Anton belts Cab, Joel jangles Dolcetto and Ricky strums Sake

Dec 08, 2023

“I got my friends, I got a bottle of wine, and I’m feeling fine”...
The Brian Jonestown Massacre

By Liz Miller, wine buyer at Hop City West End

May 2022 was the first time I got to see the band with one of the largest cult followings, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, in a live setting. Without a doubt, it will live in my mind forever as one of the best performances I have ever experienced. Joel, effortlessly keeping time with his tambourine, while Anton brilliantly jangled away on his guitar, his thin gray hair blowing in the air current of the box fan below him. It was also around this time that I began my wine studies with the Court of Master Sommeliers. While the band was setting up, I noticed something that only a wine nerd like myself might have glimpsed. Not only did every band member have their own bottle of wine, but each bottle was different. This could only mean one thing... The Brian Jonestown Massacre must be wine nerds too!

Fast forward to last month, when my eyes and ears were blessed for a second time by The BJM. This time Anton was properly drunk and making an ass of himself on stage. I noticed he was taking shots of something outside of the venue before the concert, and on top of the bottle of Grey Goose, there were those bottles of wine again. Each member had their own bottle of choice. I tried hard at each concert to make out what they were drinking, but even my close-up cell phone photos didn't do me justice. So with this week’s newsletter, I’m presenting what I think each member (currently in the band) of The Brian Jonestown Massacre might drink based on their personality, interests, and/or role they play.


Outward Wines Cabernet Sauvignon (Anton Newcombe, lead vocals/guitar) - $41.99 @ Krog & West End

Just like Anton, California cabs are known to be big, bold, and expressive. This affordable California cab is an ode to the old school style, and can stand up to the best of them. The vines were originally planted in Massa, California, a year after the Monterey Pop Festival and The Summer of Love in its neighboring city (and home of BJM), San Francisco. The triangular designs on the bottles of each of the vineyard’s reds represent the mountains, and the circular designs on their whites are representative of the sun and moon. This wine pays homage to its California roots just like BJM pays homage to its psychedelic influences of the same place. Like Anton, this bottle is boisterous and opinionated but maintains its expressive refinement.



Cutter Cascadia Ashes to Ashes (Joel Gion, tambourine) - $28.99 @ West End
First of all, it’s worth mentioning that The Brian Jonestown Massacre album, Strung Out in Heaven was named after a lyric in the David Bowie song, Ashes to Ashes. Dolcetto translates to “the little sweet one” in Italian, but it’s also the ugly mutt with a lot of personality, which I think BJM fans can all agree, fits Joel perfectly.

Funny enough, these wines are generally tart with loads of black fruit flavors and occasionally aggressive tannins. This particular dolcetto is floral and plummy, soif-fy and serious all at the same time; and although it remains a difficult grape to manage, it can age pretty well too. If you’ve ever seen the documentary, Dig!, you may understand the relationship between Joel and Anton. Let’s just say, there’s a reason so many band members have come and gone in The BJM. This particular wine was named after the fires that devastated California in 2020, and just as the vineyards came out of the fires anew like a phoenix, Joel managed to do the same over and over again with The BJM.



Miyako-Bijin Yoigokochi Yuzu Sake (Ricky Maymi, guitar/drums/bass) - $31.99 @ West End

When The Brian Jonestown Massacre played Atlanta last month, Ricky and Joel popped into Criminal Records, where my partner works. Ricky asked if there were any *city pop albums in the shop. He has a keen interest in Japanese and Chinese Indie and Pop music, spawned from his youth growing up in San Francisco. Because of his fondness for city pop, I chose a super cool unfiltered sake brewed with yuzu. It drinks like a sake mimosa, with earthy rice undertones... Kanpai!

*City pop is a loosely defined form of Japanese pop music that emerged in the late 1970s and peaked in popularity in the 1980s.

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