The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
The Death Whisperer Series available at

Monday, November 18, 2013

Blues Harp & La Altalaya Almansa

I love the blues and my second favorite blues instrument next to the guitar is the harp. So tonight, I’ve assembled some of the great harpists, many of whom are probably unknown to the average listener. I first heard Corky Siegel back in 1969 with the Siegel-Schwall blues band at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. He’s always been one of my favorites as was Junior Wells. Don’t miss John Popper’s (Blues Traveler) duel with Steve Vai. It’s unique.  Hope you enjoy these guys.

Paul Butterfield:
Why do people act like that:

Corky Siegel

John Mayall

James Cotton

Big Walter Horton:

Carey Bell:
Everything’s gonna be all right:

Dana Dixon:
Little Walter comes to town:

John Popper

Junior Wells

For blues harp, I suggest a hearty red like the 2010 La Altalaya Almansa Old Vines Veilles Vigne ($14.00) from Spain. The wine, 85% Garnacha, 15% Monastrell, is inky purple and opens with aromas of black raspberries and plums. This is a powerful wine with a mouth full of black raspberry pie, smoky oak, and balanced tannins. The blues is often accompanied by good barbecue and this wine would compliment it perfectly. Enjoy!


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wes Montgomery & Cooper Mountain Pinot Noir

John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery was born on March 6, 1923 in Indianapolis IN. He’s one of my favorite jazz guitarists and was a superb improviser. Wes learned to play the guitar by studying Charlie Christian and playing his music by ear. Like several other jazz greats, he never played with a pick but used his thumb instead. You hear a lot of his influence in the styles of countless guitarists today, especially when they use his technique of playing octaves while soloing.

From 1948 to 1950 he toured with the outstanding vibraphonist Lionel Hampton, but returned to Naptown (Indianapolis for those of you not familiar with its nickname) where he joined up with his brother Monk (bass) and Buddy (vibes) and began recording for the Pacific Jazz label. He began to move away from straight jazz and crossed over to a more pop/jazz style where he became immensely popular. In 1966 he won a Grammy Award for “Best Instrumental Jazz Performance. He won his second Grammy Award in 1969 in the same category. Unfortunately, he wasn’t around to receive it, because at the height of his career on June 15, 1968, he died of a heart attack.

Montgomery was a jazz and guitar giant who left a legacy of style that is copied by practically every virtuoso guitarist today.

The days of wine & roses:

The elegance of Wes Montgomery’s playing calls for an equally elegant wine, so I suggest a 2010 Cooper Mountain Reserve Pinot Noir ($23.00 from Shaw’s off Copley Place in Boston). My wife and I enjoyed a bottle as we relaxed in our hotel room after hearing my son’s successful defense of his doctoral thesis at Harvard Med. Now there are two Dr. Olives in the family. The Cooper Mountain Pinot has subtle aromas of bright cherries and black tea. Likewise the palate is full of tart cherry joined by nuances of black raspberry, nice acidity and light tannins. It’s quite dry and refreshing and perfect for the occasion because the weather in Boston was unseasonably warm. It’s perfect for listening to the music of a musical giant like Wes.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Boyce Avenue & Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc

You do not want to miss tonight’s feature. Boyce Avenue is a Puerto Rican-American acoustic rock group consisting of the brothers Alejandro, Daniel, and Fabian Manzano. They’re named after a combination of two streets they lived on as kids. 

They formed in 2004 after Daniel (bass and percussion) moved back to Florida after graduating from Harvard law School. Alejandro (lead vocals and guitar) and Fabian (guitar and vocals) were attending the University of Florida, but dropped out to form the group. Since 2007, they’ve been posting videos of both original and covers of popular songs, many of which have received over 10,000,000 views and have been released as digital EPs by their own independent record label, 3 Peace Records. They have over 700,000 subscribers to their YouTube channel (including me).

They’re firm risk-takers and believing in the strength of their online presence, they booked a solo show in New York in January 2009. It was their first ever performance in the city and surprised label and industry experts who thought it was a huge gamble, because the show was a sellout. Later in the year, the group performed for an estimated 25,000 fans in the Philippines and followed with a successful whirlwind tour of the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

They are, in my opinion, one of the finest acoustic rock groups to hit the scene. Alejandro’s guitar and vocals are amazing and the percussion accompaniment by Daniel and the augmenting guitar of Fabian plus several outstanding guest guitarists, vocalists, and pianist, makes them one of my favorites. Hope you like them as much as I do.

