Saturday, April 26, 2014

My Summer Album: The Winery Dogs

If you are a music fan at all, you're familiar with the experience of falling in love with an album and listening to it over and over for a season.

That piece of tuneage is forever cemented with the sights, smells, and feelings of the time when the disc never left your car's CD player. Or never stopped playing on your iPod.

As my musical tastes have changed over the last few years, it had been awhile since I had fallen so in love with an album that I wanted to let it become a part of me.

Last summer, I started running, and pretty much only listened to Alter Bridge's ABIII. In my opinion, not their strongest album. But I was digging it at the time. Now when I hear those songs, I'm on the trail, soaking up the sun. I smell sunscreen and bug spray. Somehow the dark lyrics that dominate ABIII helped me through a somewhat rough time in my life. (I think there's only one song on that album that doesn't make me want to cut myself.)

BUT--summer 2014 is going to ROCK (spring already has!) and I have found my summer album. Well, actually, Mike found it.

The Winery Dogs' debut album was released last summer...and for some reason we didn't check it out then. Even after Eddie Trunk of That Metal Show raved about it.  I should know Eddie would never steer us wrong.

The Winery Dogs is a supergroup consisting of:
Richie Kotzen (he's played with Poison and Mr. Big, and released solo records) on vocals, guitar, and keybords.
Mike Portnoy (founding member of Dream Theater--and MANY other projects) on drums.
Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, Steve Vai) on bass and backing vocals.

This album sounds comfortable and familiar, but completely fresh at the same time. Mix classic rock with grunge. Kotzen's voice reminds me of Chris Cornell's. The guitar is straight up rock--with some groove and bluesy tinges. And--something I am able to notice because I married a musician who is teaching me to appreciate new aspects of my favorite albums--the bass. So good.

If I could describe this album in one word: sexy. Yes, the italics were necessary. This album...makes love to you. 

The lyrical content focuses on addiction, relationships, hope, redemption, and regret.

Check out some of my favorites:

Elevate: Great, high energy song to open the album. I love the roller coaster start and stop of the riff in the verses...and that chorus that is catchy as hell:

Desire: Great sexy, dirty rocker. This is the second song on the album, so if "Elevate" didn't sell you on The Winery Dogs, this one certainly will:

The Other Side: Check out the bass in the first verse! This song is a good example of another thing I'm digging about The Winery Dogs' music: you're getting more moods/vibes in just ONE SONG  than some artists have on entire albums:

Six Feet Deeper: Another hard-driving rocker. Kotzen's vocal performance is badass on this one:

Time Machine: This song is so cool and unique. What I said above about The Other Side applies here as well. The guitar intro just stabs you---then pulls the knife out again. You get an Alice in Chains vibe with the verse-then a bridge with these great lyrics:

"I lift my spirit with the shit I swore I would let go
I tell myself that I ain't slippin' and it's under control
But I'm outta control."

Then back to the grunge vibe--followed by a soaring chorus you should expect by this point in the album.

If I still have to bring your attention to the killer bass, then you probably shouldn't be listening to rock 'n roll.

Regret: Great ballad. Excellent album closer. I feel like this piano driven track could actually work on pop radio. Again: sexy.

Please do me a favor and buy The Winery Dogs, listen to it during a nice, long drive. Windows down...and let me know what you think!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Alter Bridge with Monster Truck/House of Blues/Dallas

If you would like to watch me ramble for five minutes about meeting Alter Bridge, check out the video above. You can also make a drinking game out of how many times I say "basically" and/or "fantastic."

There are some great videos and pictures from this show at Alter Bridge Nation.

First--if you haven't heard of Monster Truck, and you're a fan of straight-up rock with a southern, bluesy feel...check them out, like, yesterday. Mike and I had listened to their album a few times once we heard they were opening this tour, and we definitely dig them. They were great live. High energy, dirty rock 'n roll. And so. Many. Beards!

Their set is even more impressive knowing they had just returned to the states from Europe (where they were touring with Scorpion Child--I would have loved to see that show!)

When Alter Bridge hit the stage, I felt like we were all already BFF's...since I had just met them and all.

I did not keep track of the set list, but luckily someone did!

As I mentioned, Addicted to Pain was a perfect opener. White Knuckles kept the amazing energy going. The beginning of that song is fast and brutal and awesome. And then Come to Life--another great, fist-pumping rocker.

Myles Kennedy sounded amazing--duh--but better than on some of the live videos I've seen. He seemed really into the songs--holding notes out longer--more like the album versions. Mike (who's a guitar player and pays attention to the musical/technical side of things more than I do) said he was impressed to see in person how talented Myles is on the guitar.

Of course, Mark Tremonti was also incredible. As a non-musician, Alter Bridge is one of the only bands I've found where the music speaks to me almost as much as the vocals or the lyrics--really telling a story. I loved seeing Mark shred on the guitar...and make his entertaining guitar faces. Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips make a great rhythm section.

