The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
The Death Whisperer Series available at

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ben Howard & Trousse-Chemise Pinot Noir

Ben Howard was born in West London in 1987. His family moved to Totnes, Devon when he was eight. His parents, musicians themselves, surrounded him with music as he grew up and exposed him to singer-songwriters of the 1960s and 1970s like Joni Mitchel and Simon and Garfunkel. Two of his biggest musical influences were John Martyn and Nick Drake.
Ben began writing his own songs when he was around ten, using the guitar as his composing vehicle. He attended Torquay Boys’ Grammar School and King Edward VI Community College then went on to study journalism at the University of Falmouth. But six months shy of getting his degree, he decided to make music his full-time career focusing on the folk-style genre made popular by Nick Drake. His guitar style is a blend of fingerpicking, standard tapping, and lap-tapping. His lyrics are full of imagery, some of which is rather dark. He released two EPs before signing with Island Records. His debut CD, Every Kingdom, went gold in the U.K. and is gradually gaining traction in the U.S. due to a recent tour.
In 2013, he won BRIT awards for Best British Breakthrough Act and Best British Solo Male Artist. His voice and guitar have a haunting quality to it that I hope you like. Enjoy!

I’m pairing Ben with the 2012 Trousse-Chemise Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Oregon, and particularly the Willamette Valley region, produces some of my favorite Pinot Noirs. This one is bright cherry red with a nose of red raspberries and cherries. The palate follows the nose with rich fruit and a fresh vibrant finish. It’s a nice wine to enjoy with a good book while listening to the music of Ben Howard.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Russ Freeman & Girard Sauvignon Blanc

Russ Freeman is the founder and leader of the contemporary jazz group, the Rippingtons. He was raised in Nashville and started playing the guitar at the age of ten under the tutorage of one of his father’s friends who was a Nashville session musician. By the age of sixteen, Russ was also playing sessions. At the age of eighteen, he left Nashville for Los Angeles where his first gigs were playing the background music for Jane Fonda’s workout videos and commercials featuring Anne Murray and Englebert Humperdinck.

In 1986, he formed the Rippingtons, originally conceiving it as a changing lineup of jazz musicians drawn from top session players. The first version featured one of my favorite pianists, David Benoit along with Brandon Fields, Dave Koz, and Kenny G on saxes. By 1993, the band solidified into a six-piece group with Dave Kochanski on keyboards, Jeff Kashiwa on sax, Kim Stone on bass, Tony Morales on drums, Steve Reid on percussion, and of course, Freeman on guitar.

The Oasis Smooth Jazz Awards honored Russ with a Lifetime Achievement Award as well as Producer of the Year in 2001. In 2000, Billboard BET chose the Rippingtons as best group and Oasis gave them the same award for 2001 & 2002. Russ and the Rippingtons are one of the most listenable groups I’ve ever heard and his guitar playing is definitely smooth. Great music to listen to while I work on my consulting projects. Enjoy!

My wife and I got a Groupon to our favorite local restaurant this week and enjoyed a bottle of the 2011 Girard Sauvignon Blanc ($18.00 in stores) with our salmon. I’m a huge fan of Girard wines, particularly their Petite Sirah, but this was the first time I’ve tasted their Sauvignon Blanc. Its aromatics were full of citrus, lemon peel, and a tropical fruits. The taste was a mix of citrus and mango, slightly dry, yet tart. It has a nice softness on the tongue and bright acidity makes for a clean, crisp finish. I can see enjoying a bottle of this when the weather turns warmer as I sit on my deck, watching the stars and listening to Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons.