The Dixie Dregs is an American rock band from Augusta, Georgia. Formed in 1970,[1] the band's performance consists entirely of instrumentals that fuse elements of diverse genres such as rock, classical music, country, jazz and bluegrass into an eclectic sound that is difficult to categorize. Recognized for their virtuoso playing, the Dixie Dregs were identified with the southern rock, progressive rock and jazz fusion scenes of the 1970s.

Dixie Dregs
Andy West and Allen Sloan of Dixie Dregs live in 1999
Andy West and Allen Sloan of Dixie Dregs live in 1999
Background information
Also known as
  • Dixie Grit (1970-1971)
  • Rock Ensemble II (1973)
  • The Dregs (1981-1983)
OriginAugusta, Georgia
Genres
Years active
  • 1970–1983
  • 1988–present
Labels
Members
Past members
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

In 1975, the band recorded their demo album The Great Spectacular and self-released it in the following year in a limited pressing. The demo soon garnered attention from record labels, including Capricorn Records, with whom the Dixie Dregs would sign in 1976, and three albums were released for the label: Free Fall (1977), What If (1978) and Night of the Living Dregs (1979); the latter album, which was split between studio and live recordings, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance,[2] and each of the band's next three albums would subsequently receive further Grammy nominations.

After Capricorn declared bankruptcy in 1979, the band signed with Arista Records, releasing the album Dregs of the Earth in 1980. The following year, the band changed their name to The Dregs, releasing two albums under this name, Unsung Heroes (1981) and Industry Standard (1982), which was the only album by the band to feature vocals. The band disbanded in 1983.[3] After reuniting in 1988, the Dixie Dregs released their last studio album to date Full Circle in 1994, and the live albums Bring 'Em Back Alive (1992) and California Screamin' (2000).

Musical styleEdit

Dixie Dregs' performances consist entirely of instrumentals, with Industry Standard (1982) being the only album by the band to contain vocals.[4] The band members are noted for their virtuoso playing, and Dixie Dregs' music incorporates elements of many genres, which makes the band's sound difficult to singularly classify.[5] The band's influences include The Allman Brothers Band and Mahavishnu Orchestra.[6] According to the band themselves, their music fuses elements of psychedelic rock, progressive rock and country.[6] The Boston Herald described the band's music as a fusion of rock, jazz, country, and classical music.[7] The Chicago Tribune categorized Dixie Dregs' music as a fusion of jazz rock and country music.[8] The Christian Science Monitor defined Dixie Dregs' music as being a fusion of bluegrass and classical music.[9] The Times described Dixie Dregs' music as a fusion of progressive rock, heartland rock and jazz.[10] This sound has been classified as southern rock,[11][12][13][14][15][16][17] progressive rock,[18][19][20][21][11][22] jazz fusion or jazz rock,[1][6][15][23][24] baroque rock,[25] experimental rock,[19] hard rock,[11] instrumental rock,[26] progressive metal[11] and roots rock.[27]

HistoryEdit

Formation and early yearsEdit

Dixie Dregs evolved from an Augusta, Georgia, band called Dixie Grit, formed by Steve Morse and Andy West in 1970.[1] The band featured Morse's older brother Dave on drums, Frank Brittingham (guitar and vocals) and Johnny Carr (keyboards). Carr was later replaced by Mark Parrish. Shortly after Steve Morse's enrollment at University of Miami's School of Music in 1971, Dixie Grit was disbanded. Morse and West continued performing as a duo, calling themselves Dixie Dregs (the "Dregs" of "Dixie Grit").[28]

In 1973, Steve Morse (guitar), Andy West (bass), Allen Sloan (violin) and Bart Yarnal (drums) met while students at the University of Miami's School of Music to play as Rock Ensemble II. West also attended Georgia State University for a year while studying cello and music theory and composition along with Parrish. Parrish remained at GSU during the academic school years only to return to Augusta, Georgia, during summer breaks - re-establishing the guitar/bass/keyboards/drums quartet with Morse, West, Parrish, and Gilbert Frayer (drums) performing as opening acts for concerts and headlining local gigs as Dixie Dregs.

During subsequent academic school years, the remaining members of the Dregs, including Andy West, returned to the University of Miami and Mark Parrish returned to Atlanta, Georgia, to complete his degree in music performance and composition at Georgia State University, under the study of William Masselos, with additional studies of electronic music at Columbia University in New York City under Alice Shields, a protégée of Wendy Carlos.

