a long time patron of Linda Manzer guitars. His career is too long to document here so I’ll let his music speak for itself.
Interview & style:

Humla Meditation:

The last night of the world:

If I had a Rocket Launcher:

One minute guitar lesson:

Lovers in a dangerous time:

Down on the Delta:

Call it democracy:

Live down to the Delta:

Get up Jonah:

Child of the Wind:

Soul of a man:

And since it’s stinking cold outside and the snow is up to my window sills, let’s skip the wine and go for something a bit warmer: Benedictine and Brandy or B&B. It’s a soul-warming combination of brandy and Benedictine liqueur. Those must have been very happy monks at the Benedictine Abbey in France. Has a taste of honey with a kick. It’s absolutely my favorite for sipping by the fire. It’s about $30-$35.00 a bottle but it lasts a long time. Pour two fingers into a small brandy snifter, settle back, rent a movie, and wait for your snow service to shovel you out. Enjoy!


Friday, December 11, 2009

Cream and Marquis Phillips Shiraz

I’ve been traveling way too much and haven’t been able to blog, but tonight I’m back in town and featuring my favorite rock group of all time: Cream. I heard them back in 1967 and was blown away. I can honestly say I learned how to play bass guitar by listening to Jack Bruce & his incredible improvisational work on the live albums. When you listen to the album version of “I’m So Glad” you will hear just how original he was. He, more than any other bassist, ushered in the era of the solo bass guitarist. Clapton is, of course, Clapton, at his creative best. The band just drove each other to unexpected heights, discussed a bit in the interview with Eric at the end. Hope you enjoy a bit of rock nostalgia.

I’m so glad:

I’m so glad (album version off “Goodbye”):


Rollin and Tumbling:


Crossroads 1968:


Interview with Eric Clapton & Jack Bruce:

And to go with a heady group like Cream, how about a Marquis Philips 2006 vintage Shiraz from south Australia? Your nose is flooded with blackberry & black cherry aromas while on the palate layers of blackberry, cherry, and red current jam roll out in succession. Tannins are mild with a long, lingering finish. At $18.00 it's a great buy. Especially since Australia is synonymous with Shiraz and can be quite pricey. Great wine!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Super Trios & Two Hands Shiraz

I had so much fun assembling the rocking blog last Friday, that I decided to do something similar for tonight, but with a bit of contrast: Super Trios. The first are the G3 groups that Joe Satriani assembled and whose membership varied with Satriani & Steve Vai as the constants and Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen, and John Petrucci filling the third spots. Lots of power and lightning fast arpeggios.

Contrasting the G3 groups is the equally fast acoustic super trio of John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, and Paco de Lucia. Their CD “Friday Night in San Francisco is a classic and if you don’t have it, get it. It’s incredible. Hope you enjoy them.

G3 groups:

Satriani, Vai, Malmsteen: Voodoo Child:

Satriani, Vai, Johnson:

Red House:

Satriani, Vai, Petrucci

Smoke on the Water:

Super Trio: Paco De Lucia, Al Dimeola, John McLaughlin

Mediterranean Sundance:

Tales of the Black Forest:

Spanish number:

Super Trio Number:


And to compliment the power of these trios, I recommend a fantastic buy: Two Hands Angels Angel’s Share McLaren Vale Shiraz. I got it on sale for $25.00 (normally about $34.00). It’s a power wine with a blast of blueberry, blackberry, plum, and chocolate on the nose. The palate duplicates the nose, but adds notes of cherries, raisins, spice, and coffee. It’s a supple wine full of juicy fruit. Very intense which is what the trios are all about. Too bad it wasn’t called Three Hands Shiraz. Enjoy!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Nite Rock and Cognac

Friday at last! Time to let the frustrations of the week pour out and nothing does it better than a little head banging shredder rock. I’ve got some of the best below, including a couple that, in my humble opinion, are two of the best rock songs ever written. Namely, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” There’s enough music here to take you deep into the night.

Joe Satriani

Ice 9:

Satch’s boogie:

Surfing with the alien:  

Flying in a blue dream:

Steve Vai:

Tender Surrender:

Bad Horsie:

Die to live:

Attitude Song:

Eddie Van Halen



Eagles Fly:  

There’s only one way to Rock: 


Enter Sandman:

Fade to Black:

Nothing Else Matters:

The Unforgiven:

Jimi Page & Led Zepplin

Stairway to Heaven:


Deep Purple

Smoke on the Water:

Highway Star:

Child in time:

Johnny winter

Be careful with a fool:

Johnny B Goode:

Mean Town Blues:

Mississippi blues: 

Now, sipping wine doesn’t really cut it with this kind of music. While a beer might be more appropriate, you could also go for a sipping whiskey or in my case, Courvoisier VSOP Cognac. It has a beautiful copper color with notes of carmel, raisen, vanilla, and spice aromas. It has a very supple entry with a dry, yet fruity palate of carmel, dried apples, toffee and spice. You get a numbing burst of heat with a very nice texture in the mouth followed by a toasty warm finish. Now at $32.00 a bottle, it may seem to be over the price limit, but you don’t drink the whole bottle…please! If you over do it, you’re gonna be joining Joe Satriani surfing with the aliens. Just pour three fingers in a snifter and sip it through the evening. A bottle lasts me about six weeks. Enjoy!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