Cry of Achilles, Calm the FireTies That Bind, and Metalingus were other highlights for me. I was really happy to hear Calm the Fire. It's one of my favorite songs on Fortress. I love the message--especially when I think about some of the messed up things happening in the world. If I could take over the media like a movie super villain, I'd blast that song from every speaker on the planet.

Waters Rising proved to be a crowd favorite. We all apparently love hearing Mark sing. (his band Tremonti is working on their second album!) Anyway, Waters Rising is dark and powerful. It sounded so killer at this show.

Any good Alter Bridge fan knows what's coming up when the stool and acoustic guitar hit the stage. The ladies in the audience freak the eff out! But seriously, singing along with Watch Over You was pretty freaking sweet.

And then--Rise Today. Probably my favorite Alter Bridge song. I think it's perfect. I love how it starts off slow...builds to the huge chorus...and then the second verse kicks in with that punch. I use this song as a kind of personal mantra. (If I'm having a "be bitchy or be beautiful" moment, I'm probably repeating, "rise today and change this world" in my head) Singing this song with other diehard AB fans right back to the band made my soul happy.

Encore: Isolation. This song might be perfect as well.

Then, Open Your Eyes made for a great closer. And, um, okay, I cried.

As someone who pretty much lives and breathes music--and doesn't have many people in my life who identify with that--it was an emotional, beautiful experience to be sharing this concert with other people who love Alter Bridge. Their music inspires, motivates, challenges me, and makes me feel understood when I think I'm alone in my world. Which is quite often. I've never felt like I fit in anywhere--except when it comes to music.

But somehow, I was blessed with this mothertrucker who totally gets me!
This being my first time seeing Alter Bridge, I was kind of afraid the experience wouldn't live up to my expectations. But it exceeded them. I have never seen a band connect with an audience the way they do. I think that's mostly because of Myles Kennedy. He makes eye contact, gives 110%, and just seems so humble.

It could be because I was so close to the stage, or because I had just met them, but it didn't feel like we were watching the guys perform. It felt like we were all a part of something. I could tell they appreciated us and were enjoying the experience--not just going through the motions.

Okay, I think I'm done! Thanks for reading...and if you're an AB fan, please hit me up on facebook or twitter. I'd love to "meet" you!

For a review of the AB show in Houston the day after the Dallas gig--and reasons why America is crazy-- check out Artist Direct's write up.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Alter Bridge!

The wifi in our hotel is not working, so a more lengthy update may have to wait until I get home on Friday. BUT--if you were not at the House of Blues in Dallas last night to see Alter Bridge--you missed out on an amazing concert. I am still emotional about it!

Meeting the band was about what I expected. We didn't get to talk to them for very long, but they were really cool guys. Myles Kennedy is just as sweet and kind as he seems. He said he likes my tattoos! And Mike got several compliments on his That Metal Show shirt.

As I said-- more to come...but I have to share these:

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Winchel Rock 'n Roll Road Trip: killer GPS edition

Video update from the road:

Not safe for work.

Last night, Mike and I went to Billy Bob's Texas, a place I've wanted to visit for awhile. Yes, I think pretty much any current country music is pretty craptabulous, but I grew up on country and will always love it. Mike described Billy Bob's as "Midnight Rodeo on steroids," for you Springfieldians. Two stages, lots of bars, bull riding, and a dance floor where people actually know how to two-step. I sang along and Mike decided he now understands why there are so many songs about southern girls wearing cut-off jeans.

This is as country as I get these days:

Johnny Cash shirt + boots = country Carrie
A very cool part of Billy Bob's: the walls covered with hand prints of all the country legends who have visited or played at the venue, and there are also tons of pictures of people who have been there. We even found one of Dimebag and Vinnie!

Wade Bowen was performing. I haven't listened to much of his music, and I'm not a superfan now. He has some really strong songs, but also quite a bit of mid-tempo stuff that all sound very similar to me. He sang his version of "Love in the First Degree" from a recent Alabama cover album. I loved that!

We also got to meet up with our dear friend Natalie and her sweet family. Natalie, Mike and I worked together for several years and we have so many fun and crazy news memories. The Tristan family is such an inspiration to me--keeping faith and staying positive--no matter what.

Smiles on a rainy Dallas day!
So Tomorrow...Alter Bridge! We have VIP tickets to their show at the House of Blues. So that means, in addition to seeing them live for the first time, as mentioned in the video above, we get to meet them! I have been so incredibly excited about this. Ideally, I will be charming and adorable and able to articulate how much their music inspires me.

But I'll probably be more like:

Don't worry. Whether you care of not, there will be an update. (I don't want to forget anything about the experience EVER)