Dave Matthews Band, sometimes shortened to DMB, is an American band formed in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1991. Founding members include singer-songwriter and guitarist Dave Matthews, bassist Stefan Lessard, violinist Boyd Tinsley, and drummer Carter Beauford. Founding-member saxophonist LeRoi Moore was part of the band until his death in August 2008. His spot is now occupied by Grammy Award-winner Jeff Coffin, of B?la Fleck and the Flecktones fame. With band members who each have roots in differing genres, including jazz, classical music, soul music, and Afrobeat, the combination of each member has created a sound which has earned them fans from a variety of quarters.
The band is known for their annual summer-long tours of the US and Europe, featuring lengthy improvisational renditions of their songs accompanied by elaborate video and lighting. The band's newest album, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King debuted at number one on Billboard 200, giving the band their fifth consecutive number one debut.
The band is a multi-Grammy Award winner, and was awarded the NAACP Chairman's Award. According to Julian Bond, "they sell out the largest arenas on Earth, but frequently give their music away."
Songwriter David John Matthews, working in Charlottesville as a bartender at Miller's bar in November 1990, made friends with a lawyer named Ross Hoffman. Hoffman convinced Matthews, usually reserved and scared of playing in front of people, to lay down a demo of the few songs he had written. Hoffman hoped Matthews could shop the songs in order to find other musicians to perform on some studio work with him. Hoffman encouraged Matthews to approach Carter Beauford, a local drummer on the Charlottesville music scene. Beauford had been in several bands and was then playing on a jazz show on BET. After hearing the demo, Carter agreed to spend some time playing the drums, both inside and outside the studio. Matthews also approached LeRoi Moore, another local jazz musician who often performed with the John D'earth Quintet to join them. Moore skeptically listened to the demo, but liked what he heard and decided that he too would give the young South African a chance. These three began working on Matthews' songs in 1991. Matthews recollects that, "...the reason I went to Carter was not because I needed a drummer, but because I thought he was the baddest thing I'd ever seen and Leroi, it wasn't because I desperately wanted a saxophone, it was because this guy just blew my mind. At this jazz place I used to bartend at , I would just sit back and watch him. I would be serving the musicians fat whiskeys and they'd be getting more and more hosed, but no matter how much, he used to still blow my mind. And it was the sense that everyone played from their heart. And when we got together and they asked, 'What do you want the music to sound like?' I said, 'I know this is a song I wrote and I like what you guys play, so I want you to play the way you react to my song.' There was a lot of breaking of our inhibitions."
Matthews later said in an interview with Michael Krugman, "In a way, initially it was just the three of us and I approached them with this tape and they said 'Sure,' cause they had time on their hands. They were both working on other things, but they had some afternoon time." The beginning stages of this new band was, in the words of Morgan Delancey, "a time of trial and incubation." Beauford would later recall that, "It started out as a three-piece thing with Dave and Leroi...working on some of Dave's songs. He only had four songs at the time..And it didn't work out with the three of us." Matthews said, "The first time we played together...we were awful. Not just kind of bad, I mean heinously bad. We tried a couple of different songs and they were all terrible...Sometimes it amazes me that we ever had a second rehearsal."
Miller's Bar on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville
Their limited instrumentals, however, did not provide the full sound they desired; more musicians were needed. Secrets was a former jazz fusion band based in Richmond, Virginia most notable for having LeRoi Moore and Carter Beauford as members before forming the Dave Matthews Band. Moore's former bandmate, John D'earth, conductor of the University of Virginia Orchestra and local musician, taught music at the Tandem Friends School. Stefan Lessard, a junior bassist at the time, was under his guidance in the student jazz combo, Yabanci Jazzites. On the recommendation of John D?earth, the 16-year-old Lessard was asked to join in the studio to help complete the demo. While the partnership was never intended to continue beyond the studio, the four liked the sound and decided to continue together for live performances as well. Consequently, regular practices began in the basement of Carter Beauford's and Matthews' mother's home.