First recordingEdit

At the time, the University of Miami hosted a lively musical community, including future professional musicians Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Danny Gottlieb, T Lavitz and Bruce Hornsby. Rod Morgenstein was asked to fill in as drummer after a surfing accident disabled Yarnal. In 1974, during the school years at UofM, keyboardist Frank Josephs was added to their line-up. In 1975, the group's first effort, The Great Spectacular (named by ex-"Dixie Grit" second guitarist and singer, Frank Brittingham) was recorded at the University.[29] Approximately 1,000 copies of the original LP were pressed. The album was reissued in 1997 in CD form.

Signed to CapricornEdit

Based on the strength of a three-song demo and a tip from former Allman Brothers Band members Chuck Leavell and Twiggs Lyndon, Capricorn Records signed them in late 1976 to record their debut album Free Fall (1977).[29] Steve Davidowski was the keyboardist on Free Fall. When Davidowski left to work with fiddler Vassar Clements, former Dixie Grit/Dixie Dregs keyboardist Mark Parrish rejoined the group later that year.[29] The moderate success and critical acclaim of Free Fall led to their 1978 effort, What If,[29] supported by their first tour with dates in New York, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, Arizona, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and California.

Their third album, Night of the Living Dregs (featuring Morse, West, Sloan, Parrish, and Morgenstein), was released in April 1979,[29] gaining the band their first Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, won that year by Paul McCartney's band Wings. Night of the Living Dregs included studio recordings as well as compositions performed live and recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 23, 1978.[29] Ken Scott, The Beatles' and producer/arranger George Martin's right-hand man and engineer, produced both Dixie Dregs albums, What If and Night of the Living Dregs.

Switch to AristaEdit

In October 1979, Capricorn Records declared bankruptcy, and the band was signed by Arista Records in January 1980, to create three more albums.[29] At that time, keyboardist Parrish left and was replaced by T Lavitz.[29] Later that year, Dregs of the Earth (featuring Morse, West, Sloan, Lavitz, and Morgenstein) was released.[29]

Parrish went on to play piano and keyboards for vocalists Andy Williams, Roberta Flack, Natalie Cole, Luther Vandross, Peabo Bryson, Celine Dion, Regina Belle, Deborah Gibson, Pat Boone and daughter Debby Boone, Glen Campbell and for guitarist Larry Coryell. He won an Angel Award as co-producer of a Christian album, where he arranged and played all the instrumental parts. He has also been musical director, conductor, and keyboard instrumentalist with the touring stage shows of Cats, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Wizard of Oz, Little Shop of Horrors, Nunsense, Brigadoon, The Phantom of the Opera, Anything Goes, and other Broadway stage shows.

Name changeEdit

 
Steve Morse with Dixie Dregs at the Roxy Theatre, August 28, 1999

For Unsung Heroes, released in 1981, the band changed their name to The Dregs in an effort to gain more commercial appeal.[29] Violinist Sloan was replaced by Mark O'Connor, winner of Nashville's Grand Masters Fiddle Championship for their 1982 release, Industry Standard.[29] This album introduced vocals for the first time, as a further attempt to gain more airtime. Guest vocalists included the Doobie Brothers's Patrick Simmons and Alex Ligertwood (Santana). Industry Standard provided the Dregs with another Grammy nomination for Best Rock/Jazz Instrumental Performance. The recent name change, vocal additions and a grueling touring schedule did nothing to improve sales, and in 1983, the members of The Dregs decided to disband the group, parting for individual projects.[29]

ReunionEdit

In the late 1980s, the group reunited for a tour featuring former members Morse, Morgenstein (who was also playing with Winger), Lavitz and Sloan.[29] Their return was complemented by a "Best Of" release entitled Divided We Stand (1989). Bassist Dave LaRue completed the line-up for a seven date tour culminating in the 1992 live album Bring 'em Back Alive, which garnered them a third Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in January, 1993 - awarded to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble for "Little Wing." Violinist Jerry Goodman, of The Mahavishnu Orchestra fame, filled in for Sloan, who was frequently absent as a result of his busy medical career. They signed a deal with former label Capricorn Records for their first studio album in years entitled Full Circle in 1994.

TodayEdit

The Dregs to this day remain a loose collection of its former members, reuniting briefly for short tours and rare studio work. 1997's releases were The Great Spectacular in April and King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents (originally recorded in 1979 for the King Biscuit radio show) in September. California Screamin' (2000) is a curious mix of live recordings from the performances at the Roxy Theatre in August 1999. This release features older compositions and covers of the Allman Brothers Band's "Jessica", and Frank Zappa's "Peaches en Regalia" (with Dweezil Zappa sharing guitar lead). 20th Century Masters: The Best of the Dixie Dregs and the DVD Sects, Dregs and Rock 'n' Roll were released in 2002.

