Bourbon Trail

In keeping with my longstanding tradition, I’ve written some notes from our latest jaunt through the countryside.  This past weekend, Becky, Michelle, Matt and I followed the Bourbon Trail  (Bourbon Country).  Specifically, we visited a handful of the distilleries between Louisville and Lexington in Kentucky.  We started with the Bulleit Distillery in Louisville.  The next day we visited both Makers Mark and Four Roses.  On the third day (Monday) we visited the Buffalo Trace and Woodford Distilleries near Frankfurt.

We decided back in August our grown children would enjoy a family vacation if we visited the different distilleries in Kentucky.  Being able to tour distilleries with your children is best done when they are adults.  We could only afford to spend three days, so we needed to be efficient with our time. We avoided several of the larger distilleries in the Louisville area so we could visit the less commercial manufacturers. We resolved to purchase those bourbons less likely be found on local shelves. Not every bottle we purchased is obscure – but several can only be purchased at the distillery.

My recommendation to anyone interested in enjoying the Bourbon Trail would be to spend some time researching the distilleries understanding the hours of operation for the tours and the length of time individual tours can take.  Were I to sample the distilleries again, I would focus on those which offer unique varieties for sale. While the Buffalo Trace distillery produces a number of labels, the three they sell at the distillery are all available in our local liquor store.  Woodford Distillery and Maker’s Mark both offered unique bottles unavailable locally.  The tours are great – but you’ll enjoy the unique bourbons when you get home.

Bourbon-Trail

Below I have included pictures (with commentary) of the different bourbons we purchased on our trip:

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Best Covers: I Put a Spell On You

Watching The Voice this evening.  The show is not engaging enough for me to simply watch without a distraction.

One of the performers (Rob Taylor) covered “I put a spell on you“.  He’s a capable performer but I’ve heard better version of the classic.  In our family, the Halloween classic Hocus Pocus with Bette Midler is a seasonal must-see. We all watch it together and because we’ve seen it so many times we can anticipate the actor’s lines.  Bette covers the song very well.  It’s a great Blue’s classic and like all songs in this genre – the best song connects emotionally through the vocals.

I decided to abuse my Spotify account and try to figure out who sang it best.  Pretty much everyone has covered this song.

I think Annie Lennox is a phenomenal performer – but hers is not the best version in my eyes.  Jesse Cook – one of my favorite (but more obscure performers) has  a great version.  Even Marilyn Manson has a version which I like it until the performer insists on singing.

David Gilmour (with Mica Paris) covers the song.  Because it’s David Gilmour, it’s hard not to focus on the guitar styling he brings to everything he does.  Buddy Guy and Carlos Santana create a similar experience – you just can’t escape a guitar virtuoso.  They own anything in which they are featured.  It becomes a guitar performance.

My three favorite performers are Manfred Mann, Joe Cocker, and Pete Townshend.  They all three approach the song as a Blues Standard.  Each adds a unique element.  Manfred Mann is a smooth blues singer.  Joe Cocker is raw and emotional.  Pete Townshend is a polished, nuanced blues singer.

Here’s my favorite:

P.S. I’m not a fan of the honky-tonk versions performed by Leon Russell and Sam Bush.  That just does not work.  People also want to perform this as a jazz standard.  And God save us all, there’s even a Disco version of the song by some obscure group called The Hershey Barr Band.  I’m good with artists re-interpreting songs, but I don’t think this song can be done better in a different style.  It’s a Blues standard and is done best in that style.

P.S.  While I appreciate that Jay Hawkins authored the classic and was the original performer – his performances haven’t matched those who have covered his original work.

Earick Family Photo

As you grow older, your role changes.  As a member of a younger generation, I tolerated the stories my parents shared with the family history.  The oldest generation feels they have an obligation to ensure their heritage is not lost.  As each year passes, I’m getting closer and closer to being that person.  I’m not there yet – but I can see the corner I’ll be turning when that’s true.

So here I am sharing a few stories from my Mother’s childhood.  I am fortunate both of my parents have preserved their respective family records. We closed my Mother’s house in Danville in March of this year.  I was able to save more pictures and have started digitizing here and on Flickr.

This photo is from Adalene’s collection.  The house in which she and Ray lived in 1942 did not have a back yard, so they are posing here in their neighbors yard.  It was a bright day with the sun at the photographer’s back – and in everyone’s eyes.  Marjorie is in the lower right with Tom looking over at her from the center of the photograph.  She appears to be four or five.  Tom is two years younger than Marjorie, so he is three years old (or less).

As I started putting this picture in historical context, I realized that it was very likely that my Grandfather would have been in, or entering the armed service around this time.  I brought the question to Mother. She explained that Ray worked in a munitions factory – or the Proving Grounds – near Sandusky (I believe it’s known as Bogurt, Ohio today) and was exempt from the draft for that reason.

As a side note, this is the only photo I can currently find of Joe (lower left corner).  Joe died of electrocution at a very young age – Mother doesn’t remember how old.  It was traumatic for her and resulted in Mark and I receiving constant directions to be careful around electricity.

Back Row: Uncle Lewis, Aunt Janet, Adalene, Ray. Front Row: Joe Earick, Adalene’s Mother, Tom Spielman, Adalene’s Father, Marjorie

European Adventure

Earlier this year while working at the Kenwood Mall in Cincinnati, a patron at the store where Michelle worked struck up a conversation with Michelle. The woman (Charlene) was purchasing apparel for her daughter (Grace) who had recently graduated from High School and who was planning on taking a tour of Europe in celebration of turning 18. Michelle and Charlene found that they got along very well. It turns out that only recently Grace’s parents had discussed the idea of finding a travel companion for her as she traveled. Although I’m compressing the conversations that ensued, Michelle agreed to be that travel companion.

What follows are the various pictures taken on that trip.