THE best Acoustic guitaris Adam Rafferty & Whitehall Lane Cabernet

Today is my birthday and I’ve got one of the best guitarists I’ve ever heard on line for today. Adam Rafferty is THE most amazing guitarist I’ve come across since discovering the late Eric Roche. His arrangements of pop and jazz tunes are incredibly complex and he tackles songs I never imagined could be played on a solo acoustic guitar. When I was in college, one of my favorite musicians was Herbie Hancock. His song “Chameleon” is a wonderful piece of funk and melody. Watch how Adam plays Paul Jackson’s bass part while simultaneously playing Hancock’s keyboard melody. And check out the beat box on this and “Play It Back.” My other favorite was Chic Corea, author of some of the most complex musical pieces in the Jazz-Fusion genre. “Spain” was initially played with Stanley Clarke on bass and Al Dimeola on guitar, all of whom are virtuoso musicians. How Adam does it, I have no idea. His collection of Michal Jackson, Stevie wonder, and Beatles tunes are just as amazing. He’s got more funk than I’ve ever heard on an acoustic guitar. But his tone is beautiful as heard on “Overjoyed” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Had to finish with a Tommy Emmanuel number. Incredible! Check out his website at . Now, settle back and prepare to have a listen for a while. Enjoy!

Chameleon (Hancock): 
Spain (Corea):
Billie Jean:
Play It Back:
Rock with You:
I Want You Back:
Vitamin E Blues:
Ain’t No Sunshine:
I Wish:
I Can’t make You Love Me:
She’s Leaving Home:
Got To Get You Into My Life: 
Eleanor Rigby:
The Hunt (Tommy Emmanuel):

And with THE best acoustic guitarist I’ve heard in a while, I’ve got to pair him with one of THE best Cabernet’s. It’s a bit out of my usual $25.00 price range (on sale for $35.00), but trust me, it’s worth it. Whitehall Lane makes some of the best wines in California. Of course, this is just my humble opinion. The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon hits your nose with blueberries, plums, blackberries, and cherries. It’s medium bodied and great for sipping alone (or with food, but it’s tough to eat when you’re dancing around the room to Adam Rafferty’s music). On the palate there are cherry, blackberry, and vanilla flavors with nicely balanced tannins. Supple finish with plenty of fruit lingering for a long time. Drink it slow and don’t spill it while you’re dancing! Happy Birthday to me!


Monday, November 9, 2009

Pastorius Family & St. Francis Cabernet

Tonight I thought I’d make this blog entry a family affair featuring the family Pastorius. Papa Jaco, was, of course, one of the finest bass players to ever pick up the instrument. He was also, like several other great musicians, a very tortured individual diagnosed as a manic-depressive and who died after being beaten to death by a bar bouncer. His twin sons have following in his musical footsteps with Julius taking up the drums while twin brother Felix became a very fine bass player in his own right. One of the selections I have below is a duet with Felix and the man I consider to be THE greatest bass player, Victor Wooten. Of course, I had to include a couple of my favorite Jaco numbers, namely Birdland and Teen Town, both recorded with Weather Report. But don’t miss the duet with Jeff Berlin. Hope you enjoy this family reunion.

Felix With Victor Wooten:

Felix Solo:

Felix & the heavy Pets: 

Felix Bass solo:

Felix & Pippo Matino:

Jaco and Jeff Berlin:

Weather Report & Birdland:

Jaco & Teen Town:

For a power group of low-end groovers, I’ve got a 2005 St. Francis Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon. According to the owner of the wine shop I frequent, St. Francis is trying to move its stock of wines and has dropped the prices. This wine is normally over $20.00 but I got it for $15.00. Great price. The wine has a rich varietal character and body in a classic Sonoma style. Very fragrant with aromas of cassis and black fruit underscored by notes of vanilla, which carry into a burst of ripe, intense berry fruit flavors on the palate. Firm structure and well balanced, with excellent depth and supple, generous tannins. Long complex finish with distinct notes of spice and oak. Very powerful wine and at this price, and excellent value. Great for staying in the pocket with the Pastorius family. Enjoy!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tony Haven & Calera Pinot Noir

Tonight I’m featuring a new talent, Tony Haven, a 21 year old lap tapping English guitarist. His style is very smooth and melodic, not as frantic as some tappers. In fact, I would term is music quite beautiful, very listenable, and relaxing. But don’t be fooled. Underneath that soothing veneer is incredible talent, technique, and style. I have him on Pandora on my iPhone and I just ordered his CD. Hope you enjoy him as much as me.


No Woman No Cry:

Through the dune:

Lying in the rain:

The Hunt:

Summer Charm:

Forget Me Not:

2009 Interview:

With a smooth tapper like Tony, I’m going to pair his music with a 2007 Calera Central Coast Pinot Noir (~$16.00). Its nose hits you with aromas of black and red berries with a touch of spiciness. The palate is full of cherry and strawberry notes with a bit of vanilla cream. The tannins are medium with mild acidity. The wine kind of jumps at you initially, probably due to it’s 14.4% alcohol content, but it mellows out quickly. Very similar to Tony’s music that can hit with a burst of energy, then mellows out into a soothing groove.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Jeff Beck & Montes alpha Pinot Noir

It’s Friday nite, the weeks over, and it’s time to get down and boogie. Featured tonight is one of rocks greatest fingerpickers, namely Jeff Beck. He’s been a long time favorite of mine ever since his days with the Yardbirds. He is capable of some of the most melodic and mournful guitar playing I’ve ever heard. Check out “Cause we’ve ended as lovers” or “Amazing Grace.” For a while, he almost had to quit due to a near brush with a total hearing loss, but thank God, he’s still going strong. Hope you enjoy him.

