As previously mentioned in prior teasers, I am off on an adventure in the not-too-distant future. The previous teasers have involved Chuck Leavell, formerly of the Allman Brothers Band and currently of the Stones. I also reblogged a Deep Purple post. Steve Morse is Purple’s guitarist but as we shall see, he’s so much more than that.
Wikipedia: “Steve Moore was born in Hamilton, Ohio. He worked briefly with his older brother Dave in a band called the Plague until the family moved to Augusta, Georgia. In the late 1960s, he played in a band called Three with his older brother and a junior high schoolmate, William Gerald (Jerry) Wooten, who played keyboards.
While enrolled in the Academy of Richmond County, Morse met bassist Andy West and together they formed the Dixie Grit, adding keyboardist Johnny Carr and guitarist and vocalist Frank Brittingham, with Dave Morse drumming.
This short-lived group covered bands such as Led Zeppelin and Cream. West and Morse continued to play as a duet billed as the Dixie Dregs until Morse’s expulsion from school in the 10th grade. This expulsion enabled his enrollment at the University of Miami School of Music.”
If any of this sounds even vaguely familiar, that’s because this is the third time I’ve written about Morse and the Dregs. Take a peek at this post if you want to learn some Dregs history. And go to this post if you want to hear them live from a reunion show I saw a couple years ago.
Since this is a post about Morse – and since I’ve done the Dregs thing a few times – I’ll here stick with Morse solo stuff and/or collaborations.
As you’ve doubtless by now surmised, Morse is – by and large -an instrumentalist and jazz-rock is his forte. In 1996 he released a solo album (his seventh) called Stressfest. The band was a power trio with a drummer named Van Romaine and bassist Dave La Rue who has worked with Morse for years. This is a smokin’ tune called “The Easy Way”:
Morse is one of those go-to guys who can play anything and is always collaborating with somebody or perhaps even getting involved in a tribute. Mr. Music Enthusiast, are you perhaps hinting that morse was involved in the 1996 album Working Man – A Tribute to Rush?
Indeed I am and here he is with drummer Mike Portnoy, bassist Billy Sheehan, and guitarist James Murphy performing Rush’s epic multi-part “La Villa Strangiato:”
Side note – Morse quit music for a while in the late ’80s and became an airline pilot. I can understand wanting to get out of the music industry for a while. But a pilot? I’d love to be in a position to ask him about that. In an interview, he said he liked the regularity of it and the fact that when the job is done, it’s done whereas with music there’s always the next gig or record.
For the next piece, I had thought of doing something mellow. (Not surprisingly, Morse appears to be a big fan of Yes’ guitarist Steve Howe having covered versions of his acoustic numbers “Clap” and “Mood for a Day.”)
But no, I figured it’d be nice to show that despite his penchant for fusion, Morse still has the soul of a bluesman. In 2019 Peter Frampton released an album called All Blues. One of the tunes on it is “Going Down Slow,” a 1941 blues classic which has been recorded by everybody and his cousin.
The lyrics are especially poignant when you realize Frampton’s received a diagnosis that he has inclusion body myositis, a progressive muscle disorder characterized by muscle inflammation, weakness, and atrophy.
I have had my fun
If I don’t get well no more
You know my health is now fading
And I’m goin’ down slow
Lastly from the 2000 album Major Impacts, La Rue and Van Romaine join Morse again for a tasty tune called “Derailleur Gears.” The title may well be a tribute to Cream’s Disraeli Gears whose title itself was a play on both 19th-century British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli as well as derailleur gears.
Morse was voted “Best Overall Guitarist” by Guitar Player magazine for five years in a row, qualifying him for its “Guitar Player Hall of Fame,” the only other members being Steve Howe of Yes and Eric Johnson.
Ritchie Blackmore, who preceded Morse in Deep Purple, has stated, “Steve Morse is an incredible player. A lot of people try to get some wisecrack out of me, but when you’re talking about guitar players along Morse’s caliber, they’re brilliant”