On July 3, 2017, Rod Morgenstein announced a reunion tour beginning February 2018 in a YouTube video for Rock, Roots, & Blues - Live.[30]

The first show of the reunion tour dubbed "Dawn of the Dregs" took place on February 28, 2018, in Clearwater, Florida. It featured the original lineup of Steve Morse (guitar), Andy West (bass), Rod Morgenstein (drums), Allen Sloan (violin), and Steve Davidowski (keyboards)

PersonnelEdit

MembersEdit

TimelineEdit

LineupsEdit

1970
As "Dixie Grit"
1970-1971
As "Dixie Grit"
1971-1973 1973
  • Frank Brittingham - guitar, vocals
  • Johnny Carr - keyboards
  • Dave Morse - drums
  • Steve Morse - guitar
  • Andy West - bass guitar
  • Frank Brittingham - guitar, vocals
  • Dave Morse - drums
  • Steve Morse - guitar
  • Andy West - bass guitar
  • Mark Parrish - keyboards
  • Steve Morse - guitar
  • Andy West - bass guitar
As "Rock Ensemble II"
  • Steve Morse - guitar
  • Andy West - bass guitar
  • Allen Sloan - violin
  • Bart Yarnall - drums
As "Dixie Dregs"
  • Steve Morse - guitar
  • Andy West - bass guitar
  • Mark Parrish - keyboards
  • Gilbert Frayer - drums
1973-1974 1974-1975 1975-1977 1977-1978
  • Steve Morse - guitar
  • Andy West - bass guitar
  • Allen Sloan - violin
  • Rod Morgenstein - drums
  • Steve Morse - guitar
  • Andy West - bass guitar
  • Allen Sloan - violin
  • Rod Morgenstein - drums
  • Frank Josephs - keyboards
  • Steve Morse - guitar
  • Andy West - bass guitar
  • Allen Sloan - violin
  • Rod Morgenstein - drums
  • Steve Davidowski - keyboards
  • Steve Morse - guitar
  • Andy West - bass guitar
  • Allen Sloan - violin
  • Rod Morgenstein - drums
  • Mark Parrish - keyboards
1978-1981 1981-1983 1983-1988 1988-1992
  • Steve Morse - guitar
  • Andy West - bass guitar
  • Allen Sloan - violin
  • Rod Morgenstein - drums
  • T Lavitz - keyboards
  • Steve Morse - guitar
  • Andy West - bass guitar
  • Rod Morgenstein - drums
  • T Lavitz - keyboards
  • Mark O'Connor - violin

Group disbanded

  • Steve Morse - guitar
  • Rod Morgenstein - drums
  • T Lavitz - keyboards
  • Dave LaRue - bass guitar
  • Allen Sloan - violin
1992-2010 2010-2017 2017–present
  • Steve Morse - guitar
  • Rod Morgenstein - drums
  • T Lavitz - keyboards
  • Dave LaRue - bass guitar
  • Jerry Goodman - violin
  • Steve Morse - guitar
  • Rod Morgenstein - drums
  • Dave LaRue - bass guitar
  • Jerry Goodman - violin
  • Steve Morse - guitar
  • Andy West - bass
  • Allen Sloan - violin
  • Rod Morgenstein - drums
  • Steve Davidowski - keyboards

DiscographyEdit

Studio albumsEdit

Demo releasesEdit

Live albumsEdit

  • Bring 'Em Back Alive (1992)
  • King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents (September 16, 1997)
  • California Screamin' (February 1, 2000)
  • From the Front Row... Live! (Dolby 5.1 DVD-Audio, 2003)

CompilationsEdit

  • Best of the Dixie Dregs (1987)
  • The Best of the Dregs: Divided We Stand (1989)
  • 20th Century Masters: The Best of the Dixie Dregs (March 26, 2002)

Video albumsEdit

  • Sects, Dregs and Rock 'n' Roll (DVD, December 2002)
  • Live at Montreux 1978 (DVD, 2005)

