The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
The Death Whisperer Series available at

Friday, December 31, 2010

Howe, Wooten, Chambers, & Caron & Saldo Zin

New Years Eve 2010 and for my last post, I’m featuring the bass guitar and two of the smoothest groups out there. Don’t need to say anything else except happy listening.

Howe, Wooten, & Chambers



Lucky 7:


Crack it way open:

Birdseye view:

Alain Caron

Slam the clown:

Turkey loose on the kit:

Freedom jazz dance:

Fat Cat:

Ink Illusion:


The last wine of the year is a 2009 Saldo Zinfandel from Orin Swift. It’s rich, ripe, and full-bodied, with aromas of black cherry and plum. The tannins are soft but the wine has an enormous mid-palate. Flavors of blackberry, spice, and black cherry predominate. A bit bitter on the finish. Goes great with the low end featured above. Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mick Taylor and Montecillo Verdemar Albarino

Mick Taylor hit the music world as the guitarist for John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers from 1966-1969. He was 17 years old when he joined the Bluesbreakers. Interestigly, he got the Bluesbreakers gig when he went to see them during Eric Clapton’s tenure as their lead guitarist, and when Clapton didn’t show up, Mick approached Mayall about filling in. Mayall agreed and a year later called Taylor to take the place of Pete Green who had resigned from the group. When Brian Jones left the Rolling Stones in 1974, Mick Jagger asked Mayall’s advice about a replacement guitarist, and he immediately recommended Mick. Taylor left Mayall to join the Stones and played with them until 1974 at the age of 25. Taylor was noted for his smooth lyrical touch and tone which contrasted with Keith Richards's jagged and cutting technique. Mick excels at playing the slow blues, one of the most demanding forms of the genre as it requires both crying notes and lightning fast arpeggios. Hope you enjoy him.

Live in Munich:

Blues in the morning:

Driving sideways:


Stop breaking down:

Baby what you want me to do:

I was born in Chicago:

I’m a blues man:

Mama Lion:

Sweet home Chicago:

I wonder why:

Laudromat blues:

It was 60 degrees in Lincoln today, which teased me into remembering summer. So I’m pairing Mick with a 2009 Montecillo Verdemar Albarino ($10.00). Albarino is a Spanish grape that is often compared to Sauvignon Blanc. This version is everything an Albarino is supposed to be. Pale yellow tinged with green, a nose full of apple, pear, grapefruit, and pinapple, with a taste echoing the fruit. It has a rich mouth feel, different than a Sauvignon Blanc and a long clean finish. Very nice for recalling the days of summer…which is all I can do as currently the temperature has plummeted to 21 degrees. Ah well, memories. Enjoy!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Philip Sayce & Earthquake Zinfandel

Christmas has been rather sad for me this year. My son-in-law’s cancer has metastasized to his spine which means the end is near. He and my daughter have been married for two short years and it seems only yesterday that I answered the question, “Who gives Rachel to be married?” with the words, “her mother and I.” Nothing prepared me for my daughter’s question this Christmas: “How do I prepare him to die, Daddy?” As a result, I’m going to feature the blues this week, which I think is an appropriate sentiment for the week.

Tonight, I’m featuring Philip Sayce. Sayce was born in Aberystwyth, England, but his family moved to Canada when he was two years old, and he grew up in Toronto. He began playing in Toronto clubs at the age of sixteen and quickly became a regular fixture on Toronto’s bar-scene. One of the clubs Sayce frequented was Grossman's Tavern in Toronto, known for its famous jam sessions.

In 1997, he joined Jeff Healey’s band and toured the world for three and a half years, playing such places as Germany, Brazil, Finland, and the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. In December 2003, Sayce joined Melissa Etheridge and her band for The Lucky Tour and has subsequently played on several of her CDs.

As you listen to him you find his style is strongly influenced by Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. His powerful technique fuses both styles into a soulful, driving example of virtuoso blues playing.

Over my head:

Powerful thing:

Angels live inside:

Can’t find my way:

Born under a bad sign:


Who knows:

Ottawa blues fest:

Save me from myself:

All I want:

Slip away: 

It’s over now:

Complimenting Philip, I recommend a 2006 Earthquake Zinfandel ($19.00). The Earthquake label is part of the Michael David Family of Wines, the makers of one of my favorites, Seven Deadly Zins Zinfandel. Earthquake is another fine example of this wine. Earthquake has a little bit of Syrah and Petit Sirah blended in which gives it a nice balance.

This Zinfandel isn’t for those looking for a subtle wine as it’s anything but. The nose has plum, cinnamon, and mulled berry fruit notes with a palate of jam-filled black raspberry and vanilla and a hint of pie crust and mocha. The finish lingers with spice and plum goodness. It’s a big, yet smooth wine, perfect for the big blues guitar of Philip Sayce. Enjoy!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chris Parkening & Veuve Cliquot

In honor of Christmas, I’m featuring one of the most brilliant classical guitarists ever to pick up the instrument. Christopher Parkening was a student of the late Andres Segovia and carries on his legacy magnificently. As a Christian, Chris plays in the tradition of J.S. Bach who said, “The aim and final reason of all music is none else but the glory of God.” Bach signed many of his compositions with the initials S.D.G., which stands for Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone the glory). I’ve included several pieces by Bach as well as several Christian Hymns from Chris’ repertoire, including a live performance of Bach’s magnificent Cantata #29, also known as “We Thank Thee Lord.” Chris is one of the few guitarists that plays it at the intended tempo and it is one of the most beautiful pieces for classical guitar. I hope you enjoy his music. Have a Merry Christmas!

