The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
The Death Whisperer Series available at

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!