The story that is Dorsie Fyffe’s life has seen the highest of the highs, and the lowest of the lows. Each page of his existence that has been written is chock-full of experiences that have molded him into the person that he is today.
Fyffe will be releasing his new limited edition 7-inch single featuring the original song “Western Sky,” Dayton. The single is a tour de force of shimmery guitar, driving bassline and traditional country beat. Another single being released this Saturday will also contain a version of “Amazing Grace”, which was recorded live at the historic Ryman Theatre in Nashville. Fyffe has more music already recorded, and plans to release it as a vinyl series. The next 7 inch will be released in July. Each year, Fyffe plans to release two limited edition 7 inch will include something special.
Fyffe was one of the faces of the burgeoning music scene in Dayton during the 90s. He worked as a DJ and music director for the influential WOXY-FM (“97X”) that was beloved in the area for their role in playing alternative and independent music. Fyffe was nominated by Billboard magazine for its “Music Director of the Year” award when working at the station. At the time Fyffe was working at WOXY-FM, he also began singing in the local Dayton band Johnny Smoke. The country-punk band saw some success, releasing three cassettes, a 2-song vinyl 45, and a well-reviewed full-length CD, Launcher.
In 1997, Fyffe decided that he needed to pack his bags and move out of the Dayton and move to Cincinnati. He talk during our recent phone conversation that he needed to get out of the scene during that time. At the time, Fyffe was living in Dayton with rockers Tim Taylor of Brainiac and Dave Doughman of Swearing at Motorists. Taylor famously was killed early in May that year when he lost control of his new Mercedes and slammed into a fire hydrant. The death of not only his roommate/dear friend, along with a female made Fyffe reevaluate some things.
“We lived at the rock house on Main, which was kinda party century for everyone,” Fyffe explained. “It got to the point where I just wanted to get back to normal.”
Fyffe continued commuting up to Dayton when he was playing in Johnny Smoke. In 2000, the final show of Johnny Smoke was held in Dayton, and Fyffe began moving around. In twelve years, Fyffe moved to San Francisco, Seattle, and Kansas City in hopes to find musicians that would fit into his stripped down sound. Each stop hold some significance to Fyffe. When talked about living in San Francisco, Fyffe talked about working at Tower Records, and how beautiful the city was. “Even a rainy day isn’t a bad day in San Francisco”, Fyffe says. When living in Kansas City, Fyffe experienced some unfortunate events that eventually led him to reconsider even playing music.
Fyffe’s music was starting to generate some buzz not only around the Kansas City area, but in national publications like the bi-monthly magazine No Depression. Bloodshot Records artists and other alt-country music forums. After releasing the 45 which included singles “Backseat” and “Open Relationship” in 2011, Fyffe and his band filled in for John Doe from the punk band X at a record store day event in Lawrence, Kansas. While prepping for a 10-day East Coast tour with alt-country singer Lydia Loveless, a series of unfortunate events started to snowball downhill.
“When I get back from Kansas City with all of my stuff, and the drummer says that he couldn’t do the tour. The bassist wasn’t returning any of my phone calls. It’s five days before going on tour, and I have to make a decision,” Fyffe explains. “Apparently we aren’t going on tour, I have $4000 sitting over, and call Lydia Loveless’ manager and explain that bassist isn’t calling me back. I’m starting to sweat, and mentioned that maybe we should cancel the tour.”
The canceling of the tour led him to move to where he is now-Austin, Texas. Fyffe took a hiatus from music, trying to even come to grips of what happened in Kansas City. He saw his opportunity to further his music quickly burn out. However, Fyffe won’t go down that quietly. He decided to make his shows more of an event. His trip to Dayton will be only the 20th show in twelve years. However, Fyffe scuffs out the thought that he should have been playing more. “
While he has enjoyed living in Austin, he will be moving Los Angeles in April. “All of the moves have been basically directly or indirectly involved trying to make music,” Fyffe says. The move will also allow him to be closer to a dear friend of his, ex-Dayton Daily News writer Sara Baker Farr. The two met when Baker was writing about the final show of Johnny Smoke in Dayton.
“We lost touch for a while, as I wound up moving to Chicago and then out to Los Angeles in 2006,” Farr said during an exchange of emails. “Dorsie found me somehow and we reconnected. He started sending me some of the songs he’d been working on, and they were really good. His voice had gotten even stronger, and his songwriting was even better. The songs resonated. They had depth. They had soul. They were personal, but universal. They were an expression of where he was at, both as a songwriter and a man.” Farr is currently working on a book that will feature Fyffe’s life. “I asked Dorsie what he thought about the idea of a book. There was a pause — the kind that makes you wonder if you’ve lost your bloody mind and your grandiose scheme is going to crash and burn around you — and then he said that he’d love to do it,” Farr says.
The story that is Dorsie Fyffe’s life has seen the highest of the highs, and the lowest of the lows. Each chapter that has been written is chalk full of experiences that have molded him into the person that he is today. The moments that have led him up to this day have all played a part in the setting up the next one. When talking to Farr about Fyffe, she summed up perfectly.
“Dorsie’s story is not only a personal history for him, nor is it just a glimpse into a time when Dayton was really on the precipice of something musically. It reaches beyond that, I think, and is about what it means to try and follow your dream despite almost ridiculous odds and one struggle after another. And to keep making these great songs during all of it? Well, there’s the hook – it’s a classic American country-rock story.”
On November 1st, Fyffe reunited with some friends that he hasn’t seen since that night in left Dayton. He took the stage, and surely felt those feelings like he once had when he played in the local venues. The release of the vinyl singles was in correlation with the holiday Dia de los Muertos, as he will be celebrating the life of friends that have passed, including Taylor. As he blazed through his set, which included a Johnny Smoke song to close the set, the days of his music days haven’t sounded any better. He danced around the stage as if it was his first all over again.
“I want to make my shows an event, because you really don’t see that much anymore,” Fyffe mentioned.
Fyffe returned home to start a new chapter of his life. It’s only fitting that he decided that would be here in Dayton. It’s where it all began.
It’s where it will begin…again.
To purchase the limited edition single, and to hear some of Dorsie Fyffe’s music, click on his website: http://www.dorsiefyffe.com/.