Bach’s Cantata #29:

Prelude #1 by Bach:

Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring:

Fairest Lord Jesus:

Ave Maria with Kathleen Battle:


Deep River:

Evening Prayer:

Spanish Dance:

Miller’s Dance:

Capriol Suite:


Veuve Cliquot Non-vintage Yellow Label Champagne. ($29.00) is Cliquot-Ponsardin’s signature non-vintage Brut. It’s loved all over the world for its crisp, full flavors and consistent quality. This classical dry Champagne is a blend of two-thirds black grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) for body, balanced with one-third Chardonnay for elegance. It has a golden Champagne color and fine persistent bubbles that tickle the nose with a lovely bouquet. There flavors of quince, apples, peaches, and pecans with a hint of toast and vanilla. It rated a 91 by Wine Spectator and it’s the perfect accompaniment to the music of Chris Parkening and the holiday season. Enjoy!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Clive Carroll & Craggy Range Pinot Noir

Clive Carroll has been described as“the best and most original young acoustic guitar player and composer in Britain” by Acoustic Guitar Magazine. Born April 8, 1975, he plays a diverse range of music including Celtic, jazz, and blues. He took up the guitar at the age of twelve, and in 1998, eleven years later, achieved a 1st Class Honours degree in Classical Guitar& Composition from Trinity College of Music, London.

Clive has been awarded a dizzying array of prizes including;

1994 John Halford Prize for Composition

1994 Gladys Puttick Memorial Prize for Extemporisation

1997 Ivor Mairants Guitar Award

1997 Continuum Ensemble ~ National Improvisation Competition (Finalist)

1998 Gladys Puttick Memorial Prize for Extemporisation

1998 Montagu Cleeve Prize for Guitar

1999 Essex Young Musician of the Year

He’s played with guitar greats such as John Renbourne, John Williams, and Tommy Emmanuel, and in 2004 was included in Total Guitar Magazine's “Top 10 Acoustic Guitarists of all Time”. He is the only guitar player to win the Essex Young Musician of the Year (1999). His music is the perfect way to start the week leading into Christmas.

Eliza’s Eyes:

One Take:

Mississippi Blues:


Aerial Discoveries:

Celtic Number Live:


Promise of Spring:

Kildimo Set:

Jazzy Blues:


Acoustic Routes:

With Tommy Emmanuel:

With Jeff Robb:

With Alexander Gismonti:

I’ve been reviewing wines under $25.00 and have noticed a price creep on several of my favorites over the past three years, so in keeping with the creep, I’m going to raise my price ceiling to $30.00. And it’s just in time for today. With a classy guitarist like Clive Carroll, I’m recommending a 2008 Craggy Range Pinot Noir 2008 ($30.00). New Zealand’s Craggy Range winery consistently produces award winning wines and their Pinot Noirs have garnered 90+ ratings from every critic for the past five years. The 2008 came in at #42 on Wine Spectator’s top 100 wines for 2010 list. The wine is black cherry red with dark fruit aromas of black cherry, boysenberry and wild flowers. Flavors of the same dark fruits with a touch of spice create a dense, yet elegant wine with a finish of red berries and silky smooth tannins. Wine Spectator rated it 93 while Wine Advocate gave it a 91. I’d rate it one of the best Pinot’s I’ve tasted, definitely a favorite and the perfect accompaniment to Clive Carroll. Enjoy!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Marcus Miller & Zaca Mesa Viognier

Marcus Miller is a jazz bassist, composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. He spent fifteen years as a sideman for a variety of band leaders and musicians even taking a stint as the bassist in the Saturday Night Live band from 1978 to 1979. He’s known for his slapping technique as well as his thumb playing. His discography is extensive as is his resume of artists with whom he’s played. He’s won Grammy awards as a producer for Miles Davis, Luther Vandross, David Sanborn, Bob James, Chaka Khan, and Wayne Shorter. He won a Grammy for best song in 1992 for “Power of Love” performed by Luther Vandross and another in 2001 for best contemporary jazz album. As a former bassist, I can tell you he is one fine muscian. Hope you like his music.

Teen town:



Power of Soul:

Goodbye Pork Pie Hat:

Higher Ground:


So What:

Burning down the house:


Live under the sky:

I’m pairing Mr. Funkensmooth with a Zaca Mesa Santa Ynez Viognier. My wife is not a fan of white wine but she really loved this one. It has an aroma of apricot, peach, and citrus with a touch of wild honeysuckle. Flavors of melon, apricot, and peach dominate with a touch of butter reminicent of a good California Chardonnay. In fact, it’s taste is like a hybrid of Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc. It has a tart, juicy mouthfeel and crisp dry finish. Very nice for kicking back to some funk and jazz with Mr. Miller. Enjoy!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Angus Young & Blackstone Sonoma Reserve Rubric

I’m in the midst of a horrendous travel schedule and anyone who’s flown lately knows how frustrating that can be. But nothing releases stress more than some good old head banging rock and roll. So tonight I’m featuring someone whom I consider to be one of the most underrated rock guitarists of modern times. Angus McKinnon Young (born 31 March 1955) is the Scottish-born Australian lead guitarist, songwriter, and co-founder of AC/DC. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame along with other members of AC/DC in 2003 and is known for his energetic performances, schoolboy-uniform stage outfits, and the duck walk which is a type of dance he performs onstage. Throughout his career he has exclusively played Gibson SG guitars, an axe that’s near and dear to my heart as I used to play a Gibson EB3 bass. But unlike little ole me, he has his own signature model. In contrast to many of his counterparts in the rock genre, he’s a teetotaler, which makes it a bit strange that I’m pairing him with a wine. Angus’ playing style is straight blues in both the minor and major twelve bar pentatonic scales. His rifts get your blood pumping, head nodding, and feet stomping. A great way to kick-start the weekend. Enjoy!


Highway to Hell:

Rock and Roll Train:

You shook me all night long:

Back in black:

Shoot to thrill:

Anything goes:

Black ice:

Fire your guns:

Let there be rock:


Whole lot of Rosie:

With a power guitarist, I’ve got to have a power wine like the 2007 Blackstone Sonoma Reserve Rubric ($20.00). Blackstone is known for wines that are widely available and a good value, so it was interesting to try this Reserve level wine that blends Cabernet Sauvignon (55%), Malbec (14%), Cabernet Franc (8%), Petit Verdot (8%), Tannat (7%), Merlot (5%), and Petite Sirah (3%). The wine was aged in oak for 20 months.

