Dixie Peach has risen again playing Southern blues-rock on their latest release Blues With Friends. Based in Ohio, Dixie Peach was formed in 1972 by slide guitarist extraordinaire, singer and songwriter Ira Stanley with Steve Williams (keyboards), Mike “Roscoe” Rousculp (bass), Tony Paulus (guitar, keyboards) and Jerry Barnhart (drums), they released one album (out of print) before breaking up in 1975. Reforming in 1998 and releasing Butta in 2002, they jam out better than ever, their spicy-as-barbecue sound featuring the original members save for drummer Steve Benson.
The band kicks like the proverbial mule on ten Stanley originals augmented by illustrious friends. His honking country slide drives the dramatic “Too Much Trouble” as he laments with gruff, nuanced vocals. The house rocking 12 bar “Pork Chop Blues” burns with head cutting guitar solos by Stanley, Jack Pearson and Lee Roy Parnell as Stanley wryly relates “I miss her loving, it was good no doubt (2x). But that big fat juicy pork chop, that’s something I can’t live without.” The slinky, minor jazzy blues “Night Ride” finds Stanley weaving an indigo tale about ostracism. A sly reference to the Allman Brothers leads to the anthemic chorus with a darkly melodic solo from Pearson.
“Coming Home Today” is a tender acoustic country ditty expressed in innocent poetry before segueing to a lengthy blues instrumental coda spotlighting Stanley’s remarkable “vocal” bottlenecking. The fried chicken funk of “Don’t Want to Wait” seasons a gospel tinged duet between Stanley and songbird Etta Britt testifying. The punningly-titled instrumental “Bottle Hymn of the Republic” has Stanley quoting “Amazing Grace” unaccompanied on slide before the band enters and Pearson and Parnell join for a cornucopia of virtuoso, slithery slide to make Duane and Dickey mighty proud.
An ominous minor key vamp signals a skewed look at romance on “The Trouble with Love,” Stanley and Britt again dueting as the leader and guest guitarist Scotty Bratcher match slashing solos along with vibrant twin guitar harmony. The moving 8-bar ballad “It’s Cryin’ Time” would honor Ray Charles, Stanley delivering his most emotional vocal combined with his “crying” slide while offering hope with his lyrics.
On the exuberantly swinging “Wait a Minute” Stanley delivers the sly message to the ladies as he and Bratcher solo with lusty bravado. Taking the set out on an even higher “note,” the shuffling instrumental “Rick’s Shuffle” grooves to the well-oiled rhythm section while Stanley and Parnell make their guitars “talk” and “sing” together.
Timeless and timely, Blues With Friends proves beyond a doubt the everlasting magic of blues power and music exhibiting the ability to touch hearts and minds, while providing a delicious, nourishing guitar buffet for players and fans.