As I sit down to write this, I realize it was 4 years ago today the world was first introduced to The Winery Dogs with their debut album. It’s crazy how time flies. I remember how excited I was when I first heard these three amazing musicians would be getting together to form a band. I have been a Mike Portnoy fan since the early days of Dream Theater and have thoroughly enjoyed many of his other projects such as Transatlantic, Flying Colors, and Metal Allegiance. Billy Sheehan, bass master, has been on my radar since I heard him in Talas and Mr. Big. Rounding out this power trio is Richie Kotzen. Kotzen has such an awe-inspiring voice I have literally seen him bring people to tears.
The Winery Dogs debut album was great acclaim, as was their 2015 sophomore release Hot Streak. The band toured extensively and quelled all the nay-sayers proving this was a real band and not just a side project. There were summer camps and special access videos to show the fans how much love and appreciation the Dogs had for them and their support.
Flash forward to 2017. Mike Portnoy is travelling the world doing special shows with his all-star band The Shattered Fortress, celebrating his 50th birthday year. Kotzen is touring in support of his latest solo album, Salting Earth, and Sheehan is back on the road with Mr. Big. Not wanting to leave the Winery Dog fans hanging, the band put together a special package they have christened Dog Years: Live in Santiago & Beyond 2013-2016.
Per the Press Release there will be two editions available to choose from: “A standard two-disc edition of DOG YEARS: LIVE IN SANTIAGO & BEYOND 2013-2016 will be available which includes one Blu-Ray disc of the 100-minute concert, eight music videos from the band’s two albums, and the DOG YEARS EP on CD. A special edition five-disc package will consist of one Blu-Ray disc, one DVD of the live concert material and the eight music videos, the DOG YEARS EP on CD, as well as two CDs of the live concert audio.”
Let’s start off with the 5 song EP. The first song is one of my favorites from the band, “Criminal.” This was released on the bands’ debut release in Japan, but left off the US release. The minute I heard this song live I knew I had to get ahold of it and have it in my collection. It has such a cool almost 70s vibe that just makes you groove along. Song three on the EP is “Solid Ground” and it is a killer track with each of the guys taking the lead vocal role at one point. This song immediately transported me back to Dog Camp 2015. It reminds me of sitting around the campfire, musicians from around the world jamming together, and of course the S’mores. Track five is a remarkable cover of “Moonage Daydream” and has to be one of the best tributes to the late David Bowe I have heard.
The live DVD was filmed in Santiago, Chile in 2016, and is an incredible mix of both The Winery Dog albums. The set opens with “Oblivion” which is one of the coolest tracks on Hot Streak, as well as the album opener. I remember hearing it for the first time while the band was out in support of their debut album. They told the audience they wanted to share something new that they had just written that day: my mind was blown. The talent and chemistry between these three unbelievably talented musicians is so apparent from the moment they step on the stage. It is a truly amazing thing to witness. The Dogs keep the energy with a slew of up tempo songs including “Captain Love,” “We are One,” Hot Streak,” “How Long,” “Time Machine,” and “Empire.” Kotzen slows things down a bit to give the crowd a moment to catch their breath with a solo spot. It’s just him and his acoustic guitar serenading the crowd with “Fire.” Kotzen then shows of his keyboard skills during “Think it Over” as the other members rejoin him on stage. Portnoy then ramps the crowd back up with a jaw-dropping drum solo meant to get your heart pounding. After one more song it is Sheehan’s turn at a solo. Every time I see Billy Sheehan do a bass solo I am reminded of why I don’t even try. He is marvelous. With “Ghost Town” rounding out the material from Hot Streak, the band ends the set with a few fan favorites from the debut album. They end the night with “Desire” and some crowd participation.
I honestly can’t tell you how much I enjoy watching this band play live. It is so obvious how much they love what they do every time they step on stage.
Be sure to preorder your copy of Dog Years: Live in Santiago & Beyond 2013-2016.