Plum, black raspberry, and violet aromas are prominent on the nose with hints of vanilla and cedar. The wine is a bit tight on opening, so I recommend letting it air for about an hour. Once it’s aired a bit, it reveals flavors of rich berries with a layer of spice that leads to a finish of dark chocolate. The tannins are firm but yielding with solid acidity. All in all, a great wine to accompany the head banging rock and roll of Angus Young. Enjoy!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kevin Eubanks & Miro Cabernet

I hope y’all had a blessed Thanksgiving. After a long four-day weekend, we need something smooth to help us slide back into the weekday groove. I first heard Kevin Eubanks in 1988 when I was with the World Health Organization in Kuwait. He and his group were on a world tour and stopped over to give a free concert at the University’s outdoor soccer field just two blocks from my home. I was surprised at the turnout. Quite a few of the Kuwaiti youth were jazz fans and many had his recordings. Most people know him from his fifteen or so years leading the Tonight Show Band with Jay Leno. He’s a consummate guitarist, whether it’s acoustic or electric. The Tonight Show rarely let him show off his talents, but I think the selections below will more than demonstrate his musical virtuosity. I even inserted a number with him playing a duet with Pat Martino whom I reviewed two weeks ago. Kevin plays acoustic while Pat is on the electric. His music is a great way to kick off the week. Enjoy!


Blues Jam:



Up Close at the Blue Note:

With Dave Holland:


Heat of the Heat:

Live in Seattle:

Four Stix:  

Acoustic Guitar:

With Pat martino; Progressive:

Kevin pairs nicely with a 2007 Miro Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s dark purple garnet with aromas of wild berries, spicy pepper, mocha, and a touch of licorice. Let this wine open up for an hour or so and the tannins become smooth, coating the mouth in a balanced dry wine with flavors of blackberry, mocha, and raspberry with a slight bit of oak that adds complexity. The finish begs one to take another sip—just as listening to Kevin Eubanks makes you want more of his music. Enjoy!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

T-Cophony & White Cottage Cabernet Franc

I got hit by a bug this week and was down for the count, so I missed a blog or two. It’s gonna be a bit sparse this week due to the holiday, but let’s kick off the week with a special guitarist and wine. T-Cophony is a twenty-nine year old Japanese acoustic guitarist, although he also plays electric and a few other instruments. He’s a picker and tapper with a very sweet sound. Note his use of a double-necked guitar on a couple of the numbers. Interestingly, he has fought what he calls mental illness since he was a child due to a violent father with whom he has now reconciled. His music helps him control his mental issues, as it brings up good memories, places, and times instead of the ugliness. His music is written primarily for himself, an expression of his healing process more than any artistic desire, but when you listen to him, I think you’ll agree, he’s quite the artist…and healer. Enjoy!



Another Future:

Special Day:


Social Withdrawl:

October Sky:

The Meaning Of Life:

When Fall Asleep:

Dummy Amulet:


Vacillate: l

I’m pairing T-Cophony with a very special and hard-to-find wine. It’s a 2006 White Cottage Cabernet Franc. Normally, this one’s about $30.00 but it was on sale for $24.00. Cabernet Franc is one of my favorite wines and they’re hard to find. This one is from the upper reaches of Howell Mountain in Napa Valley, one of the premier growing regions. The White Cottage is a perfectly clear deep garnet color. When you swirl it, you’ll notice it’s got some serious legs. It aroma is bright and floral with cherry, blackberry, currant, and soft spice. It’s a lighter wine than a Cabernet Sauvignon, somewhere between it and a Pinot Noir in feel. Velvety and fresh, its taste is perfectly balanced with tart cherry, red currants and blackberries that finishes with a long, lingering tart to sweet sensation. Can you tell I liked it? I like drinking it alone sitting by a fire curled up in my favorite chair with a good book, but it goes with a plethora of foods. If you see this one, try it. You’ll like it, especially accompanied by the music of T-Caphony. Enjoy!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Charles Krug 2006 X Clones Cabernet & Pat martino

Missed posting on Friday as it was my birthday and things got away from me. Celebrated with a very special wine sent to me by a friend. Ordinarily I pair a wine with a guitarist, but tonight, because of the wine, I’m going to do the wine first and follow with an appropriate musician. The wine in question is the Charles Krug X Clones Cabernet Sauvignon. Now this wine is way, way beyond my $25.00 limit, but it was a special occasion and deserves a review. The X is actually the Roman numeral for ten, signifying that the wine was made from ten different Cabernet clones on the grounds of the winery. Opening the wine releases a heavenly aroma of dark berries and spice. The dark purple elixer has a rich mouthfeel, complex with notes of black cherry, blackberry, and coffee with soft tannins and an elegant finish of dark chocolate and toasty oak. Without question, this is one of the best Cabernets I’ve tasted. Thanks, Bob!

Now with an elegant wine like the X Clone Cab, I have to pull an equally classy guitarist from my archives. So tonight, meet Pat Martino, one of my favorite jazz guitarists and one of the greats of the genre, and his story is truly amazing. Born Pat Azzara in Philadelphia in 1944, he began playing the guitar at the age of twelve. During visits to his music teacher Dennis Sandole, Pat often ran into another gifted student, John Coltrane, who would treat the young musician to hot chocolate as they talked about music. Pat’s father was a jazz singer who took him to the city clubs to see all the greats like Wes Montgomery and others. He left school after tenth grade to devote himself full time to music. Pat became actively involved with the early rock scene in Philadelphia, alongside stars like Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon and Bobby Darin. Later, he moved to Harlem, New York to study soul jazz. He became a jazz icon by the age of twenty.

In 1976, while performing internationally with his fusion group “Joyous Lake” Martino began experiencing seizures, which were eventually diagnosed as arteriovenous malformation. In 1980, doctors discovered Pat had a severe brain aneurysm, a potentially fatal condition, so he underwent surgery. But after the operation he faced the biggest challenge of his life—amnesia. He barely recognized his parents and had no memory of his guitar or his career. He later commented that he felt as if he had been "dropped cold, empty, and naked into a new body."

In the following months, Martino made a remarkable recovery. Through intensive study of his own historic recordings, and with the help of computer technology, Pat managed to reverse his memory loss and return to form on his instrument. Today, he’s thriving and lives in Philly. To me, the crowning achievement, made all the more meaningful because of the hard road he had to travel, was his award as Guitar Player of the Year in Downbeat Magazine's 2004 Reader's Poll. I hope you enjoy the music of this gifted and incredibly tough guitarist.

