Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

Friday, February 9, 2024

Blood Of The Vines - Soul Music

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌ ‌ This week we put on the headphones/earbuds and let the music wash over us. Are we high? If not, we have some wine pairings to go along with the musical movies.

This is one of those weeks where music and movies merge, a happy affair, for me at least, even when the sound and the pictures are not of the highest quality. The beach party movies come to mind, as do Elvis flicks. Somewhere, there is probably a home movie of the legendary 30-minute version of "Louie Louie" recorded at a Hell’s Angels party. That would fall into this category as well. But on we go to the films that reach loftier heights.

The 1986 film, Crossroads, was inspired by the legend of blues pioneer Robert Johnson. The legend says he went down to the crossroads and sold his soul to the devil to get his guitar prowess. If that's how it's done, what did Carlos Santana have to give up? Eric Clapton? Stevie Ray Vaughn? Well, that last one doesn't need answering. We know what he gave up. 

For authenticity, guitar god Ry Cooder provided a lot of music for the movie, but he was passed over to play the guitarist in the film's climactic guitar battle. Ry was reportedly a little bit pissed that Steve Vai ended up shredding the hot licks. If anyone else wants to carp about the choice, Vai could easily say, "Hold my beer" while showing you a thing or two. 

Napa Valley's Crossroads Wines are made by Samantha Rudd and utilize grapes with a pedigree, from places like Oakville and Mt. Veeder. You may have to shop around to find them, and you will spend $80 or more for a Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. Their Sauvignon Blanc runs quite a bit less. 

Honeydripper was written and directed by John Sayles for a 2007 release. The plot deals with the owner of a blues club in rural Alabama and his effort to save the place by hiring a hot, young guitar man, played by Gary Clark, Jr. Keb’ Mo also appears and R&B great Ruth Brown would have had a starring role, had she lived long enough. She was replaced by Mable John.

The movie ran hot and cold for critics, with one scribe taking issue with caricatures like a "blind guitar picker, redneck sheriff, revival meetings, cotton-picking, fights in juke joints and the like." Having grown up in the American South, I can attest that blind guitar pickers, redneck sheriffs, revival meetings, cotton-picking and fights in juke joints are not so much caricatures as they are the actual stuff of everyday life. 

The story is great, and the music mixes old classics like "Good Rockin" Tonight," "Move It On Over" and "Why Don’t You Do Right" with stuff penned in more modern times. Having Gary Clark, Jr and Keb’ Mo on hand certainly doesn't hurt the soundtrack's street cred.

I ran across a recipe for a cocktail called Honeydripper, but there's no booze in it. What are they thinking? Since we are safely clear of Dry January, try Batch Mead, located in Temecula. It's honey wine. Their Smokin Hickory Barrel Aged Mead doesn't sound like it would get you into a fight in an Alabama roadhouse in 1950. Well, actually, it does. Try it anyway. 

Charlie Parker's brief life was directed for the big screen by Clint Eastwood. The biopic Bird showed the saxophonist's connection with his wife, Chan, and trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Red Rodney. Red and Bird were drug buddies of a sort, and the heroin no doubt contributed to Parker's fatal heart attack at the age of 34. As for Rodney, he lived to be 66, although he was plagued by heroin addiction, stroke and lung cancer for many of those years.

Despite the fantastic performance by Forest Whitaker as Parker, the movie stands as one of Eastwood's least successful films. It has a solid following these days, particularly among jazz fans. The soundtrack features re-recorded tracks with Parker's sax work extracted from original takes and cleaned up through the magic of modern audio technology. 

How can we not give at least a cursory glance to Jazz Cellars? They are in the Sierra Foothills village of Murphys, California, the town that needs to either drop the S or add an apostrophe. Their Grenache Rosé is a $24 bottle of Calaveras County grapes, jazzed up to a beautiful pinkish hue. 

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Friday, June 30, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Weird Musicals

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌ This week we find wine pairings for three musical movies which may cause us to need a drink - Weird Musicals.

When we say weird, we mean weird. Cannibal! The Musical could hardly get any weirder. If you thought a musical featuring Nazi soldiers was weird - and there have been a few: The Sound of Music, Cabaret, Blazing Saddles - wait until you get a load of this. Cannibal! The Musical is a 1993 black comedy about people eating other people, set to music. 

