The Winery Dogs Concert Review Count’s Vamp’d Las Vegas 05-28-23

Concert Review and Photos by Roc Boyum

Like a hidden oasis just off the hectic Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, Count’s Vamp’d, is a super cool club that was definitely the place to be on May 28, 2023; if you were one of the lucky ones to have a ticket to the sold out Winery Dogs show. This was a unique show with The Winery Dogs, as they were the only act on the bill which was a special treat for the fans of this group of amazing musicians.

Unlike the HOB on the strip, this Venue takes the “seeing a band in your living room” concept to a whole new level. With every vantage point having you just a stones throw away from the band. You can really feel like you’re on stage with this band which makes the experience of their mind blowing music and musicianship all that much more real!

When I arrived at 5pm, the line to get in was already in full swing and rapidly growing for a band that wasn’t scheduled to go on until 9:30pm. Once the doors opened, it was like someone yelled “fire” as everyone at the front of the line started surging towards the entrance in an attempt to get inside the venue – before the next guy – to secure a spot near the stage. By 9pm, the crowd’s anticipation had escalated into what was on the verge of becoming a spontaneous combustion event which prompted the band to hit the stage 20 minutes early. At 9:10, The Winery Dogs casually walked onto the stage and up to their respective instruments and then hit the audience like a musical explosion with the opening track “Gaslight” off their latest 2023 release, WD3. The band’s set burned hotter than the Vegas sun, mid-day in the dead of summer with all three musicians casting musical sparks across the venue throughout the show.

The band gave the Vegas audience a brilliant set of fifteen songs that spanned all three of their LP’s, and on this night, they gave a show of more highlights than anyone could count. This is a band that doesn’t mind if they musically go off script in any given song, as they always throw in some crazy impromptu jams throughout their show. Considering the over the top, virtuoso level of musicianship of these three dogs, these jams were an explosive, mind altering and head spinning experience that proved why these guys are second to none! The jam at the end of “Time Machine” from their WD2 LP, had singer/guitarist Richie Kotzen unleashing a fret shredding solo with ridiculous over the bar phrasing that soared over the top of the rhythm section of bassist Billy Sheehan and drummer Mike Portnoy who were riffing out together with their own musical insanity that included an onslaught of crazy fills that had the entire jam charging forward like a bullet train until the song’s abrupt ending.

The track “Stars” off WD3 had Kotzen on a free flow guitar jam with a super cool airy and ambient vibe that sent the listener on a special journey that was honored by the greatest round of applause of the night thus far in the show – acknowledgement for a performance that was truly brilliant!

Richie Kotzen

Of course, a Winery Dog show wouldn’t be complete without a solo from the man who can play a bass solo, faster, crazier and more unbelievable than most six string guitarists on the planet. Sheehan’s bass solo is an exhibition of other worldly talent that is about 6 minutes of mind numbing chops. On this night, his solo included an interesting trick that I personally had not seen him pull out before, which was a back and forth slapping of his bass guitar neck with the thumb and first finger of his right hand while working the neck with his left hand to create a unique rhythmic thumping that was just another dimension of the man’s incomparable abilities.

Billy Sheehan

Mike Portnoy, at this point in his illustrious career, doesn’t really need to do an “official” drum solo anymore. Especially in The Winery Dogs, where he has the freedom to do plenty of free flowing improvisational fills throughout the entire night. During any given song, it doesn’t matter whether he’s riffing out with bassist Sheehan to create some telepathic mind blowing duo riffing, or to just go off the cuff on his own, Portnoy is constantly pushing a song’s musical boundaries with the kind of improvisational playing that you’d get from an era gone by with bands like The Mahavishnu Orchestra or the Billy Cobham’s solo band; absolutely out of the box brilliant playing.

Mike Portnoy

The band finished off the night with the fan favorite “Elevate” from their WD2 LP Which had everyone not only ecstatic that they made the trek from wherever they came from to catch guys, but the band also had the audience wanting more from The Winery Dogs and for the band to play until the wee hours of the morning; which of course is not possible for a ton of reasons.

The Winery Dogs are a true power trio who give their audiences an unforgettable show that is as unique as each of the individual musicians. Put these three guys on the same stage and you have a mind-blowing and unbelievable show of musicianship with vocals that are soulful, incredible, and truly rare for a guitarist of Kotzen’s caliber. This is a band that is unapologetic in their musical approach and doing what they do no matter how far they stray from the current musical fashion or flavor of the month. The band doesn’t always hit every market when they tour, so it’s not uncommon for fans of this band to travel from out of state, or even crossing multiple state lines to catch these guys live!

Make no mistake…however far you have to travel, it’s unequivocally worth every mile of your trek to catch these guys for what could be a once in a lifetime experience.

Get into the Winery Dogs here!