Episode thirty:

The Great Stream:


Oleo 1:


Willow Weep for Me:

How Insensitive:

Along came Betty:

I remember Clifford:  



Do you have a name?:

These are soulful days:



Sunday, November 7, 2010

Larry Graham & Wairau Sauvignon Blanc

Another weekend comes to a close, but there’s still time for a little fun, so tonight I’m featuring a pioneer in the bass guitar world, Larry Graham. Larry first appeared as the bassist in the psychedelic soul/funk band Sly and the Family Stone. He followed with his own group, Graham Central Station and later launched out in a solo career. He’s been nominated for a number of Grammys and has received numerous awards including being ranked it the top ten rock bassists of all time by several magazines. He is credited as the inventor of slap bass technique, something that has been confirmed by a number of bass luminaries like Stanley Clark and Marcus Miller. So get ready to groove. Enjoy!


Super slap:

Funk Bass at its best:



Dance to the Music:

With Stanley Clarke:

With the P-Funk Allstars:

Graham Central Station:

The Jam:

Release yourself:


Groove On:

Larry Graham makes me think of summer fun. It was 70 degrees here today, a beautiful example of Indian summer, so I’m pairing him with a wine that speaks of hot fun in the summertime, namely a 2009 Wairau Sauvignon Blanc. The Wairau Valley is in the Marlborough region of New Zealand, a country where around 60% of the wine grape crush is Sauvignon Blanc and 85% comes from Marlborough, the region at the northern tip of the country. The Wairau version is typically zesty, with a nose full of grapefruit-like zing and lime, the same notes in its flavor with added hints of gooseberries pineapple. It’s a versatile wine that goes well with chicken or fish, but works just fine for sipping and enjoying a balmy fall evening. A very refreshing wine just made for grooving to the music of Larry Graham.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Jackson Browne & Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc

Jackson Brown has always been one of my favorite troubadors. He’s an excellent guitarist, but he excels at lyrics. All of the selections below are acoustic versions. Listen to the version of “In the Shape of a Heart,” a song overflowing with emotion. The first time I heard the acoustic version, it reduced me to tears. His soulful voice just conjures up a certain despondency over a broken relationship. But he does have a playful side as you’ll see in the video version of Free Bird. It’s good music to help you unwind from the week. Enjoy!

In the shape of a heart:

These Days: 


Just Say Yeah:

Running on Empty:

Opening Farewell with Bonnie Rait:

Your bright baby blues:

Something fine:

For Everyman:

Take it Easy:

I am a Patriot:

The Drums of War:

Looking East: 

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is supposed to be the quintessential Marlborough, New Zealand SB. It runs between $30-$33.00 a bottle, so technically, it’s out of my price range. But on a recent business trip, I had the opportunity to try it. Its aromas are characteristic of the region with lemon, grapefruit, and pineapple nuances. The palate combines a touch of grapefruit with orange and lime zest along with balanced acidity. It’s crisp, clean on the finish, and refreshing. But it’s price is bothersome. Is this wine better than Whitehaven SB ($21.00/bottle) or Kim Crawford ($18.00/bottle)? I don’t think so. It’s a good wine, but about $10.00 overpriced. But should you run across a bottle, by all means, try it. Meantime, I’ve got a bottle Kim Crawford that should be chilled to perfection, so it’s time to kick back and listen to the soulful sounds of Jackson Browne and let the week unwind.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Jeff Healy & Cancer Research

Years ago, I saw a Patrick Swazye movie entitled “Roadhouse.” Swayze plays a traveling bouncer hired by a small town bar. The bar’s band was led by a blind blues guitarist playing a Fender Stratocaster across his lap. His style was so unique and incredibly good, that I looked him up and discovered Jeff Healey. Born in 1966, Jeff was adopted as an infant and at the age of eight months was strickened with retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer that took his eyesight. Because of the possibility of metastasis, his eyes were removed and he was given artificial replacements.

He began playing guitar at the age of three, developing his unique style of playing it flat on his lap. At 17, he formed his first band, Blue Direction, playing bar-band cover tunes. But shortly thereafter, he met up with bassist Joe Rockman and drummer Tom Stephen and formed a trio, the Jeff Healey Band. In 1988, he signed with Arista Records and released his first album, “See The Light,” that contained the song Hideaway and was nominated for a Grammy for best Rock Instrumental Perfomance. At the same time they were recording “See The Light,” they were recording the sound track for “Roadhouse.”

Over the years, Jeff toured with numerous greats including Stevie Ray Vaughn, Dire Straits, Buddy Guy, BB King, ZZ Top, Steve Lukather, and Eric Clapton. Jeff had several more relapses of the cancer and on March 2, 2008 finally succumbed to its lung metastases. He is survived by his wife Cristie and two children. Retinoblastoma is genetically inherited and his son also has the disease. So listen to the incredible sounds of a fantastic guitarist and instead of suggesting a wine, how about you take the twenty or so bucks and send it off to one of the many cancer research foundations for children. Enjoy!


At the Islington Academy:



Stuck in the Middle With You:

Roadhouse Blues:

Confidence Man:

See the Light:

Yer Blues:

Breaking Down Blues:

Blue Jean Blues:

Joined At The Heart:

On Letterman:

Canada AM Blues:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Joe Robinson & Brachetto d'Aqui

I’m on a youth kick right now and tonight I want to introduce 18 year-old Joe Robinson, the winner of the 2008 “Australia’s Got Talent” show. He also won the 2009 World Championship of Performing Arts competition in Hollywood, CA in a field of over 75,000 participants. More recently he was voted “Best New Talent” by the readers of Guitar Player Magazine. When you hear him, you’ll know why. Note the similarities between his arrangement of Classical Gas and that of Calum Graham. Both guitarists got the arrangement from Tommy Emmanuel, whom both idolize. The same is true for Joe's medley of Daytripper and Lady Madonna. Ah, to be young again.

