5 Records That Changed My Life - Winemaker, Jeff Bundschu
Jeff Bundschu’s pairing of wine with independent music would stand out amongst the smooth sounds of Sonoma tasting rooms regardless of his pedigree. But the fact that he’s a sixth generation vintner at California’s oldest family-owned winery helps underscore his role as a maverick.
The Huichica Music Festival, which he co-produces with Eric D. Johnson of the Fruit Bats, has brought Beachwood Sparks, Sonny and the Sunsets, J Mascis, Vetiver and others to Gundlach-Bundschu Winery’s scenic outdoor stage. In the wake of this year’s event, which also included local food trucks, I asked Jeff about records that left their mark on him:
I am approaching this as an origin question. Each of the records below meant a lot to me, but more than that they represent the ‘patient-zeroes’ of my popular musical tastes to this day.
Grand Master Flash, The Message
Somehow, at the end of a rural vineyard lane in Sonoma, California in 1982, I got a hold of Grand Master Flash’s ‘The Message’. I was in 8th grade. To this day I don’t remember how I got it, but I do remember how it changed me forever. It painted vivid pictures of an urban life I had never seen and until then couldn’t imagine. My neighbors were grapevines and rattlesnakes. The imagery of the words, the rhyming, and drum and bass of the music hooked me early and hard.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Red Hot Chili Peppers
This record came out in 1984 and a year later, when I was a junior high school, I really got into it. When I wasn’t listening to rap, I was listening to punk bands like the Descendents, Suicidal Tendencies and the Dead Kennedys. My friends were listening to Motley Crue and Iron Maiden. I was energized by both punk and metal, and the impact they had on their fans, but neither were perfect for me. Then came the Peppers. They appealed to my love for deep rhythm and funk with my guttural need for loud screaming guitar and earth-exploding drums. The Peppers of those days, whom I saw probably 7 times between 1986 and 1991, set the bar for live rock and roll shows that stands for me to this day.
Kraftwerk, Tour De France
The fact that the Chemical Brothers, Moby, Roni Size, Jon Digweed, Tiesto, Deadmau5, Afrojack and many more electronic bands are on my iPod now (with the last three in heavy rotation) all comes back to this song. I love the movement that electronic dance music inspires, both in the physical and metaphysical sense.
What certain music means to you has so much to do with where you were and what you thinking/feeling/seeing/sensing at the time you heard it. The same is true about wine too!! I was force-fed early REM by my friends and bandmates in college. I didn’t like them at first — too straight ahead, too benign and not stimulating enough on first listen. But repeated exposure lead to them becoming one my favorites of all time. The music saturates and begins to mean more the more you hear it. And the aspects of it that don’t grab you up front are exactly what keeps you coming back and back again. Many of my favorite bands of the past 5 years are just like that. Green is unheralded by most heavy REM fans, but it hit me right in the right spot and I can still cry listening to ‘The Wrong Child’.
Shins, Wincing the Night Away
The Shins have become my gateway to music discovery in the middle years. As much as I lived and played and breathed music up through and right after college, I essentially stopped exploring once I came home to Sonoma to work at the winery. Instead, I learned to love what happened to come my way. Then in 2007 my friend Dave Burton came through SF as tour manager for the Shins. He was the only one in my musical crowd at school that stayed in the business, managing and tour managing developing indie bands. Through him, my passion for music discovery was rekindled. That Shins show was a portal that I walked through. Since then I have seen hundreds of bands, from Death Cab for Cutie to Animal Collective, She and Him to Jack White. I’ve booked some great bands to play at our winery in Sonoma, and co-founded the Huichica Festival to celebrate my most recent discovery- that music, wine and food—specifically the kind of music, food and wine that I like — go together very well!!!
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