Dixie Dregs

The Dixie Dregs were a top-notch jazz-rock fusion group. They combined virtuoso technique and eclecticism with a sense humor and spirit that is often lacking in other similar projects. Andy West and Steve Morse, the guitarist, were high school students in Augusta, GA. They formed a traditional rock band called Dixie Grit. After Morse was kicked out of school for refusing his hair cut, he decided to enroll at the University of Miami School of Music. There, he met Allen Sloan, who had previously played with Rod Morgenstein and the Miami Philharmonic. Morse convinced West that he would come to Miami to join the band and they decided to form it. The Dixie Dregs rounded out their lineup with Steve Davidowski as keyboardist. The Great Spectacular was their first album. It was recorded as a class project in 1975. The band later released it. Unfortunately, it is now long out of print. After graduating, the quintet started playing live in the South. They got their break when they opened for Sea Level in 1976. A representative from Capricorn Records signed the group. Davidowski was replaced by Mark Parrish (an ex-member of Dixie Grit) for their 1977 debut, Free Fall. Their second album, What If, was a huge success and the Dixie Dregs performed at the 1978 Montreux Jazz Festival, with T Lavitz replacing Parrish. A portion of Night of the Living Dregs includes excerpts from this concert. The Dregs was shortened to The Dregs in 1981’s Unsung Heroes. Mark O’Connor was added to the group’s lineup, adding vocalists and a three-time national fiddling champ Mark O’Connor. O’Connor’s old-timey playing style added an additional dimension to the group’s sound for Industry Standard. The Dregs disbanded. Morse, a highly-respected musician, formed his own band, recorded many albums, and later joined Kansas in 1986. Morgenstein teamed up with pop-metallists Winger. Although the Dregs briefly reunited in 1988 for a few live dates, a full-fledged reunion took place in 1992 with Morse and Lavitz joining Morgenstein and Dave LaRue from the Steve Morse Band taking West’s spot. Allen Sloan was only briefly reunited, and his place was then taken by Jerry Goodman, an ex-Mahavishnu Orchestra musician. The group’s 1994 tour saw them perform Bring ‘Em back Alive. California Screamin’ was followed by the group in 2000.

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