It's American Dog days for Pittsburgh-based guitarist


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Vinnie Salvatore moved to Pittsburgh in 2012 and says, "The move has been great -- I love Mt. Lebanon."

Still, a certain enterprise back in Columbus keeps him on a short leash.

The guitarist spent the better part of our polar-vortex winter trucking back and forth between here and Ohio working on "Neanderthal," the new album from American Dog, a band on tour with Tesla and playing Stage AE tonight.

American Dog, which formed in 1999, is an old-school hard rock outfit in the Alice Cooper/Ted Nugent vein. Mr. Salvatore got on board early last year, joining singer/bassist Michael Hannon (ex-Salty Dog), guitarist Steve Theado and drummer Michael "Hazard" Harris.

"We've known each other for probably a decade now," he says. "I've been a fan of the band for a long time, and they talked for years about adding an extra guitar player and finally decided to give it a shot. Initially, it was to be a rhythm player, but on the new album I'm doing a fair amount of solos."

Prior to that, the soft-spoken Mr. Salvatore spent four years as a member of The Godz, another Columbus band, which launched in the Kiss/Van Halen era of the late '70s. (In 2003, The Godz, pretty much down to bassist Eric Moore, put a best-of album with new songs, using American Dog as the backing band.) He also has played with Planet 9 and the Walt James Band and does a solo studio project under the name Skid Baxter.

He says his personal tastes lean toward Zappa, Miles/Coltrane jazz and orchestral music, but he has "a wide palette" and has fun with the American Dog style of "in-your-face, blues-based rock 'n' roll."

"I really do love that stuff. AC/DC was a huge influence on me."

Since he has been here, he has played a bit with Nick Catanese (former Black Label Society) and DC Cooper, but mostly he's busy with American Dog and this Tesla tour.

"They're a great bunch of guys," he says of the Sacramento, Calif., band best known for the cover of "Signs." "The crowds have been really responsive, and as you know when you have an unknown band like us, that comes with its own set of troubles, like a DJ might come out before the show starts and he doesn't know who we are, doesn't even know our name. But we've been able to overcome that and reach the audience pretty well."


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