Three of rock’s most acclaimed virtuosos will marry strong melodies with complex instrumental interplay next month in Fort Smith.
The Winery Dogs will perform songs from its debut, self-titled CD and more at 9 p.m. May 20 at Neumeier’s Rib Room & Beer Garden, 817 Garrison Ave. in Fort Smith. The band features former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, Mr. Big bassist Billy Sheehan and ex-Poison guitarist-singer Richie Kotzen.
“I’m very happy with the response we’ve seen from people regarding our music,” said Kotzen during a recent telephone interview. “This band has elements of some improvisation, but it’s also about delivering the songs. I never play the same thing twice exactly the same way, and this band is a little more aggressive-sounding that some of my work in the past.”
Back in 1991, Kotzen temporarily replaced guitarist C.C. DeVille in Poison and soon wrote Poison’s Top 20 singles “Stand” and “Until You Suffer Some (Fire & Ice).” He later performed with jazz bass pioneer Stanley Clarke while continuing to create solo work.
“As an artist, whenever I feel inspired, that’s the best feeling — when it’s happening,” said Kotzen, who also played in Mr. Big. “We really hit on some great ideas with The Winery Dogs, and it’s great to develop those ideas into something we feel are great songs.”
Portnoy, who also plays with Transatlantic and Neal Morse’s solo band, among others, was 37 when he became the second-youngest drummer ever to be inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame.
Voted “Best Rock Bass Player” five times in Guitar Player magazine’s Readers Poll, Sheehan has recorded and toured with Steve Vai and David Lee Roth, among others. The bassist also was Roth’s first pick as bassist for a pre-famous Van Halen.
“Doing this new tour is exciting,” Kotzen said. “We’re getting to go out and play these songs that we created together. It’s energetic and it’s inspiring.”