Pioneering wine importer, author and singer-songwriter Kermit Lynch releases his fourth album, Donuts & Coffee, on Lynchmusic / MesaBluemoon Recordings. Recorded in Nashville at Sound Kitchen’s Big Boy Studio, The 10-track country/blues set finds Lynch working once again with producer Ricky Fataar (who also plays drums on the album) and features the work of keyboardist Michael Omartian, guitarist Rick Vito, bassist Dennis Crouch, and Grammy-nominated violinist Aubrey Hanie, among others.
I was born in Bakersfield, California, and lived there one entire month. So much for the Bakersfield sound, I suppose. My father and two uncles were evangelists in the San Joaquin Valley, and my first exposure to music was in the funky, four-square, hellfire-and-damnation Churches of Christ up and down Highway 99. No musical instruments were permitted because none are mentioned in the New Testament, so it was four-part gospel—vocals only. There was a weathered old fiddler in one congregation who looked like he’d emptied many a bottle before his conversion, but he wasn’t permitted to fiddle during service—he’d play soulfully at the Sunday after-meetin’ picnics.
I was never religious, never baptized, but I loved the singing, and those gospel songs still sound in my mind. “Are your garments spotless, are they white as snow, are you washed in the blood of the lamb?” Did that lamb have bleach in its blood?
When I visited the Mississippi Delta, it reminded me of the flat, crop-filled San Joaquin Valley, which was in fact populated in the twenties and thirties by migrants from the South. My parents’ families headed west from Arkansas and Oklahoma.
I’ll credit my mother for my sinful ways—here was dancing, drinking, and smoking, recordings of Tommy Dorsey, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra. One day she and I walked into the house and the floor was littered with shattered 78s. Her piano was upended, her sheet music in shreds. Fundamentalist wrath is nothing new. Maybe my passions for wine, women, and song were reactions to my dad’s church? Their communion beverage was Welch’s grape juice. I developed a thirst for the fermented fruit of the vine. And sex, of course, was not created by God. That was the devil’s work.
In the fifties, pop music and high school dances—Wolfman Jack on my radio under the covers at midnight—and my first live shows: Fats Domino rocking for hours at the Pismo Beach Auditorium and then Bill Haley and the Comets at a school dance, but I didn’t get the bug to sing until I moved from San Luis Obispo to Berkeley in 1962. My wife at the time came home one day with the double LP, Jimmy Reed at Carnegie Hall, a life changer. A close friend played a fine guitar, another was skilled on the bass, and we started jamming.
“(Lynch) never ceases to amaze with his multi-faceted talents.”
— Atlanta Journal Constitution
“Kermit Lynch’s blend of music rocks the soul.”
— Tucson Citizen
“…the biggest surprise is not that the wine industry’s greatest trailblazer has made a record, but that Kermit Lynch has delivered an album as unique, expressive and flavorful as the artisanal wines he’s championed to the world.”
“As outstanding as any fine wine he’s ever imported.”
— The Tucson Citizen
“Lynch’s voice on the album is a bluesy instrument with the weathered edges of someone more partial to grain than grape, (which) adds new shades to each interpretation.”
— No Depression