The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ani DeFranco & Domaine Magellan Vin de Pays de L'Herault Rouge

Tonight I’m going to present something more on the eclectic side of music. Ani DiFranco born September 23, 1970, is a singer songwriter, and poet who’s released more than twenty CDs. She picked up the guitar at an early age and began busking with her instructor at the age of nine. Ani started out playing Beatles covers in bars and has always been seen as a lady who runs countercurrent to the culture. In 1989, she started her own record label, Righteous Records whose name was changed to Righteous Babe Records in 1994.

To augment her songwriting skills, she moved to New York and took poetry classes at the New School. Shortly thereafter, she hit the road and toured for the next fifteen years, stopping only to record a new CD. She took a break in 2005 due to tendonitis, but was back on the road a year later.

DiFranco's guitar playing is characterized by staccato, rapid fingerpicking, and alternate tunings. She delivers many of her lyrics in a speaking style notable for its rhythmic variation.

She writes and sings a number of songs about her love life with both men and women. She identifies herself as bisexual and addressed the controversy about her sexuality with the song "In or Out".

Her music has been a critical success, if not a commercial one, yet I don’t think it bothers her. From 2003, DiFranco was nominated four consecutive times for Best Recording Package at the Grammy Awards, and won in 2004 for Evolve.

Throughout her career she’s been an independent thinker, songwriter, and musician, and some would call her a rebel. I would call her good. Enjoy!

So, first night in a long while that the temperature is conducive to sitting out on the deck. In honor of that and Ani’s music, I suggest  a 2009. Domaine Magellan Vin de Pays de L'Herault Rouge. Deep garnet color with lots of raspberries and lavender on the nose. The palate follows the nose with wonderful red and black fruit and a touch of spice. Let this one breathe for about an hour before you drink it and you will be richly rewarded as the wine gains weigh. Nice long finish with elegant tannins, an excellent compliment to the artistry of Ani DeFranco. Enjoy!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pump It Up Music & La Vielle Ferme Rose Ventoux

It was 105o in Lincoln today. That makes the 20th day of 95o+ weather we’ve had in a row and the 7th time we’ve hit the century mark in the last two weeks. It makes it difficult to want to do anything, let alone head off for work on a Monday knowing the temperature’s gonna make Hell look like the North Pole. So to motivate and pump you up for the week, I’ve assembled a collection of my favorite “Pump-Up songs. 

What do I mean by a pump-up song? It’s a song you want to listen to when you’re in the gym and feeling the strain of lifting weights or running on a treadmill or cross trainer. It’s a song that keeps you going when you’re out on a 5 mile run in the heat. It’s a song when you’re traveling cross-country and need a boost to stay awake. And it’s a song when your job sucks and you need something to get you through the drudgery, i.e. I’ve had some really sucking experiences at my job lately and as I listened to my Pandora channels, on two consecutive mornings, AC/DC’s Highway to Hell came on. Ironic? 

These are songs that you crank, that you tap your toes, or feel your body sway to the music. One of my all time favorites is Dire Strait’s Money for Nothing, but all of these will get you going. One caution, be careful if you listen while driving as the next thing you know, you’re 25 over the speed limit and there are flashing blue and red lights in your rearview mirror. Pump it up!

ZZ Top:


Sweet Emotion:

Rock you like a hurricane:



Van Halen:


Joe Satriani:

Eric Johnson:

Stevie Ray Vaugh:

Led Zepplin:

Dire Straits:

The weather begs the question, “Why does anyone live in Nebraska?” My wife and I have asked that question a lot lately. Maybe it’s time to move to cooler climes. But when it’s this hot, it calls for something refreshing, like a 2011 La Vielle Ferme Rose Ventoux, Rhone Valley ($10.00). It’s produced by the Perrin family of Chateau de Beaucastel fame. It’s a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault. Beautiful strawberry pink color with aromas of strawberries and cherries that follow on the palate. It’s a very rich, balanced wine that refreshes on a hot summer evening (it’s still above 100 as I write this at 7:15 PM). So grab a bottle and hit the floor with some great music. In fact, play it while you’re getting ready for work tomorrow morning. Anything to get you going! Enjoy!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Elmore James & Chateau Routas Rouvier Rose