Peter Griesar was a bartender at Miller's beginning in 1989, and in August 1991, during Miller's annual respite for inventory, Matthews, Beauford, Moore and Lessard used the empty bar for rehearsing. Griesar heard them rehearsing and decided to stop working for a while, pulled out his harmonica, and started playing with them. After a few songs, he was invited to perform with them. He immediately accepted, becoming the band's first keyboardist. Griesar's last show with the band was March 23, 1993.
Boyd Tinsley was the last member to join the band. Although he had performed on the demo with Matthews, Moore, Beauford and Lessard, he was busy with a couple of other bands at the time (Boyd Tinsley Band and Down Boy Down) and did not want to commit to a group of musicians that were only together in the studio at the time. He didn't become a full-time member until the middle of 1992. Matthews later admitted, "We had no plans of adding a violinist. We just wanted some fiddle tracked on this one song "Tripping Billies", and Boyd was a friend of Leroi. He came in and it just clicked. That completely solidified the band, gave it a lot more power."
The band's first in-studio demo was recorded in February or March 1991, and consisted of "The Song That Jane Likes," "Recently," and "Tripping Billies" prior to Tinsley joining as a full-time bandmember. Tinsley only performed on "Tripping Billies."
Their first public show was at the city's 1991 Earth Day Festival. Local weekly appearances soon followed, and within a short time word of the band?s sound spread.
They still did not have a name for the band. One name that was thrown around was Dumela (which is the Tswana word for "hello",) but no real enthusiasm was ever felt, and they dropped it. One story is that Moore reportedly telephoned a place they were booked and said to just write 'Dave Matthews.' The person receiving the call just wrote 'band' after the name, and the name stayed Dave Matthews Band from that point on. Matthews told Robert Trott of AP, "Boyd , if memory serves, wrote 'Dave Matthews Band . There was no time when we said, 'Let's call this band the Dave Matthews Band.' It just became that, and it sort of was too late to change when we started thinking that this could focus unfairly on me. People sort of made that association, but it's really not like that."
Beauford seemed to agree with Matthews' analysis of the band name when he said to Modern Drummer magazine that, "As a matter of fact, that's one of the things about this band that everybody likes: There isn't a leader. Each one of us can express ourselves musically without being choked by a leader. Everybody can offer what they feel is gonna enhance the music. So yeah, that's the main thing that all the guys ? especially me ? feel make this band happen. It's the freedom that we have to speak with our instruments."
By the summer of 1991, they were playing at Eastern Standard with Charles Newman as their manager for a brief time. They were also playing a regular Tuesday night show at the popular Charlottesville club Trax. Tapings of shows at Trax are some of the most widely shared among DMB fans. After Newman, Coran Capshaw, owner of the Flood Zone where the band often played, took the helm of The Dave Matthews Band.
Sensing that the band was on the verge of making it big, and not wanting to have his life ruled by the grueling schedule that touring musicians often face, Peter Griesar decided to leave after a show on March 23, 1993. Known as "Big League Chew" (as the bubble gum company was sponsoring something at Trax that night), the show is one of the most well-known shows from the early years at Trax.
On November 9, 1993, DMB released its first album, Remember Two Things, on its Bama Rags label, later re released by RCA in 1997. Live songs on the album were recorded at The Flood Zone in Richmond, Virginia on August 10, 1993, and The Muse Music Club on Nantucket Island on August 16-18, 1993. The album debuted on college charts as the highest independent entry, and went on to be certified platinum by the RIAA in 2002 ? a significant accomplishment for an independent album. Meanwhile, the band kept touring and its fan base continued to grow. By allowing fans to tape shows for their personal use, DMB created a highly interactive community that continues to this day. Only recently has the band had to take legal action against some bootleggers who sell recordings of their concerts at a profit ? something the DMB trading community also abhors. However, it is believed the band's album sales over the past decade have exceeded $10,000,000,000 U.S.
The band released their first live EP, entitled Recently, in 1994. The album's five tracks were taken from shows performed at The Birchmere, in Alexandria, Virginia, and from Trax, in Charlottesville. This EP featured the first recorded version of Bob Dylan's classic "All Along the Watchtower" and "Halloween." Recently was re-released by RCA Records in 1997.