From the comedy team of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, in their pre-South Park days, the script loosely follows real-life events from the late 19th century. You know how it is - a winter excursion strands your group in the mountains and, well, ya gotta eat.

You may find it surprising that someone could find humor in that sort of desperation. You may even find it disturbing, or disgusting. Parker made a successful career off of making people feel those emotions after this directorial debut. Have you given any thought to what you'll snack on while watching Cannibal! The Musical? Ears of corn? Kidney beans? Lady fingers? That's up to you. My job is to select a wine pairing.

Cannibal Creek Winery in southeastern Australia offers a great place to start the search, and to stop it. They have a full line of wines that will pair incredibly well with a movie featuring both cannibalism and a thoughtful score.

The Apple made 1980 memorable for fans of horribly bad movies. It is a scifi musical with biblical overtones, hence the prominently placed apple. The Menahem Golan picture took a look into the future as far away as … 1994. Really? Was that a dollar store crystal ball? You look into the future of rock and roll and can't see farther than 14 years? I'd get my dollar back.

Golan likely wanted at least some of his millions back after getting a look at what most critics and viewers consider to be one of the worst movies ever made. The musical aspect of the film reportedly ate up some seven thousand dollars per day of production - and we don't even have a soundtrack album to show for it! Not that we would really want one.

There is a feeling that there may be something here that's entertaining. A god-like person named Mr. Topps, who rides in a Rolls Royce-shaped cloud? That sounds like we may be onto something good. Then we find that the savior sent by the supreme being was trying to save the gifted singer from the evil clutches of glittery gays and drag queens. I'll bet there wasn't a Bud Light to be had on the set.

Let's pick a wine for The Apple befitting of this misanthropic marvel. Washington state's Chateau Ste Michelle has a red blend called Prayers for Sinners and Saints, because they feel that our true self lies somewhere in between those two extremes. For real-life choices, there is a lot of gray area there. It is simpler with the wine - white or red?

1982's Pink Floyd - The Wall is one of the more depressing musicals out there - which is saying something, as we have already chalked one up to cannibalism. 

Alienation, the horror of war, the danger of hammers and becoming comfortably numb are not exactly the stuff of Rex Harrison moments. And nobody ever accused Roger Waters of being either Lerner or Loewe

Pink Floyd - The Wall was a big enough hit that we might have expected musicals made from other Pink Floyd albums. However, Pink Floyd - Obscured By Clouds, Pink Floyd - A Saucerful of Secrets and Pink Floyd - Ummagumma never materialized.

Oh, by the way, which one's Pink? Bob Geldof. Bob Geldof is Pink. But, we'll go full red for one of the Wines That Rock. They don't have one dedicated to The Wall, but the Cabernet Sauvignon for The Dark Side of the Moon is close enough for rock'n'roll.

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Friday, November 11, 2022

Blood Of The Vines - Lights! Action! Music!

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌ This week it’s all about the music. Oh, and the wine. 

Celebration at Big Sur is the film version of the 1969 Big Sur Folk Festival, although the movie was not released until 1971. You get a heavy dose of Joan Baez, not nearly enough of Joni Mitchell and just about the right amount of CSN&Y. It would have been nice had the filmmakers included a complete version of "Cowgirl In the Sand," but I get it - ten minutes can be a long time to wait for a Neil Young song to end. 

Miniscule in comparison to Woodstock, which had happened just a month earlier, the Big Sur event drew barely more than 10,000 people. Many of them listened to the two-day folk fest for free, from the shoulder of Highway 1. It’s not the best way to hear a concert, but it is the cheapest. 

I enjoyed a Bob Dylan concert once in San Diego, when he played the Embarcadero Amphitheater. As I walked toward the venue, planning to buy a ticket, I realized that I could hear just fine from the steps of the Convention Center, so I sat down. There was no $20 beer to be had there, but I did save the cost of a ticket and didn't mind being able to leave whenever I felt like it.

For a movie about a music festival in Big Sur, it is only fitting that we open a bottle of Big Sur Red from Big Sur Vineyards. This wine is a blend of Grenache and Syrah grapes grown in Monterey County, the home of Big Sur. Pretend you're at the festival and drink it straight from the bottle. 

