The Winery Dogs

Spec. Guest: Orianthi

The Majestic Ventura Theater – Ventura, CA

Saturday, May 20th, 2023

Review/Pics: Will

The Winery Dogs

There’s a thing about “Supergroups”.  Quite often the sum doesn’t always add up to the whole and/or most often they’re quite fleeting.  Thank Goodness neither are true for The Winery Dogs who have embarked on a tour in support of their third splendid album, aptly titled “III“.

Although “III” doesn’t quite capture the excitement and memorability of their debut album, or the twists and turns that “Hot Streak” provided it’s still a solid album with enough meat on it’s bones to endure repeat visits.  However, TWD live?! Musically, this band just slays.

There are points in every The Winery Dogs show where it’s easy to just stand and get mesmerized by what you’re seeing. You already know that Richie Kotzen’s heart and soul are poured into whatever project he’s involved with.  You’ll question whether Billy Sheehan’s nimbleness around a bass raises the question whether it is actually an additional appendage and Mike Portnoy, who thumps his kit with a joyous, playfulness, makes the most difficult of rhythms and fills look as effortless as a blink.

Tonight was another one of those stare with mouth agape type of evenings. When Richie lets loose on extended solos and Billy and Mike just start to groove along…?  Well, I can’t think of a show in recent memory where you get THAT feeling.  You know the one.  You’re so thankful that you were there to witness it.  The songs become experiences. You kind of look around at others to see if they’re feeling what you’re feeling. And every glance to and from a stranger nearby had that same look. Just wow!

Each song played takes on a different life from what was recorded.  We have the CD’s with the music and then we get this performance that just transcends. It’s a show that made me appreciate a lot of the newer songs more than I did upon my first few listens to “III“. 

The setlist was great with equal helpings from their 3 albums with most of the biggest cheers reserved for what can now be deemed classics from their amazing debut.

It’s hard to pick out highlights from a show that was of full of them.  Billy’s bass solo, as always, proves that it doesn’t automatically mean bathroom time when the others leave the stage. Richie bathed in blue light, oozing emotion behind the piano for “Regret” complete with short “Lorelie” intro. sent shivers as he hit each note. Anytime the band veered off track for extended Jams, also special. BUT, watching Richie get lost in an extended solo at the end of new track, “Stars” was for sure a moment that I won’t forget for a while.

Simply said, It’s time for Cream, Rush, ZZ Top, Nirvana, Kings X and numerous others to move over to create some space on the Mount Rushmore of Power Trio’s. 

Long Live The Dogs!


I was extremely happy when TWD’s Special guest on this tour for select dates turned out to be the amazing Orianthi.  (And not just because her latest album, “Rock Candy” landed at #2 on last year’s WillToRock Top 10 Albums).

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Orianthi perform on numerous occasions and even though I feel she’s still finding her way as a front person, she just gets better and more comfortable each time I see her. Tonight had her set plagued by a few technical issues.  They however didn’t detract from a relatively short but very sweet 7 song set that gave any newbies a good feel for what the Aussie guitarist, singer, songwriter is all about.

You can easily tell “Ori’s‘ a guitarist first and when she let’s loose, you almost get that same feeling when you watched Prince and found out he could shred along with any of the greats.  Her discography started out a little bit Pop-Rockish and happily, it’s started evolving and has given her a great blues-rock foundation that seems to be her happy place.

Orianthi’s own power trio was rounded out with her friend and tour manager, Justin Andres on bass and Demian Arriaga on drums. As with all of her shows, she capped off her set with a jam of the Hendrix classic, “Voodoo Child“.

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The Winery Dogs