The Winery Dogs at The Grove Of Anaheim – Live Review and Photos
The Winery Dogs, The Grove of Anaheim, Anaheim, CA., May 18, 2023
The Winery Dogs are the quintessential idea of the classic power trio band that was so prevalent in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s like Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Grand Funk Railroad. The band features three veterans of the Rock genre who have a wealth of experience and very impressive resumes. Their performance at the Grove in Anaheim, California was a show that highlighted this extremely talented group of musicians.
The Winery Dogs were formed in 2012 when drummer Mike Portnoy, formerly of Dream Theater and renowned bassist Billy Sheehan, formerly of Mr. Big, David Lee Roth Band and Talas joined together with the idea of forming a classic power trio Rock band. Originally they had created a project with former Blue Murder/Whitesnake guitarist John Sykes. When that idea failed to result in anything, radio personality Eddie Trunk suggested former Poison/Mr. Big guitarist Richie Kotzen.
The trio assembled at Kotzen’s Los Angeles based studio and began working out song ideas that would eventually lead to the bands’ debut album released in 2013. A sophomore effort album “Hot Streak” would follow in 2015 and “Winery Dogs III” was released this year.
Opening their set with “Gaslight” from their current album, the track is highly energetic and filled with the brilliant work of bassist Sheehan. The band is extremely syncopated and locked in with one another. The band is constantly running various licks and chops throughout their songs that add another dimension to their songwriting.
Kotzen is an established guitarist and songwriter whose style is very reminiscent of the late great Jeff Beck. His playing technique is similar, and both don’t use a guitar pick. Kotzen is also a great vocalist and this was evident on the song “Desire” from their debut album. His vocals have a very bluesy and soulful approach. This was probably my favorite track in the performance.
One great aspect of The Winery Dogs repertoire is that they never stray too far away from writing some great songs with melody like “Breakthrough” and “Damaged.” These songs highlight Kotzen’s vocal talents. The trio also does a great job of delivering some great backing vocals in their performance. This caught me by surprise when a band with so much musical talent will apply themselves to their vocals.
Of course, I can’t talk about this band without mentioning some of their fabulous solo performances. Portnoy performed a great but short drum solo at the end of “The Other Side” from their debut album. This led into a stellar bass solo from Sheehan who is by far one of the most entertaining bass players in the business today. His extremely difficult style is reminiscent of what the late great Eddie Van Halen did on guitar, complete with various finger tapping techniques that would highly intimidate many guitarists. He definitely has perfected his craft.
Closing out their set with “Oblivion” from their second album “Hot Streak” the band closed their show with the same level of intensity that they started with. Of course the audience demanded more as the band returned to the stage with Kotzen sitting at the piano to sing “Regret” from their first album. This song was a pleasant surprise. Kotzen can definitely deliver on a song like this. The slow bluesy ballad displayed much passion in his voice. This led into “Elevate” from their debut album. The song has a very Led Zeppelin influence with Kotzen doing a great Robert Plant type vocal.
The Winery Dogs are another super group that features three extremely talented musicians from the 1980’s who have definitely earned their place in Rock music. This was my first time seeing the band I was completely caught off guard. Their songs are reminiscent of so many bands that I grew up listening to in the 1970’s. I must admit that I was expecting the band to have a more 80’S “Hair Metal” sound but I was thoroughly impressed with their approach to the songwriting and delivery. There’s nothing “80’s” about this band. The songs are solid and performed with absolute perfection. I’m definitely a Winery Dogs fan.
(Review by Jo-Jo Anthony – Photos by Joe Schaeffer)
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