The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mississippi Fred McDowell & Wine Guerilla Sonoma County Zin

The steaming temperatures (heat/humidity index above 100) that’ve been hanging around Nebraska for the past 16 days conjures up visions of an old blues guitarist sitting on the porch of a shack, playing a big ole Stella with a piece of steel. Tonight’s featured guitarist fits that vision perfectly. Mississippi" Fred McDowell was grew up in the small farming town (pop. 291) of Rossville, Tennessee (pop. 291), just east of Memphis and just north of the Mississippi border. The nickname "Mississippi" was attached to him after, when in his late thirties, he moved down to Como, Mississippi (pop. 1,391), about 40 miles south of Memphis on 51 Highway. His year of birth is uncertain, either 1904 or 1905, and he worked most of his life as a farm laborer, mill worker, and tractor driver. He played music at country dances and juke joints and has been called one of the most important interpreters of country-style blues. He was a stunning master of the bottleneck guitar style, playing in open-chord country tunings. One of his modern day students and protégés is Bonny Rait, THE queen of the slide guitar. So, here’s a bit of blues history.

I was on a business trip a while back and often times when I’m traveling, I stop by a wine shop and buy something to sip in my room while I work. It’s much less expensive and far more satisfying than working in the hotel bar. I picked up a wine I’ve been meaning to try, namely a Wine Guerilla 2009 Sonoma County Zinfandel ($19.00). The wine is actually 81 percent Zinfandel, 10 percent Petite Sirah, 8 percent Carignan and 1 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Keep in mind, I’m drinking from a water glass—no Riedel’s in the hotel room, but nonetheless, there were plenty of dark fruit, mocha, and a bit of coffee aromas swirling around my nose. Lots of rich black raspberry and plum flavors with a finish repeating the aromas. I guess the best recommendation for this wine is that after four hours of working, I finished the entire bottle. Went back the next day for another, but made it last two days this time. Great wine for pairing with the country blues of a great old guitar player. Enjoy!


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