About her band, The Dixie Belles, Peggy Gilbert said in 1985, "Of all the things I have done in my entire life, I have had more fun with this group. We have all reached the age where we thought we'd never be playing publicly. We thought that, by now, we'd all be out of the business. We look at each other as we play and can't believe it's happening." All the members of the Dixie Belles were Life Members of Local 47 of the Musicians' Union and on Social Security, although you could hardly say they were retired.
Peggy organized the group in 1974, to play a benefit concert for a well-known Dixieland player who was ill. Right from the first rehearsal, things clicked. Peggy would call out a tune and a key, and away they'd go.
They appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and on L.A.'s PM Magazine, ABC World Report, The McNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on PBS, as well as numerous local television and radio programs. The video program for senior citizens, "Staying Active: Wellness After Sixty" (Spectrum Films, Inc.), featured them. Performing in concert halls, parks, theaters, auditoriums, schools, senior citizen centers, and jazz festivals throughout California, they received acclaim from audiences and critics alike. They were especially attractive to the media, including the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News, because they made such a strong case against a youth-oriented culture that sometimes resents older citizens who are accomplishing things. The Dixie Belles made the point that life is not over until you are gone, so do what you want to do now!
Originally recorded in 1985, Peggy Gilbert & The Dixie Belles is now available on compact disc on the Cambria Master Recordings label. Many selections on this disc are heard in the documentary Peggy Gilbert and Her All-Girl Band (Jaygayle Music Productions, 2006), featuring Peggy Gilbert, narrated by Lily Tomlin, produced by Jeannie Pool.
You can order a copy of Peggy Gilbert & The Dixie Belles for only $14.95 from Cambria Music.