The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Rolling Stones & Costa de Oro Pinot Noir

I’m bringing the weekend to a close with the Rolling Stones, a group that was almost as influential as the Beatles and is still going strong today. While the early Beatles had a clean cut image, the Stones were the bad boys. The group was originally formed by guitarist Brian Jones who hired most of the others. But alcohol and drugs took their toll on him and in June, 1969 he was asked to leave the group. A month later, he was found dead in his swimming pool. He was replaced by Mick Taylor, but Mick was a true lead guitarist and didn’t fit the style of the group. He was replaced in 1975 by Ron Wood, a former member of Jeff Beck’s band, and continues with the group today.

One of the Stone’s most infamous incidents was a concert they gave at Altamont California. It was rumored that, on the recommendation of the Grateful Dead, the Stones hired members of Hells Angels as the security. The rumor has been denied over the years. Regardless, the concert was marred by excessive violence. One man was stabbed to death in front of the cameras. Hit-and-run drivers killed two people and scores were injured.

As a someone who lived through the Viet Nam war era and sweated out the draft, their song “Gimme Shelter” has always been a favorite of mine. The video I’ve included has pictures characteristic of the times. Check out the lyrics sometime. They are quite poignant.

The weather was like spring yesterday. To me, mild weather means Pinot Noir, so with the Stones, I recommend a 2010 Costa de Oro Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County. It’s a lighter, spicy style of Pinot Noir with strawberry and cherry fruit aromas. The sweet red fruit aromas are carried onto a palate full of fresh baked cherry pie with a buttery vanilla crust.  A very nice Pinot Noir for drinking with the music of history. Enjoy!


Friday, January 18, 2013

The Beatles and Girard Petite Sirah

I decided to expand on my last entries and focus on groups from the sixties that set the course of music for decades to come. So, tonight I’m leading off with a group that had by far the biggest influence of any of these groups, namely the Beatles. I remember watching them on the Ed Sullivan show straining to hear the music over the screaming girls. To this day, I don’t understand the weird emotions young girls felt that made them go absolutely bonkers. But hey, I’m a musician, and their yelling made it hard to hear the music.

Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison were very good guitarists even by today’s standards, and the song writing team of Lennon/McCartney has yet to be surpassed. Don’t miss the video labeled “Last Ed Sullivan Concert.” It contains one of my favorites, “I feel fine,” but more importantly, it was the debut performance of Paul singing “Yesterday.” Enjoy!

I want to hold your hand:
I should have known better:
I saw her standing there:
Last Ed Sullivan Concert:
Shindig (Kansas City; I’m a Loser; Boys):
You’ve got to hide your love away:
Sargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band:

A fine vintage group like the Beatles calls for a equally fine wine. The 2010 Girard Petite Sirah ($21.00) is one of the best wines I’ve tasted. Beautiful aromas of dark berries, spice and herbs lead to a palate full of blackberries, black currents, spices, and a bit of black pepper. It’s a luscious wine, elegant and refined. Oddly enough, I got it at Costco at a very good price. Enjoy the wine and the Beatles and have a great weekend.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Guitar Power Songs v2 & Bota Box Riesling

Power Riffs #2

Tonight I’m continuing the Guitar Power Songs. To recap, the songs were selected by several criteria. First, was there a great hook or guitar part that sticks in your mind like a worm devouring your gray matter? Songs like “Frankenstein,” “Smoke on the Water,” or “Jump,” are representative of this category. Second, did the song have such an impact that it’s been re-recorded or covered numerous times? I can’t even count the acoustic guitar versions of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” that I see on YouTube (the one by Eric Roche is the best). Third, were they just real guitar anthems like “Thunderstruck” or “Cat Scratch Fever?” Fourth is a miscellaneous category. The song defined an era (think “Hotel California,” and ‘Teen Spirit”). And last but not least, fifth, I just plain liked it.

Tonight I’ve got some of my all time favs like Frankenstein, Jump, Smuggler’s Blues (heard on Miami Vice), an all acoustic Hotel California, and one of my favorite guitar riffs, Enter Sandman. Have a rocking Saturday night…after the football game.

