The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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Friday, March 1, 2013

T-Bone Walker & Farrah Syrah

If anyone can be called the Godfather of modern electric guitar, it has to be Aaron “T-Bone” Walker whose dazzling leads and use of string-bending and 9th chords  influenced a long line of later guitarists. In fact, BB King once exclaimed that he would have married him if he’d been a woman. His earliest blues influence was Blind Lemon Jefferson, but his friendship with Charlie Christian helped him infuse his music with jazz overtones.

Born in 1910 in Linden, Texas, walker grew up in a musical family. His mother and step father both played guitar and the family enjoyed many jam sessions around the house. At the age of 25, he moved from Texas to Los Angeles where, playing one of the first electric guitars, he became a favorite at numerous nightspots catering to African American audiences. He developed a reputation as a showman, playing his guitar behind his head, doing the splits, and riding his instrument like a horse, the same moves Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, and others would use years later.

During World War II, Walker moved to Chicago and became a regular at the Rhumboogie Club where the lines stretched around the block to get in to hear and see his shows. After the war, he returned to LA where he recorded his classics Stormy Monday, and Cold, Cold Feeling, refining his sound, playing a big Gibson ES-5. Unfortunately, by the 1950s, with rock and roll—the music he helped to spawn—on the rise, allied to health and drinking problems, he faded into obscurity until the early 60s when he played European stages as a part of the Original American Folk Blues Festival tour. His career began to reemerge as artists like John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers  backed him up across the continent.

But with his health a continual issue, he finally succumbed in a hospital in 1975. As you listen to his music, you’ll hear the foundations of modern electric guitar. Songs like Stormy Monday have been re-recorded by numerous bands. Don’t miss the duet with a young BB King. Enjoy the Godfather of electric guitar.

Don’t throw your love on me so strong:
Sweet Sixteen (with BB King):

For your sipping enjoyment tonight, I recommend the 2010 version of one of my favorite wines. From the heart of Zinfandel country in Lodi California, I bring you an über-Rhone-like Syrah from the Klinker Brink Winery. Farrah Syrah ($15.00 at the grocery store, of all places) explodes with intense aromas of black cherries, chocolate, and coffee. The palate is layered with blackberries, raspberries, chocolate, espresso, and vanilla with mild tannins. This inky purple wine is rich with a creamy texture and pairs well with hearty foods like lamb chops or the beef stew I made recently. But it’s dense berry goodness makes a great stand-alone cocktail, especially when paired with the pioneering guitar sounds of T-Bone Walker.


1 comment:

Rick Daley said...

Straight from the soul...