Struttin it:

The Chatterbox:

Daddy Longlicks:

Midnight in Nashville:



Daytripper/Lady Madonna:

Classical Gas:

Mr. Sandman:



Jiffy Jam:

Since I’m having a little fun featuring the youth of guitardom, I thought I’d do a “fun” wine, namely Rosa regale Brachetto d'Aqui 2008 ($18.00). this is a semi-dry, red sparkling wine that was once cherished by the courts of Europe two hundred years ago. Rosa Regale is created in one of Italy’s smallest production zones, the Brachetto d’Acqui Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, and is made from 100% Brachetto grapes grown exclusively at the La Rosa Vineyard in the town of Acqui Terme located in the Piedmont region of Italy. It’s aroma is like a spritzy cranberry cocktail with lots of red fruit on the palate. It’s a fun, not too serious wine that’s great for summer. Drink it chilled. Oh yeah, it also comes in a cool bottle and has an alcohol content of only 5.5%, similar to a beer. So put some fun in your week and enjoy a glass as you listen to rockin Joe Robinson and try not to feel too old. Have a great weekend!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Calum Graham & Lake Sonoma Cabernet

Calum Graham, an 18-year-old phenom, has exploded onto the guitar scene in the short five years he’s been playing. Watching and listening to him makes me wonder why I ever thought I could play. He has a beautiful sense of melody, his left and right hand technique is incredible, and his upbeat style gets my head to bobbin. He won First Place at the 2010 Canadian Guitar Festival with his original compositions. It’s the first time a teenager has ever won. The previous year, a First Place finish at the 2009 Calgary Stampede Talent Search qualified him to compete in Nationals at the C.Y.T.C where he also finished first. He just released his first CD entitled “Sunny Side Up.” Check out “Hella Good,” his arrangement of a Gwen Stefani tune and keep on dancing! I’m no prophet, but I see a long and fruitful career ahead for him. Enjoy!

Hella Good:

Sunny Side Up:

Tears On My Toes:

Thru The Photo Album:

Classical Gas:

Anybody Home:


1St Place song:

The Best Day Ever:



Since Calum is under 21, I suppose I should review a root beer…nah! He won’t be able to enjoy it for a few years, but you can. Tonight I’m featuring a smooth, elegant 2006 Lake Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley Wines ($18.00). Inky purple with a bouquet filled with red and dark fruit, it has flavors of red raspberry, cassis, currants, and cocoa. Great balance with solid tannins and a lengthy finish. Wine Enthusiast gave it a 91 & so do I. So, start the week off with a bit of guitar groove and a bottle of Lake Sonoma Cabernet. And if you’re underage, have your parents put a bottle away for your 21st birthday. It’ll age well. Enjoy!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Muris Varajic and Monthaven Cabernet from Octavin

Saturday nite and I’m gonna pep it up a bit with the music of a guitarist whose life story could be turned into a movie. Muris Varajic is a Bosnian born September 24th, 1979 in the town of Foca in Bosnia & Herzegovina. He was quite the student in his early childhood with a passion for math and science. But in 1992, war broke out and his family was forced to move to Sarajevo to avoid the ethnic cleansings carried out by the Serbs. Sarejevo, however, was a war zone without food, water, gas, or electricity. No place was safe and people were routinely killed in the streets. It forced Muris to stay inside where he taught himself to play the guitar by picking out the licks of Mark Knopfler, David Gilmour, Joe Satriani, Chet Atkins, and Steve Vai, sometimes practicing seven hours a day. In 1994 he enrolled the Music High School in Sarajevo and received his first formal music education.

Since then, he’s become a rock star in Bosnia, playing with some of their biggest groups and working additionally as a studio musician and hired gun. As you’ll see, he is a true virtuoso. Enjoy!

Final Dance:

Junk Medley:

Zajdi Zajdi:

Mojo Oro:



Flight of the bumblebee:

Django Rules:

Play For Me 2:


2008 Guitar Idol final:

Kalajdzisko oro:

Since it’s Saturday nite and we’ve got a true rocker on tap, let’s go with a wine tap, but not just any wine tap, Monhaven’s Cabernet Sauvignon in a box from Octavin. Cab’s often need to be exposed to air for a bit before drinking and while this one was good right from the box, decanting some into a pitcher and letting it air for 30 minutes really opens it up and softens it a bit. It’s deep purple with aromas of cherry and blackberry that follow in the mouth with a few hints of cassis and chocolate. By the way, it also goes great with dark chocolate. What could be better than dark chocolate, three liters of a very nice Cab, and the music of Muris Varajic? Can you say, “Party?” Enjoy!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Masa Sumide & Michel Redd Sancerre

Tonight I’ve got a very special guitarist for you all the way from Japan. Masa Sumide is a groovemaster par excellence. He plays with finesse and flawless technique. He started out in the world of hard rock influenced by bands like Deep Purple, Led Zepplin, and Grand Funk Railroad. Later, he was influenced by jazz guitarist Joe Pass and acquired a jazz bent. He’s toured with Laurence Juber, Andy McKee, Don Alder, and Tommy Emmanuel. I think you’re going to like him. Enjoy!



Keep Rockin:

Hop, Step, & Funk:


If Dreams Had Wings:

Dancer’s Delight:


Soul Night:

When You Smile:

Say No More:

Between A Rock & A Hard Place:

I’m pairing Masa with my favorite class of white wine, namely a Sauvignon Blanc. The Michel Redde 2007 Sancerre is a clean, crisp bit of ambrosia with a bouquet full of Granny Smith apples and citrus and flavors of more apples, grapefruit, and lemon finishing with a tangy, balanced acidity. It’s an elegant wine for these days of Indian summer and the groove of Masa Sumide. Enjoy!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Allman Brothers & Saintsbury Pinot Noir

Tonight, I’m going to kick off the week with a bang. One of my all-time favorite groups was the Allman Brothers Band. I’ve seen them in concert three times, once with Duane on lead guitar, once with Warren Haynes and Dickey Betts, and finally with Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks. They’re southern rock style is timeless and as good today as it was back in their beginnings. I’ve got some rare footage of the band with Duane before his untimely death. I have a soft spot in my heart for Whipping Post. I used to play solo acoustic guitar in coffee houses back in the late sixties and early seventies and one night one of my best friends walked in with my ex-girlfriend who’d jilted me for him. I couldn’t help it but launch into an impromptu acoustic medley of Whipping Post and Feeling All right, by Steve Winwood. The audience apparently picked up on the vibe and cheered as the two stood and made a hasty exit. It was one of the sweetest moments of my musical career. But not as sweet as the music of the Allman Brothers. Two of my favorites are included below: Statesboro Blues and Southbound. Enjoy!

