The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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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!


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