The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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Monday, July 29, 2013

Fun Songs and Beckman Vineyard's Rosé

So, did you survive another Monday? Great day here in Nebraska cause it rained all day and only reached 66o for a high, a record for us, but nobody’s complaining because we don’t usually see this kind of weather until October. So, how but some fun music? The blog tonight contains some of my favorite songs, some of which are the greatest ever. Lot’s of good guitar “Check out the tasteful bridge by Huey Lewis’ guitarist on Small World), but mostly just great songs  by some stellar groups and people. It’ll get your blood pumping for the rest of the week.

The criteria were the sentiment, the beat, i.e. does it pump you up, and do I just plain love the song. I purposely ended with two of the greatest dance songs by Gloria Estafan. Interesting when you look at these old videos. Beyoncé stole a couple of dance moves from her. See if you can get into her groove and dance. Blast it at the office and see if you can get the whole place moving. It’s a great way to start the day. Enjoy!

Can’t find my way home:
While my guitar gently weeps:

Since this entry focuses on fun, how about a  2012 Beckman Vineyards Grenache Rose ($18.00). Like Stolpman  Vineyards, Beckman’s “Le Bec” is one of my favorite Syrah’s and this Rosés is out of this world. “What is it with Syrah Vinyards? They seem to make incredible Rosés. The color is coppery red, almost orange and has an aroma of oranges, strawberries and fruit candies. Strawberries dominate the palate, but there are notes of citrus and herbs with a mineral berry finish. Lovely for sipping by itself, although it goes great with grilled teriyaki salmon. It’s just the ticket for the tonight’s musical selections.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Joss Stone and Stolpman Vineyards Rose Santa Ynez Valley

I realize tonight’s  featured artist isn’t a guitarist, but there’s some very nice guitar in the videos I’ve linked to below.  Jocelyn Eve Stoker (born 11 April 1987), better known by her stage name Joss Stone, is in my humble opinion, the finest blues/soul singer working today (apologies to Adel). Stone rose to fame in late 2003 with her multi-platinum debut album, “Soul Sessions.” She was born in Dover, Kent, and spent her teen years in Ashill, a small villiage near Cullompton in Devon. She attended the Uffculme Comprehensive School, but left at the age of 16, as she says, not because she was stupid, but because she suffered from dyslexia and as a result was more artistic than academic.

Her soulful singing style developed as she grew up listening to a wide variety of music including 1960s and 1970s American R&B and soul music performed by such artists as Dusty Springfield and Aretha Franklin, the latter one of her idols.

Her second album, “Mind, Body, and Soul” debuted at number one on the U.K. charts and she became the youngest person to ever top the British charts. She’s had a varied career touring, recording, acting, and producing, yet she’s only 26. Yikes! She’s gonna be a monster…as if she’s not already. Hope you enjoy one of the best soul vocalists on the scene today.

Here comes the rain again:
Tell me what we’re gonna do now:
Summertime (with LeAnn Rimes):
People get ready (with Jeff Beck):
I put a spell on you (with Jeff Beck):  
Stop dragging my heart around (with Rob Thomas):
Hot legs (with Rod Stewart):

Joss Stone’s cool rendition of summertime with LeAnn Rimes calls for a cool wine and I suggest a 2012 Stolpman Vineyards Rose Santa Ynez Valley ($17.00). I am a big fan of Stolpman Vineyard’s Syrah, one of the best I’ve ever tasted and at a price that can’t be beat. Likewise, this rosé, a blend of Grenache (60%) and Sangiovese (40%), can’t be beat for a fantastic summer wine. The wine is rose colored with Ferrari red highlights. It’s filled with aromas of strawberries, rhubarb, and a touch of citrus. The flavors follow the nose with loads of berries and a hint of cinnamon spice. It’s a fresh, fruity wine, very refreshing chilled, which you’ll want when you hear the hot soulful voice of Joss Stone. Enjoy!


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ana Popović and Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir

Ana Popović was born May 13, 1976 in Belgrade, Serbia, although she’s now based in Memphis TN. As far as I know, she’s a rarity as a Serbian blues guitarist. She was introduced to the blues through her father’s extensive collection of blues recordings.
Her early influences were Otis Spann and Buddy Guy, but judging by all the people she’s played with, I’d say her style is a conglomerate of many blues artists. Her fiery style has earned her the nickname of “The Serbian Scorcher.”

Ana grew up playing the blues in Belgrade during the turbulent time of the fall of communism and the dissolution of Yugoslavia. In 1995, she formed the band Hush with Rade Popović (guitar, vocals), Milan Sarić (bass guitar) and Bojan Ivković (drums). Within a year, with the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, she was playing blues festivals in Greece and Hungary and working as an opening act for American blues masters, including someone near and dear to my Chicago heart, the great harpist Junior Wells.