Cause we’ve ended as lovers:

Goodbye Porkpie Hat:

Led Boots:

Blue Wind:

Goin Down, with SRV:

Brush with the blues:

Further up the road with Eric C.:

Drown in my own tears: 

Somewhere over the rainbow:

Amazing Grace: 

Train Kept a rollin with Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, Metallica, Flea, etc.: 

With a wild guitarist, we need a wine that stands up to the rock volume. So, how about a 2007 Montes Alpha Pinot Noir from Chile ($19.00). It has a bit darker ruby color than a California Pinot. A bit denser too. It’s aged for 6 months in French oak. On the nose it’s more like a French burgundy with notes of berries and violets. Very Floral. The palate is exquisite with strawberry, cherry, and vanilla combining in a medium bodied, refreshing wine. Very long, smooth finish. Try not to spill it while your banging your head to the beat of Jeff Beck!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Antonio Forcione & Estancia Cabernet

He’s been called the “Jimi Hendrix” of acoustic guitar. Antonio Forcione is definitely an incredible talent. His music ranges from world to jazz to pop to tapping. Check out the duet of he and Felix Pastorius and his version of “Heard It through the Grapevine is one of the best ever. Also, quite the innovator as you’ll see in his four-handed rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish.”

Acoustic Revenge:

Live Tapping:

With Felix Pastorius:

I Wish (Four handed playing):

Heard It Through the Grapevine:


With Pippo Matino:

With Giorgio Serci; Frevo Rasgado:

Al Hambra:


And while you’re listening to Antonio, try a bottle of Estancia Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon (2006). This is a very balanced Cabernet with hints of cherry, red currants, vanilla and spice on the nose. Deep, dark red color with a palate of black cherries, blackberry, balanced tannins, and a trace of oak. Nice long finish. I ordered it with dinner (I’m traveling) and liked it so much, I had a second glass as my dessert. Great for lingering over a good book. In stores, it’s about $15.00 and a great buy. Enjoy!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Sebastien Cloutier and Simi Cabernet

This will be my last blog for about two weeks as I’m traveling to Europe on business and doubt I’ll be able to write from afar. Tonight I’m featuring a Canadian guitarist, Sebastien Cloutier. He’s got electric chops that remind me a little of Steffan Shackinger, yet he also plays a very nice acoustic. The best place to find his music is on his MySpace site at .

Lot’s of stuff for listening and some nice videos. I’ve placed a couple below, including several duets with Antoine Dufour, another Canadian guitar whiz and one of my personal favorites. Enjoy!

For All My Friends:



Fluid Parallel (with Antoine Dufour):


Since Sebastien is a bit of a heavy prog rocker, I’m pairing him with a very nice 2005 Simi Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (about $18.00). Like Sebastien, it’s bright with bunches of fruit like blackberries, dark cherries, and a touch of plum that burst onto your palate. Nice fruity nose too. It’s a pretty big wine, not wimpy, with a lot of body. Very nice wine for a dinner of beef or for just sipping in front of the fire with a copy of my latest book, Twice Fallen. See you in two weeks.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

John Renbourn & La Storia Zinfandel

When I was in high school, a friend of mine who was anything but a guitar player, bought an album entitled “The Lady and the Unicorn” by John Renbourn. That was my first exposure to Celtic music and I’ve loved it ever since. Back in the 60’s he played with the group Pentangle along with another outstanding acoustic guitarist Bert Jansch. That was as the beginning of the rise of the folk era of music which later competed with the psychedelic scene for dominance in the late 60’s. His music is very peaceful listening. Hope you enjoy him.

Sweet Potato:

Bunyan’s hymn/I saw three ships:

English dance:

The Snows:

Cannonball Rag:

Lord Franklin:

The South Wind/Blarney Pilgrim:

Blues Run the Game:

Great Dreams from Heaven:

The Lady Goes to Church:

And along with a very classy guitarist I’m going to pair a La Storia Zinfandel from Trentadue Winery (usually about $26.00 but I got it on sale for $20.00). This a dark rich wine with a strong fruity bouquet. Lots of jammy fruit on the palate and a long lingering finish. Very smooth with a touch of mocha on the finish. This is everything a Zin should be. Enjoy!


Monday, September 28, 2009

John Butler & Mesa Vaca Syrah

I’m back from a long business trip to Canada. Spent a week in Montreal, staying in the Place D’Arms Hotel, a wonderful little boutique number in the old section of the city. It has a very hip and lively bar at night and for hotel guests, an excellent complimentary wine and cheese reception each night. Had some great meals and excellent wines which I will review, but for tonight, something with a bit of muscle.

John Butler is one of my favorites. He’s a combination of Australian aboriginal, reggae, folk, and blues. He plays a twelve string for most of his numbers but he throws in a Weissborn lap steel and a six string for good measure. His slide work is nice too. His trio is tight; his drummer is unbelievable. Favorite songs of mine are Better man, Message in a Bottle, Old Man, and Yo Momma. But don’t miss the duet with Keith Urban on “Funky Tonight.” It’s killer.


