By Ben Heskett
Grace Potter can rock. The pride of Waitsfield, VT, this emerging star and her band, the Nocturnals, are on the verge of big things, depending on what your definition of “big things” is (Some would say they’ve already blown past the verge). Potter's voice is huge, and her talent is just as immense.
This acoustic version of “Medicine” strikes the appropriate balance between her volcanic vocals and a certain restraint. For a full-blown representation of Potter’s power and sass, I’d point you to a live version of “Paris (Ooh La La)" from a television appearance, a gem called “That Phone” performed at 2009’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., as well as a live cover version of Heart’s “Crazy On You.” Great stuff.
Since Potter is no shrinking violet, the ‘Zilla simply can’t offer a pairing that could not meet her energy, enthusiasm, and vocal power. Thus, I present the hard-to-find Ridge Vineyards 2006 California Syrah/Grenache (Generally, only available at the winery and produced in small allotments), a blend from the winery’s Lytton Estate Vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma.
It’s comprised of equal parts Syrah and Grenache. Typical of these Rhone varietals, there’s a lot of tasty fruit, as well as some spice elements that pair well with the saucy Potter’s vocals and front-woman presence. In fact, any Rhone-based California offering – particularly those coming out of the Paso Robles region – could work well with Potter’s music. I, for one, will be interested to see where Potter’s career takes her. Cheers!
By Joe Colgan
Welcome to Friday everyone! This week the CORKZILLA ship is going to raise anchor and set sail for the high seas of Cheese. Today we pay tribute to Primus, the unorthodox and eccentric avant-rock trio from California's Bay Area, who will be stomping through LA this weekend at the beautiful Wiltern Theatre. Fronted by bass-man extraordinaire, Les Claypool, Primus has been doing things their own way since 1984. Some terms to describe their music - if you're new to the zany world of Primus - might be funk-rock, thrash-funk, progressive metal, combined with a little dash of country. Claypool, joined by long time guitarist Larry "Ler" LaLonde, and returning drummer Jay Lane (Lane, having left Primus in the late 80's, has returned after recently leaving the drummer chair for Further) have built a reputation for creating very uncommercial friendly music that has sold many records. They're also known for very high energy shows that are usually packed to the rafters by their devoted cult fan base. The vid below, from Primus' 2008 performance at the Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco, will give you a little glimpse of what their live show experience is like. I should note this was my son's first concert, in utero.
When Primus returns to northern California after touring the globe, the band spends much of their time recording at Claypool's home studio, Rancho Relaxo, located in Occidental, Sonoma County. It is here in Sonoma that Claypool also devotes time to his other interest, wine. With Claypoolcellars, he joins the ever-growing list of rock stars that have made the step into the wine world - here's a great interview with Joe Roberts (aka, 1 Wine Dude) and Les about his foray into wine production. Sourcing grapes from the Russian River Valley, Claypoolcellers currently produces a 2008 Pinot Noir (The Purple Pachyderm) and a 2008 Point Noir Rose (The Pink Platypus) - both vintages combined equals about 500 cases a year. In addition Les has also recently opened a tasting room to showcase his wines in a former Old Southern Pacific Rail caboose, located in the Sonoma town of Sebastopol.
CORKZILLA will be tasting some of Claypool's wine soon (the order has been placed) and we will give our thoughts in a later post that will also feature other reviews of wines from rock stars turned oenophiles. But for now, to keep with the locale of Claypool's wine efforts, I recommend a stellar wine from the Russian River Valley that never disappoints - The 2008 Joseph Swan "Cuvee de Trois" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. This is a medium bodied PN with delicious black cherry and spicy notes. The palette yields earthiness/minerality and strong acidity, which ends with a nice long finish. Retailing for around $32, it’s a great PN representation from one of our favorite appellations.