Wine Country Here We Come!

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One Bright Day - Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers - Virgin Records
House of Exile - Lucky Dube - Shanachie
Este Mundo - The Gypsy Kings - Elektra Musician
Red, Hot, and Rio - Various Artists - Verve
Planet Soup - Various Artists - Elipsis Arts (3 Discs)

Music is almost as important to Gang tastings as the wines themselves. These CDs were brought along by The Director and this taster, and provided the soundtrack to our week in wine country. The Ziggy Marley and Lucky Dube discs were included based on the mistaken notion that Ras Lass (whose "Gang handle" is an indication of her love for "dem riddems") had packed some Bob Marley music for the trip; otherwise, I'd have included his 4-disc retrospective, "Songs of Freedom," instead.

"One Bright Day" is Ziggy Marley's second, and arguably, best collection of Reggae originals. Along with brother David, and sisters Sharon and Sydella, he has carried on father Bob's legacy as the pre-eminent Reggae act in the world. Favorite songs on the disc include "Look Who's Dancing," "Black My Story," and the anthem-like "Love Is the Only Law To Obey." If you ever have the opportunity to see them live, don't pass it up. Ecstatic stuff!

Lucky Dube is South Africa's finest Reggae performer; his music is almost as exciting as the Marleys'. His highly choreographed performances are characterized by boundless energy, and he possesses an astonishing falsetto voice. "House of Exile" was recorded before the abolition of apartheid, and many of the themes deal with both resistance and reconciliation. The music is infectious, and some of Madame L'Pour's favorite songs include the title song, "Hold On," and "Mickey Mouse Freedom."

Mr. Flippy was less than enthused about the presence of "Este Mundo," by the Gypsy Kings; he explained that their music is played constantly where he works, and he was just tired of hearing it! Still, he was a good sport, and never again complained, because this was replayed a number of times. The music is Neo-Flamenco at its best, performed by members of the Reyes and Bailardo clans, from southern France. The Kings have an absolutely huge following in Europe and South America; even in Canada, they have more fans than in the U.S., where it seems that most people can't appreciate anything not sung in English. Highly recommended!

"Red, Hot, and Rio" is the latest in the series of anthologies ("Red, Hot, and Country;" "Red, Hot, and Blue") that have been recorded to benefit AIDS research. Songs range from those that you'd hear today on the streets of Sao Paulo, to experimental renditions (often highly sampled and over-dubbed) of such Bossa Nova standards as "Corcovado," and "Agua de Beber." Perhaps the highlight for this listener is a fabulous duet between Astrid Gilberto (of "Girl From Ipanema" fame) and George Michael (singing in flawless Portuguese), recreating the classic, "Desafinado." Lush and atmospheric, their performance is, at once, seductive and intoxicating.

Finally, Planet Soup is described perfectly on its cover; "a stirring collection of cross-cultural collaborations & musical hybrids." You won't find any stars here, by American standards; few, if any, of the names are recognizable. What you will find are three discs of exotic music, with such unlikely match-ups as a mixed band of Celtic and Flamenco musicians; two bluegrass guitar players along with an East Indian tabla drummer; and a New Age pianist accompanying a Native American singer-musician. As our week in wine country progressed, Canadian Zinfan and Botrytis Boy seemed to favor this compilation more and more. As a matter of fact, The Director ended up trading our copy Planet Soup for a bottle of Canadian Zinfan's truffle oil.

The Gang of Pour is an eclectic bunch, and this is reflected in our music, as well as our wines.


Did you know that Bastardo is really a professional musician -- a legend in his own mind and a rumor in his own time?



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Gang of Pour Unleashed Directory

Prologue - Blast me off to Sonoma

Redwood Tree House & Ridge Lytton Springs

More Ridge Lytton Springs

Rafanelli Commentary

Power Tasting - Day One

Ridge ATP Party

Opus One - Day Two

Beringer - Day Two

Valley of the Moon - Day Three

Jason Brandt Lewis - Day Four

Newton Vineyards - Day Five

Bodega Bay - Day Six

Morning Reflections - Day Seven

More Wineries - Day Seven

SFJoe and Tasting Notes - Day Seven

Dinner Party and Tasting Notes - Day Seven

Departure and Epilogue - Day Eight