On September 20, 1994, DMB released their second album, Under the Table and Dreaming, featuring their first commercial hits "What Would You Say" (featuring John Popper on harmonica), "Satellite," and "Ants Marching." The album was dedicated "In memory of Anne" for Matthews' older sister Anne, who was killed by her husband in 1994 in a murder-suicide.
Under the Table and Dreaming and its follow-up album, Crash brought the band national attention, culminating in a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "So Much to Say" as well as four other nominations between the years 1996 and 1997. The band also achieved hits with "Crash into Me," "Too Much," and "Tripping Billies." While the band enjoyed growing commercial success and the devotion of fans, among critics, they still suffered from (largely negative) comparisons to jam band legends like The Grateful Dead.
By 1997, DMB reached unparalleled levels of popularity across the United States and, to some degree, the world. On October 28, 1997, the band released their first full length live album, Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95. The album, which was recorded at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado, featured popular songs from the band's first three albums and included longtime collaborator Tim Reynolds on electric guitar.
In late 1997, the band returned to the studio with producer Steve Lillywhite and an array of guest collaborators, including Reynolds, banjoist B?la Fleck, vocalist Alanis Morissette, future permanent keyboardist and unofficial sixth band member Butch Taylor, and the Kronos Quartet. They composed and recorded Before These Crowded Streets, their third album with RCA, which was released on April 28, 1998. The album represented a great change in direction for the band as they did not rely on upbeat hit singles to carry the album. "Stay (Wasting Time)", an uplifting gospel number, and "Crush", a love ballad, became very popular tracks along with the lead single "Don't Drink the Water". Dave Matthews has commented that the inspiration for this song came from the treatment of Native Americans by the United States government.
On January 19, 1999, Matthews and Reynolds released the live album, Live at Luther College, from a February 6, 1996, acoustic concert played by Matthews and Reynolds at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. The album features songs mostly from DMB's first two albums, while also featuring the previously unreleased pieces "Deed Is Done" and "Little Thing". Also included on the album is Reynolds' acoustic virtuoso piece "Stream."
During the summer, the band took part in the Woodstock '99 concert and then released their third live album, Listener Supported, in the fall. The album, a live recording, used a show performed at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey on September 11, 1999 for a PBS television special. The album was also released as the band's first DVD. The year also provided two more Grammy nominations.
Dave Matthews, Boyd Tinsley, and Butch Taylor in Melbourne during their first tour of Australia
During 2000, DMB set up their own recording studio at a large countryside home outside Charlottesville. With longtime producer Lillywhite at the helm, the band began work on a fourth studio album. Heavily influenced by personal conflicts, notably the death of Matthews' uncle from alcoholism, the songs recorded with Lillywhite rank as some of the darkest he has ever written. In the end, the studio sessions were scrapped and the band's seven-year relationship with Lillywhite was over. Some believe DMB was unhappy with the atmosphere of the songs and frustrated with Lillywhite's often perfectionist style of production, while others believe Lillywhite was made into a scapegoat for the band's lack of professionalism during the recording sessions. Or, as Matthews was quoted as saying, he was in a depressive state and BMG kept asking him for happy music.
In October 2000, an energized Matthews began writing with Glen Ballard, most famous for his work with Alanis Morissette. The rest of DMB (along with special guest Carlos Santana) soon joined Matthews in a Los Angeles studio and quickly recorded Everyday. While the album gave the band a much-needed fresh start, Ballard's slick pop-music approach to production was very different from the creative process used to produce previous studio albums. Carter Beauford has said that the album was a product of Matthews and Ballard and that it did not showcase the rest of the band. The February 27, 2001, release of Everyday was a huge commercial success. The singles "I Did It", "Everyday", and "The Space Between", brought the band an even larger level of popularity. However, some long-time members of the fanbase were disappointed with the release. Everyday's slick pop sound (including Dave Matthews' first ever recording sessions on electric guitar) was a big departure from the band's previous work and highly divergent from the songs recorded with Lillywhite.