Whipping Post:

Don’t Keep Me Wondering:

In Memory of Elizabeth Reed:

Midnight Rider

Blue Sky:

Statesborough Blues:

Layla (with Eric Clapton):


Stormy Monday:

Ain’t Wastin Time No More:

Woman Across The River:

You Don’t Love Me:

End of The Line:


With a sweet band like the Allman Brothers, I suggest a honey of a Pinot Noir, namely Saintsbury Carneros, 2007 ($20.00). The vines that produce this lovely elixir are clones from Pommard giving the wine powerful and elegant notes of sour cherry, blackberry, and spice. The bouquet is loaded with cherry goodness. It’s a drier Pinot that gives it balance and a long, luscious finish. Try a bottle while you do a little southern boogie to the music of the Allman Brothers. Enjoy!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Kelly Joe Phelps and Monthaven Merlot from Octavin wines

Kelly Joe Phelps has established himself as a virtuoso guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He mixes folk, blues, and a little bit of jazz and has garnered accolades from the likes of Bill Frisell, Steve Earl, and Cameron Crowe. He’s been featured on NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ and ‘Prairie Home Companion’ as well as numerous BBC and other national radio shows throughout Europe, Australia and Japan. Kelly Joe is a versatile improviser with the ability to put a new spin on a song every time he plays. His imaginative style merges multiple styles of music into his own unique blend. I hope you like him.

Country Blues:

Beggar’s oil:

Tight to the jar:

Window Grin:

Big Shakey:

Handfull of arrows:

Hellhound on my trail:

I been converted:

River Rat Jimmy:

I’d be a rich man:

Plumb line:

With Corrine West, River’s Fool:

With Corrine West, Whiskey Poet:

I used to keep the fact that I drink wine from a box a family secret. That was before I discovered Octavin wines. I reviewed their Silver Birch New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc back on July 27th, 2010 and was blown away at the incredible quality and value in this box of wine. Well, I’ve got two more to review and tonight, we’re pairing Kelly Joe with their Monthaven Merlot. It’s a well-balanced Merlot with aromas of cherry, plum, and dark berries that follow on the palate. It’s more on the dry side than jammy, which for me is just how I like my Merlot. Nice long finish. I’m astounded by the quality of these wines-in-a-box. They’re enough to make me give up glass—then again, maybe not. So tell Paul Giamatti and the movie Sideways to take a long walk off a short pier, get your self a box of Octavin’s Monthaven Merlot, and relax to the soulful sounds of kelly Joe Phelps. Enjoy!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Acoustic Covers Vol. 2 & Mount Langi Ghiran “Billi Billi” Shiraz

Volume two of acoustic guitarists doing covers of well known songs and I have to admit I went a little crazy. I couldn’t decide who to include…so I included all of my favorites. Jacques Stotzem is a contrast in styles. He plays some of the most lyrical and beautiful compositions, but underneath that sensitive exterior lies the heart of a rocker. I never imagined hearing Purple Haze on an acoustic guitar. And just in time for Halloween, check out the California Guitar Trio’s version of Tubular bells. Play that in the background as the kids come for trick or treat. Adam Rafferty is one of my all time favorite guitarists. He’s got a new YouTube channel that doesn’t seem to play anything, so I put the old videos on tonight’s blog. Just listen and disregard the notice that may show up on some of them. Last, but certainly not least, Tommy Emmanuel is as close as one gets to an acoustic shredder. He is amazing and if you want to hear more, check out my 6/28/09 blog. Enjoy!

Jacques Stotzem: (Reviewed 1/30/10)

With or Without You:

Fields of Gold:

Purple Haze:

Voodoo Child/Moonchild:

Shape of my Heart:

Heart of Gold:

California Guitar Trio (Reviewed 1/1/10)

Bohemian Rhapsody:

Tubular Bells:

Classical Gas:

Adam Rafferty (Reviewed 11/12/09)

Rock with you:

I wish:


Off the wall:

Billie Jean:

With Tommy Emmanuel; Superstition:

Tommy Emmanuel (Reviewed 6/28/09)

Day Tripper/Lady Madonna:

Here comes the sun:

House of the rising sun:

Heartbreak Hotel:

To accompany this round of cover experts, I recommend a 2008 Mount Langi Ghiran “Billi Billi” Shiraz ($15.00). It’s dark red in color with aromas of plum, cherry and chocolate. The wine feels full in the mouth. Flavors of blackberry, chocolate, and coffee spiced with pepper linger through a long finish. It’s not jammy, but rather dry, a good thing in my book. As the wine sat exposed to air for about an hour, it really opened up and showed good balance of fruit and spice. Enjoy!


Friday, October 8, 2010

Acoustic Covers vol. I and Domaine Fournier Les Belle Vignes Sancerre

I’m back from a vacation that included stops in Boston and Kansas City as well as a drive up the coast of Maine. Tasted lots of new wines and had a couple of memorable dinners that I will describe and recommend in the coming week.

I’m always amazed at how some of the acoustic guitarists I’ve reviewed over the past two years can take a song performed by an entire band and reduce it to an incredible solo song for guitar. I’m going to do a two-part special on these guys and their creative guitar work. Tonight, I’m featuring the work of three of my favorites: Andy McKee, the late Eric Roche, and Kelly Valleau. Andy is an incredible picker with a tone that is rich. Check out his work on the harp guitar on “Into the Ocean.” Eric has always been one of my favorites. His percussive style is often imitated, never duplicated. You can hear it on “She Drives Me Crazy” and “Teen Spirit.” Kelly Valleau is an outstanding classical guitarist with a twist as you’ll see when you listen to his renditions of covers of songs by Metallica, Pink Floyd, and Kansas. Quite a far cry from a traditional classical musician. Hope you enjoy Acoustic Covers Volume I.

