The Winery Dogs make their Philadelphia debut tonight at the Keswick Theater
Given the road-tested virtuosity of all three members, hard rock supergroup The Winery Dogs could easily have been overwhelmed by instrumental pyrotechnics. After all, the band consists of guitarist and vocalist Richie Kotzen, a charter member of the shred-centric Shrapnel Records roster in the early ‘90s before stepping in as the replacement for C.C. DeVille in Poison and Paul Gilbert in Mr. Big; bassist Billy Sheehan, who went fret for fret with Steve Vai in David Lee Roth’s first solo band and co-founded Mr. Big; and drummer Mike Portnoy, who anchored prog-metal masters Dream Theater for 25 years until his departure from the band in 2010.
So it came as something of a surprise when The Winery Dogs’ self-titled debut arrived last year and was an infectious balancing act between the expected technical wizardry, catchy hard rock hooks and big arena-rock choruses. Kotzen sings with a blues-rooted howl somewhere between David Coverdale and Chris Cornell, and with songs like “Elevate” the band shows their ability to unleash their blistering speed at just the right moment to bolster a poppy ear worm. The trio will play their first Philly-area performance at the Keswick Theater on tonight with Baltimore’s Charm City Devils opening. Tickets and information can be found here.