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The Steve Morse Band Delivers the Goods at the Ridgefield Playhouse

The Steve Morse Band delivered a solid performance in front of a packed house at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, CT, on February 26, 2023.
With, obviously, Steve at the helm, the three-piece group’s other two members included Dave LaRue on bass and Van Romaine on drums. Each band member got their time in the sun during an almost two-hour performance in front of 500 appreciative fans.

I am not too familiar with Steve’s material outside of Deep Purple and have not seen many three-piece acts live in the past, but SMB’s performance went down very well and was a true joy to witness. The band was tight and delivered the goods in a truly unique fusion of rock, classical and jazz. Some folks would simply call it rock fusion, but plenty of classical arrangements, harmonies, and scales came across throughout the set.

Our man Steve seemed happy and, as usual, came across as one of the nicest and most grounded individuals in the music business. As others might have reported in the past, he did not wear a hand brace during the performance, which pretty much ran the gamut from relaxed, to intense – and everything else in between. The encore lasted roughly 20 minutes and it was during this time that the audience stood up and remained standing until the end.

LaRue is an absolute monster on bass, and it was clear that he and Steve have a tremendous musical chemistry and work very well together. Romaine played a nice drum solo, and, with his energy and ferocity, he seemed like the right man behind the kit for a power trio. There was no singing at all, and yet the show did not feel repetitive or dragged out.

Around halfway through the set, one of the friends that I went with stated that the piece being played then sounded like a rough version of Ted the Mechanic. I agreed with him. Around three quarters through the set, I stated that the piece being played then sounded like a rough version of Hey Cisco. He agreed. On the ride home we played Purpendicular and felt even stronger in our beliefs that the two pieces that the SMB had played earlier in the evening did indeed sound like the aforementioned tracks from Steve’s first album with DP. As someone not very familiar with Steve’s work outside of DP, I wonder if he played those two pieces to the lads during the making of Purpendicular and they each added something to help turn them into what eventually became Ted the Mechanic and Hey Cisco. No disrespect to the two SMB pieces in question, but if the two tunes from the February 26 show were indeed the basis for each Ted the Mechanic and Hey Cisco, then I would consider the added value by the rest of the gang during the making of Purpendicular as truly immense.

After the show, the band came out in the lobby to chat with the fans and sign merchandise, but we did not stick around for that part. Regardless of whether or not you are into power trios or rock-jazz-classical fusion, I would highly recommend checking out the SMB if they come to a theatre near you. You won’t be disappointed.


12 Comments to “The Steve Morse Band Delivers the Goods at the Ridgefield Playhouse”:

  1. 1
    Chris says:

    I saw this same lineup perform way back in 1999 at a small club in NC and they were great. Like you, I wasn’t familiar with Steve’s non-Purple material but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I don’t recall any Purple material (or even just riffs) played. Steve did sign my Purpendicular and Abandon CDs and seemed so humble.

  2. 2
    Georgivs says:

    “Around halfway through the set, one of the friends that I went with stated that the piece being played then sounded like a rough version of Ted the Mechanic. I agreed with him. Around three quarters through the set, I stated that the piece being played then sounded like a rough version of Hey Cisco.”

    Indeed, Steve was reworking his earlier pieces into Purple songs. ‘Sleaveless in Seattle” from the Dixie Dregs era sounds a lot like ‘Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming’.

  3. 3
    Adel Faragalla says:

    Hi Guys
    Does anyone know the latest about Steve Morse’s wife and her fight against cancer.
    I hope she is getting cured and responding to treatment.
    Peace ✌️

  4. 4
    MacGregor says:

    The SMB is a well oiled machine & those guys would only need to dust off a few cobwebs before they start to nail everything to the floor. There are plenty of Morse pre DP riffs etc in DP. Being into The Dixie Dregs, The Dregs & SMB well before he joined DP, I always heard that in certain DP songs. Thanks for the review & it is good to see them out & about again as it also was with The Dregs a few years ago. Cheers.

  5. 5
    Jim Sheridan says:

    This was indeed an excellent concert. I first saw the Steve Morse Band back in 1985 when they were opening for Rush. I’ve since seen them and also the Dregs at Toads; I saw Steve as a member of Kansas and then 4 times with Purple. I know his material fairly well and would guess that the Purple-like sounds you heard were ones in the songs from his first SMB band album, “The Introduction.” I think 4 of the 16 songs he played in Ridgefield came from that album. That is the album I’d recommend to any Purple fan.

