The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
The Death Whisperer Series available at

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sonny Landreth & Yalumba Barossa Patchwork Shiraz

Sonny Landreth is a soulful and exceptional slide guitarist. He’s one of the best at playing single notes, fretting chords and chord fragments behind the slide. Landreth’s right-hand technique ain’t bad either as he taps, slaps, and picks the strings, using all of the fingers on his right hand.

Sonny’s been one of my favorites for decades and amassed a large following among his guitar peers. Notably Eric Clapton said Landreth is "probably the most underestimated musician on the planet and also probably one of the most advanced, and it puts me to shame.” Enjoy!

Blues Attack:

Slide Blues:

Next of Kindred Spirit:


Guitar Masters:

Crossroads festival: 

With Mark Knopfler, Gravy Train:

Key to the Highway:

World Away: 

With Eric Johnson:

With Eric Johnson II:

And with a hard-hitting guitarist like Sonny Landreth, let’s do a 2007 Yalumba Barossa Patchwork Shiraz from the Barossa Valley region of Australia. Dark red in color with an aroma of mixed cherry fruit, plums, and spice flavors. It’s a full bodied Shiraz with softly textured cherry, vanilla, cinnamon, and a touch of brown sugar on the palate. Complex, long finish with moderate tannins. Avery nice wine at $18.00. This wine plus some soulful slide by Sonny Landreth should get you through Monday.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Joe Pass & Wurtz Riesling

Just got back from “taking one for the company.” Had to attend the Miami Winter Symposium on Cancer Invasion and Metastasis in Miami Beach. Hmm, 75 degrees, white sand beach, wonderful hotel. Gee, it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it. It’s not easy coming back to the snow-covered Midwest.

One of the most amazing guitarists I’ve ever seen and heard was the late Joe Pass. While he played with such jazz luminaries as Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Milt Jackson, Benny goodman and many others, he was best known as a unaccompanied soloist with a style marked by a sophisticated sense of harmonics, walking bass lines, and chordal comping interspersed around melody lines. His sound had an almost funky character. I heard him back in 1976 as he toured with Oscar Peterson, one of the greatest jazz pianists to ever tickle the ivories and recall being mesmerized as I listened to him play. Hope you like him as much as I do.

Misc. Solo:

Satin Doll:

Joe’s Blues:

With Oscar Peterson:

Do nothing till you hear from me:

Lil Darlin:

Autumn Leaves:

Blues in G:

Blues for Hank:

Giant Steps:

Beautiful Love:

Tonight’s wine is a Wurtz Potate Dry Riesling 2008 from Rheinhessen, Germany; $14.00. Wurtz makes a very good modern Riesling. The color is quite pale (typical of young, dry Riesling) while the bouquet is loaded with green apple and quince. Dry and crisp, not as sweet as some, with the green apple coming forward in the front and mid-palate, complimented by flavors of lime, grapefruit, and mineral. It’s the perfect wine for just sipping but goes wonderfully with fish. If you,’re wondering, Potate means “cheers” in Latin. Very nice wine. Enjoy!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

James Taylor & Crane Brothers Brodatious

Since today is Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d feature a man who, in my opinion, writes some of the best love songs, or for that matter, any kind of songs, namely James Taylor. I first saw him when I was in college with a band consisting of Leeland Sklar, Danny Lortchmar, and Carol King. Although I was a professional bassist at the time, I decided to get serious about the acoustic guitar, so I bought a book that taught his finger picking style and did some serious wood shedding. His guitar style is magical. He plays so effortlessly that you don’t realize how complex his picking is. He is a rare artist.

And for a rare artist, we need a rare wine: Crane Brothers 2005 Brodatious. I bought six bottles of this wine through Wine Access ( ) for about $22.00 per bottle. It’s a micro-cuvee with only a few hundred cases made each year. Brodatious is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon; 40% Merlot; and 10% Syrah. It’s deep purple in color with a bouquet of red currents, cherries, and vanilla. A swirl around the glass shows off its very long legs. The palate is layered with an initial burst of cherry, crème de cassis, and blackberry followed by a middle layer of dark berries, mocha, a touch of vanilla, and supple tannins. Very long finish. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to find, but if you see a bottle snatch it up. It’s a treasure you shouldn’t pass up. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Fire & Rain:

Sweet Baby James:

Close your eyes:


You’ve got a friend:

Handy man:

Don’t let me be lonely tonight:

Chili Dog:

Angry Blues/Twist:


Country Road:

Carolina in my mind:

Something in the way she moves:


Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Prisoner & Peppino D'Agostino

Tonight, I’m going above my usual $25.00 price limit to review a real gem of a wine. Orin Swift “The Prisoner” is a must-try red wine from Dave Phinney. The Wine Spectator has selected The Prisoner as one of the magazine's Top 100 Wines of the Year three of the last five years and the 2008 will certainly fine its way onto this year’s list. The wine is an eccentric blend of 46% Zinfandel blended with 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, 10% Petite Sirah, 2% Charbono and 1% Grenache. It’s deep garnet red with a bouquet of ripe berries and cherries with a bit of cracked pepper. It was aged in both new and seasoned French and American oak and has just a hint of the wood. The wine is soft and round with cherry, black raspberry, cracked pepper and mocha, flavors and ripe tannins on the long, satisfying finish. It was about $40.00 through my wine shop but hey, Valentine’s day is coming and this would be a special wine for that extra special Valentine.

