The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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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.


1 comment:

Rick Daley said...

I know Stevie Ray Vaughn did "The Sky is Crying" and The Allman Brothers did "Done somebody Wrong" but I'm not sure if there are more modern covers. Great stuff, regardless...