Chris Loomis

The Winery Dogs @ City National Grove – 05/30/2019

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The Rock n Roll power trio The Winery Dogs consisting of Mike Portnoy (drums), Richie Kotzen (vocals/guitars) and Billy Sheehan (bass) is back together and on the road after a nearly three-year hiatus with a 4 week tour through the month of May. The musical pedigree of this supergroup is beyond impressive with members having played in Dream Theater, Mr. Big, Poison, Avenged Sevenfold, David Lee Roth band, etc, etc and each member is a master at their respective instrument both from a technical standpoint and a creative angle. If you are in any way, shape or form a live music fan, it doesn’t get any better than these three guys playing together.

At 10:00pm the lights dimmed and the The Winery Dogs took the stage and took Anaheim on a 90 minute musical journey that left you begging for more. Playing music from their two albums with a Richie Kotzen song thrown in as well as a Gary Wright cover for good measure. Led by Kotzen’s soulful voice and pick-less guitar playing, the night started off with the catchy “Elevate” from their 2013 self-titled debut album followed by a few tunes from the 2015 sophomore album Hot Streak. When Kotzen addressed the crowd he stated that it has been a long time since they last played in Anaheim but promised they would be back soon . . . and with new music – which obviously gave a thunderous reaction from the crowd.

One of the highlights of the show no doubt is of course Billy Sheehan’s bass solo. Sheehan if not THE premier bass player in rock n roll is certainly a creative bass innovator that has him two-hand tapping, sweeping, picking, bending strings, distorting sound . . . all out controlled chaos that results in the most amazing sounds you will hear coming from a bass guitar. Along with Sheehan, drummer Mike Portnoy, they make the most amazing rhythm section. A co-founder of Dream Theater and a member of so many bands after that, Portnoy makes playing drums seem like an effortless, thoughtless process as in addition to bashing the skins he is standing, interacting with the crowd and singing backup vocals – an impressive act indeed.

Kotzen took a seat behind the electric piano for an amazingly touching version of Richie Kotzen’s “The Road” before ending the set with “Oblivion”. The band returned and played a cover of Gary Wright’s “Love is Alive” and ended the night with “Desire”. An incredible display of musicianship by all three members as well as some killer classic-rock infused with modern metal elements. The best part of the show was the interaction between band members on stage; it was easy to see how much fun these guys were having with each other and you could feel the respect each had for one another . . . no egos in this band.

The tour ended the next night (5/31) in Beverly Hills, now it is a wait game for The Winery Dogs to release that new music they mentioned and hopefully a tour to follow.

Opening up the show were the instrumental power trio Ling Llama and the hook-filled funk rockers ZFG who played a short energetic set that really got the rock n roll vibe going in the venue. The ZFG lineup consist of Trev Lukather (son of famed Toto guitarist Steve Lukather), drummer Josh Devine (live drummer for One Direction), vocalist Jules Galli and bass player Sam Porcaro ( son of Toto Keyboardist Steve Porcaro). Both bands killed their performances prior to The Winery Dogs hitting the stage.

ZFG Photo Gallery

The Winery Dogs Photo Gallery

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