Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 32

What other memories derive from those
early days?

We were sort of a prog rock band before the
term got used. When we played at a dance or
some other function, people were divided in
the audience between really liking us and really
hating us because we didn't play the Top 40 hits.
Back then, there were opportunities to play, even
if they were for free concerts. All young people
went out of their way to listen to live music, and
I still wish that was more common.
What's in your rig for this tour?

I'm using my original Music Man signature
guitar, which is configured like the FrankenTele I used on the first six Dregs albums, but
with one extra fret. I've even ordered another
bridge with nylon pieces, which is what I used
with the Dregs. And I'm using my Steve Morse
Model Engl amp, but with much less volume
and fewer speakers than my Deep Purple rig.
Same TC Electronic pedals for delay, since they
are fantastic quality and small size.
Forty years ago, you were a pioneer in
bringing things like guitar synthesizer,
octaver, and envelope filters to rock guitar
- things we take for granted now.

I should say that Andy did all of those things
on his bass, too! I ended up using the guitar
synthesizer for gigs, but the easiest sound on
the ears was an octave below. Later, synths
became digitally tuned and I used more-typical
synth sounds, but back in the day, it was a pain
to keep my MiniMoog in tune.

STEVE MORSE

What was the gear scene like?

Return of the Dixie Dregs

S

teve Morse has been revisiting the past. A
member of Deep Purple since 1994, this
year he reunited with the original lineup of
Dixie Dregs, a band that was key to the '70s
jazz-rock revolution and added deep-fried
bluegrass and Southern funk licks to the genre,
bolstered by Morse's rapid-fire picking and
the contrapuntal bass work of Andy West. VG
checked in with Morse as he was preparing for
the long-anticipated tour.
What provoked a Dregs reunion after all
these years?

When keyboardist T Lavitz died in 2010,
it shook us all up - and then Mark Parrish
(keys on What If and Night of the Living Dregs)
also died around the same time. We didn't
even know where our first keyboardist, Steve
Davidowski, was, but we finally got in touch
with both him and violinist Allen Sloan,

and got together for a trial playing session. It
went surprisingly well, so we decided to do a
reunion tour.
Fans are thrilled that Andy West is back in
this lineup. On Dregs records, he provided
that Baroque-styled bass so central to the
music.

Since high school, Andy and I always shared
similar styles of humor - starting with the
name, which we got because we were the dregs
of our band that had just broken up, Dixie
Grit. So, if Andy said something that made
us laugh, it became a song title, or even the
name of the band. Since he always played
with a pick, and was open to things like putting the bass through a guitar amp, as well
as a folded-horn cabinet, we considered his
parts as half of our sound. After all, we really
started playing gigs as a trio, with Andy and
I playing all the notes.

VINTAGE GUITAR

32

June 2018

Fairly exciting. I loved messing with tape
echo, and finally got an Echoplex, which had
noisy tape hiss at higher gain settings. Then
I had the idea of putting the echo on a "wet
only" setting through a second amp with the
treble turned down. This gave the basic effect
of the echo with reduced tape hiss, and the
sound didn't distort the dry notes. It was an
easy step to use my volume pedal to regulate
the amount of echo, and that became the basis
of my rig from then on.
In the early '80s, the Dregs had to face
changing tastes in music, and eventually
broke up. Forty years on, how do you recall
the original band?

I never had delusions of grandeur. I knew as a
teen that the music I liked would go in and out
of fashion, but that I could survive doing music
that I enjoyed. And that's how it developed. It
was great to have a band of like-minded people
that were able to get satisfaction from playing.
We were young and had little income, but we
all got a sense of satisfaction from a band that
gave us pride. That's a great way to launch a
career. Looking back, I'm grateful to all the
guys for everything they did. - Pete Prown


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