Since the Boyce Avenue is one of my favorite acoustic groups, I’m pairing them with one of my all time favorite New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, namely the 2011 Dog Point wine. 
Beautifully aromatic with a crisp aromas of grapefruit and green pepper nose, it has a palate of citrus, grapefruit, and green apples with crisp acid and minerality. It’s full, but not too full with an elegant, refreshing finish. It’s a great wine to enjoy while relaxing to the music pf what I consider one of the premier acoustic groups in music today. Enjoy!


Friday, October 25, 2013

Doug Smith & Catena Zapata High Mountain Malbec

Doug Smith is a former winner (2006) of the Winfield International Fingerstyle Guitar contest and also a Grammy winner. “August Rush”. Doug's music has been heard on radio and T.V. stations throughout the country, including The Discovery Channel, Martha Stewart Living, CNN, TNN, ESPN, and Encore. He also played guitar on the soundtracks for the recent movies " Moll Flanders ," " Twister ," and “August Rush.”

His style combines folk, classical, and jazz into a style that reminds me of Leo Kottke and Chet Atkins. In fact, in the early years of his guitar career, he saw Chet play with the Boston Pops, after which he focused exclusively on fingerstyle guitar. Later in 1970, he heard John Renbourn’s album, “The Hermit,” which caused him to further focus on steel strings and introduce altered tunings into his repertoire, although he credits Alex de Grassi and Michael Hedges as major influences that also led him in the latter direction. In February of 2005, Doug and the several other fantastic guitarists from Solid Air Records, won a Grammy Award for "Best Acoustic Pop Album" for the album, " Henry Mancini - Pink Guitar.” For those of you guitar techie geeks, Doug plays James Goodall and Lance McCollum guitars.

His music is beautiful and a great means of relaxing from the work week. Enjoy!

Ave Maria/Can’t help falling in love:

I’m pairing Doug with a 2011 Catena Zapata High Mountain Malbec ($18.00). I’ve grown to really like Malbecs. Not as sweet as Merlot and not as heavy on oak and tannins as a Cabernet. This one is deep violet purple with aromas of red and dark fruits, and mocha overlaid with nuances of violets and vanilla. The taste is full of blackberries, blueberries, and a touch of coffee tinged with chocolate and cinnamon.
The tannin’s are mild and the wine has nice acidity and minerality that leads to a long finish. It’s the perfect compliment to the guitar artistry of Doug Smith.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Alex Hutchings & 2012 Eroica Riesling

UK based guitarist and composer Alex Hutchings has extensive experience in playing rock, funk jazz and R'n'B and has toured throughout the UK, Europe and South Africa. He also composes music for BBC TV and radio, working on programs such as Big Brother and Brainiac.

Alex Hutchings is described as a guitarist possessing an immaculate technique that places him in a different league to his contemporaries. His playing has an authenticity and passion that is similar to that of Larry Carlton. He’s has played in many top venues in and around the country, as well as festivals and clubs abroad. Some of these include the Sha la la music Club Cypress, Austrian festivals, Cannes Film France, Gibraltar Tri-centenary events as well as the Green Dolphin club (South Africa) and the coco blues club (Thailand).

In 2004 Alex co wrote the smash hit theme from the Brainiac series now in its fourth series, as well as being released on various DVD's. 2005/6 saw Alex perform live on various radio stations as well as two global TV appearances, and audience figures were in the millions.

He’s a heck of a Jazz-Fusion guitarist and I hope you enjoy his music..

Room 335 with Jess Lewis:

In my opinion one of the top Rieslings in the U.S. is Chateau St. Michelle’s Eroica, born of a collaboration between Gemany’s Dr. Loosen and Chateau St. Michelle vinters in Washington. The 2012 Riesling Eroica offers up aromas and flavors of star fruit, citrus rind, green apple and solid minerality on the nose. The wine is medium-bodied, off-dry through the mid-palate and clean and fresh on the finish. It’s a delicious, textbook Riesling that’s downright seductive with nuanced flavors of crisp baking apple, mineral, and a touch of cinnamon, with notes of lemon verbena and bay leaf. Great wine and a great guitarist. Enjoy!