Certain songs such as "What You Are" and "When The World Ends" kept a darker edge to them, and have been more well received by older DMB fans. "Everyday" was also familiar to older DMB fans, as the main guitar lick is derived from that of the song "#36."
In March 2001, the Lillywhite conflict came full circle when the 2000 studio sessions with the producer were leaked over the internet. The tracks spread quickly over established internet channels such as Napster. Collectively known as The Lillywhite Sessions, these tracks were lauded by both the fan base and the popular press. After critical comparison of the two simultaneous albums, fans that were less than pleased with Everyday's slicker sound were frustrated with the band's decision to scrap the work in exchange for Everyday.
The Lillywhite Sessions would, however, eventually be officially released. In response to overwhelming fan support, coupled with a popular and widely publicized online campaign known as the Release Lillywhite Recordings Campaign, DMB returned to the studio in 2002 to record Busted Stuff. Produced by Stephen Harris, the recording engineer who worked under Lillywhite on previous albums, the resulting CD provided new treatments of much of the Lillywhite Sessions material, along with newly written songs "You Never Know" and the single "Where Are You Going" which was subsequently used in the movie Mr. Deeds. Busted Stuff hit the shelves on July 16, 2002, receiving moderate critical and commercial success, while being generally well-received by the band's fans.
During these two years the band released two live albums. The first, Live in Chicago 12.19.98, features Tim Reynolds on guitar as well as many other special guests such as bassist Victor Wooten and saxophonist Maceo Parker. The second, Live at Folsom Field, Boulder, Colorado, highlights songs from both Everyday and Busted Stuff and was released as both a CD and a DVD.
Solo Albums (2003)
In the Spring of 2003, Matthews and Reynolds embarked on another successful solo acoustic tour. The shows are very different from the normal DMB shows in that the venues are usually more intimate, and the song selection is very different. The shows are also noted for Reynolds' virtuoso guitar work.
In 2003 Matthews and Tinsley released their first solo albums. Tinsley released True Reflections on June 17, 2003.
On September 23, 2003, Dave Matthews released his first solo album, Some Devil. The album's lead single, "Gravedigger" won Matthews another Grammy Award. The album was followed by the Dave Matthews & Friends tour.
The next day, September 24, DMB played a free concert on the Great Lawn in New York City's Central Park.
Live Trax & Stand Up (2004-2005)
The Gorge, a combination 2-CD/1-DVD set with highlights from their 3-night 2002 tour closer at The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington was released on June 29, 2004.
Later in the year it was announced that highlights from the Band's extensive live archives would be available for purchase via the official website. The first such release, Live Trax Vol. 1, was released on November 2, 2004 and was their performance at the Centrum Center in Worcester, Massachusetts on December 8, 1998.
On September 12, 2004, DMB played their second benefit show in less than a year, with a free show at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. This concert drew one of their largest crowds and produced a popular bootleg. The band was joined by guitarist Carlos Santana on many songs, and the tracks led to the second release in the Live Trax Series, Live Trax Vol. 2 released on December 17, 2004. The album gave fans previews of newly-penned songs "Joy Ride", "Hello Again", and "Sugar Will"; all at the time presumed to be destined for release on a new studio album in 2005. However, only "Hello Again" was actually included on the subsequent album release, Stand Up.
In August 2004, DMB was at the center of a controversy when about 800 pounds of liquid human waste was dumped from band member Boyd Tinsley's tour bus through the grate in the Kinzie Street Bridge in Chicago onto passengers aboard a sightseeing boat on the Chicago River below. The bus driver, Stefan Wohl, pleaded guilty, and the band has donated $50,000 to the Friends of the Chicago River and $50,000 to the Chicago Park District. In April 2005, the band paid $200,000 to settle the civil lawsuit that followed.
In Fall 2004, DMB returned to their studio in Charlottesville, Virginia with a new producer, Mark Batson. Stand Up was released on May 10, 2005, debuting at #1 on the Billboard charts with sales of 465,000. Stand Up spawned the singles "American Baby", "Dreamgirl", and "Everybody Wake Up". The band also released a video for "Dreamgirl", featuring Julia Roberts, a long-time fan of the band.