Andy McKee

Everybody wants to rule the world:

Into the Ocean:

Stairway to Heaven:


With Jacques Stotzen: Come together:

Eric Roche:


She Drives Me Crazy:

Teen Spirit:

Kelly Valleau:

Another brick in the wall:

The Unforgiven:

Mad World:

Dust in the Wind:

The Scientist:


As readers of this blog may know, I love Sauvignon Blanc, and while some of my favorites hail from New Zealand, the French versions, known as Sancerre, are just as delicious. So tonight I’m featuring a 2008 Sancerre from Domaine Fournier Les Belle Vignes. It’s a lively, pale gold that opens with a floral aroma laced with citrus and develops on the palate with the tastes of grapefruit and lemon laced with an undertone of green apples. It has a dry, clean finish that lingers nicely. At $20.00 a bottle, it’s in the range of the New Zealand SB’s and a much better value (and tasting experience) than many of the overpriced and overrated California versions. Autumn is upon us, (but you’d never know it here in Nebraska where we had a record high of 91 today) so grab a bottle of Sancerre and kick back to some great acoustic guitar. Enjoy!


Friday, October 1, 2010

John Hammond & Storybook Mountain Zinfandel

I'm taking a week off from blogging after tonight. Going on vacation so I'll see ya when I return, but I'll leave off with a real treasure. John Hammond is a force of nature. He is the quintessential acoustic blues troubour, playing his guitar, with a rack harmonica around his neck, and an intensely expressive voice. He was instrumental in the blues renaissance that began in the late 50’s and early 60’s and, as a passionate ambassador of the genre, is responsible for keeping alive many of the classics by Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, and Skip James. He began playing guitar while attending a private high school, and he was particularly fascinated with slide guitar technique. Once he saw his idol Jimmy Reed perform, he was never the same. He attended Antioch College in Ohio on a scholarship for a year, but left to pursue a career as a blues musician. By 1962, with the folk revival starting to heat up, Hammond had attracted a following in the coffeehouse circuit, performing in the tradition of the classic country blues singers.

Later, in 1966, while he was living in New York’s Greenwich Village, Hammond was approached by a young Jimi Hendrix, looking for work. Hammond put a band together, and got the group work at the Cafe Au Go Go. By that point, the coffeehouses were falling out of favor, and instead the bars and electric guitars were coming in with folk-rock. Some time later, Hendrix was approached by Chas Chandler, the bassist with the animals, who took him to England to record. Hedrix is dead but John still plays on.

Hammond has played with Eric Clapton, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Duane Allman, Mike Bloomfield, JJ Cale, Tom Waits, The Band, John Lee Hooker, and many, many more. He’s won several Grammy’s and had a ton of Grammy nominations. He’s a classic and if you like Delta Blues, you’re gonna love him. Enjoy!

Mother-in-Law blues:

Kind Hearted Woman:

I got rambling on my mind:

Drop down Mama/Come on in my kitchen:

Foolin around:

Sail on:

Slick Crown Vic:

Found True Love:

Who do you Love:

She’s tough:

Up the line: 

Fattening Frogs:

Heartache blues:

Lightening Slim cover:

Jitterbug Swing:

Come find out:

Get behind the mule:

One classic deserve another so I’m recommending a 2006 Storybook Mountain Macayamas Range Zinfandel to enjoy with his music. Just over my usual price limit at $26.00 on sale, but it’s worth the extra buck. Macayamas Range Zinfandel is Storybook Mountain's signature estate wine. It's a classic, beautiful, wildly fruited Zin. You don’t usually use the word “elegant” for a Zin, but in this case, it’s appropriate. Deep red in color and packed with varietal character without being jammy, the wine’s bouquet is filled with raspberry and blackberry aromas. On the palate, it starts with bright, fresh boysenberry flavors with wild fruit overtones that transition to black raspberry as it airs. It’s got some serious structure and length of finish, almost Bordeaux-like. But it’s still a Zin, friendly, fun, and sure to brighten anyone’s mood in the dead of winter as it summery character recalls better weather. So get yourself two bottles of this classic wine. Drink one now as you listen to the classic blues of John Hammond and lay the other away for one of those cold nights in January when summer seems so far away. Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kirk Lorange & Wild Horse Pinot Noir

Kirk Lorange is an outstanding slide guitarist, little known outside of his home country Australia. He’s not new to the scene having been a professional guitarist since the late sixties. While he’s played in a plethora of musical groups, I think he’s best known for his teaching techniques, particularly for his book and videos, Plane Talk, and a website,  that has over 100,000 subscribers. His acoustic work is amazing, but his electric tone and slide work is killer. If you want to learn a few licks, sit down and watch. Enjoy!

Yuppy Blues:

Blackwood strut:

Never mind the rain:

Come a long way:

Rust red dust:

Sixteen twenty-five:

Little wing improv:

The water is wide:

Georgia on my mind:

Scratch my itch:

Three piece suit: 

Salt wind:

Slow blues:

Stormy Monday:

I’m going to recommend a 2007 Wild Horse Pinot Noir to go with Kirk. It has distinct floral notes in the aroma along with a bit of strawberry and cherry. In the mouth it opens with intense flavors of black raspberry, cranberry, and strawberry and finishes with a bit of rhubarb. Wild Horse is low on acid, rich and soft with a ripe, yet fresh feel. Very nice at $23.00. So pour yourself a glass, plant yourself in front of your computer screen with a guitar in your lap, your preference of a glass or metal slide on your pinky, and try playing some blues. Enjoy!


Monday, September 27, 2010

Pat Metheny and Eight Songs Shiraz

I’m in Washington D.C. tonight, getting ready to present my research on improving the surgical removal of tumors at a science conference. I’m going to kick off the week with one of the finest jazz guitarists on the face of the earth, namely Pat Metheny. Pat was born in Kansas City on August 12, 1954 into a musical family. He started out playing the trumpet at the age of 8, but switched to guitar at age 12. By the age of 15, he was working regularly with the best jazz musicians in Kansas City. At 18, he was the youngest teacher ever at the University of Miami, where he met and joined forces with another young prodigy, Jaco Pastorius. Check out the video of the two young’ins playing an early gig. At 19, he became the youngest teacher ever at the Berklee College of Music, where he also received an honorary doctorate more than twenty years later (1996).

