The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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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!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Antonio Forcione & Les Vignes de l'Aire Effet Papillon Cotes du Roussillon Rouge

Antonio Forcione is an Italian-born guitarist-composer. Forcione was born in a village on the Adriatic shore of Molise in southern Italy. He first drew public attention at 13 when he toured Italy with his own band as a guitarist, mandolinist and drummer. He and a couple of older friends would pile into a car and travel to villages to play at local festivals. Antonio would play guitar and occasionally the drums and bass. The boys earned some pocket money and Antonio began to hone his craft on the guitar and composing new songs.

He obtained a Diploma in Art and Sculpture from the Art Institute in Ancona on the eastern coast of Italy where he also studied percussion, later moving to Rome to study harmony and mime in his early twenties. In 1983 he moved to London, but unable to speak English, he joined the ranks of the city’s street buskers. Within two months he caught the eye of the BBC which led to a television appearance and a major European tour opening for  Barclay James Harvest.  After the tour, he returned to the streets, gigging in wine bars and pubs. He built up a cult following that resulted in a contract with Virgin Records.

He’s won a boatload of awards and has released 17 albums of mostly original material. He tours internationallyand has performed at numerous charity events and festivals. I’ve heard him called the “Jimi Hendrix of Acoustic Guitar,” but I’m not sure it’s appropriate. To my knowledge, he doesn’t play with his teeth nor has he ever set his guitar on fire, but he is one heck of a guitarist.

Antonio deserves a special wine and I just received a case of the perfect pairing, the 2012 Les Vignes de l'Aire Effet Papillon Cotes du Roussillon Rouge. I’ve only seen this one offered by Moore Brothers in New York/New Jersey, but at $12.00/bottle including shipping it’s worth ordering a case or two. The wine is a mixture of Grenache and Carignan and is produced by the Cave Cooperative de Rivsaltes under the direction of Stéphane and Marjorie Gallett of my favorite winery Roc des Anges. It’s deep purple with wonderful aromas of cherries dusted with dark chocolate and spices. The palate follows with a combination of dark cherries and blackberries. Tannins are light and don’t overpower. The biggest problem with this wine is that it’s hard to sip. I drink it too fast. Of course, I do have a case, so I’ll be okay for now. I bet Antonio would love it too!


Friday, October 11, 2013

Manelli Jamal & Domaine Costa Lazaridi Amethystos Red

Born in Belarus and of Iranian descent, Maneli Jamal was raised in Cologne, Germany. His family then moved to the States in his adolescence, immigrating to Minnesota before relocating to Austin, Texas until his late teens. At this time, his family was issued a deportation letter by the immigration office, and they were forced to claim refuge in Canada within thirty days of receiving the notice.

Taking literally only what they could fit in their hands, Jamal and his family arrived in Toronto after establishing their lives in Austin, TX. It was at this time that Maneli got an acoustic guitar from his father for his 16th birthday, which has scarcely left his hands since.

Maneli had played in punk and metal bands throughout his teens, so he was no stranger to the six-string. However, the acoustic guitar held new secrets for him to discover, and thus began his exploration of the virtuosic style he’s since mastered. Utilizing a mix of classical, flamenco and percussive playing, Maneli composes unique movements which are far outside the realm of traditional songwriting.

His accomplishments include winning a number of guitar contest such as:

1st place - 2013 Beaches International Jazz Festival Hennessy Contest 

1st Place - 2012 “Awakening” Best Audio Recording AES Convention by Pouya Hamidi

1st Place - 2012 Winterfolk Festival Auditions 

1st Place - 2011 Winterfolk Festival Auditions 

Top 3 - 2011 Guitar Idol III (worldwide competition)

1st Place - 2010 Taylor Guitars Showdown Winner

1st Place - 2010 Toronto Indie Week showcase winner

1st Place - 2009 Faith Guitars Acoustic Guitar Competition 

1st Place - 2008 Toronto's Writers Co-Op / Musical Performance Competition

All those wins do is confirm his virtuosity on the guitar. Enjoy!

I was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina recently, eating at a Greek restaurant and had a beautiful wine. I don’t know much about wines from this country but the 2009 Domaine Costa Lazaridi Amethystos red recommended by our waitress was fabulous. The wine is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, with 20% Merlot and 10% Agiorgitiko, aged in a mixture of new and old French oak for 12 months. Extremely dark purple colour, and nearly opaque, it has aromas of black berries, cassis and truffles. Full bodied with hefty tannins, it’s powerful and masculine. Good amount of blue and black berries. It has a very long, yet clean finish filled with cassis. At $20.00 a bottle, I’ll be searching my local wine shops for a bottle or six. It’s an excellent accompaniment to the guitar of Manelli Jamal.