In 1999, Ana went solo and formed the Ana Popović Band based out of Amsterdam.
Her last two albums, “Still Makin History” and “Unconditional” reached number one on Billboard’s blues chart. Her latest, “Can You Stand The Heat,” released last April will undoubtedly join them at the top of the charts. She’s been either nominated for or won too many awards to name. she now calls Memphis home and continues to tour hitting blues festivals and clubs across the U.S. and Europe. She truly is a scorcher when it comes to the blues. Enjoy!

Can’t you see what you’re doing to me:
U don’t move me/Voodoo woman:

Blues players like Ana don’t really call for fine wine. Good whiskey is more the beverage of choice. But since this blog focuses on wine, I’d pick something that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and that you gulp rather than sip. So I suggest the 2011 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir ($7.50). I’m always a little suspicious of wines that cost lest than $10.00, so I decant them into a wide-bottomed flask and let them breath for about an hour. For some reason, this always seems to remove the harshness that can plague wines in this price category. After aeration, there are aromas of bright cherry, strawberry, vanilla, and little bit of pepper. The taste follows the nose, ending with a warm berry finish. Mind you, this is not a fine French Burgundy or even a premium California or Oregon Pinot Noir. Rather, it’s something you can quaff on a hot summer evening because at this price, you can afford two bottles; one for you and one for your significant other. It’s just the ticket for the music of the Serbian Scorcher.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Julian Lage & Celler Malondro "Xabec" Montsant

Twenty-six year old Julian Lage was a child prodigy who began performing publically at the age of six. He was the subject of a 1997 documentary, “Jules at Eight” that was nominated for an Academy Award and at the age of thirteen, he performed at the 2000 Grammy Awards. He was originally classically trained at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, but later graduated from the Berklee College of Music in 2008. He’s been a faculty member at Stanford University’s Jazz Workshop since he was fifteen.

While he has his own group, he also plays with Gary Burton’s New Quartet. His resume of renown musicians with whom he’s played is extensive as are the number of jazz festivals where he’s performed. His first album, “Sounding Point” was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of “Best Contemporary Jazz Album.”

He has a laid back style and his guitar work is fluid and soothing. Like Pat Metheny, he plays a guitar built by Canadian Linda Manzer. If his career turns out to be anything like Metheny’s, he’s going to be a musical dynamo. Hope you enjoy him.

Tonight’s wine is an elegant one from the Montsant region of Spain. The 2008 Celler Malondro "Xabec" Montsant ($13.00) is a blend of Carinena and Garnacha. Opening the bottle you’re hit in the nose with the fragrance cherries jubilee that follows on the palate accented by a touch of vanilla and plums. It’s good for a relaxing evening under the stars listening to an up-and-coming jazz guitarist like Julian Lage and that’s exactly what I plan to do tonight.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Talon Latz & Dr. Pauly Bergweiler Rieslsling Kabinett Wehlener Sonnenuhr

Tonight’s guitarist is the kind that will frustrate you, make you want to smash your guitar into the ground, then burn it. Why? Because he’s only 12, plays Stevie Ray and Hendrix like Stevie Ray and Hendrix, and hasn’t even hit puberty yet. Talon Latz was born in Elkhorn, WI on September 22, 2000. He got his first guitar at the age of four and at the ripe old age of five saw a video of Joe Satriani and decided that was what he wanted to be. So between three lessons a week and three hours of daily practice, he got good. Real good. By eight he’d played with Jackson Browne and Les Paul.

He’s been featured on bunches of TV Shows, such as: NBC's America's Got Talent, CBS' Rachael Ray TV Show, WGN’s Morning Show, Fox’s Morning Show, NBC's Today Show with Kathy Lee and Hoda, CBS’ Early Show, FOX News: Studio B with Shepard Smith, The Bonnie Hunt TV Show, CNN, Milwaukee’s Morning Blend, NBC's Today Show with Meredith Vieira, Chicago's WLS TV Morning Show, Madison’s Urban Theater and Almost Live with Johnny B TV Show are just a few on his impressive list.

And if that doesn’t make your brain hurt, he’s recording a series of instructional videos for Dangerous Guitars.

At least his singing isn’t up to par—yet. But, of course, it’s hard to sing the blues correctly when you haven’t reached puberty. Nor can he drink the wine that I am purposely going recommend just to spite the kid. Enjoy!

Hoochie Coochie “Boy”:

Here’s something that’s great during the heat wave that’s sweeping the country right now. The 2011 Dr. Pauly Bergweiler Rieslsling Kabinett Wehlener Sonnenuhr ($22.00) has a bouquet of sweet apples, limoncello, and something I had a hard time identifying until my wife was standing next to me eating an apricot. Eureka!—fresh apricots. The wine blends the sweetness of a Spätlese with the sparkling acidity of a kabinett and it’s loaded with citrus and peaches drenched in honeyed apples with vibrant minerality. The finish is wonderfully long and combines a sweet tart taste that lingers on your taste buds. All in all an excellent wine for summer…and the kid can’t drink it, but he sure can play the guitar.