Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kermit's Temptations

I listened to Kermit Lynch's debut CD, Man's Temptation, while blasting to Sacramento on I-80 in my wife's WRX last weekend. The wind whistled in the background joining Kermit in a chorus. This surprising album is delicious road music, indeed!

Yes, Kermit Lynch--the Berkeley wine merchant known for introducing Vieux Télégraphe, Robert Chevillon, François Raveneau, Marcel Lapierre, Charles Joguet, Domaine Tempier, and other great wine producers to the US--is also an accomplished musician. He sang all thirteen songs and composed five of them--country essentially, with folk, blues, and boogie-woogie inflections. He raspily croons the uptempo numbers in a lively, swinging beat and delivers the heartbreak ballads with a pained, lazy voice.

Listening to the CD I get the feeling that Kermit has long dreamed of recording his music. He described himself as a "starving musician" in the streets of Berkeley during the 70s long before a wine shop was even a thought. Rock-and-roll was his ambition. "Still I think to myself, if I'd had musicians like Keith Richards and Charlie Watts backing me up, I mighta been a contender."

Well, after a long detour on the wine route, Kermit boldly changed course and headed to Nashville to cut a CD on an indie label. With a Nashville back-up band worthy of the Stones--equipped with folk instruments like upright bass, mandolin, accordion, pedal steel guitar, fiddle, bouzouki (?), and slide guitar--Kermit produced a rich texture of sound and a flawless beat; his vocals sailed through effortlessly.

And of course, what's Kermit Lynch without his notes? The CD's liner notes are vintage Kermit. He writes the propaganda piece for each song the same way he persuades you to drink Tempier's La Migoua, gets you excited on Bernard Maume's Mazis, or makes you try a half-case of the Gramenon.

The songs in this new CD, like the wines, are stories of Kermit's temptations. Who doesn't like to be tempted?

Kermit Lynch
"Man's Temptation"
(Dualtone Music Group)
CD $14.00 at Vineyard Gate

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