While he was at Berklee, he hooked up with vibraphone great Gary Burton and began a three year stint traveling and performing with him. It was while working with Burton that he developed his trademark playing style that blends the loose and flexible articulation customarily reserved for horn players with an advanced rhythmic and harmonic sensibility. His playing and improvising are deeply grounded the jazz tradition of melody, swing, and the blues, yet he brings a modern sense of composition to his music. Look carefully at his unorthodox picking style that includes using the rounded, thick end of the pick. Also, check out the Pikasso guitar made for him by luthier Linda Manzer. With 42 strings it must have monster bracing to keep the top from exploding.

Over the years, Metheny has won countless polls as "Best Jazz Guitarist" and has garnered 17 Grammy Awards spread out over a variety of different categories including Best Rock Instrumental, Best Contemporary Jazz Recording, Best Jazz Instrumental Solo, Best Instrumental Composition. In fact, his group won an unprecedented seven consecutive Grammies for seven consecutive albums. What’s even more amazing to me, road warrior that I am, is that he has spent most of his life on tour, averaging between 120-240 shows a year since 1974. Talk about frequent flyer miles, the guy’s probably on par with George Clooney’s character in the movie, Up In The Air. He’s a tremendous musician and his music is a great way to kick off the week. Enjoy!


Have You Heard:

As It Is:

Into the Dream (Check out the weird Pikasso guitar):

With Jaco Pastorius:

Last Train Home:

Slip Away:

Close to Home:

Here to Stay:

Heat of the Day:

Spring Ain’t here:

Phase Dance:

To go with the mello sounds of Pat Metheny, I recommend a 2000 Peter Lehmann Eight Songs Shiraz (normally $30; on sale for $20.00). It’s rare to find a ten year old wine like this, especially at my local grocery store. It has a northern Rhone nose that belies a classic Aussie palate of blackberry, black cherry, coffee, and chocolate, accented by exotic spices and a finish that seems to go on forever. This is a really nice Shiraz that ten years of aging have made into a great wine. Wine spectator gave it 92 points. Combine it with the music of Pat Metheny and you’ve got a perfect score. Enjoy!


Friday, September 24, 2010

Jimmy Page & Pinot Noirs

Do I really need to say anthing about Jimmy Page? I first heard him after he joined the Yardbirds upon Jeff Beck’s departure. I can remember cranking the volume of my Mom’s black Chevy Impala as I cruised the night to the pulsating beat of “Whole Lotta Love.” Their first album (yeah, vinyl) was one of my favorites and of all the songs on it, “Since I Been Lovin You” was a mind-blower. Friday night and time to kick back. Enjoy!

50 Years of Jimmy Page:


Stairway to Heaven:

Top 10 solos:

Classic rock documentary:

Arena-Heavy Metal:

Heart full of stone (Yardbirds): 

The Immigrant song:

The song remains the same:

Since I been loving you:

Whole lotta love:

Tonight’s Pinot Noir comparison is rather striking. First up is a 2008 Guarachi Family Sonoma Coast Pinot ($42.00) that Wine Spectator rated a 94. They said it was “impressive for its richness, depth and layers of ripe cherry, wild berry and raspberry fruit, shaded by loamy earth and black licorice notes that continue to build and expand. Full-bodied, ending with a long, persistent finish that focuses on the fruit themes.” I’d agree with some of their comments, but what I noticed most was the alcohol that dominated and drowned out the cherry fruit. In fact, the alcohol crushed any nuances on the palate, although they became somewhat more apparent (red fruit and vanilla) on the finish. Rather than blow forty bucks on this one, let me recommend something more in my “under $25.00 price range.”

With its bright ruby color, the 2008 Cartlidge and Browne Pinot emphasizes the wine’s classic ruby and garnet fruit. C&B is flush with strawberry richness, stony minerals, and smooth spices on the palate and nose. The mouth feel has a juicy, soft sweetness and wonderful, understated texture. It’s a solid American Pinot Noir, and as Robert Parker and the Wine Advocate state, “This winery is known for its excellent bargins and this Pinot is better than some five times the price,” especially at $14.00 a bottle. Like Jimmy Page, C&B Pinot Noir isn’t pretentious, just awesome. Enjoy!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tony Furtado & Belle Glos Pinot Noirs

At the age of 19, Tony Furtado won the second of two National Bluegrass Banjo Championships. But rather than launch out into a promising bluegrass career, he expanded creatively and picked up the slide guitar. The dexterity that he developed playing banjo served him well and it wasn’t long before he established himself as a solo folk artist complete with self-written songs and a voice to sing them. He’s toured with Greg Allman, Susan Tedeschi, Taj Mahal, Eric Johnson and shared the stage with the likes of Sonny Landreth, Keith Richards, David Lindley, Derek Trucks, and Norah Jones. His music hits the heartstrings of America as he draws for folk culture and current events transforming them into songs for the everyman. I hope you like him as much as I do.

Cypress Grove:

False Hearted Lover:

Live @ KINK Live:

Tony’s tune:

Rove Riley Rove:

Jack Haggerty:

Thirteen Below:

Runnin down a dream:

Molly & Tenbrooks:


Swayback Jim:

The Grenada Theater:

Stagger Lee:

Slide Technique:

Hartford & Drakes Bay:

Banjo Solo:

So tonight I begin reviewing some of the Pinot Noirs I had the opportunity to taste at a recent bash at my local wine shop. One could term it the ugly, the bad, and the good. Tonight we start with the ugly, but fear not, I have a good to go with it. The 2008 Belle Glos Clark & Telephone ($38.00) was rated 91 by Wine Spectator. They claimed it was bursting with aromas of cinnamon, caramel and hints of ginger-spiced tea. Must have been someone’s aftershave because I swear this is the first wine I’ve ever tasted that had no bouquet. And without the bouquet, there was no flavor. Very weak tasting. Interestingly, I reviewed Belle Glos’ entry level Pinot, the Meiomi, on July fourth of this year. In contrast, it had a wonderful bouquet of cranberries, cherries, plums and spice and a palate rich in berries with a touch of vanilla and oak. It was definitely a much better wine and cost only $22.00. My advice, get a bottle of their Meiomi Pinot Noir and tap your feet to the sliding sounds of Tony Furtado. Enjoy!