The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rory Block & Klinker Brick Farah Syrah

Rory Block was born in Princeton NJ in 1949 and spent the beginning of her life in a small wood house with no plumbing, in the woods on a hillside in Neshanic. Shortly afterwards her family moved to Sullivan Street in New York, which is now part of Soho. After a few years her family moved to the West Village, which at the time was the remnants of low income row housing for immigrants. She grew up in a family where, on a good day, music, art and poetry were the most important things in life.

From early in her life, music became the absolute center of her being, and nothing mattered more. At the age of ten, playing a $4.00 Galiano guitar, she figured out "Froggy Went A'Courtin'" by slamming down on the E and then the A string and plucking out a melody. The guitar was an instrument of wonder and joy, her best friend.

At the age of fourteen she participated in the Sunday jam sessions in Washington Square Park where people stood around in clusters, pressing together to watch incredible musicians playing styles largely unheard of up north. David Grisman, Frank Wakefield, Jodie Stecker, John Herald, Roger Sprung, and Eric Weissberg were some of the bluegrass/country players, and John Sebastian, Maria Muldaur, Stefan Grossman, Marc Silber, Jack Baker and others played ragtime, blues, swing and early barrel house jazz. Her father eventually became the reigning impresario of the vital folk revival scene in the West Village, hosting regular Saturday afternoon jam sessions in his sandal shop after music in the park was banned.

One day in 1964, she heard an album called "Really The Country Blues", and from that moment on her life was dedicated to learning how to play blues. She spent untold hours and two years of her life with her ear glued to a speaker, determined to figure out each and every note and play the great songs with as much accuracy as she could muster out of a deep reverence for the music.

She started traveling to the Bronx to visit the Reverend Gary Davis to study his style. When teaching, the Reverend never slowed down to explain his music, he only played it at her with lightening speed and had a lot to say if she couldn't catch it.

In 1965, at a concert at the Village Gate, she met Son House, a blues God as far as she was concerned. As she watched him perform, rolling his head back, slamming the strings and almost choking on the intensity, she learned a deep lesson about the power of the music, which became an inseparable part of her.

I could write a lot more, but her music speaks for itself. So without further adieu, I hope you enjoy one of the blue's greatest proponents, an incredible musician with a voice that can make angels cry.

If I had possession over judgement day:

Along with one of my favorite blues musicians, I think it’s only proper that I pair her with one of my favorite wines, the Klinker Brick Farah Syrah (2009; $20.00). The wine is produced from vines with an average age of 85 years. It has a bright bouquet of wild strawberry, black raspberry, and plum, intermingled with exotic spice. The palate bursts with flavors of black cherry and vanilla, with supple tannins and good structure. The texture is silky and supple and the finish smooth and long.  It won double gold medals at the Long Beach and East Coast International wine competitions.

A gentle rain is falling as I write this from my home office and with the music of Rory Block and a glass of Farah Syrah, the night is magical. Hope you had a good weekend. Enjoy!


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