Edgar Winter & Rick Derringer





Van Halen


Bon Jovi

Deep Purple

Ted Nugent

Derek & the Dominos


One of my favorite wines for anytime drinking is Riesling. With so many songs, you’re going to need a lot of it. So keeping with last night’s theme, I suggest the Riesling from Bota Box (3L/$17.00). It’s an off dry style with flavors of sweet apricots, lemon, and honeyed apples. It’s clean with good acidity and it’s a good sipper or quaffer. Enjoy it with some great guitar classics.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Power Guitar Riffs and a Box of Shiraz

This weekend I’m going to take you back in history and revisit some of the best guitar riffs and and power songs in history. There are seventeen selections tonight and another seventeen tomorrow. The songs were selected by several criteria. First, was there a great hook or guitar part that sticks in your mind like a worm devouring your gray matter? “Songs like Walk Don’t Run,” “Day Tripper,” “Louie, Louie,” or “Satisfaction” are representative of this category. Second, did the song have such an impact that it’s been re-recorded or covered numerous times? It seems like every acoustic guitarist has to have a version of “Here Comes The Sun” in their repertoire. Third, were they just real guitar anthems like Pinball Wizard or Watchtower? Fourth is a miscellaneous category. The song defined an era. And last but not least, fifth, I just plain liked it.

Judging from the fact that each entry of this blog gets about 75-100 hits, it’s a good bet that some of the songs tonight were probably recorded before many of my readers were born. So, a little background may be in order. Louie, Louie by the Kingsmen was a classic, yet scandalous, rock tune in the sixties. There were all kinds of takes on the lyrics and supposedly they were quite sexually explicit. If so, the Kingsmen never sang that version publically. The Ventures were an all guitar, all instrumental group. I had all of their records (vinyl) and my favorite all time bass guitar was a Mosrite, the guitar the Ventures played. It had a 30” scale, lightning fast neck, and killer tone.

Wherever possible, I’ve linked to the original videos, i.e. the Beatles videos are taken from their early TV recordings. Try not to laugh at the hairstyles and clothes of the gals and guys. They were cool back then.

One thing you will not see either tonight or tomorrow. No “Free Bird.” I hate that song. Sorry. Hope you get a kick out of tonight’s collection.


The Ventures

Beach Boys


Jimi Hendrix

Rolling Stones


Led Zepplin


There’s a lot to listen to here so I’m going to suggest a box wine, namely Hardy’s Shiraz South Eastern Australia. (about $20.00 for 3 liters). I love a good jammy Shiraz and this is a good one for a boxed wine. Lots of blueberries, black raspberries, and spice with hints of oak and a bit of vanilla. Nothing complex, it’s just a juicy, plush wine. Stick it in the Fridge for an hour to give it a slight chill. Three liters should last through the set. Enjoy!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Indigo Girls and Saint-Amant Grangeneuve

Although I was a professional bassist when I was younger, I took up the acoustic guitar because playing the bass by myself was boring. I used take my Martin D-35 and play regularly at a particular coffee house in college. So, although I’m a jazz/blues musician by training, I have always loved the folk scene.

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers make up what I consider to be one of the premier duos to ever hit the music scene—the Indigo Girls. The only other due that comes close to their melodies, harmonies, and lyrical beauty is Simon and Garfunkel. They first met at Laurel Ridge Elementary School near Decatur, Georgia. They didn’t become friends until high school because Emily was a year older than Amy. While attending Shamrock High School, they recognized their musical love and started performing together, first as “The B-Band” then as “Saliers and Ray.”

After graduating, they went their separate ways, Saliers to Tulane University and Ray to Vanderbilt. Both became homesick and returned to Georgia where they attended Emory University and reunited as a musical duo. They needed a name and began going through the dictionary looking for words that struck them. Indigo was the winner and they began performing publically under the name Indigo Girls.

Around 1988, the duo seemed to fit into the category of “the next big thing,” following the success of artists like Tracy Chapman and Suzanne Vega. As a result, Epic Records signed them to their first major recording contract. Their first release, “Indigo Girls” contains one of my all time favorites, “Closer to Fine.” The album won a Grammy award for best folk recording.

While their guitar and vocal harmonies are captivating, don’t miss the poetry of their lyrics starting with “Closer to Fine.” Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Opened a bottle of one of my favorite wines recently, which is very appropriate since the Indigo girls are one of my favorite folk groups. The 2009 Saint-Amant Grangeneuve Beaumes-du-Venise is a Southern Rhone crafted from 60% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 5% Viognier. In the glass it’s dark purple with aromas of red raspberries and spice. Its tastes like a bowl full of raspberries and cherries with a bit of pepper due to the Syrah. At $17.00, it also a bargain. Get your local wine shop to order a case and enjoy it with the music of the Indigo Girls.