The soulful and rockin’ JD Priest Band took over Miramonte Winery’s warm and cozy tasting room last Friday night and did their best to turn it into southern-fried juke joint – filled with friends, adult libations, great food, and a smokin’ tunes. This was the place to end one’s workweek, blow off a little steam, and start the weekend in the correct fashion.
By extending their hours on Fridays and Saturdays (open until 10pm both nights), Miramonte Winery has positioned itself as the “go to” spot in the wine country for continued entertainment after a day of wine tasting.
When you’ve sipped your last Syrah for the day (just about all of the wineries close their tasting rooms by 5 or 6 o’clock), yet aren’t quite ready to call it a day, where do you go to keep the good times rollin’? Miramonte Winery. They offer their wine tasting menu throughout the evening, as well as sell wine by the glass. Oh, and they have a selection of bottled beer – sometimes a cool beer after a day of wine is exactly what one needs. And if you need a little snack, I recommend their cheese platter ($14) – it’s a tasty treat for two.
As I strolled through the front door of the tasting room, JD Priest and his band (JD – acoustic guitar/harmonica, Matt Workman – lead guitar, James Brecker – bass, Trevor Monks – drums) were in the middle of a cool rendition of “The Girl From Ipanema,” the bossa nova standard most famously sung by Astrud Gilberto. Not the song choice I would expect from a bluesy rock band, but one that certainly piqued my interest and proved that there’s more to JD Priest than just 12-bar based blues/rock. Their take felt natural and self-assured – completely un-forced – the song came naturally to them. An impressive way to start.
Of course, JD and boys can rev things up as well, and did so with a rousing rendition of “Mustang Sally.” Each band member took a signature solo (highlighted by Matt Workman’s blistering fretwork) and the crowd really got into it, singing the song’s famous refrain “ride, Sally, ride.” A few women took to dancing in the aisles and the evening started to heat up. Let the good times roll!
JD Priest lead his band through a mix of original songs (“Raindrops”) and awesome covers (Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, ZZ Top, Steppenwolf) throughout the rest of the night. They included a fiddle player for their 2nd set, which added to their energetic and intense playing, culminating in a wicked version of the blues standard “Have You Ever Loved A Woman?” Most of us know the version recorded by Derek & The Dominos, but JD stayed closer to the original arrangement by Freddie King – leaner & meaner. JD moved to harmonica for the tune, leaving Matt as the only guitarist, and once again, Matt impressed with his bluesy licks and running lines. I closed my eyes and envisioned a young Buddy Guy – seriously, Matt Workman is that good.
Of course, the entire band smokes – they sound like they’ve been playing together for years. They’re a tight, cohesive unit, full of confidence and exuding all kinds of fun. Kinda reminds me of the Black Crowes – soulful, powerful, bluesy, versatile. And like the Crowes, the JD Priest Band plays music that is joyful and infectious…music that makes you feel damn good to be alive.
JD Priest plays solo gigs and with his band all throughout the greater Temecula Valley area, Inland Empire, and Orange County, so there’s no excuse not to check him out. His next Temecula show is this coming Friday, May 14th, at Stellar Cellar. Stop in, order a glass of wine, sit back, and enjoy life.