The Winery Dogs Live in Arkansas!

The Winery Dogs
Neumeier’s Rib Room & Beer Garden
Fort Smith, Arkansas
May 20, 2014
By Craig Keever

Set List:
Elevate | Criminal | We Are One | One More Time |Time Machine | Damaged |Six Feet Deeper Hey Joe | The Other Side | Bass Solo | You Saved Me | Not Hopeless | Doin' What the Devil Says to Do | I'm No Angel | The Dying | Desire

Regret |Shy Boy

Neumeier’s Rib Room and Beer Garden in Fort Smith, Arkansas is not exactly a venue where one would expect to see a performance by a powerhouse supergroup of stellar rock musicians.  Truth be told, the name is deceiving, as the place is more about music than it is the ribs.  You see, The Rib Room is essentially an outdoor venue with concrete floors and a roof around the edges of the building.  Being on the upper level, only 20 to 30 feet from the Winery Dogs, watching them attack their craft so masterfully in such an intimate setting was an amazing experience for this aspiring musician, even if I am 52 years old.

It is hard for me to admit this but, while I had heard of the band, and even am a big fan of bassist Billy Sheehan and drummer Mike Portnoy, I had failed to check out the self-titled debut album.  While I knew this was a group that would impress me with their talents, even as a avid rock fan with over forty years of listening experience, a guy who has attended numerous rock concerts, and is a pretty fair guitarist in his own right…I was not fully prepared for what I experienced on this night.  To put it bluntly, I was blown away. 

As the band took the stage they wasted no time in getting into ‘musician’ mode.  They looked cool, and were poised yet one could tell by their attitude and energy that they were getting ready to unleash a powerhouse of musical virtuosity. 

As the band began to play, the first thing that stood out was drummer Mike Portnoy. This man is an animal behind the kit.  His driving energy and showmanship provided a ton of excitement.  During this evening’s performance Portnoy threw his sticks, literally climbed on his drum kit and, eventually, could be seen banging on anything he could reach.  He is a true showman and played strongly to the audience, encouraging their participation, making this our show, and not just his. 

Next up is Mr. Billy Sheehan, a true veteran of the stage.  I know of no comparable rival on bass in rock music. Don't get me wrong, I love Rush and Geddy is an amazing musician but I have never witnessed a rock bassist masterfully coax so much from his instrument. Sheehan’s experience Steve Vai’s band clearly shows itself in live performances. His bass solo at The Rib Room, under the stars, was simply unparalleled.

Lastly, but far from least, well, he is the least known member of this band, is Richie Kotzen.  In some ways, he seems the calmest of the three men on stage.  It is this contrast to his bandmates that allows him to remain cool and in control at all times.  He is a master craftsman.  The tone he squeezes out of his Telecaster, his blazing guitar riffs, completely in synch the bass I might add, and his soulful vocals reveal his true nature as a musician.

While the resumes of these artists speak for themselves, resumes can be deceiving. Let me assure you, these are not. The energy pumped out on stage on this night was infectious. Complex riff after complex riff was tightly woven together, seemingly effortlessly by the musicians on stage leaving those who witnessed this musical onslaught in awe. 

While it’s obvious The Winery Dogs are a "musicians" band, certainly to be admired by the best of musicians, their music is still accessible to fans of all levels. It is this contradiction in terms, a very talented band that has multiple appeals that really makes this band special.  Hopefully, they can remain together as I, for one, am excited to hear what this supergroup comes up with for a follow-up album. 

The last "supergroup" I can recall to make it big was Asia, whose music had a very polished, radio friendly and somewhat pop sound. This music is also very polished, but definitely not pop. This is just great hard rock. The Winery Dogs are just a great band. 

Buy The Winery Dogs Debut Album Here:

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