Far away:

Seeing Angels:
Better Man:

Message in a bottle:

Losing You:

Old Man:

Yo Momma:

Somethings gotta give:


Good Excuse:

Funky tonight (with Keith Urban):

While you’re enjoying John, open a bottle of 2005 Vaca Mesa Syrah (~$19.00). This is a big rich wine full of blackberry, black currents, cassis, and a touch of mocha. Spicy and complex with nice tannins and a long finish. Full, rich, and filling. Wine Spectator rated it 92 while Wine Enthusiast gave it a 90, meaning it’s an excellent wine, especially when you consider it’s under $20.00. It’s a nice compliment to John Butler. Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Brittni Paiva and Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc

When I think of the ukulele, I think of Tiny Tim singing Tip Toe Through the Tulips. Not a very appealing picture. But as I was cruising the YouTube videos the other night, I stumbled on Brittni Paiva, a 19 year old from Hawaii who plays the uke like I’ve never heard it played before. Check out her version of Paul Desmond’s Take Five. Amazing! It’s an incredibly difficult song to play as it’s in 5/4 time and quite complex. I know, I’ve played it. She plays it better than any guitarist I’ve ever heard do it. And don’t miss her arrangement of Carlos Santana’s Europa. I’ll never look at a Uke the same again. Wow!


Take five:


Somewhere over the rainbow: 

Journey Home: 

Riding Honoli’I: 

At the Kaleo CafĂ©: 

With a classy act like Brittni, you need an equally classy wine, so how about a 2008 Nobilo Icon Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. This is a classic New Zealand Marlborough wine with a burst of grapefruit, lime, and green apple bouquet followed by the same on the palate with a wonderful richness and vibrant finish. Wine Spectator rates this a 92. It’s a great drink-alone wine, especially for summertime. Of course, I recommend ignoring the seasons if the wine is good and this one certainly is, especially at $17.00 a bottle. Enjoy it while you listen to Brittni shatter your stereotypes of ukulele players.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Orianthe & Hess Cabernet

Tonight I’ve got a couple of powerhouses on line. Orianthe Panagaris is a 24 year old Australian gut-wrenching guitarist endorsed enthusiastically by Carlos Santana. She was slated to be the lead guitarist on Michael Jackson’s comeback tour, but alas, that’s not going to happen. Some of her chops are a bit like Santana’s—soulful and filled with emotion. And as if her guitar work isn’t incredible enough, she’s got a fabulous voice. Bluesy and powerful. If you’d like to listen to more of her music, check out her Myspace site at


Crossroads Concert:

Now or Never:

Song for Steve:

Drive Away:

Really nice jam:

The thrill is gone: 

Going down:

Lights of Manos:

And speaking of powerhouses, try a bottle of 2006 Hess Allomi Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. I found it on sale for $23.00. There is nothing subtle about this wine. Raise a glass of this deep purple ambrosia to your nose and you’re hit with fruit, fruit, and more fruit. Dark berries, chocolate, cassis, and a nice spice with solid tannins. It’s aged 18 months in oak which gives it a hint of vanilla and nutmeg followed by a long, elegant finish. Really full bodied wine. This one of the best I’ve ever tasted. If you see it, buy it!


Friday, September 4, 2009

Kotaro Oshio and a Great Cabernet Value

Tonight I’ve got one incredible musician. I stumbled on him while listening to Petteri Sariola whom I’ll review on Sunday. Kotaro Oshio is one very versatile guitarist. He’s got da funk, the classics, a beautiful lyrical style, and for all you bassists, he plays a mean slap bass on his six string Martin D-18. I love Dancing Crickets where he introduces his “band:. First comes the bass, followed by the lead guitarist (Jimi Hendrix). He launches first into Purple Haze, then Smoke on the Water. And if that isn’t great enough, he takes a seat and moves into a classical number by Rodrigo, then back to his funk, etc., etc. Check it out!

Dancing crickets ( his introducing his band which is just him, of course):



Indigo love: 

Purple Highway:

Space Fantasy: 


Hard Rain:

Pink Candy: 

Red Shoes Dance: 

Amazing grace: 

Since he’s such a smooth player, how about a really smooth Cabernet Sauvignon. Chateau St. Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet ($13.00) is full of dark fruit aromas and taste. Blackberry, cassis, and vanilla dominate. Mild tannins and a long finish. Really nice wine, especially for the price and goes great with Kotaro Oshio. Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Andrew Winton & Artesa Pinot Noir

Andrew Winton is an acoustic guitar virtuoso hailing from western Australia.He plays lap steel guitar, including a beastly big 7-string version of the instrument as well as a Weissborn and standard 6-string acoustics. Really nice vocal’s to accompany his moody blues. His slide work is outstanding. There must be something about this genre in Australia because he reminds me a little of John Butler whom I will review at a future date. Or perhaps, John Butler reminds me of Andrew Winton. Either way, both are outstanding. Check out his website at: 

Pink Palace: 

When your number’s down: 

Barrel O Monkeys: 

Can’t slow down: 


Fatty Hambone: 


And to really enjoy his music, open a bottle of Artesa Pinot Noir (2006; $21.00). Beautiful wine with a bouquet of strawberries followed by cherry, strawberry, and vanilla on the palate. I really like this wine. It’s wonderful for sipping while working on your latest novel and listening to some good music. I had my office window open and a cool breeze brought the percussive sound of crickets chirping in rhythm to Andrew’s music. Who knew they liked lap steel blues? Enjoy!


