Ready for more Riff Raff

Ira Stanley and Dixie Peach perform annual final show

By Mike Ritchie

Photo: Ira Stanley and Dixie Peach will perform their “annual final show” on July 25 at Riff Raff Tavern

Ira Stanley started his musical career in 1972 in the basement, playing southern rock blues. With friends, he formed Dixie Peach, quickly gaining notice and a fan base after hooking up with AJ Entertainment out of Cincinnati from Stanley’s high school band days.

They did a one-week stay in Louisville, then were offered another week in Charlotte, also playing multiple East Coast and Southeast venues from Buffalo to Tampa. The young Dixies were named after a hair-pomade ad on the way to their first Cincinnati show. They recorded their debut, a collection of originals and covers along with a version of the theme from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” in 1974.

With well-known influences dating back to the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, BB King, Elmore James, Freddie King, Albert King and Duane Allman on slide guitar, Stanley also gained great experience and knowledge from two neighbors playing Paul Butterfield blues albums. To date he stills plays “Wind Cries Mary” and “Little Wing” as a tribute to Hendrix.

In fact, Stanley had the opportunity to see the legendary Hendrix as a teen in the late 1960s, when Hendrix played gigs in Columbus and Cincinnati. Stanley had second-row seats.

“At the Columbus show I followed their car back to the hotel, met Hendrix [and] got his autograph,” Stanley fondly remembers. “I put it in my wallet, and being a kid, a while later I lost the wallet! His hand was the size of a catcher’s mitt. The top of his hat was cut off and his hair was sticking out.”

One of the first big names they opened for was Joe Walsh at the Palace Theatre in Dayton. Roy Buchanan (a guitar God of his time) was one of his favorite bands to play with. They opened for other big names including the New York Dolls, Blue Oyster Cult and Tesla later in 2008. They opened many Hara Arena shows for big names and also shared stages with West Coast talent Spirit in the early days.

Though youth was on their side, the trials and challenges of the road proved too much and Dixie Peach broke up in 1975, going their separate ways. But in 1998, by popular demand, Dixie Peach reunited at Canal Street Tavern for what would become the first of many “annual final appearance shows.” Those shows were eventually moved to Gilly’s and now to Riff Raff Tavern on the Canal to accommodate ever-growing crowd sizes.

In 2002, Stanley took home the “Best Guitarist” award at the Fortune battle of the corporate bands held at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, opening a door with Gibson (which sponsored the show) to play sponsored events and be their official house band/back-up band. In May 2014, Gibson unveiled a Les Paul southern rock tribute guitar in Nashville. Dixie Peach was the house band.

They’ve also opened for Johnny Winter, Gary Clark and Cheap Trick and warmed up for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Battle of the Bands. They presently play a handful of special dates a year.

Their latest album, Blues with Friends, was a “thank-you” to those who had helped the band along the way. The album reached No. 2 on the top 100 blues/rock albums of 2014 by the Roots Music Report, and includes guest appearances by friends including Grammy-nominated Lee Roy Parnell, Jack Pearson (formerly with the Allman Brothers Band) and Etta Britt. Local friend Scotty Bratcher is featured in a solo on “Wait a Minute” and trades licks with Stanley on “Trouble with Love.”

And their success includes a European audience.

“Southern rock is huge in Europe,” Stanley says, “especially France. Twenty-five to 30 percent of our sales from the new record came from overseas. Recently our old CD sold on Ebay for 85 bucks.”

As for how the public responds to the new music, Stanley grins: “If you like it, tell me, if you don’t, lie to me.”

Since his youth, Stanley’s greatest passion has been creating music on those beautifully long, noise making strings. He encourages everyone to go after whatever their dream or passion in life is.

Another album is in the works, potentially due at year’s end, with five songs recorded featuring original Allman Brothers Thom Doucette on harmonica and a Stanley instrumental called “The Gunslinger.”

Dixie Peach will perform on Saturday, July 25 at Riff Raff Tavern on the Canal, 130 N. Patterson. The show begins at 9 p.m. For more information, please visit dixiepeach.com.

 

Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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