SinglesEdit

  • 1976: "Cruise Control"/"Refried Funky Chicken"/"Cosmopolitan Traveler" (self-released)
  • 1978: "Take It Off the Top"/"Little Kids"
  • 1979: "Punk Sandwich"/"Country House Shuffle"
  • 1980: "Pride O' the Farm"/"The Great Spectacular"
  • 1981: "Cruise Control"/"Go for Baroque"
  • 1982: "Crank It Up"/"Bloodsucking Leeches"

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "The Dixie Dregs - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  2. ^ "Grammy Award Nominees 1980 – Grammy Award Winners 1980". Awardsandshows.com. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  3. ^ "Obituary of Terry Lavitz". Sullivanfuneralhome.net. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  4. ^ Gioffre, Daniel (2011). "Industry Standard - The Dregs | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  5. ^ "Review: Dixie Dregs — Dregs of the Earth" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 85, no. 19. 10 May 1980. p. 77. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 24 April 2021 – via American Radio History.
  6. ^ a b c Allen, Jim (February 28, 2018). "Dixie Dregs' Classic Lineup Returns to Revive the Band's Southern-Fried Fusion Legacy". Indy Week. Retrieved 2022-04-28.
  7. ^ "Steve Morse gets the Dixie Dregs back together for tour". Boston Herald. March 18, 2018.
  8. ^ Heim, Chris (October 29, 1992). "GWAR, RAMONES, DIXIE DREGS ON TAP FOR HALLOWEEN". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2022-04-28.
  9. ^ Waters and Herron, Celia, Timothy R. (December 17, 1981). "Classical mixed with bluegrass? Call them the Dregs". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2022-04-28.
  10. ^ Tady, Scott (March 23, 2018). "Dixie Dregs dazzle with virtuosity in Munhall". The Times. Retrieved 2022-04-28.
  11. ^ a b c d Triana, Rick (March 28, 2018). "The Dixie Dregs Live At The Vic Theatre". Ghost Cult Mag. Retrieved 2022-04-28.
  12. ^ Marsh and Swenson, John, Dave (1983). The new Rolling stone record guide. Random House/Rolling Stone Press. p. 144. ISBN 9780394721071.
  13. ^ Wolff, Kurt (2000). Country Music: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides. p. 411. ISBN 9781858285344.
  14. ^ Chappell, Jon (May 23, 2011). Blues Guitar For Dummies. Wiley. p. 243. ISBN 9781118050828.
  15. ^ a b Ray, Michael (December 2012). Disco, Punk, New Wave, Heavy Metal, and More: Music in the 1970s and 1980s. Britannica Educational. p. 26. ISBN 9781615309122.
  16. ^ Malone, Bill C. (February 2014). The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture Volume 12: Music. University of North Carolina Press. p. 125. ISBN 9781469616667.
  17. ^ Hayes, Martin (October 14, 2021). Shared Notes: A Musical Journey. Transworld. p. 168. ISBN 9781473590403.
  18. ^ Matsumoto, Jon (November 10, 1994). "Dixie Dregs"Night of the Living Dregs" (1979)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2022-04-28.
  19. ^ a b Ostrow, Joanne (May 30, 1980). "One by Dixie Dregs Is Enough". Washington Post. Retrieved 2022-04-28.
  20. ^ Martin, Bill (December 14, 2015). Listening to the Future: The Time of Progressive Rock, 1968-1978. Open Court. p. 129. ISBN 9780812699449.
  21. ^ Beach, Connor (March 8, 2018). "Dixie Dregs To Bring Reunion Tour To Huntington". Long Islander News. Retrieved 2022-04-28.
  22. ^ "Rod Morgenstein with the Dixie Dregs". Moderndrummer.com. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  23. ^ Thelen, Peter (August 1, 1994). "Dixie Dregs — Full Circle". Exposé. Retrieved 2022-04-28.
  24. ^ Kemp, Mark (November 2007). Dixie Lullaby. Free Press. p. 114. ISBN 9781416590460.
  25. ^ Burdick, John (March 8, 2018). "The Dixie Dregs will play (or rather blow the damn roof off) Bearsville Theater". Hudson Valley One. Retrieved 2022-04-28.
  26. ^ "The Dixie Dregs rise again". New Jersey Herald.
  27. ^ Paste Magazine (July 23, 2020). "The 50 Best Southern Rock Albums of All Time". Paste Magazine. Retrieved 2022-04-28.
  28. ^ "Loading..." Stevemorse.info. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 703. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  30. ^ Rock, Roots, & Blues - Live! (3 July 2017). "Rod Morgenstein Reunion Promo for Rock, Roots, & Blues - Live". Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved 13 July 2017 – via YouTube.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External linksEdit