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dobro Player Jerry Douglas & Angeline Sauvignon Blanc

It’s been a beautiful summer here in Nebraska. Cooler temperatures than I ever seen for the past ten years I’ve lived here. And tonight is a gorgeous evening, temp about 65 degrees, clear, star-strewn sky and a great night for drinking wine and listening to THE best dobro player I’ve ever heard, Mr. Jerry Douglas. He often plays with Alison Krauss & Union Station, some of the finest bluegrass players around today. Now, for those of you who don’t know it, the dobro is a kind of bluegrass slide guitar. Its tone can be anything from haunting and mournful (see We Hide & Seek) to a rousing romp (Cincinnati rag). We Hide & Seek has been one of my favorite songs of Jerry’s for years, so I’ve included early and more recent versions of the song. I also love his picking on Hey Joe. However, just a word about Hey Joe. I used to do this song with a band when I was a teenager. I loved Jimi Hendrix version of the song. But as I’ve gotten older, I now pay more attention to the words, which, frankly, disgust me. My daughter is a social worker who works with abused women and children and knowing what she deals with, the song’s words make me ashamed of my gender. So, apologies to those who’ve experienced abuse. Try to ignore the lyrics and just listen to the dobro. Also, check out a young Bela Fleck (to be reviewed at a future date) playing Cincinnati rag.

We Hide & Seek:

We Hide & Seek v.2:

Little Medley:

A tribute to Peador O’Donnell:

Wild Rumpus:

Hey Joe (with Tim O’Brien):

Cincinnati Rag (with Bela Fleck):

Now, since it’s summer, I’ve got a really nice 2007 Angeline Sauvignon Blanc from California ($10.00) to go with the music on this fine summer night. It’s very close to a New Zealand style with a bouquet of citrus and apples and a taste hinting of grapefruit and lime. Very crisp and refreshing, with a clean after taste. Try it and enjoy Jerry Douglas.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

75 Cabernet and the Uilleann Pipes

Tonight, I’ve got something a bit different. Years ago, I saw the movie Braveheart and fell in love with music. The featured instrument playing the theme song was the uilleann pipes. They have a mournful sound that stirs the soul and can bring me to tears, and no one plays them better than Davy Spillane. I heard him play Caoineadh Cu Chulainn when I saw Riverdance. So, as tomorrow's Monday and I have to return to work after a week of vacation, I’m feeling kinda melencholy tonight so I thought I present a selection of his music.

I’m pairing it with a very nice 2005 cabernet sauvignon from the 1975 wine company, about $20.00. It dark ruby color with a bright bouquet of cherries and cranberry. The taste reveals cherries, cassis, vanilla and a touch of spice with very light tannins. It’s a lighter cabernet, almost reminiscent of a pinot noir. And being a lighter red it should compliment the mournful mood of the uilleann pipes.

Caoineadh Cu Chulainn (Riverdance Solo): 

Midnight Walker:


Mystic Seacliffs: 


Call Across the canyon:


Friday, August 21, 2009

Kreativ Award, Favorite Guitar Posts, & B.R. Cohn Silver Label Cabernet

Well, whaddaya know. I was nominated by Rick Daley ( ) for a Kreativ Blogger Award. Thanks Rick! Most of the time I think I’m just doodling along drinking wine and listening to guitarists while I struggle to write thriller novels. BTW, writing thrillers is great for stress relief. If you have a bad day, you can create the source of that bad day and kill it off…violently, painfully, unmercifully. You get the picture.

I guess this comes with some responsibilities (Damn! Shouldn’t have finished off the whole bottle of 2006 B.R. Cohn silver Label Cabernet!). First, I’m supposed to tell you seven things you might find interesting about me. Hmm.

1. I have a Ph.D. in Medical Microbiology…translated, I’m a geek. I did try to have a geekectomy, but it was unsuccessful. I love science, technology and pondering the impossible.
2. I’m a Christian. That may sound like an oxymoron, or maybe you think it’s just moronic, but it’s true. Please don’t send me questions about creation and evolution. My hair may be silver gray, but I’m not THAT old and I wasn’t there. I will say categorically that I’m not a young earth creationist. Most of what I see them spout is male bovine external solid waste. That was polite of me, wasn’t it?
3. I play both the bass guitar and acoustic guitar and have a deep appreciation for all kinds of music. Used to be a professional bassist and got myself through college playing in blues and jazz-fusion bands. I also write songs and sing with a voice that sounds like a goose with digestive problems on a hot muggy day. I love guitar music and my tastes run from Christopher Parkening (classical) to Joe Satriani (shredder). The latter sometimes shocks people, especially the younger set. One day while blasting Metallica’s “Enter Sandman, (a great psych-up song) in my car with the windows open, a teenager pulled along side me and said I had great taste…for an old man. Young whippersnapper!
4. I like, no, love, wine, cognac, and Armagnac. Lest you think I’m a lush, this stuff is too expensive to guzzle. You swirl, gaze, sniff, and sip delicately while sitting in front of a crackling fire with a good book, or out on the deck under a star-strewn sky listening to the serenade of the night. I’m also a beer snob. You won’t find Bud, Miller, or Coors in my house. Microbrews only. I read wine magazines and am amazed at the prices of the wines they review. Who has $100 buck to blow on a bottle in this economy? So I only drink & review wines that either list or are on sale for under $25.00.
5. My mid-life crisis is novel writing. I’ve completed three novels and am halfway through the fourth in a series of thrillers where the lead character is Liam Michaels, the Archangel Azrael, who lives in Chicago and is here to take out terrorist groups, etc., all of whom are actually led by demons and fallen angels.