From 1975, That's the Way of the World showcases the music of Earth, Wind and Fire, who basically play themselves as a fictional band. Harvey Keitel is in it, which is usually enough to draw me into the theater. He's a record producer with a "golden ear" who works with the group. Personally, I prefer him as a hit man, but a hit record producer will do in a pinch. If he had only insisted on "more cowbell."

You may have listened endlessly to the soundtrack album to That's the Way of the World without realizing that it was a soundtrack album. Rolling Stone called the EW&F record "makeout music of the gods," which is at least one thing they got right.

Lodi's Jessie's Grove Winery puts out a nice red wine which they call Earth Zin and Fire. The Zinfandel clocks in at more than 15% alcohol, routine for the fine farms of Lodi. It will def put a person in the mood for making out. 

1973's Wattstax is 103 minutes of pure soul. The film shows the concert put on by Stax Records in 1972 to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the Watts riots. There is more than the concert in the film - many artists who couldn't appear during the show were asked to film separate pieces elsewhere to be included. Isaac Hayes, in fact, recorded some songs that were different from those he did in concert because MGM wouldn't let them use "Theme From Shaft" in the movie. That restriction fell by the wayside in 1978. When the movie was restored in 2003, Shaft was put back in as part of the film's finale. "Right on."

There was skepticism that a little record label - Stax - could team up with a little neighborhood - Watts - for a successful show at the Los Angeles Coliseum with tickets that sold for a buck apiece. It happened. It happened big time. As Isaac Hayes said, "You’re damn right."

Watts Winery isn't in Watts, it's in Lodi, farmed for four generations by the Watts family. But hey, how about an actual musician vintner? Earl Stevens - you might know him as rapper E-40 - makes California wines that look to be on the sweet side and are priced on the affordable side. Enjoy a chilled Mangoscato with Wattstax.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wine For "Woodstock"

From the vaults, five years ago. The wine and movie pairing for "Woodstock." Thanks to "Blood Of The Vines" for hosting these originally.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Bottle of red, bottle of white

I've been a big fan of the Billy Joel song, "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant," since it appeared in 1977.  There may not be an award given for "pop song that best presents wine as a social vehicle," but if there were, this song would probably win it.

I've done a bit of study on songs about wine and have found that they tend to stray into the unsavory areas of drunks, bums and hobos.  In "Scenes," there's no "drowning your sorrows" or "trying to forget" or "let's bum some change and get loaded."  It's all about sharing wine with a friend and enjoying the memories which are revisited over a bottle of wine and a red and white checkered tablecloth.

"A bottle of white, a bottle of red, perhaps a bottle of rosé instead."

I understand that a waiter actually delivered that line to Joel.  The singer reiterates it in the languid introduction to his tune. He sings about the social aspect of wine - citing it as an ingredient which augments the great feeling of spending time with friends and having good conversation.

Back in the college days, the wine may have been cheap - it may have been bad - but it was definitely an important part of the social scene.  Sure, we drank too much of it - that's what college kids do.  At least, that's what non-valedictorian college kids do.

We all may not have been "wine lovers" in our youth - I seem to remember a beer now and then - but we definitely loved sharing wine with our friends.

Through the years, we have attended weddings - even been a part of the spectacle - and we've toasted friends and relatives on their nuptials again and again with champagne or some other sparkling wine which seemed to be the best in the world, given the circumstances.

"A bottle of red, a bottle of white, it all depends upon your appetite."

I can't recall a pop song, except for this one, which references the pairing of wine with food.  From pizza to pâté de foie gras, food is better with wine.  How many snacks, lunches or dinners have you shared with friends over the years?  If you're like me, it's the
friends you remember the most, then the wine.  I don't usually reminisce over a ham sandwich I had twenty years ago.  The person with whom I dined and the wine we drank are memories which do stay with me.

Jerry Jeff Walker sang ever so (hic!) eloquently about sangria wine, in which he also extolled the virtues of wine plus friends.  However, his Texas friends were spiking the wine with Everclear.   No food needed there, or even advisable.

I once brought a Spanish Garnacha to a friend's dinner party.  One of the guests - a guy I didn't even know to be a wine lover - told me he liked the way the wine made the food taste - so much so, that it made his visit even more enjoyable.  I don't know how I could have felt any better about that wine.

