The Dixie Dregs invaded Chicago for a show to end all shows! A tour to end all tours! A reunion to end all reunions! A masterpiece of Prog power to end all PROG power… You see where I’m going with this…. Yes, the Dixie Dregs (The Dregs) have come together with an original lineup to bring us back to the classic glory days of real progressive rock music. The Dregs consisting of Steve Morse (guitar), Rod Morgenstein (drums), Andy West (bass), Allen Sloan, M.D. (violin) and Steve Davidowski (keyboards) embarked on a 2 part, 36 city “DAWN OF THE DREGS” 40th anniversary reunion tour, with the 1st leg ending in Chicago to a sold-out Vic Theatre crowd. A reunion of this caliber hasn’t been heard in over 40 years.
If you weren’t fortunate enough to have experienced The Dregs, they’re an American progressive rock band formed in the early 1970’s. Mostly instrumental The Dregs have uniquely fused a hard rock, southern rock, and a progressive metal style. With over 4 decades of music, 9 studio albums, 4 live albums The Dregs are the equivalent to musical legends in my mind. Over the years the players may have changed, but The Dregsmusical style has never faltered anchored by the longest term founding members Morse and Morgenstein The Dregs are a Progressive Power to be reckoned with.
With no opener needed The Dregs hit the stage to a massive Chicago crowd roar. The band emerged, and the crowd erupted. They opened with “Divided We Stand” off the Unsung Heroes, which showcased their technical abilities, but looking through their set list nothing is easy for this group – the entire evening showcased their technical abilities. Then they launched into “Free Fall” and “Holiday” solid, tight, and technical melodic rhythms are the best way to describe the vibe.
As the 1st set went on, song after song was showing off the different facets of their style and sound. From “Moe Down” (Their version of How Down) to the 1st set conclusion “Odyssey” one of the most complex time signatures pieces they do, which West even joked about. “We as a band have a hard time keeping time to it”.
The 2nd set kicked off with Allen Sloan on stage speaking to the background of the next number “Rachel” dedicated to his daughter. It was a beautifully elegant violin solo, and then Morse quickly accompanied Sloan for an acoustic duet of “Northern Lights”. The rest of the band emerged and keep the beauty flowing with a very heartfelt inspired version of “Go for Baroque” and then blended it all together with Day 444 (both off of the Unsung Heroes album). Powerful and tight!
It was an evening like no other. The Dixie Dregs music was methodically carried out, tight and highly dramatic, and the musical composition for the night was so tight it was as if they’ve been tour continually for decades. Oh wait – They Have! They still have that unique style and sound they created so many years ago that the fans have come to love, enjoy and respect. It was a magical evening that brought me back to my youth, as I’m sure was the same with many other fans. 2nd leg of the Dawn of the Dregs tour starts back up on April 11th. You never know how long this stellar lineup will tour together. So don’t miss it!
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY RICK TRIANA