6. Next, I ‘m supposed to nominate seven of my favorite blogs for the Kreativ award. They are, in no particular order, as follows:
The Blues Blogger:

Ron Clegg:

Guitar god:

Tucson Bass Player:

The Blog Wine Cellar:

The Intern:

7. I’ve emailed all the culprits to tell them they too will have to fulfill these “responsibilities”
8. Lastly, place the award on your blog site.
Now, in honor of the award, I thought I’d recap some of my favorite guitar pieces of the past year. I’m pairing it with 2006 B.R. Cohn silver Label Cabernet Sauvignon, about $20.00. You may recall I got a fantastic deal on the gold label version of this wine: $25.00 for a wine that’s normally about $57.00. It was one of the best I’d ever tasted. Well, the Silver label is no slouch either. It’s full and rich with explosive flavors of berry, cassis and black cherry along hints of vanilla. Tannins are delicate and aging in French oak gives it a bit of complexity. Very nice for listening to some great guitar.
1) Phil Keaggy, Salvation Army Band:
2) Eric Roche:
a) She Drives Me Crazy:
b) Van Halen’s Jump:
c) Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen spirit:
3) Antoine Dufour, thirty Minutes in London:
4) Preston Reed, Ladies Night:
5) Kelly Valeau, Another Brick in the Wall:
6) Eric Turnbull, Bomba Checka:
7) Andy McKee, Art of Motion:
8) Don Ross, Michael Michael:
9) Eric Mongrain,
a) Air Tap:
b) PercusienFa
10) Rory Block, Crossroad Blues:
11) Larry Carlton, don’t Give It Up:
12) Tommy Emmanuel, Classical Gas:
13) John Goldie, Summertime:
14) Mark Knopfler & Eric Clapton: Money for Nothing: 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Great Pinot Noir and guitarist Steffan Schackinger

Tonight I’m featuring a truly marvelous Pinot Noir and a new find on guitar. The Pinot is 2006 Whitehaven from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. They also make my favorite Sauvignon Blanc. This Pinot Noir has a captivating plum fruit and bright cherry aromas. On the palate it is rich with cherry and strawberries; concentrated with a soft velvety texture. It’s normally $35.00 locally but I’ve now seen it on sale twice for $23.00. It is probably the best Pinot I’ve had for some time, and I love Pinot’s.

Now for the new guitarist. Thirty-six-year-old Steffan Schackinger is a Danish whiz on the instrument. He can be wild and crazy but he’s got a sense of melody that is really beautiful. His sound sometimes reminds me of Michael Dowdle and other times of Mark Knopfler, two of my favorites. Check out his website at: . He has a very interesting story.

Be sure to watch the videos of him in a duet with violinist Jane Clark. She can really rip on the violin.


City Lights:

Perfect Waves: Sounds like Mark Knopfler:

Bulldog Bite:

Time (with Jane Clark):

Steffan & Jane, Dixieland:


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Argintine Patriota & John Mayer

Back in 2001, I working in my home office, when a song came on my son’s radio that hooked me. It was Neon by an newbie on the block, John Mayer. Now, I know he’s a teen heart throb but I gotta tell ya, I’m a fan. He is one fine guitarist. His first CD, “No Room For Squares,” has some mighty fine acoustic guitar on it and Neon is my favorite. John plays a lot of chords, a lot of very difficult chords, and he’s excellent at improvisation. I’ve said in the past I’m a fan of the blues and this kid can play. I hear all the time that this guy or that kid is supposed to be the next Stevie Ray Vaughn, but in my opinion, John’s got the title. He’s Stevie and Jimi Hendrix rolled into one. His voice interesting but I really listen for his guitar playing.

I love his version of “Message in a Bottle,” but the song that is a real killer (besides Neon) is In Your Atmosphere. Beautiful lyric and really fine guitar playing. And by the way, all you bass players, if you don’t have John’s “Try” CD, you need to get a hold of it. Pino Paladino lays down some mighty fine bass lines. Hope you enjoy it.



Message in a bottle:

No Such Thing:

Heart of Life:

In Your Atmosphere- little known but really beautiful, moody song:

Love Song for No One:

John Mayer Trio with Steve Jordon (drums) & Pino Paladino, one of my favorite bassists
Good Love is on the Way:

Wait until Tomorrow (by J. Hendrix):

I got a woman—Steve Jordon lays down an incredible beat!

I’ve been reading a lot about the wines of Argentina and Chile and I realized, I’ve never tried one. Well, I was perusing my local wine shop and they were having a sale on Tikal Patriota: $19.00. So I says to myself, “Self, why not try this one?” And I did. Keep in mind I knew very little about Argentinian wines other than their two most frequently used grapes are Malbec and Bonarda. The Patriota is a blend of 60% Bonarda and 40% Malbec. According to their website, Patriota is aged in French oak for 12 months. I realized as soon as I poured it into my glass that it’s bottled unfined and unfiltered. It’s kinda of a hazy purple color. On the nose, there are strong notes of black cherry and blueberry. On the palate, you can taste both the berries plus raspberry, currents, and a hint of chocolate. Long, lingering finish. It’s not a subtle wine, rather it’s quite powerful. It’s most definitely a winner. After I drank it, I did a little research, I found that Robert Parker at Wine Spectator rated it 90 while Wine & spirits Magazine rated it 91, so I guess I picked a good one. “Try” it with John Mayer’s blues CD, “Try (pun intended).