  6. 6
    MacGregor says:

    @ 5 – The Steve Morse Band during the 1980’s with The Dregs drummer Rod Morgenstein & Jerry Peek on bass. Probably my favourite album from Morse & company. That would have been a mind blowing double bill with Rush. I went in Brisbane 1993 & by then he had changed the rhythm section, actually about the 1990 era that was changed from my memory. Dave LaRue on bass & Van Romaine on drums. All musicians excellent as usual & a stunning gig that was. I like some of their early 90’s albums also. The other gig I witnessed was Biff Baby’s All Star Band with Sterling Ball on bass & Albert Lee also on guitar. Fantastic that was & plenty of the chicken picking going on at that gig.
    Seeing that Kansas lineup with Morse would have been interesting, especially with no violinist in the band. The other rather strong Steve Morse album is his solo album High Tension Wires, a wonderful album with the same musicians as his first SMB & a few other Dregs members guesting. Cheers.

  7. 7
    Uwe Hornung says:

    There’s not too much video material available of that first Steve Morse Band line up, but I found something here. It’s the line-up that I saw live as well – long before I could have envisaged him in Deep Purple, I’m not even sure whether the DP reunion had been announced yet when I saw SMB in Rüsselsheim 1984.


  8. 8
    MacGregor says:

    There is something special about The Dregs though, having keyboards & violin makes it so. It is a difficult three piece playing live to make it sound fuller, the SMB. Morse being so busy especially whilst playing lead, shredding etc. It does have a sense of franticness about it at times, if that is the word to use. Chopping back & forth etc. Live in concert you can get into it whilst in the moment. However watching a selection of past & more recent SMB live concerts, it sort of needs something else at times. No doubt that could be why The Dregs reunite occasionally. Plus Rod Morgenstein is more suited to Morse’s playing & compositions I feel. A wonderful drummer is Rod. Van Romaine is also very good & has the chops & fills etc, but Morgenstein has something extra. Andy West is a wonderful bass guitarist also. That Dixie Dregs live in Montreux dvd is superb, back in 1978. A much more stripped down sound back then too. Have to love that Telecaster. Cheers.

  9. 9
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I’m with you, everyone in the SMB is live so busy all the time, you wonder when they get time to breathe. A bit the Rush live effect before they became more relaxed. And for all the complex arrangements, the widdly-widdly parts and the tough rehearsal regime and discipline, there is more impromptu
    improvisation going on at a Blackmore’s Night sound check than at an SMB gig. Morse himself once observed that at no time in his musical career has he been forced to improvise as much as with DP.

    And I preferred that puristic Tele sound too, all those effects racks and that fancy pants ENGL Steve Morse Signature Top + his EBMM Signature guitar, it’s heavily processed and not exactly Rory Gallagher “Now where can I plug in?”-territory.

  10. 10
    Georgivs says:


    Very interesting thoughts on playing three piece as opposed to having a bigger band. Indeed, if there is just three of you, you absolutely have to be super intense or you lose the momentum. I recall ELP were super intense on stage, especially Keith. It is also surprising how intense the Baroque music was performed by small bands and orchestras. But then at some point you need to give some rest to yourself and the audience. For those guys the solution was to interpolate slower and moodier melodic parts, like the Air from Suite #3 by Bach. ELP would leave Greg on stage with his acoustic guitar and he’d do the “Lucky Man” or “C’est la vie”. Maybe Steve needs to do the same, like, play more tracks from “High Tension Wires”, which are not really high tension, after all.

  11. 11
    Uwe Hornung says:

    In our ongoing series “young people very much concentrating when playing”, may I introduce you to Polyphia – who said music needs to be simple? Also, Bernie Marsden (or whatsisname) makes a guest appearance at 03:15.


    It’s easy to poke fun at this, I know, but they are at least attempting melody + grooves and their chops are friggin’ out of this world.

  12. 12
    MacGregor says:

    Good points regarding the busy 3 piece band, especially the guitar orientated 3 piece bands from the 1980’s & onwards. Too much technical virtuosity gets me, well not down but I become bored rather quickly at times. A lot different to the 70’s three piece bands but they also had good songs going on, Robin Trower & Rory Gallagher (although a keyboardist was present with Rory’s early 70’s band) & Hendrix before them to name a few. Not the same as the purely instrumental whizz bang of later guitar slingers. ELP were intense due to Keith Emerson being a dominant personality & musician. They had to be though as you said Georgivs, no electric guitar as such. Greg Lake did play a little but not full on as most rock bands do. The acoustic songs are wonderful songs & a nice interlude to the progressive bombast of Emerson’s arrangements, as good as some of those moments can be. I do drift away from ELP sometimes when they are playing that full on Emerson influenced music. Cheers.

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