Italian guitarist Peppino D'Agostino has been described as a Renaissance man. He began playing guitar at the age of 10, initially taking a few lessons from his cousin, but quickly graduating to the school of self teaching. He studied all kinds of Irish, Brazilian, folk and classical music as well as the pop and rock music of the 1970s, particularly the work of Genesis, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Gentle Giant and Mike Oldfield. In addition to his concerts and recordings, he spends a considerable amount of time teaching guitar clinics. So, not only will his style captivate you, but paired with a bottle of The Prisoner, it should be a lock for the night. Enjoy!

No. 1:

Why Not:

With Brian Gore:

Blue Ocean:

Grand Canyon:

Fuida Bagadia:

Close to Heaven:

Beyond the dunes:

Live 2005:

A glimpse of times past:

Mediterranean Spark:

With Antoine Dufour:

Calypso Facto:


Monday, February 8, 2010

Ewan Dobson and Layer Cake Malbec

My featured guitarist tonight is Ewan Dobson, another of Canada’s up and coming brilliant young guitarists. His style is unique, and seems to be a fusion several genres. He’s won just about every Canadian Guitar competition and was recently crowned the Canadian Finger style Champion at the fifth annual competition in Kingston, Ontario. I think you’re gonna like him!
I know your pain:

I know your pain v.2:

Level 5:

Paganini Caprice #5:


Motion Potion:

Paganini’s Hip:


Blood and Ice:

And to go with Ewan, how about a smooth, rich Malbec? Argentina is the source of some of the finest Malbecs ever made. Their versions are often velvety textured with intense flavors of blackberry and peppery spice. Layer Cake is producing some of the best bargains in the world of wine these days. I recently reviewed their Shiraz, which was excellent, and tonight it’s their Malbec on the table. Typical of the variety, it has a complex nose of dark berry, pepper, chocolate, and coffee. Great fruit with a full-bodied texture on the palate with layers of blackberry, cherry, dark chocolate, and exotic spices, mild tannins, and a long finish. At $15.00 it made Robert Parker’s list of great wine bargains for good reason. It tastes more like a $50.00 bottle. Wine Advocate gave it a 91. I think it’s even better.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kenny Rankin & Layer Cake Shiraz

So another year of the Grammy’s has passed, complete with some of the oddest performances (Lady Ga Ga, Elton John, Pink) that I’ve ever seen. I’ve yet to hear Taylor Swift sing on-key and last night’s duet with Stevie Nicks on “Rhianna” was disasterous. Sweetheart, that’s what that little ear bud is for, so you can hear yourself. Of course, you do have to listen. Really enjoyed the tribute to Michael Jackson. Powerful vocals by Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Celene Dion, Usher, and Smokie Robinson. Great song, too. And as a Dave Mathews fan, he was great as always.

But while watching pictures of artists who died during 2009 I was shocked to see one of my all time favorites had passed on. Kenny Rankin, a phenomenal singer-songwriters and guitarist, died in June of 2009 of lung cancer. His career, which spanned more than five decades, was a combination of his smooth jazz guitar style and a velvet voice that marked his music. His credentials include penning Helen Reddy’s hit song, Peaceful,” playing in Bob Dylan’s backup band, and over 25 appearances on the Johnny Carson Show. The latter is where I first heard him. I later saw him in a tiny acoustically perfect theater in Chicago in 1978 and walked away in awe. He performed several Beatles covers and so impressed Paul McCartney that he had him play at his induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987. Check out his version of Blackbird, one of my favorites along with “Haven’t We Met” and “Catfish.” While he’s a fabulous guitarist, his tenor voice is unparalleled soaring through lyrics and jazz scatting alike. I saddened by his death, but hope you enjoy him as much as I have.

Haven’t we met:

Why do fools fall in love:  


When sunny gets blue:

Oh so peaceful here:


Round Midnight:


Peaceful (Later version):

Penny Lane:

You’d be so nice to come home to:

Hidin inside myself:

To listen to Kenny, one needs a rich full wine, so I suggest a Layer Cake Shiraz. It may be one of the best Shiraz’s on the market today for under $20.00. I paid $16 and it was a steal. It’s made from old vine Shiraz grown in the Barossa Valley in Australia. In the glass, It’s a deep purple color. Its nose explodes with concentrated black fruit, mocha, dark chocolate, and coffee beans. On the palate, its full of juicy blackberries, black cherries, cassis, and chocolate with just the right amount of pepper. It’s classic Shiraz. It’s included in Robert parker’s Wine bargains from The World's Best Wine Values Under $25.00 and Wine Advocate gave it 90 points. Great wine, great singer/songwriter/guitarist, enjoy!