March 2, 2018
Reviewed by Joseph Hett
Dixie Dregs Return Home To Augusta
The Dixie Dregs brought their unique sound to the Bell Auditorium on Friday night in Augusta. There has been a buzz going around the Augusta area ever since this show was announced last year. Everybody was excited to see the hometown band return back to the city that started it all.
This is the first time in 40 years that the original band – Steve Morse (guitar) [Interview with Morse], Andy West (bass), Allen Sloan (violin), Steve Davidowski (keyboards) and Rod Morgenstein (drums) – have all toured together. This was the third show of the “Dawn Of The Dregs” Tour. They are currently scheduled for about 35 dates through the end of April.
Before the show, audience members could be seen reminiscing about growing up with the Dixie Dregs’ music and members.
The stage was set with a simple backdrop with “DREGS” across it as the members walked onto the stage. They immediately started with “Divided We Stand” and “Free Fall.”
Morse, wearing his signature sleeveless shirt, blazed away with his signature blue guitar. Sloan and Morse harmonized their respective instruments all night long to showcase the Dregs’ signature sound.
West, the band’s mouthpiece for the night, said, “This is quite a celebration for probably all of us — having so much history here in Augusta.” West then dedicated the next song, “Twiggs Approved,” to their late manager Twiggs Lyndon.
Morse had the phase shifter in full effect for “Take It Off The Top,” from 1978’s “What If” album. They closed the first set out with “Moe Down” and the epic, elaborate tune “Odyssey.”
Sloan, a medical doctor, came out after the break and proudly said that he went to the nearby Medical College of Georgia and is currently practicing in the area (North Augusta). He pointed out that his staff was in attendance and they all had “I’m with the violinist” shirts on. Sloan then went into a solo violin piece he wrote for his daughter, Rachel.
Morse came out and performed an acoustic piece with Sloan called “Northern Lights.” West and Davidowski came back out for “Go For Baroque.” It sounded just like the title says. West later explained that since the band performs all instrumentals, the song titles are the only way to convey lyrics to the listener.
West said that this was a special evening because they were going to bring out some former members of Dixie Grit, which predates the Dixie Dregs. Frank Brittingham, guitar, and Johnny Carr, keyboards, came out for “The Great Spectacular.”
Morse put the wah-wah pedal in full effect for the beginning of “Refried Funky Chicken.” Davidowski got to jam on the keyboards near the end of the song.
“The Bash,” a foot-stomping tune, was featured. It was a hoedown with a shade of “Rocky Top” melded in. They closed the set out with the driving rhythm “Cruise Control,” where Morgenstein got a chance to perform a killer drum solo.
For the encore, they came back out and played the rocking “Bloodsucking Leeches.”
The Dixie Dregs have a hard to explain sound. They are fusing rock with progressive and jazz elements all rolled into one. They never made it into mainstream because they were so unique. But they do have a long lasting legacy thanks to their cult following. Every time they get together, it is special. And when the original band reunites and makes a stop in a place that started it all, Augusta, then it is extra special.