Author: Daniel, Bert

Wine Country Set List

Yesterday, we went for an imaginary bike ride through Sonoma County during the crush season, the season, right about now, when all the grapes are harvested to make wines that are prized the world over. It's a truly beautiful time of year. A good time to play music. But is there ever a bad time to play music? Well, if you're a worker in the wine industry here, crush is probably a terrible time to do most things except work and sleep. It's only when the harvest ends that you can catch up on the neglected pleasures and enjoy some relaxation and the fruits of the harvest.

Many of wineries around here host live entertainment. Occasionally you can even hear some Bluegrass. I heard Blue and Lonesome play last weekend in Healdsburg and they were great. I love all the tunes they played but I wouldn't say that their set list was particularly tailored for the wine country crowd, even though they got a big hand after every tune.

What would be the perfect set for the wine country; the set we'd play after that bike tour I took you on yesterday? Here are a few suggestions:

1) Little Glass of Wine

A girl gets murdered by her jealous lover, who poisoned her drink (OK, so maybe that one wouldn't actually go over all that well for a tasting room of enophiles)

2) Down in the Willow Garden

Here's another one that Ed Neff would probably not choose to sing to a bunch of Sonoma County wine connoisseurs: "I had a bottle of burgundy wine which my true love did not know. And there I poisoned that dear little girl down by the banks below."

3) The Crossroads Bar

The protagonist ordered sweet red wine and "drank it down". In Bill Monroe's version at least, nobody gets murdered.

4) Ocean of Diamonds

"Some people like champagne out under the stars. While others drink wine leaning over a bar."
This one by Jimmy Martin works well for Sonoma County (but better not try his song: I'll Drink No More Wine).

And another song you wouldn't want to try at your next Sonoma County gig would be Dark as a Dungeon ("like a fiend with his dope or a drunkard his wine")

5) Shady Grove

"Wish I had a glass of wine and bread and meat for two. I'd set it out on a golden plate and give it all to you."

6) Traveling Down the Road

Uncle Dave Macon would have gone over well in Sonoma County with lyrics like: "Wish I was in heaven, settin' in a chair. Glass of wine in each hand, talking to my dear."

7) Rise When the Rooster Crows

More from Uncle Dave. "The duck chews tobacco and the goose drinks wine." I guess I'd be more of a goose.

8) From Earth to Heaven

I think Uncle Dave might have had a drinking problem. In today's world, I wonder how long he would have kept his driver's license with lyrics like these: " I remember the year when I began to haul, it was during the summer time. Back in those good old days, you could find whisky, beer and wine. I'd walk right into every saloon. I was strictly up to time. Never was a night that I didn't drive home, wouldn't pull me the end of the line."

9) Bear Creek

"Way up on Bear Creek, the water tastes like cherry wine" (Carter Family)

10) T For Texas

Jimmie Rodgers likes the same taste in his water.

11) My Rough and Rowdy Ways

And Jimmie for years and years "rambled, drank my wine and gambled."

12) Hesitation Blues

"If the river was whisky and the branch was wine. You could see me bathing just any old time." (that sure sounds like Charlie Poole to me)

13) You've Got to Stop Drinking Shine

Gid Tanner knew what kind of alcohol old time and bluegrass fans prefer: " The state has cut this whiskey out. But they let you have a little wine. Most everybody's getting on a drunk and they must be drinking that shine."

14) The Cuckoo

Now here's a bird very well suited to Sonoma County: "She never drinks water. She always drinks wine."

15) Two More Bottles of Wine

This set doesn't all have to be traditional Bluegrass. I've heard this one played in Bluegrass jams and it plays well. We could go on and on of course, especially if we include country tunes. Wine Colored Roses, Watermelon wine, etc. We can jam all night with this kind of stuff. Jam all night but be sure to start the whiskey tunes before breakfast.

Posted:  10/15/2012

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