"A bottle of red, a bottle of white, whatever kind of mood you're in tonight."

Once in New York, a friend and I caught a cab to Little Italy on a very warm summer evening.  We took a sidewalk table, bought a bottle of red wine and proceeded to amuse ourselves with stories and laughter.  I don't even remember what kind of wine it was,
but it was good and it was cold and the bottle was sweating even more than the cabbie who brought us to the restaurant.

Another friend had a sister who loved a particular brand of cheap, California Chardonnay - a grocery store brand.  Anytime the three of us got together, it was that brand or nothing.  Even when I offered to spring for something else, something better, she wouldn't hear of it.  The wine wasn't very good at all, but it didn't seem to matter.  We had a good time sharing it every time.

My wife and I have explored the various wine regions of California together many times.  It never fails to warm my heart when she tastes a wine she really likes.  Her eyes light up and she spills forth with tasting notes that come to her immediately, not over long swirls, sniffs and sips as with me.  She has found dessert wines and Italian varieties to be her favorites, and it's always a special occasion when we enjoy those together.

Ohio sommelier Tony Bellatto, in his blog, "Open The Cellar Door," sums up the social aspect of wine nicely with this comment:

"I realized that it really didn’t matter what we were drinking, because the wine did its job, it created a moment in my life that I will never forget, a snapshot in time that I will remember forever, and that is what it is worth all the money in the world to me."

"I'll meet you anytime you want, at our Italian restaurant."

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Sunday, July 18, 2010


Let's do a little multi-media multi-tasking today.  If it sounds too tough, warm up with the crossword puzzle, then come back.  Today's blog features a whole slew of songs about wine.  After you read about them, feel free to click over to 30 Days Out and listen to them.  That happens to be a really great blog about music, which is headed up by a really great guy with whom I used to drink some really cheap wine.

One of my many joys in life is music. I love gathering mp3s of songs together in a thematic group and burning them to a CD.  I use these CDs to pass the hour and a half or so each day I spend behind the wheel of the car in Los Angeles traffic.  Believe me, I need all the help I can get.

Another of my many joys is wine, so it’s not too much of a stretch for me to assemble a compilation of songs about wine.

It's difficult to find too many songs about wine that are actually about the wine.  Most wine songs are lyrically concerned with over-imbibing: getting drunk on wine, staying high all the time, etc.  I was certainly no saint in my younger days, but at this point in my life I try to promote only the responsible use of alcoholic beverages.  Besides, I drink wine to enjoy the experience of the wine, not to get blasted.

Wine has a rather seedy image in some of the more well-known wine classics.  The Tom Paxton song, Bottle Of Wine, deals with the trials and tribulations of panhandling for spare change in order to buy some fruit of the vine.  Many other songs deal with the soft underbelly of the wine drinking populace, too.  In Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee, also known as Wine, Wine, Wine, the singer has a nickel and only needs another dime to afford the desired bottle. You'd be hard-pressed to match that in even today's depressed wine economy - even at 7-11.

Jerry Jeff Walker's Sangria Wine is all about the camaraderie of wine - which is great - but his delivery gets more liquid as the song progresses.  It ends up with a “slumped-in-the-lawn-chair” sort of feeling that isn’t exactly unpleasant, just maybe a little undesirable.

Red, Red Wine was penned by Neil Diamond in the 1960s and performed by a wide variety of singers since then.  In it, the wine "goes to my head, makes me forget."  That’s touching, but most counselors will tell you it's a bad idea to try and hide from your troubles in a bottle of wine.  In similar fashion, Two More Bottles of WineWine Do Yer Stuff and a host of others deal with wine as a crutch or escape from reality.

Spill The Wine, the great 1970 hit by Eric Burdon and War, is about a dream where wine is involved.  To me it always seemed like a dream induced by something harder than wine.

Lee Hazelwood's Summer Wine, which took him and Nancy Sinatra to the top 40 in the mid-’60s, is the flip side of that dream in Spill The Wine.  There’s no happy ending, though.  Eventually, the summer wine runs empty.