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Eric Clapton & Petite Petite

Eric Clapton is probably my all time favorite guitarist, especially when he plays the blues. He is a consummate guitarist whether he’s playing electric or acoustic, but acoustic really shows off his skills as a bluesman. I’ve followed him since he was with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. Cream is still my favorite group. The selections below are all acoustic and there are some interesting ones. Lots of Robert Johnson tunes. Check out the solo acoustic versions of Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love and Outside Woman Blues. And his bluesy version of Somewhere over the Rainbow is wonderfull…one of my favorite songs that I used to play in coffee houses, but I did more of a Livingston Taylor arrangement. Hope you gain a new appreciation for his artistry.

W/ Mark Knofler: Layla:

Driftin Blues:

Sunshine of your Love:

Malted Milk:

Key to the Highway:

Ramblin on My Mind:

Outside Woman Blues:

Love in Vain:

Stones in my Passway:

Got you on my Mind:

Change the World:

Broken Hearted with John Mayer:

Crossroads with Robert Randolph, John Mayer, & Sheryl Crow:

Somewhere Over the Rainbow:

And since Eric is quite a bold guitarist, he needs a bold wine. Michael David makes one of my favorite zinfandels, namely Seven Deadly Zins. This is another great wine from him. Petite Petite ($15.00) is a blend of 15% Petit Verdot and 85% Petite Sirah. Dark in color, it hits your nose with a burst of dark berries and a hint of caramel and plum. It explodes in your mouth with black raspberry, blueberries and dark cherries. Petite Sirah can be very heavy, but the Verdot seems to lighten it just enough. It’s long lingering palate of cherries and spice. It’s almost sweet for a dry wine. Very nice. Enjoy!


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Smither, Raitt, & Sauvignon Blancs

Well, I’m back after two weeks on the road traveling on business. It’s difficult to blog from a hotel room as I usually use a Sprint connection which isn’t the best thing for embedding videos. So, tonight I’ve got two of my favorites. One is strictly out of the mainstream, although you’ve probably heard his songs done by the second artist who went from obscurity to pop stardom.

Chris Smither is a fabulous folk artist and a great finger picker. I heard him back in 1990 and was fascinated by his music. He’s also one of Bonnie Raitt’s favorite songwriters. She does his song, “Love Me Like A Man” better than anyone. Also, in my humble opinion, Bonnie Raitt is one of the best slide guitarists around. I first heard her in Chicago back in 1974 at a Soundstage concert, just her and her guitar. Wow, she was amazing. The last song in her set, SRV shuffle features Jimmy Vaughn, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, and Robert Cray, all blues greats. Anyway, here’s some blues for ya.

Chris Smither
Train Home:

Crocodile Man:

Origin of Species:

Statesborough Blues:

2000 Lotus Blossom Festival:

Drive you home again:

Lay the old man down:

Bonnie Raitt:

Love me like a man:

With John Lee Hooker; I’m in the Mood:

Pride & Joy:

Thing called Love:

SRV Shuffle:

Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorite summer wines. They are crisp, light, and refreshing, great for sipping on a warm summer night while I sit on my deck and watch the stars. The Wine Spectator featured American Sauvignon Blancs in its latest issue and I’m glad to see them getting more press, however, for my money, and yours for that matter, I don’t think you can beat New Zealand for Sauvignon Blanc.

California versions of this wine are usually characterized by a lemony citrus and apple bouquet and palate. While some are very good, they can also be a bit harsh or biting compared to their neighbors down under. New Zealand versions seem to be softer, yet just as crisp with overtones generally dominated by a grapefruit bouquet and palate.

Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc 2007 ($16.00) is a classic New Zealand style wine. It has that citrus grapefruit bouquet and light crisp palate, rich in grapefruit and pinapple. It’s got a bit of a peppery finish with a very pleasant zing. I rank it up there with my favorites (Whitehaven-$20.00 and Kim Crawford-$16.00).

In contrast, Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc 2007 also comes from Marlborough—the region that produces the best Sauvignon Blancs in New Zealand. The intensity in the nose is not as strong or distinct as other Sauvignon Blancs from the region. It has more of a California Sauvignon Blanc nose and flavor with hints of lemon, green apple, pear, and mineral flavors. The finish is crisp and long.

Both wines are good. The Wine Spectator rated the Nobilo a 92 while it gave the Kim Crawford a 90, although it included the Kim Crawford in its list of 100 best wines for 2008. My wife likes the Nobilo whereas I like the Nautilus, Kim Crawford and Whitehaven best. Just goes to show you that while the ratings of the various wine guides may give you a general idea of what’s good, in the end it comes down to a matter of taste.

