The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
The Death Whisperer Series available at

Monday, April 27, 2015

Dominic Miller & "E-2"

Dominic Miller is a little known, but fabulous Argentine-born English guitarist who has played on every Sting album and tour since 1990. In fact, he’s co-written many of Sting’s songs, including  one of my favorites, “Shape of My Heart.”

He was born March 21st, 1960 and lived in Argentina for the first ten years of his life. His family moved to Wisconsin for two years then settled in London. He comes from a musical family and became a serious guitarist by the age of eleven. He has studied at London’s Guildhall School of Music as well as Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

His influences are diverse ranging from classical guitarist John Williams to Lindsey Buckingham to the late Jerry Garcia. In his group he alternates between electric and classical guitars and he’s a killer on both. Check out Rhani Krija, his drummer and percussionist. He’s remarkable, especially on “Rush Hour”. I’ve included two versions of “Shape of My Heart; one with his band and a stripped down version with just he and Sting. There’s also a clip of him accompanying Sting on “Brand New Day”.  Miller is a dynamic guitarist/song writer and one whom you should definitely get to know.

Fragile/Bring on the night:
Shape of my heart (Sting):

Miller’s music always strikes me as moody, brooding, and bit on the dark side due to his extensive use of minor chord progressions. That calls for an equally dark and brooding wine like “E-2” from Dave Phinney’s Locations project ($19.00). Phinney has a long history of winemaking at high-end wineries in the Napa Valley including Opus One, Whitehall, and Mondavi. His own premium label Orin Swift is best known for it’s “The Prisoner” and “Papillon” wines. The Location wines are based on the concept of taking the best grapes from a country and blending them to make the best possible wine.  The name, “E” stands for España or Spain and is a blend of Grenache from Priorat, Rioja and Toro, Tempranillo from Riojo and Carignan from Ribera del Duero and Carinyena. The wine is dark purple and full bodied with explosive aromas of black fruit followed on the palate by blackberry, kirsh, and a touch of pepper. It has stunning richness and opulence and for my money can’t be beaten for the price. In fact, the Locations wines are some of the best wines money can buy for under $20.00. It’s a perfect compliment to the guitar of Dominic Miller.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mark Kroos & Bila Haut Cote de Roussillon Village

I’m back after an eight-month hiatus. While I  haven’t been blogging, I have been writing—two more thriller novels (Color Me Deadly and Tenebrae) completed and the third (SybrKombat) about to go to my editor for final cuts. Just to refresh your memory, I review mostly acoustic guitarists as well as a few electrics and a smattering of bass players and I pair them with a wine that I think fits their music. As far as the wines go, I limit them to those that I can find for less than $30.00 as it’s more of a challenge and probably suits the average Joe’s budget best.

Tonight I’m featuring one of my favorites, Mark Kroos. Mark attended Bowling Green University’s school of music from 2004-2006, majoring in guitar and jazz. While he learned much from his instructors, Chris Buzzelli and Matthew Ardizone, he decided jazz wasn’t his thing and left to tour with a punk band. When the band disbanded in 2009, Mark began teaching and switched to the acoustic guitar. The musical wizard that is him today was birthed after a whole lot of writing and practicing on a double necked guitar.

He uses a number of open tunings and relies on incredible tapping technique to play both necks simultaneously. His influences are drawn from folk, Celtic, indie and even a few punk artists as well as other virtuoso guitarists like Michael Hedges, Tommy Emmanuel, and Leo Kottke.

In July of 2011 Mark was invited, along with four other musicians, to compete in Guitar Player Magazine's International Guitar Superstar Competition in Nashville. The judges were Larry Carlton, Muriel Anderson, Reeves Gabrels, and Carl Verheyen, all of whom are guitar giants. Mark took 1st place out of the 5 invitees who were chosen from thousands of others who had submitted demos online.

In March, 2013, Mark posted a video of him simultaneously playing both the banjo and guitar parts of the Deliverance theme on his double neck. It exploded on YouTube, and I think after you see it, you’ll understand why he’s so unique in the world of guitar. Hope you enjoy him.

An incredible guitarist deserves to be paired with an equally incredible wine, so I suggest the 2012 Bila Haut Cotes de Roussillon Village les Vignes de Haut ($14.00). This French vineyard, owned by Michel Chapoutier, is located on the slopes of the Angly valley, just north of the Spanish border. Chapoutier is a reknown enologist and anything he makes is excellent. This particular wine is dark purple with an aromatic mix of red and black fruits and herbes de Provence. It’s a rich, juicy wine filled with blackberry, raspberry, red currants, and a touch of white pepper on the palate, finishing with a vibrancy characteristic of the region. You can find it online from a number of vendors. Pick up a case then wait for a rainy afternoon and curl up in front of a fireplace with a good book, a glass of the Bila Haut, and the music of Mark Kroos.