My love for the music of Ben Kweller goes all the way back to my first year in college. I stumbled upon a song called In Other Words on his Sha Sha release of 2001. It is piano ballad with country tinge to it. I was, and still, am into many different kinds of music. In all honesty, I am attracted to songs that can reel me in, with a crazy guitar lick, catchy chorus, anything that grips onto some feeling or emotion in me. That song got me hooked on Ben Kweller.
I saw Kweller a lot in the years following. Most of the time, he was on some sort of indie tour playing the northeast. He was born in San Francisco, but family moved to Texas when he was only one years old. It is still where he resides today after some time living in NYC. It is easy to see where Kweller takes his influences from when listening to any one of his releases, including his most recent release called, Go Fly A Kite, which I picked up on vinyl over the summer. There are distinct overtones of Dylan, the Beatles, and many other greats from the 1960s, and all held above water with his Texas country dusty road pick-up truck traveling rhythm. Watching Kweller perform as a solo act and with a full band are both equally impressive. The amplified music from the full band brings energy to songs that work just as amazing when played solo and are lyrically deep. Listening to Ben Kweller on vinyl and hearing his new release is like meeting up with an old friend for a drink after years apart. You may be nervous that your old friend has changed and are not the same person that drew you to them in the past, but luckily; after minutes of listening to stories, you find yourself right back in the old routine, not missing a beat. I feel the same way when I open a bottle of Kunde Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc when listening to Ben Kweller.
I have always had a strange relationship with sauvignon blanc. I am not a huge fan of the grassy, herbaceous, cat piss aromatic, and highly acidic styles like many new world regions tend to exploit. I like when producers show a little restraint and let the grapes speak for themselves. Kunde Vineyards does just that. Kunde is a huge mountain side estate. They produce numerous different varietals and sell a bunch off to really upper echelon producers like Duckhorn (I was told this when visiting a few years ago, not sure who else they are still selling to.) I like all their wines and always have, but their sauvignon blanc as had this clean and crisp flavor that is attractive for night on the patio with friends, or sitting in front of my record player listening to Ben Kweller. When I open a bottle of the Kunde sauvignon blanc, I find comfort in consistency just like when I picked up Ben Kwellers Go fly A Kite on vinyl.
As humans, reflection is something we all do whether we practice with meditation or whatever sort of decompression methods we individually choose. I personally like using aids to take me to a memorable place. Listening to Ben Kweller and drinking a glass of Kunde sauvignon blanc transports me to a time and places that always makes me happy to remember. I suggest this practice for people in need of reflection or who just looking for an escape from the daily frustrations we all have. If you have a favorite long time musician and glass of wine that works for you, go for it, but if you don’t, you’ll find it when the pairing spontaneously happens. If you are looking for a great vinyl to check out and a great winery to visit and taste, Ben Kweller and Kunde vineyards are my recommendations. Both are full of soul and deep roots.