End of the road starts in Tiffin

PHOTO BY JACOB GURNEY The band Dixie Peach performs at East Green Amphitheater, 167 E. Market St. Saturday evening.

A band with local ties may have played their last show in Tiffin Saturday.

The band, Dixie Peach — now comprised of Ira Stanley on lead and slide guitars and vocals, Tony Paulus on keyboards and guitar, Mike Rousculp on bass, Steve Williams on keyboards and Steve Benson on drums — played a show at East Green Amphitheater, 167 E. Market St.

Stanley, who is from Dayton, said for nostalgia reasons, he kind of hates to see it end. Tiffin was chosen as a last place for a concert because two of the band’s members, Williams and Paulus, are from Tiffin, and it was one of the first places the band ever played in 1972, he said.

“Steve William’s father owned Club 224 and that was one of the first places we played …,” Stanley said. “We played Tiffin a lot in the ’70s and we had a lot of people that liked the band there. It feels like home from that standpoint.”

Paulus said the group doesn’t play much anymore because “everybody is getting up there” and the group hasn’t played in Tiffin for some time.

“We haven’t played in Tiffin for a while and, Steve and I are original members and from Tiffin, so we like to play here whenever we can.”

Stanley said Saturday’s show was to include a long list of songs the band played over the years, including some from when they started in the 1970s to some original songs they recorded in the past couple of years.

He said the band started in 1972 in Dayton, and he, Williams and Rousculp previously had played in a band called the Pictorian Skiffuls. Stanley and Rousculp also played together since 1967, when they were in college, Stanley said. When they started Dixie Peach, he said the group practiced for about six months before they played a gig and when Paulus got out of the Army, he came to Dayton and joined the band.

“We enjoyed music so much and we caught the wave of southern rock that was really just starting by the Allman Brothers and Lynard Skynard and other groups of folks like that, so we started playing that music,” he said.

Stanley said the band had two drummers, but neither worked out and they were replaced by Jerry Barnhart. He said the band came up with its name on a suggestion by one of the former drummers, who was black, who said he used a hair pomade called “Dixie Peach” that was popular in the black community at the time.

“We thought that really did sound like a southern rock band, so we decided to use that name,” Stanley said.

He said the group really started its string of touring over the southeastern United States in 1973 and opened up for several headliner bands, including Joe Walsh, Blue Oyster Cult, Roy Buchanan and bands from that era, and the band recorded its first album, which contained half original material and half covers, in 1974. Stanley said touring took its toll on everyone and the band split up in 1975.

“For the most part, we have always gotten a long and been great friends,” he said. “On the road, you get a little edgy, but there were never any serious issues. When it came time for the band to break up, it was just time.”

The group reunited for a show in 1985 and they played sporadically until they did a reunion show in Dayton in 1998, with everybody coming back except Barnhart, Stanley said.

“We have been playing ever since that time,” he said.

Stanley said the group became a house band for Gibson Custom Shop and in that role, the group had other Gibson artists play with them and their band.

Paulus said like anybody else, if he had to do it all over again, he would.

“It was fun and it means a lot to us. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, rock ‘n’ roll was also a political driving force. It had a direction it wanted to go in and it wasn’t so much about like it is now a days with greed,” he said. “We were just having fun and playing music that we felt had a conscience.”

Stanley said to a certain extent, nobody is ever done as a musician, but they are musicians their whole lives. He said the last Dixie Peach show means it is time to reflect on what the band has accomplished.

“I wouldn’t say we were a big-time, gold record band, but we played everywhere from small clubs to arenas to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and we recorded and released three CDs,” Stanley said. “I’m pretty proud of what the guys have done.”

Paulus said the band’s accomplishments included recording its albums, titled “Dixie Peach,” “Butta,” and “Dixie Peach Blues with Friends,” and getting to play a lot at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and for Gibson.

“We backed some really great guitar players, including Dickey Betts, Lee Roy Parnell, Johnny A. We worked with Billy Joel’s drummer who was just a riot. We did shows with Sheryl Crowe’s guitar player. There’s a full-on list of people we got to know and play music with,” he said. “We were highly influenced by the Allman Brothers, so it was a real thrill to play with Dickey Betts and we did that a couple of times.”

Most of all, Paulus wanted to thank the band’s fans.

“We want to thank everyone who supported us all these years,” Paulus said. “We really thank you from the bottom of our hearts and like I always say, ‘I hope to see ya.'”