If you know anything about me, you know I’m a purist when it comes to music. I want my music like my women: authentic! It all needs to be real and performed by a human. I don’t want to make love to a robot and I surely don’t want to listen to a robot “performing” music. This is why I’m very fond of The Winery Dogs, the guys and their music — they’re real! They’re authentic! There are no computers or crappy drum machines programmed here! They’re actually playing their instruments and singing, and they’re great at all of it! The Winery Dogs define a new generation of classic rock and roll and I commend them for that!

The power rock trio is made up of rock vets, Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold, Adrenaline Mob) on drums and backing vocals, Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big) on bass and backing vocals and Richie Kotzen (Poison, Mr. Big) on lead vocals and guitar. The music is very reminiscent of Rush and Led Zeppelin from the ’70s, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains from the ’90s and Chickenfoot from today.

While there doesn’t seem to be many (if any) overdubs outside of percussion and backing vocals, the music never lacks any space. In today’s industry made up of AutoTune and processed material, this says a lot! The music stays full throughout the entire record. I already knew how much of a monster Portnoy is behind the drum kit (he’s a big influence on my drumming) from his numerous drum DVDs and videos, but I learned more about Sheehan and Kotzen than I thought I would.

I now have a better understanding (and appreciation) of why Sheehan is one of the best bassists in the world. That dude can jam like there’s no tomorrow and keep a solid foundation at the same time. Kotzen’s vocal abilities really shine, as does his killer guitar licks. He knows when to shred and he knows when not to shred. I was familiar with Kotzen from his short stint with Poison in the mid-90s, but haven’t heard much from him until this project came along.

Kotzen is a powerful singer who I don’t feel has had the chance to really show off his vocal abilities until this project. Sure, you can hear his vocals on Poison’s Native Tongue CD, and he’s sung locally in Los Angeles over the years, but this is the first world wide record (wwr) you can hear the craftsmanship of his voice.

If you bought this album specifically expecting to hear solo after solo, then you’ll be disappointed. While solos are obviously expected with these seasoned musicians, and you’ll hear them trade licks back and forth quite frequently, the songs are full of heart and soul and are crafted beautifully while performed with love. There’s not one track where any of the instruments overpower another, whether played altogether, as a solo or as an accent.

If you’re a fan of Portnoy, Sheehan, Kotzen or classic rock in general, this is a must-have album! We can thank radio personality Eddie Trunk for encouraging these guys to form and create this awesome music! Recorded last August through December at Kotzen’s home studio in L.A., let’s sure hope the guys are eager to start recording the follow up once their tour wraps. I know I can’t wait to experience The Winery Dogs live!

Rating: 5/5