The Dawn of the Dregs tour—an early-2018 trek that lasts through late April—marks the first time that the lineup from the Dixie Dregs’ pivotal second album and 1977 Capricorn Records debut, Free Fall, has performed together in over forty years. To re-create the prog-infused fusion that defined the mid-’70s lineup, drummer Rod Morgenstein and guitarist Steve Morse—the band’s only consistent members throughout its recording career—reunited with bassist Andy West, violinist Allen Sloan, and keyboardist Steve Davidowski.
In keeping up with the progressive material more than four decades since the Dregs’ inception, Morgenstein feels fortunate that he’s maintained his health as he enters his mid-sixties. “I’ve taken the physicality of staying healthy as I age very seriously,” he says. “Even though I’m not always in the mood, I put on my layers of clothing and go out for a thirty-minute power walk or jog a few times a week. I also do a bunch of push-ups, sit-ups, dips, and stretches. There are so many things that befall drummers. I think part of it is that many rock drummers were not taught to play properly, meaning that they play with more tension than they probably should.”
Along with prepping for the Dregs’ intense set on his own, Morgenstein joined the rest of the group to rehearse in January 2017. “The five of us convened at Steve Morse’s home down south to see what it would feel like and to see if it was even in the cards for us to put this together,” the drummer explains. “We played through some songs for a couple of days and had a wonderful time reconnecting with each other. Everything sounded great, so we decided to move ahead with the project. We have about a week of rehearsing together before the first concert of the tour.”
Over the tour’s more than twenty-five dates, the band plans to play material that spans its vast catalog, and tunes from Free Fall are sure to be included. As Morgenstein preps for the trek, he’s also experimenting with new instruments—and some familiar favorites—that are coming along for the ride. “I’m going to work with these two Roland SPD::ONE WAV and Percussion pads that I have on the way,” he says. “I’m hoping that I can have different percussion sounds in them to re-create some of the sounds from certain songs, and also to trigger a couple of loops that were intros to Dregs songs that I would play along with. I always use an array of Sabian cymbals, and I really love to use 6″, 8″, and 10″ splashes and a cymbal disc. I also like stacking a 10″ China with a 10″ splash to get that quick, tight metallic sound. I’ll probably use two rack and two floor toms, and a 10″ snare off to the right of my hi-hat. [Morgenstein sets up lefty.] And maybe some wind chimes—I haven’t used those in years!”
Morgenstein uses Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, Evans drumheads, Roland electronics, and Tama hardware.
Also on the Road
Georgia Hubley with Yo La Tengo /// Jon Wurster with Superchunk /// Jim Macpherson with the Breeders /// Russell Gilbrook with Uriah Heep /// Simone Odaranile with the Go! Team /// Scott Crago with the Eagles /// Liam Manley with Uncured /// Bjorn Lebon with Amenra