The Winery Dogs at The Newton Theatre:
New Supergroup Rocks Sussex County, New Jersey
A Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

It really was the dog days of summer as a brand new power trio called The Winery Dogs with a hard rocking bite and a bold new album brought their show to The Newton Theater in Newton, New Jersey on August 7, 2013. Eddie Trunk from That Metal Show played a role in the group's formation and he was on hand to enthusiastically introduce the band. The Winery Dogs ignited their set right from the start with the energizing and inspiring "Elevate" - immediately collaring their fans who were instantly on their feet. They remained loyal and obedient to their master's by standing throughout the show.

The Winery Dogs at the Newton Theatre
The Winery Dogs were unleashed in Sussex County.

The talented team is Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Flying Colors, Transatlantic), Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big) and Richie Kotzen (Mr. Big, Poison). They are touring in support of their self-titled debut that was released July 23rd, 2013 on Load & Proud Records. The full-bodied record is packed with agile riffs, aggressive rhythms and roaring vocals.

The Winery Dogs played their entire debut album but not in order. Their set design was straight forward with gear, lighting and a backdrop with their name on it. Their stage set up was not flashy but when you have three alpha musicians you don't need to jump through any hoops. Although each of The Winery Dogs do have tricks to mix in with their technical prowess. Part of Mike Portnoy's signature style is to twirl the drum sticks or toss one in the air and catch it without missing a fast-paced beat.

Billy Sheehan is Mr. Bass. He approaches the instrument from different angles from slaps to swings and on one occasion it looked like Billy was waving his hand over the strings. Sheehan also plays bass like a guitar blending both leads and rhythms on some of his singular solos. Richie Kotzen brings much of the brawn to this trio with his commanding vocals and sizzling guitar licks.

All the tracks sounded as good as they did on the record but in a live setting the energy was even higher and it was exciting to see the skills behind the songs. Of the many highlights of the show, "Time Machine" was terrific with its wicked timings and wild riffs. "Six Feet Deeper" started with a quick succulent bass solo before the rest of the band dug into the dynamic piece.

The Winery Dogs had a lot of power and all three instruments along with the vocals stood out while still boldly blending in a gritty harmony. Billy, Mike and Richie are all pros but more importantly they are passionate about music and that element adds more flavor to their new album and performances.

The Winery Dogs at the Newton Theatre
Scenes from The Winery Dogs concert at The Newton Theatre.

The show also had melodic moments from the record including the moving "You Saved Me" which has the potential to be an anthem. The softer songs were just as interesting as the intense rockers that dominated the majority of their set.

For the encore they invited Eddie Trunk on stage to wish him a happy birthday in a few hours and stated that no one would be at this theater if it was not for Eddie who apparently had planted the seed for this supergroup. The Winery Dogs covered Elvin Bishop's "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" with fire that flowed well into a burning "Desire" to close the concert on an ardent and animated note.

Opening for The Winery Dogs was Jolly from New York City. Their style was a unique blend of melody and progressive thrash metal. Jolly's songs were layered and lengthy. All four were proficient on their instruments and their music covered a range of sounds and speeds.

"Such an honor to be opening for The Winery Dogs - Mike Portnoy personally asked us to play these shows," shared Jolly as they performed more of their hard driving progressive songs that had us thinking that Dream Theater is possibly one of their influences. Jolly effectively engaged the audience and was able to get people to clap along to their music. We enjoyed Jolly's set and hope to see more from this New York quartet in the future.

The Newton Theater has hosted a wide range of artists such as The Winery Dogs. Upcoming shows at the venue include John Hiatt, Sarah Darling, The Marshall Tucker Band, Johnny Winter, Robert Randolph, Big Shot, Travis Tritt, John Mayall, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, Glen Miller Orchestra and Leo Kottke.

The Newton Theater's history dates back to 1923 and it was re-opened in September of 2011 to serve as a premier concert venue for Sussex County . Please check their website for more information.

The Winery Dogs at the Newton Theatre
Jolly from New York City capably opened the show.

Related Links: For more information on THE WINERY DOGS and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - The Winery Dogs | The Winery Dogs CD Review | Jolly | The Newton Theatre

(Originally Published on August 08, 2013)




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