I prefer songs about wine made from grapes, so I'll toss out Sweet Cherry WineElderberry Wine and Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine.  Who needs wine made from old dogs, children and watermelons?

Here are some songs with at least a passing reference to wine either in the title or lyrics.  Pick and choose and make a Wine Song CD of your own!  I’d love to hear about any wine songs you like, in the comments.

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant by Billy Joel - While not entirely about wine, he does bookend his vignettes with references to 'a bottle of white, a bottle of red, perhaps a bottle of rose instead."

Bad Chardonnay by Graham Parker - About the touring life of a rock star, which in this case is filled with "cigarettes and bad chardonnay."

Killer Queen - by Queen - “She keeps Moet et Chandon in a pretty cabinet.”

Champagne Jam by The Atlanta Rhythm Section - They don’t specify what type of Champagne in this one, but I’m guessing it’s actually sparkling wine.

Hotel California by The Eagles - “pink Champagne on ice” is the beverage of choice at this West Coast retreat.

Champagne Supernova by Oasis - “A Champagne supernova in the sky” sounds like a good reason to break out the bubbly.

Old Red Wine by The Who - I hear this was for The Who’s late bassist, John Entwistle, who loved red wine.

The Wino And I Know by Jimmy Buffett - Ask not for whom the cork pops...

Wine, Women An’ Song by Whitesnake - Winemakers themselves these days, Whitesnake was not the first artist to sing a tribute to this holy trinity, and they won’t be the last.

Don't forget - enjoy the music over at 30 Days Out !

Monday, May 31, 2010


The 100-point rating system used by wine critics such as Robert Parker is either embraced or reviled.  I include myself in the latter group.

I think of winemaking as an artistic process.  Is it really possible to accurately describe a wine's value with a numerical representation?  I think not.  But there are many who would disagree with that viewpoint.

What if other art forms - music, for instance - were rated on a 100-point scale the way wine is?

Utilizing Robert Parker's scoring system, an assessment of the Rolling Stones' "Exile On Main Street" might go, as they say in the Poconos, a little something like this:

“I am giving this CD, as I do all CDs, a base of 50 points.

“The general color and appearance of the CD merit up to 5 points. With most CD artwork being produced by professional artists, most CDs receive 4 or even 5 points.

“In the case of "Exile...," however, I must insist that the cover artwork seems put together in what I will generously refer to as a haphazard way.  It actually appears to be the work of a rather disturbed child who discovered some old photos in the attic and made a collage from them.  I will award only 2 points for the disappointing appearance of this CD.

“The words and music merit up to 15 points, depending on the intensity level and dimension of the words and music as well as the cleanliness.

“First of all, I can only understand about half the words.  Those I can understand seem directed from the gutter.  While the lyrics seem delivered with a certain amount of fervor, especially in some of the faster songs, I feel some understandability is required.  The cleanliness level leaves much to be desired.  The music is written and performed in a professional style, in keeping with other rock CD of the Classic Rock variety, so I'll award 7 points.

“The sound and emotional impact merit up to 20 points.  I may not understand it, but it kicks ass. 17 points.

“Finally, the overall quality level or potential for further evolution and improvement merits up to 10 points.  The overall quality seems only moderately high, even given the recording techniques of the day.  Moreover, owing to the advancing age of the principals of this unit, I can't reasonable expect much improvement through aging.  3 points.

“Total score for 'Exile On Main Street': 79 points.”

Is "Exile..." really a 79-point CD?  If the critic isn't inclined to like the Rolling Stones, maybe it is.  But for those who do like them, and consider "Exile..." to be a classic of the rock era, what are we to make of the 79-point score?

The same questions can be asked about a wine's critical rating.  Is the critic simply not a fan of the winery or the vineyard from which the grapes are taken?  Does he or she simply not care for Grenache, Merlot or White Zinfandel?  Did the critic simply not wake up on the wine-appreciating side of the bed that day?

I would prefer to see wine criticism stated in words, not numbers.  I enjoy reading about what a taster thinks of different wines, but I have a hard time relating to a number score which leaves so much unsaid and open to interpretation.

Please leave a comment on how this topic hits you.  If you'd prefer to email me, you can do so  Twitter users can message me: Twitter .  You can also tip in onFacebook .  I look forward to hearing what you have to say.