During March 2005, Dave Matthews Band arrived on Australian shores for the first time, playing shows in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Byron Bay .
The band supported the album with a summer-long tour culminating in a four-night stand at Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
Dave Matthews made several appearances in the UK during the Spring of 2006, notably performing a solo show at the King's College Student Union (Tutu's) on February 28, followed by a small solo tour to promote the release of Stand Up in the UK.
On April 25, 2006, Dave Matthews Band announced a $1.5 million challenge grant to help build the New Orleans Habitat Musicians' Village. The band returned to the studio in March 2006 (with the resultant album slated for release in winter) before embarking on their annual summer tour, which concluded with a two-night stand in the band's hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. This tour featured the addition of trumpeter Rashawn Ross as a full-time touring member, which he has remained since. Ross, who received recognition with DMB's fans while playing with the jazz band Soulive, had guested during several shows the previous year.
In August, Dave Matthews Band announced on their website that, in order to fulfill a contractual obligation, they would be releasing a greatest hits album. They held a survey on their website that encouraged fans to select their ten favorite DMB songs. The album, titled The Best of What's Around Vol. 1, named after the opening track of 1994's Under The Table And Dreaming, was released on November 7, 2006. The album features two discs, the first consisting of what the band considers their best studio tracks, and the second of live tracks voted on by fans. Additionally, those who pre-ordered the CD on the Dave Matthews Band website received an "encore" CD with four additional live songs. The Encore CD was later made available on their website to anyone for an additional $10.
The band worked with Reverb, a non-profit environmental organization, for their 2006 summer tour. Their Labor Day concert at The Gorge Amphitheatre drew a crowd of 64,468, the largest ever for that venue
The Dave Matthews Band at Vodafone Arena, Melbourne, Australia at the start of their second tour of Australia
In early 2007, the Dave Matthews Band once again entered the studio with producers Mark Batson and Steven Miller to begin recording their seventh studio album. Mark Batson's relationship was severed at some point during the recording process, and the album was not finished. In late February, Dave Matthews embarked on a short tour of Europe with Tim Reynolds, which was followed in April by three dates in the northeastern United States.
On April 25, 2007, it was announced on the band's website that the Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds performance at Radio City Music Hall that had been recorded earlier that week on the 22nd would be released on CD, Blu-ray Disc and DVD, the duo's second release (following Live at Luther College). It includes unreleased songs, such as "Eh Hee" and "Corn Bread", and also two Tim Reynolds songs which he performed alone, "Betrayal" and "You Are My Sanity".
According to Billboard magazine, the band's new studio album had been scheduled to be released in July by RCA Records, but in an interview with the Brisbane Times on May 4, 2007, Stefan Lessard stated, "We?re on a bit of a creative break as far as working in the studio ? we?ve been in pre-production for a long time, but we?ll get more serious later in the year."
On July 7, 2007, Dave Matthews Band performed on the American Live Earth concert at Giants Stadium.
On September 6, 2007, Dave Matthews Band performed a free concert for the Virginia Tech student body and faculty. The show was entitled "A Concert for Virginia Tech" and was done in memory of the shootings that took place on April 16, 2007. John Mayer, Phil Vassar, and Nas joined them. There were over 50,000 people in attendance. Two days later, they performed a benefit show at Atlanta's Piedmont Park with the Allman Brothers Band opening. Though only 65,000 tickets were sold (50,000 originally, then a second block of 15,000) nearly 20,000 people snuck into the show, making it the largest one-day concert in Atlanta history. The show raised money for the Piedmont Park Conservancy Association. It was released as a CD/DVD called Live at Piedmont Park.
In a news article posted on August 30 on the official site, it was announced that a video for the song "Eh Hee" would be released for free download on the iTunes Store starting September 4, and remaining free throughout the week until it would be made available for purchase. The recording and video is a result of a solo effort by Dave Matthews, and does not include the other band members.
