Written by Eddie Ferranti
The old adage of “Even a blind squirrel can find a nut sometimes” fits for the gig I covered at the Warehouse Live venue in Houston recently. Acting on an invitation from sweet pal Amanda Cagan I ventured out to cover a group I knew nothing about called The Winery Dogs. Come to find out they are a super group of all star musicians featuring bassist Billy Sheehan (Talas, David Lee Roth,Mr.Big), Mike Portney (Dream Theater, Avenged, Sevenfold, Adrenaline Mob) and guitarist/pianist/vocalist Richie Kotzen (Poison,Mr.Big). This was a stellar display of musicianship from top to bottom.
They definitely fall under the category of a super group. Portnoy and Sheehan were buds and they wanted to add a third piece and a gent by the name of Eddie Trunk entered the picture. Trunk came up from the New York radio scene and used to host the popular That Metal Show on VH1 Classic, which finished its final season this year. He still hosts a gig on Q104.3 in NYC and does Sirius XM Radio now also. ET dropped Kotzen’s name on Sheehan and that has blossomed into a trio that has spawned two albums now instead of just a “project’.
“Hot Streak” is their second album and they really seem to be on one! The triple bomb they dropped on the crowd for my photo session of “Oblivion”, “Captain Love” and “We Are One” got my attention and then some. They followed with the title cut and I was having a hard time wondering who to focus on because they were all that good.
Portnoy and Sheehan are both arguably the best on the planet at their respective instruments and have won a ton of awards from musician magazines. Kotzen is no slouch whatsoever on electric and his vocals brought images of Chris Cornell and even Freddy Mercury on the drop dead cool ballad piece “Fire”. A super highlight was when Biily Sheehan played a bass solo like nothing I’ve ever seen. It was incredible as he played faster and faster hitting every note as the crowd egged him on! Portnoy dazzled all night and when he jumped on stage and used his sticks tapping on the floor and mikes was something ya had to see to really comprehend how cool it was. This threesome reminded this reviewer of a “Rowdy Rush” where each piece is independent yet cohesive delivering thundering rock to piano driven coolness by Kotzen.
Other highlight numbers that caught my ear were “I’m No Angel”, explosive “Elevate”, heavy groovin’ “Desire” and “Regret” with RK on the keyboards burnin’ it up. Expectations are always high when a monikor of “Super Group” is laid on your ass, but The Winery Dogs seem more than up to the task and delivered . If you are into musicianship, it does not really get any better than TWD. Check ‘em out and I know they won’t be a “nut” for me to find anymore!