The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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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!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Richard Smith and the Wine Find of the Year

Richard Smith was born in Beckenham, Kent, England in 1971. At the age of five, he picked up the guitar and soon surpassed his father in six-stringed prowess. His hero was Chet Atkins and at the age of eleven met and played with Chet. I’ve included a song from that performance here. His repertoire encompasses a diversity of styles including those of Django Reinhardt, Les paul, Lenny Breau, Chet Atkins, and Jerry Reed. In 2001, he won the Winfield Fingerpicking Championship. He’s paired up with one of my favorites, Tommy Emmanuel and keeps pace with the speedster. I think you’re going to like him.

Little bit of blues:


Guitar Medley:

Chet Shuffle:

With Tommy Emmanuel:

Ragtime Dance:

Lullabye for Madeline:

Theme to Masterpiece Theater:

With Chet Atkins at age 11:

The Watkins Man:

Windy and Warm:

The Cascades:

Beatles Medley:

With Tommy emmuel Seranade to Summetime:

With Tommy Emmanuel:

Before I continue with my Pinot Noir tasting exploits, I thought I’d re-review a wine I would designate my “Wine Find of the Year,” namely the 2008 Klinker Brick Farrah Syrah ($20.00). It bursts onto your nose with tons of fruit and explodes in your mouth with blackberry, plum, dark cherry, and sweet chocolate. It’s got a port-like character but very drinkable with smooth tannins and an incredibly long finish. One bit of warning: it’s 15% alcohol so it’s got a kick, but don’t be put off. The fruit dominates this delectable elixir and it goes great with the guitar of Richard Smith. Enjoy!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Dave Mathews & Whitehaven Pinot Noir

Dave Matthews is in Omaha this week so I thought I’d do a bit of his music tonight. He really doesn’t fit the category of an “up-and-coming guitarist/performer.” He’s more of an OMG-it’s-DMB type. He plays a lot of closed chords, that is, he picks the strings he fingers without allowing the open strings to augment his sound. Some of his chords are killers on your hand. I once heard someone comment that they though he wasn’t a very good guitarist. Well, try playing a few of his songs and singing at the same time. I think you’ll find he’s quite good.

Tripping Billies:

Ants Marching:

Grey Street:

One Sweet World:

Stuck on you:





Jimi Thing:

Two Step:

Seek up: 1

Typical Situation:

Christmas Song:

Went to a Pinot Noir tasting last night where the wines ranged in price from $15.00 to $60.00 a bottle. I found it very interesting in that the ones I personally liked the best were all under $30.00. In fact, the three pricy-est ones didn’t thrill me at all. One was rated a 94 by several reviewers but tasted strongly of alcohol with very little fruit/cherry character so characteristic of Pinots. Another that cost about $45.00 and was rated 91, had no bouquet. Really. No aroma, and that’s not my allergies talking. I’ll review them through the week, but I thought I’d start with one I really love that was not offered. I’ve reviewed it before, but it’s the best Pinot I’ve tasted. It’s a 2007 Whitehaven Pinot Noir from New Zealand, usually about $30.00 list price but I get it on sale for $23-$24.00. Beautiful bouquet of bing cherry and strawberry that follow on the palate. It’s a delicious, light, easy-drinking Pinot with just enough oak to compliment the fruit and an impressively long finish. Enjoy a bottle as you listen to Dave.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young & Steltzner Claret

Crosby Stills Nash and Young is one of my all-time favorite musical groups. The harmonies they created are unique even today. Drawn from Buffalo Springfield (Stills & Young), the Hollies (Nash) and the Byrds (Crosby), they rose during the Woodstock era full of anti-Vietnam war sentiment with a different twist on traditional fold-type songs. Suite Judy Blue Eyes is probably their most recognizable tune. Their rendition of the Joni Mitchell song, Long Time Gone, hits the heart of the Woodstock emotion. Last but not least, check out Southern Cross, one of their later tunes. Enjoy.

Suite Judy Blue Eyes:

Long time gone:

Carry on:

Helplessly hoping:

Teach your children:

Wasted on the way:

In my life:


You don’t have to cry:

Southern Cross:

Gotta have a mello wine for CSNY and I’m going to suggest a Steltzner 2007 Claret ($18.00). It’s aroma is distinctively black cherry with a palate that adds black raspberry, mocha, vanilla, and a nice bit of oak to the mix. It has a long velvety finish from the ripe tannins. This wine is from the Napa region where prices can be considerably out of my $25.00 limit, but this one is one of the best I’ve had. Add in the under $20.00 price tag and it’s a winner. So smooth out your Wednesday hump day with CSNY and a glass of Steltzner Claret. Enjoy!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Joe Bonamassa & Peter Lehmann Layers

Although he’s been around for a while, Joe Bonamassa is just now becoming recognized for the great blues guitarist that he is. For me, a great blues artist combines musical virtuosity with a rasping voice that captures the emotional essence of the genre. Stevie Ray Vaughn had it. So does Joe. He’s a rare performer splitting time between acoustic and electric guitar work. I’ve included seven acoustic and six electric numbers for your listening pleasure. My favorite is his electric work on “Stop,” but there’s a lot of good stuff here. Hope you like him.