2008 and the death of LeRoi Moore
On March 6, 2008, it was revealed that the band had been working with Rob Cavallo on their next album, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King. It was also mentioned that guitarist and longtime friend Tim Reynolds would be recording with the band on the new studio album. Reynolds would also join the band for their subsequent summer tour.
On April 6, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds performed an acoustic concert at Indiana University entitled "Rock for Change" in support of Barack Obama's presidential campaign. They also played a benefit show for the Seeds of Compassion initiative on April 11 at KeyArena in Seattle, part of the five-day celebration that week centered on the Dalai Lama. This was followed by two nights at the Fifth Annual Kokua Festival on April 19 and 20 at the Waikiki Shell in Honolulu, Hawaii. These shows were part of a benefit for the Kokua Hawai'i Foundation, created by Jack Johnson and his wife Kim to benefit Hawaii's educational system.
On May 27, three days before the band embarked on their annual summer tour, it was announced that keyboardist Butch Taylor, who had toured with the band since 2001, had decided to leave the band.
The Dave Matthews Band played their last show with all five original members on June 28 at the Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Virginia. Two days later saxophonist LeRoi Moore was injured in an ATV accident on his farm near Charlottesville, Virginia. On July 1, 2008 while in Charlotte, Dave Matthews announced Moore's accident. B?la Fleck and the Flecktones saxophonist Jeff Coffin filled in for Moore for the remainder of the tour. Though he was expected to make a full recovery, Moore died suddenly of complications from the accident on August 19. The following statement was released on the band's website:
We are deeply saddened that LeRoi Moore, saxophonist and founding member of Dave Matthews Band, died unexpectedly Tuesday afternoon, August 19, 2008, at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles from sudden complications stemming from his June ATV accident on his farm near Charlottesville, Virginia. LeRoi had recently returned to his Los Angeles home to begin an intensive physical rehabilitation program.
The band went ahead with a scheduled show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where Matthews announced the death of the band's "dear friend" to the crowd.
As we sat this afternoon contemplating the loss of our brother, we wondered how we could possibly do a show today. Dave put it into perspective stating, "There's no place I'd rather be than here with you guys right now." We cherish special memories of our lost friend. Tonight, Dave told a story about LeRoi at a bar in Virginia where the cash register was near the stage and LeRoi leaned on the register because "standing had become a chore". Roi proceeded to play the most beautiful version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Dave said, "that was the day I fell in love with him. And I'm still in love with him." It's safe to say we all were in love with him. "It's always easier to leave, than to be left."
The Dave Matthews Band Crew on August 19, 2008
Dave Matthews Band during #41 at Madison Square Garden on September 10, 2008.
Despite Moore's death, the band continued to play the rest of the tour, cancelling only two shows. They concluded the tour with a benefit concert for lung cancer research (Stand Up For A Cure) at Madison Square Garden in New York City on September 10, for which tickets were exclusive to members of the band's fan club, Warehouse.
Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King (2009)
The band's newest album, titled Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, was released on June 2, 2009, coinciding with a supporting summer tour, slated to run through early October. Tim Reynolds, Rashawn Ross and Jeff Coffin are scheduled to perform with the band on both the spring and the summer tours.
The album peaked at number one on the Billboard 200, achieving platinum status. To date, three singles have been released, Funny The Way It Is, Why I Am, and You And Me.
Taping and bootlegs
Dave Matthews Band allows audience members to record most live shows and permits non-profit trading of the recordings. The band cites college students trading these tapes in the early 1990s as a key reason for their current fame. Up until February 23, 1995 the band allowed tapers to plug directly into the soundboard at shows but after profiteering on these often high quality tapings, the taping policy was changed to only include microphones. The band and its management also worked with the US federal government in 1996 to launch a crackdown on for-profit bootleggers, which resulted in large-scale arrests of those responsible for illegally manufacturing and selling copies of DMB material. To further combat bootleggers, the band released their first live album, Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95, to satisfy the demand for live recordings.
In recent years it has been common to see several sources per show, sometimes as many as five or more. As microphones and recording equipment have become more inexpensive and of higher quality, the quality of tapings has improved.