Review: Dixie Peach – Blues With Friends

Posted on: Tuesday, Apr 8, 2014

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Dixie Peach – Blues with Friends

(Big Shew Records)

When Southern Rock as we now understand and recognise it, was in its infancy, Dixie Peach was there in the beginning; Formed in 1972 by Ira Stanley; lead and slide guitars and vocals, with Mike Rousculp; bass, Steve Williams; keyboards, Tony Paulus; keyboards and guitar with Jeffery Barnhart on drums. Together they made their indelible musical mark playing all across the east coast of America, from their home in Ohio down to Florida, supporting artists and bands such as, Roy Buchanan, Johnny Winter, Billy Cobham, Blue Oyster Cult Cheap Trick and The New York Dolls.

They released their debut album in 1974 which was bursting with their particular brand of energetic and almost feral blues rock, infused with a swaggering, sweet southern attitude and drawlin’ slide. Unfortunately, their star didn’t soar as far as it might have done, due to the stresses and constraints of constant touring, the band decided part and go their separate ways in 1975.

Even after an absence of 23 years their many fans did not give up hope of a band reunion and in 1985 the band reformed with the original line-up apart from Jeffery Barnhart, for a one off concert  at The Canal Street Tavern in Dayton, Ohio. The overwhelming success of this reunion concert prompted the band to make it an annual event.

Over the intervening years the band has had continued success culminating in the release of the album ‘Butta’, in 2002. Since then the band has become the house band for Gibson Custom Shop Guitars. Now, with Steve Benson firmly holding onto the drumsticks and with the release of this new album consisting of ten new original compositions the band are once again to the fore.

The combination of Ira’s whiskey burred vocals and his equally singed, stalking slidework scorch burn the number “Too Much Trouble”, the stomping bass and urging organ allow a seriously rattling tambourine and rolling bar-room piano to jovially lead the number out of the door. The sombre weaving guitars, pessimistic organ, solemn drums and percussion of “Nightride”, lead us into a tale of a solitary life on the road and of the darkness of loneliness, the number culminates in a pain filled, emotive and crying soaring guitar solo from Jack Pearson.

The footapping “Don’t Want To Wait”, Gospel / Medicine show infused piano, slide and tambourine led swinging shouter is about an enthusiastic desire to get to heaven, Etta Britt supplies the enthusiastic vocals while Lee Roy Parnell solo supplies slide. The sizzle of a frying pan introduces the funky striding “Pork Chop Blues”, a bright, beaming horn section leads into a crispy selection of striding guitarwork from Ira, Jack Pearson and Lee Roy Parnell. “Bottle Hymn of The Republic”, is led by an acoustic version of “Amazing Grace”, which is supplanted by a screaming slide from Ira, who is then enthusiastically joined by Jack Pearson and Lee Roy Parnell together they morph the number into a rousing “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

There is more, much more but, I will not spoil your enjoyment.

Highly recommended!

BRIAN HARMAN

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