PHOTOS + REVIEW — The Winery Dogs at Jannus Live (March 24, 2023)

The Winery Dogs w/ Roxx Revolt & The Velvets • March 24, 2023 • Jannus Live — St. Petersburg, FL • Photos by Randy Cook —


The Winery Dogs | March 24, 2023 | Jannus Live – St. Petersburg, FL

On Friday, March 24th, 2023, Rock supergroup The Winery Dogs brought their 202III World Tour to Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, FL in support of their recently released studio album, III. While I am not really a fan of the term ‘supergroup’, there literally is no other way to describe the musical virtuosity, proficiency and royalty included in the power trio comprised of Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan and Richie Kotzen. Each of these musicians are legends in the industry and the rock n roll family tree spanning a collective one hundred and twenty eight years of career experience.

Prior to the Winery Dogs, all three members have had successful careers with other bands. Richie Kotzen is known as a former member of bands Poison and Mr. Big, as well as having a consistent solo career with many albums released. Billy Sheehan is known for playing with Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, Talas, and Mr. Big. Mike Portnoy is known for being the original drummer of bands Dream Theater, Flying Colors, Transatlantic, Neal Morse Band, Sons of Apollo and Adrenaline Mob. The idea of the band started out as a project featuring drummer Mike Portnoy and bassist Billy Sheehan, who were aiming to form a power trio rock band with a lead singer/guitarist as the front man. After an aborted project, tentatively titled “Bad Apple”, with guitarist/vocalist John Sykes, talk show host Eddie Trunk heard about it and suggested Richie Kotzen, who had previously played with Sheehan in the band Mr. Big from 1997 to 2002.

While I have seen each of The Winery Dogs’ members play with their respective bands, I was completely unfamiliar with any of the band’s music prior to going to this show. I purposefully did not listen to anything prior to attending as I wanted to go in ‘deaf and blind’ and be blown away. With everything I had heard of this band from friends, read about online and witnessed myself of them playing individually, the bar was set quite high for my expectations of just how amazing this show would be.

It was a beautiful night for the concert that evening and the show was at my favorite local outdoor venue, one that I have been going to shows at since the late Eighties. Opening the show was local rockers Roxx Revolt and the Velvets They are a four-piece band with a unique sound and some serious heavy pounding bass wrapped around some great guitar riffs. Lead singer Roxx was dressed impeccably in a white suite with very ornate gold trim and she absolutely commanded the stage and had the crowd singing along. They were a fun band and it was evident the growing crowd was enjoying their set and wanted more after they ended with only what I think was six songs. I think it is great that each stop on this tour offers a different local opening band and I would be fascinated to find out the logistics of how that works. I got to chat with Roxx for a few after their set and she was so down to earth and such a nice, happy and appreciative person. Thank you for taking a few minutes to chat with one of your new fans!

This was an all-ages show and I saw age ranges in the crowd that I would guess were below ten to above seventy. It is amazing how music, and live music specifically can bring people together to share a few hours out of our hectic lives to just slow down and enjoy the moment. For me, it is the overall experience as I had met up with several friends who were also there and ran into my friend Rob from the various music cruise I have been on.

Soon it was the moment that everyone in attendance has been waiting for. The lights go out, the crowd roars and the band takes their place on stage silhouetted in the shadows. I think to myself for a quick moment to my pre-show thought of expecting to be blown away and instantly the light go on and those first notes hit. As with every show, my time up in the photo pit for the first three songs, Gaslight, Xanadu and Captain Love seem to go by in the blink of an eye. It is sort of hard to explain, but honestly being behind the lens with unfamiliar music it is hard for me to process what I am hearing because I am more focused on capturing what I am seeing. But these songs spoke to me, like they were constructed and arranged by music lovers for music lovers to enjoy. The blending of all three of their voices when they harmonize together is incredible and their music is effortless in both its soulfulness and straight up technical and very tight rock. This band mixes bits of literally every sound in their songs as there were times I felt I was at a jam band/blues show while other times I knew I was at a rock n roll show.

I settled into the crowd about midway back after I left the photo pit and in between the first song break after I was in the crowd I heard someone say “…it’s just fun watching these guys play…f*ck this guy can sing”. Which I can attest to as the sheer mastery of their instruments shows that each band member is a virtuoso in his own right. The song break a couple of songs later the guy next to me turns to me and says “Wow these guys are great!” To which my reply was “They are all virtuosos”. After the show ended the same guy said to me “That was the right word – virtuoso”, and gave me a high-five!

I do recall at one point Richie thanking us for attending and coming to enjoy the music they have made, calling us fans in attendance a “…hot, loud, sexy crowd”, but what I remember the most was the music. For a show going in deaf and blind I was totally blown away and know now what I have been missing out on as I listen to the band’s first album as I write this. Billy Sheehan played what I can only describe as the wildest bass solo I have ever witnessed live. This was a masterful performance and very little in between song chit chat. These guys came out and played a seventeen song set that lasted an hour and forty five glorious minutes.

Sending a shout out to one of my new friends who I met on the recent On the Blue Cruise. She is touring with and taking care of the band’s merchandise sales for these shows. Being someone who sees the same show every night I asked her what her favorite part of the show is and immediately with a smile she said “I’m No Angel, it is my favorite song of theirs.” After finding out that her work day started before noon to prep and set up for this show and the effort put into the disassembly of the merchandise area, I nominated her as the hardest working person there! It was great to see you Sydney, keep rocking, writing and clicking behind that lens!

It was a fantastic evening of great music and great friends. My high expectations going into this show were far exceeded. I for sure will never miss another Winery Dogs show if I have the chance to go. This is a great band with some seriously good music and they put on a fantastic show for us tonight. \m/

The Winery Dogs set list:
Captain Love
Hot Streak
Time Machine
Mad World
The Other Side
Bass Solo
The Red Wine
I’m No Angel

The Winery Dogs Live Review + Photos by Randy Cook /// @horns_raised

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