Deep Purple hasn’t yet finished telling their fans goodbye, but longtime guitarist Steve Morse has already started getting reacquainted with some old friends. This spring, during a break from Purple’s ongoing Long Goodbye tour, Morse will reunite with the Dixie Dregs, the influential fusion act he founded in the early Seventies with bassist Andy West.
The group, which deftly mixed rock, jazz and bluegrass and earned four Grammy nominations before initially disbanding in 1983, will commemorate the 40th anniversary of their first proper album, Free Fall, with three dozen performances across America. It will mark the first time in four decades that Morse shares the stage with the other musicians who appear on that recording—West, drummer Rod Morganstein (Winger), violinist Allen Sloan and keyboardist Steve Davidowski.
While the Dregs have reunited intermittently over the years with a somewhat fluid lineup, Morse says he’s excited to once again play alongside Sloan, currently a practicing anesthesiologist, and West, who recently retired from a career in the software industry. Still, Morse didn’t commit to the reunion until the group broke the ice in person.
“It was something that I said, ‘Well, it sounds good, but let’s get together and see how it goes,’ ” he says. “We got together in January 2017, and I thought it went really well. We did stuff that everyone had played on—basically, stuff from the Free Fall album—and we’ve been maintaining an email and phone presence as we figure out the arrangement decisions we have to make.”
Morse says the band’s set lists won’t be limited to Free Fall material, however. “Some tunes that we’re going to do, we didn’t really play live originally—for example, “Day 444.” It’s a complex tune with lots of parts and extras and things like that. That’s going to be one of my favorite tunes to hear. We’re also tackling another tune that we’ve only played a couple of times called ‘Go for Baroque.’ ”
Morse isn’t sure if schedules will align to allow for additional Dixie Dregs shows—“I’m still full-time with Purple,” he says—but he believes any future activity should be on the band’s terms. “I don’t think we have to turn into a corporate industry machine of touring,” he says. “It should just be something for fun, I think. That’s what this all started as.”