The Winery Dogs – Richie Kotzen, Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan – are back in full force with their aptly named third album “III,” which is set for release on February III, 2023. Following in the footsteps of their first two albums, “III” was once again self-produced by The Winery Dogs and mixed by longtime band associate Jay Ruston.
Pre-orders will be available starting Friday, December 9 on CD and all digital formats, which include an instant download of the album’s first song to be released, “Xanadu.” A vinyl edition of “III” will also be forthcoming in a few months as well.
While the all-out smokin’ opening track and lead single “Xanadu,” title might evoke different imagery in more progressive-leaning listening circles, Kotzen’s zen-seeking, hard-rocking ruminations on “Xanadu” once again shine a light on the eternal power of good collaboration. “Coming out of the gates, that’s a barnburner,” acknowledges Portnoy. “It’s one of the fiercest tracks on the album.” Incidentally, eagle ears will also delight in picking up on how definitively Portnoy drops his drumsticks right as the song concludes. “At the end there, you’re hearing me toss my sticks — not in frustration, but very much in satisfaction of what we had just done,” he clarifies with a laugh.
From the clarion call for connection and societal understanding in “Mad World” to the door-opening personal realizations of “Breakthrough” to the undeniable muscle-flexing reign of the white-hot “Pharaoh” and the album-closing energy spillage of “The Red Wine,” all 50-plus minutes of “III” prove The Winery Dogs haven’t lost a step when it comes to conjuring fresh hooks, gut-bucket grooves, and bold harmonies.
That said, it’s been a long road back to the collective compound for guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen, bassist/vocalist Billy Sheehan, and drummer/vocalist Mike Portnoy. Back in 2015-16, they hit the road hard together to showcase their mettle as hardcore (you guessed it) road dogs in order to build upon the success of their well-received 2015 sophomore studio effort, “Hot Streak,” by touring all across the globe. Eventually, the seasoned trio returned to their respective corners to focus on various other projects for the ensuing next few years. But when that live itch needed another scratching, these three working musicians knew just what they had to do.
“We wanted to tour,” Kotzen confirms succinctly of The Winery Dogs’ 22-date run in early 2019 that was appropriately dubbed “Who Let The Dogs Out,” before adding, “We had to get those cylinders firing together once again.” Concurs Portnoy, “That was a fun little tour that reignited our enthusiasm — and that’s also when we knew a third album was definitely in the cards.” Adds Sheehan, “Getting back together like that was really refreshing. We could relax a bit and enjoy being together onstage, playing without any pressure. It was a beautiful thing.”
Duly reinvigorated, The Winery Dogs were finally aligned to record again by initially ensconcing themselves together in Kotzen’s intimate, cozy home studio in Southern California to jam on new material that was mainly created in the moment during many hours of face-to-face musical interaction. Always the driven and intuitive songwriter, Kotzen displays a definitive M.O. whenever he’s working out new songs in the studio by scatting melodies and putting forth short bursts of semi-improvised lines and phrases that will soon enough transform into sharply honed subject matter. “My attitude is this: when I’m in the studio creating new music, the last thing on my mind is, ‘How am I gonna do it live?’” Kotzen admits. “The reality is, I may never get to where I’ll do it live. What’s relevant is getting the vision that’s in my head, in my heart, and in my soul to come out of the speakers. If it gets to the point where the tour is booked, the dates are confirmed, and we all get back in the rehearsal room together, that’s when you figure out, ‘OK, how do I interpret this in a way it can be delivered live, and still be the same song?’”
2. Mad World
6. The Vengeance
10. The Red Wine
In addition to the new music, fans will also be excited to hear that the trio is hitting the worldwide concert trail starting February 15 in Greensburg, PA at the Palace Theatre for their “202III World Tour.” Ticket and VIP package info can be found on the band’s official website.
The 1st Paw of The Winery Dogs “202III World Tour” will cover most of the US (with more cities to be announced in the coming weeks/months) as well as 3 shows in Brazil.
US Tour Dates:
Feb 15th – Greensburg, PA – Palace Theater
Feb 16th – Jim Thorpe, PA – Penn’s Peak
Feb 17th – Glenside, PA – Keswick Theater
Feb 18th – Patchogue, NY – Patchogue Theater
Feb 21st – New York City, NY – Sony Hall
Feb 22nd – Baltimore, MD – Ram Heads Live
Feb 23rd – Sayreville, NJ – Starland Ballroom
Feb 25th – Ridgefield, CT – Ridgefield Playhouse
Feb 26th – Derry, NH – Tupelo Music Hall
March 1st – Columbus, OH – King Of Clubs
March 2nd – Cleveland, OH – Agora Theater
March 5th – Green Bay, WI – Epic Event Center
March 6th – Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Cafe
March 9th – Milwaukee, WI – Pabst Theater
March 10th – St Charles, IL – Arcada Theater
March 11th – Detroit, MI – Token Lounge
March 13th – Grand Rapids, MI – DeVos Hall
March 14th – Harrison, OH – Blue Note
March 17th – Dallas, TX – Amplified
March 18th – Cedar Park, TX – The Haute Spot
March 19th – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live Ballroom
March 21st – New Orleans, LA – House Of Blues
March 22nd – Birmingham AL – Iron City
March 24th – St Petersburg, FL – Jannus Live
March 25th – Ft Lauderdale, FL – Culture Room
March 26th – Orlando, FL – The Plaza
March 30th – Virginia Beach, VA – Elevation 27
March 31st – Hopewell VA – Hopewell Theater
April 1st – Leesburg, VA – Tally Ho Theater
April 2nd – Charlotte, NC – The Underground
April 4th – Asheville, NC – Orange Peel
April 5th – Knoxville, TN – The Mill & Mine
April 6th – Nashville, TN – Brooklyn Bowl
Brazil Tour Dates:
April 27th – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Vivo Rio (w Stone Temple Pilots)
April 28th – Curitiba, Brazil – Tork n Roll (w Skid Row)
April 30th – São Paulo, Brazil – Summer Breeze Festival