High Water:  

Unplugged @ the Bluebird:

Zaragossa Spain:

Woke up dreaming:

Unplugged & Unleashed:

Live in Berlin:

Albert hall:


Ballad of John Henry:

Burning Hell:

Don’t burn down the bridge:

One of these days:

Blues Deluxe:

I’m pairing Joe with a very interesting white wine, namely Peter Lehmann’s 2009 Layers ($13.00). I say interesting because it’s a blend of Semillon, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gew├╝rtztraminer and Muscat picked from different vineyards throughout the Barossa and Adelaide regions. You’d think with a combination like this the wine would have trouble establishing an identity, but each grape contributes a unique character and flavor to produce an easy drinking and approachable medium-bodied white. The “Layers” name comes from the layers of fruit that give the wine its complexity. It’s a pale yellow-green color with a bouquet reminiscent of Semillon and Sauvignon blanc with green apple and citrus aromas. When it first hits the palate, I taste the Pinot Gris and unoaked Chardonnay, again with lemon, lime, crisp autumn apples, and a nice jolt of acidity. It finishes with the spicy notes of the Gewurtztraminer that linger for quite a while.

With all the different grapes, that’s a lot of balls to juggle but it is pulled off with finesse making it a great wine for sipping on a cool autumn evening watching the stars come out and listening to the blues of Joe Bonamassa. Have a great Monday. Enjoy!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Carlos Santana & Bearboat Pinot Noir

I love Latin rock and there’s no one better at it than Carlos Santana. His guitar sound is full of emotion and soul and combined with the body-moving Latin rhythms makes you want to get up and move. I’m in the process of preparing three science talks that I have to give over the next month and found myself doing a samba as I practiced my Powerpoint. That should take the focus off any flaws in my data because everyone will be too busy being horrified at my dancing abilities. I’d better stick to a more traditional presentation. One of my all time favorite albums (yes, I’m dating myself but when this first came out it was on vinyl) is Caravanserai. I now have it on CD. But I really love “Supernatural and have included many of the songs for this release below. Smooth is like a musical perfect storm: Rob Thomas’ perfect vocals, Carlos exquisite guitar, and a Latin rhythm that gets you moving. No more talk. Listen up!


Corazon Espinada:


Maria Maria:


With Dave Matthews; Love of my Life:

With Nickleback:

With Chad Kroeger:

Just feel better (Steven Tyler):

Put your lights on:


Jingo with Eric Clapton:

The Calling with Eric Clapton:

She’s not there:

Once it’s gotcha:

With a smooth operator like Carlos, I have to recommend a like wine: a 2007 Bearboat Pinot Noir. It has an aroma full of dark berries with a silky smooth palate of blackberry, cherry, red currents, and spice. Rich tannins with good acidity. It’s a Wine Enthusiast Editors Choice that rated 90. So get those hips moving and samba into the weekend with Bearboat and Santana. Enjoy!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Acoustic side of Rock & Calatayud Las Rocas Garnacha

Tonight I’m taking a look at a different side of a bunch of hard rocking blues guitarists and shredders. Each has put out some acoustic unplugged material that is quite classy. Who would’ve though Joe Satriani or Yngwie Malmsteen had a quieter side? Quiet, but still powerful. I love Yngwie with the symphony. Malmsteen is reputed to be the fastest picker in rockdom, but just to keep it honest, I’ve included an acoustic version of John McLaughlin’s Birds of Fire, played by McLaughlin himself. You tell me who’s faster.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Blue on Black:

Johnny Lang
Wander This World:

Stevie Ray Vaughn
Pride and Joy:
Life by the Drop:
Twelve String Blues:

Eric Clapton
Driftin Blues:
Key to the Highway:

Joe Satriani
May this be Love:
I Believe:

Yngwie Malmsteen:
With symphony:
Guitarra Acustica:

John McLaughlin
Birds of Fire solo:

My wife and I were in our hometown of Chicago last weekend enjoying some of our favorite comfort foods, one of which are Chicago hotdogs from Henry’s, a little greasy spoon on Ogden Avenue in Cicero. I was faced with a real challenge, namely, what wine goes with a hotdog smothered in mustered, relish, and onions? The answer: a Calatayud Las Rocas Garnacha 2007 ($12.00). Las Rocas, or "the rocks", is 100% Garnacha (Grenache), from vines that are 70-100 years old. Aging is split 60% in a tank and 40% in a barrel for a total of approximately 6 months. The wine is deep purple with aromas of cherry, plum, black raspberry, and what I finally decided was a touch of whiskey. It’s medium bodied with succulent dark fruit on the palate and nice acidity. Very smooth with enough strength to weather the mustard and onions on the Chicago “dogs.” Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave it 90 points. He didn’t say anything about how well it accompanies a hotdog, but believe me, it’s a great match. So enjoy a bottle while you listen to the acoustic side of some electric rockers.