Sharlee Patches’ new documentary, Wino: The Documentary (available now on DVD here and digitally here), follows a road trip between herself and her partner Scott (Wino) Weinrich, a doom metal guitarist and vocalist, with a lot to say and some very heavy music to play.
For those familiar with Wino’s career, which spans over forty years, you will know him as the frontman of The Obsessed and later Saint Vitus, more recently he has been doing the rounds as a solo performer, in whatever capacity his character, much like his music is hard to ignore.
The road trip proves, as one commentator notes, that Wino is as DIY as it gets, pulling what often appears to be all his worldly good in a trailer driven by Sharlee as he creates sketches and pontificates on life.
His views may not be to everyone’s tastes; we see footage of him from 2012, speculating on a government conspiracy to spread disease to inoculate the population. Fast forward to now, and he is still claiming that it is all part of a government master plan.
“Right now, we are in the grip of, I believe, some man-made assault on humankind, which consists of weaponized germ warfare, nano-technology being dumped on us from the sky to create trans-humans tied into A.I.” Wino doesn’t mince his words.
He basically has an opinion on most things, but by and large, he is a positive soul who enjoys travelling the U.S. and beyond, doing his thing to the delight of lifelong friends and fans.
Throughout the entire doc, footage of Wino on stage is intercut with quotes from his many admirers, complimenting him and convincing us that he is the greatest being to grace the stage and possibly earth.
Jason Taylor from The Obsessed describes him as “Dude! The most Intense dude, the most chilled dude, the most humble guitar player but the most badass guitar player.”
Tattooist and friend Brittany Elliot enthusiastically states that Wino “Is fucking a gift to Rock n Roll, a fucking gift to this earth.”
And admirer Matt Bacon claims, “First you have Sabbath, then you have Wino, then you have everyone else.”
We get to see the great and the good of the metal and rock world singing his praises, including such legends as Dave Grohl and Henry Rollins, the latter exclaiming, “The guy’s got no bullshit; he just says it. You don’t like it, there’s the door; you can either walk or if he gets up, you can run.” A tidy edit sees Wino respond with, “I’m a peaceful person, but violence is always on the table.”
The 105 minutes running time will please fans of Wino but may be a stretch for the uninitiated. His music is joyously heavy and often in the old style of Black Sabbath, Motorhead and sometimes Led Zeppelin (particularly in his later acoustic projects). His clothes sense is old school too, covered in tattoos and wearing cowboy hats, with a tattoo-covered torso peering through a collection of waistcoats; there are direct visual links here with the late great Lemmy. His stage presence is epic, commanding from the front, chest puffed out, powerful in voice, but most noticeably, he is an incredibly skilled guitarist.
One archive sequence is surprising in its inclusion, showing Wino on-stage, ripping the top and bra from a fan who has invaded the stage and then kissing her with some force. If Patches wants to present a completely honest picture of Wino, then she succeeds, but it’s not a comfortable sight for contemporary eyes to behold.
It’s a true Rock doc, however. Archive footage shows Wino in his garden, celebrating his new cocaine-free life, stating how he swapped the hard stuff for mushrooms, but more recent footage sees him snorting a line in a hotel room. More rock and roll antics catch him shooting at stuff in his yard and riding about on a chopper.
The older Wino is much more a man of high morals, though. Family footage shows him playing guitars with his kids, showing a much calmer side to his character, and his views on policing, capitalism and the state of the world are refreshing. “When I was growing up, almost everything We’ve seen happen this year… it’s treason!”
Later when asked what he loves about America, he replies, “Everything. I love the geography, I love the people, I love the food, I love the music, I love the culture… I don’t like the government.”
He’s in it for the music; clearly, “Disease is big money.”
The accolades continue as the film goes on, with Brittany Elliot telling us he’s “…the fucking nicest dude on earth, and he’d give you the shirt off his back,” whilst Dave Shepherd of Weedeater describes him and his music as “…a train that could… or could not go off the rails at any point in time.”
The documentary is enjoyable because it shows great footage of Wino in action, but there is little else other than the ongoing tributes to his greatness. Unlike most rock documentaries, there is no sub-plot to hold it together, just a continuous effort to show that behind the wild on-stage image that Wino projects is a sensitive, thoughtful, politically aware and well-read family man. For non-fans, this may become a little draining after a while.
Wino is a true character, and his love of the road and what he does when he stops off from it will surely keep him working for many years to come, and this documentary is a testament to this hard work and the enjoyment that it brings.
Director: Sharlee Patches
Producer: Sharlee Patches
Starring: Wino, Sharlee Patches, Dave Grohl, Henry Rollins
Production Company: New Terms Productions
Distributed by: Purple Sage PR
Release Date: May 13, 2023
Run Time: 105 minutes