You can’t go wrong with any of these. Try one this week and enjoy!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Goals, guitars, and Champagne

So, tonight is a celebration for me. Last January 23rd, I said I was going on a diet with a goal or losing 61 lbs and going from 247 to 185. Quite the task and I wasn’t sure I could do it. But this morning, I weighed 184. Success!! That calls for a celebration so I’m breaking the usual $25.00 price cap on my reviews and presenting Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut Champagne. It’s one of France’s best and ranges in price between $37.00 (my price) and $50.00. Wine magazines rated it as follows:
Wine News Rating: 92
Wine Spectator rating: 91
Wine Enthusiast Rating: 92

One of the marks of high quality champagne is the size of the bubbles: the smaller, the better. The Perrier Jouet is fresh and lively with tiny, spiraling bubbles, delicate citrus and honey bouquet, and subtle complex flavors of dry fruit, vanilla, and nuts with a hint of shortbread and butter. Very clean taste with no bitterness or aftertaste. A truly grand champagne…and I deserve it!

And to complete the celebration: some of my favorite electric guitarists. Jimi Hendrix version of Watchtower is, in my opinion, one of the greatest songs ever performed, although I still ling the studio version best. Stevie Ray’s Crossfire is one of his best songs and Scuttle Buttin is some seriously amazing picking. I’ve included a non-video memorial to him with Life By The Drop, which symbolizes his life and recovery from drugs and alcohol. Jeff Beck is one of the most creative guitarists I’ve ever heard. Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers is a classic. Also found a couple of duets of his with Eric Clapton, another of my fav’s. And last but not least, one of my blues favorites, Robin Ford. I love his song, “Start it up.” By the way, all you bassists, Robin’s bassist is Roscoe Beck, also one of my favorites. Hope you enjoy them.


P.S. if the links don't work, click on the link to my myspace site at the bottom of the page. tose seem to be fine.

Jimi Hendrix:
All Along The Watchtower:
Purple Haze:
Red House:
Machine Gun:
Who Knows:

Stevie Ray Vaughn:
Scuttle Buttin:
Texas Flood:
Little Wing:
In Memory of Stevie: Life by the Drop:
Willie the Wimp:
Mary Had A Little Lamb:

Jeff Beck:
Cause we’ve ended as lovers:
A Day In The Life:
Freeway Jam:
With Eric Clapton
Further up the road:
You Need Love:

Robin Ford:
Rumba Blues:
Start it up:
You Cut Me to the Bone:
Talk to your daughter:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Artesa Pinot Noir & a Bass Guitar Extravaganza

Tonight, I’ve got a really nice 2007 Pinot Noir from Artesa (Artesa Carneros Pinot Noir). It’s normally about $25.00 a bottle, but it was on sale for $19.00. Beautiful garnet color with a bouquet of strawberries and cherries. On the palate, the nose is repeated augmented by hints of chocolate and light tannins. Very smooth drinker. An excellent Pinot Noir.

And to go with the wine, I’ve got something different. When I started reviewing guitarists, I mentioned that since I used to be a bass player (note the past tense) I liked a bit of “da funk” in my guitar music. Thus you hear a lot of slappers and tappers here. Well, tonight I decided to give y’all a taste of da funk. Below, you’ll find some of my favorite bassists. The list is by no means complete. Victor Wooten was reviewed individually so I didn’t repeat him here. But these are some of the best in a diversity of genres. Hope you enjoy them!

Jeff Berlin
Tears in Heaven:
Bebop Solo:
Jaco & Jeff:
With Frank Gambale:

Mark King (with Level 42)
Mr. Pink Bass solo:
Love Games:
The Chinese Way:

Billy Shehan:
Misc. song:

Alain Caron:
Slap solo:
Ink Illusion:

Jaco Pastorius
Portrait of Tracy:
Teen town: One of the greatest bass songs ever written or played.
Birdland: Great song. One of my favorites by Weathereport

Dominique Di Piazza
With John McLaughlin & Trilok Gurtu:
Little Rose:

Kai Eckhardt
Solo #1:
Solo # 2:

Rocco Prestia
Funk Bass Lesson:
Only So Much Oil On The Ground:


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Michael Chapdelaine & a nice Sauvignon Blanc

Michael Chapdelaine is unique. He plays both fingerpicking steel string and classical guitar. In fact, he’s the only person to win both the Winfield National Finger Style championship and the Guitar foundation of America’s International Classical Guitar Competition. I’ve included one of his videos of a Bach prelude as well as his contemporary fingerstyle arrangements. I absolutely love his version of California Dreamin. And when I first started playing the guitar and bass back in the late ‘60’s, I had every Ventures album ever recorded. Walk Don’t Run was always a favorite. But the crowning contemporary song, for me at least, is More Than Words. Beautiful! (Links aren't working tonight so copy & paste them into your browser or check out my myspace site

California Dreamin:

Come Together:

Rain dance:

Heard it through the grapevine:

Walk Don’t run:

More than Words:

Bach Prelude:

I find Michael’s music soothing to listen to, so how about a Starborough Sauvignon Blanc to accompany it. Summertime is gonna hit hard this week here in Nebraska. We’re expecting temperature-humidity indices over 100 degrees. When the weather gets hot, I like a Sauvignon Blanc to refresh my parched mouth. Starborough is from New Zealand, so it’s got that citris grapefruit bouquet with a light, crisp taste of lime, grapefruit, and a hint of pear. A very tropical wine and great for beating the heat, especially since it’s about $13.00 a bottle. Try some when the heat hits.