Elmore James (January 27, 1918 – May 24, 1963) was one of the most influential blues guitarists, singers, and songwriters of our time. Artists like Eric Clapton, Rory Block, the Allman Brothers Band, Cream, Johnny Winter and a host of others have covered his songs. He was known as "the King of the Slide Guitar." He was the illegitimate son of 15-year-old Leola Brooks, a field hand. His father was probably Joe Willie "Frost" James, who moved in with Leola, and so Elmore took this as his name. Elmore began making music at the age of 12 using a simple one-string instrument ("Diddley Bow or jitterbug) strung up on a shack wall. As he matured, he was strongly influenced by Robert Johnson, even though Johnson died in 1938. 

During World War II, James joined the U.S. Navy, was promoted to coxswain and took part in the invasion of Guam against the Japanese. Upon his discharge, Elmore returned to central Mississippi and eventually settled in Canton with his adopted brother Robert Holston; it was at this time he learned that he had a serious heart condition. Working in Robert's electrical shop, he devised his unique electric sound, using parts from the shop and an unusual placement of two D'Armond pickups.

James's demise may have been hastened by his lifelong taste for, and manufacture of, moonshine whiskey, to which he was introduced at an early age. He died of his third heart attack in Chicago in 1963, just prior to a tour of Europe with that year's American Folk Blues Festival. He was buried in the Newport Baptist Church Cemetery in Ebenezer, Mississippi. See how many tunes you recognize and extra credit goes to those who can identify the modern day bands that have re-recorded his songs.

My wife and I were visiting Boston last week and after a day of walking around all day in Boston’s heat wave didn’t feel like venturing too far from our hotel for dinner. So we hit Brasserie Jo’s in the Colonade Hotel. Turned out to be a good choice because we had one of the best salmon dishes I’ve ever tasted. The fish was baked perfectly and covered in a beurre blanc sauce (very unhealthy, but wonderful) on top of kalamata and green olives and chantrelles. We needed something refreshing so I ordered a 2010 Chateau Routas Rouvier Rose from the Provence region of France. Provence is famous for its Rose’s and this one didn’t disappoint. The wine was a pale pink (which matched the salmon) with aromas of strawberries and herbs. The flavor followed the nose with accents of cherry and lime. It’s a zesty, refresher that compliments many foods as well as the slide guitar of a classic, Mr. Elmore James.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Monty Montgomery & Meiomi Pinot Noir

I was working out at my health club recently listening to a Pandora channel while I tortured myself and a tune by Monte Montgomery came up. I’d forgotten how much I love his music so I thought I’d re-review him tonight.

Born August 11, 19666, he grew up in Birmingham, AL, but moved to Texas at the age of 12. In 1999, when Austin City Limits producer Terry Lickona invited him on the show, he introduced him by simply saying, “Monte Montgomery blows people away.”

He was on Guitar Player magazine's 2004 list of "The Top 50 All-Time Greatest Guitarists. He has also won the "Best Acoustic Guitar Player" award at the SXSW Festival’s Austin Music Awards seven years in a row (1998–2004), the only artist to have ever done so.

His unique combination of finger and flat picking, blazing single note runs, combined with an incredible chordal sense of harmony sets him off as one of those rare stratospheric guitarists. And if that isn’t enough, his soulful voice drives his music over the edge. This is one rerun you’re gonna love.

With a heavy wood guitarist like Monte, I recommend an equally heavy Pinot Noir like the 2010 Meiomi. This Pinot Noir is a blend of multiple vineyards along the California Coast, in Sonoma County, Monterey County and Santa Barbara County. The wine is heavy-duty: lush, balanced and luxurious. The nose is a blend of mixed berries and spice while the taste is like your grandmother’s cherry pie. It’s a bit closed upon opening, so give it some time to breathe. In addition to being a great value (retail $33.00; available at Shaw’s in Boston or your local Costco for $18.00) it pairs well with food like grilled pork chops, lamb chops, salmon, or even a good burger. Of course, it’s also great for sipping alone. Enjoy it with the music of one of the acoustic guitar greats.