Dave Matthews Band Overview:
The Dave Matthews Band have been a potent commercial force for two decades, combining elements of world music with pop and rock for a sound that’s halfway between jam-band improvisation and mainstream modern radio accessibility. Frontman Dave Matthews normally records with his band but has occasionally stepped out to make a solo album on his own. Respected Grammy winners, the Dave Matthews Band are one of the few groups to consistently do well on the charts and on tour, even having a string of platinum-selling live albums to go along with their successful studio records.
Dave Matthews Band's Origins:
Dave Matthews was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. His family moved back and forth between South Africa and Charlottesville, Virginia for the next several years. By 1991, when he was 24, Matthews was permanently living in Charlottesville and started putting together a band to play songs that he’d written. The core of that lineup has remained mostly intact ever since – violinist Boyd Tinsley, bassist Stefan Lessard, drummer Carter Beauford, and saxophonist LeRoi Moore. That lineup was unchanged until Moore’s death in August 2008.
Getting 'Under the Table':
From the start, Dave Matthews Band were a staunch touring unit, and their first two independent releases, 1993’s Remember Two Things and 1994’s Recently, were live records. On the strength of their sizable following, the band signed with RCA to release Under the Table and Dreaming. The 1994 disc included new versions of songs from the earlier records, and within a year Under the Table had been certified double-platinum. At this stage of their career, the band boasted a hippie-ish sound accentuated by violins and saxophone that drew comparisons to other jam bands like Blues Traveler and Phish.
Making Pop Safe for Eclecticism:
Live favorites and pop stars, the Dave Matthews Band kept their winning streak going with 1996’s Crash. Powered by the romantic ballad “Crash Into Me,” Crash cemented the band’s status as a melodic, pleasant mainstream alternative to the angst of ‘90s alternative rock. Matthews’ material was becoming more sophisticated and studio-savvy, and the band’s eclectic musicianship positioned the group as the smart choice for discerning Top 40 fans who were too old for the shallowness of pop.
Worrying About War:
After releasing the successful live album Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95
, the Dave Matthews Band returned with their next studio effort, 1998’s Before These Crowded Streets
. Their first No. 1 record, Streets
included collaborations with bluegrass artist Béla Fleck
, pop star Alanis Morissette
and classical group Kronos Quartet. Needless to say, Streets
was unusual for a bestselling record, and Matthews’ downbeat examinations of war and aging added to the album’s ambitious, challenging nature. Consequently, Streets
didn’t match the sales of the band’s two previous studio records, but it still achieved triple-platinum status.
A Change in Direction:
Two live albums – one from the band, one with Matthews playing with friend Tim Reynolds – followed before the band finally put out its next record. After working on a series of songs with longtime producer Steve Lilywhite, Matthews was unhappy with the results and scrapped them, teaming with pop producer Glen Ballard to create 2001’s slick-sounding Everyday. Though featuring one of the group’s best songs, “The Space Between,” Everyday felt uncertain creatively, although that didn’t stop it from going to No. 1.
Revisiting Rejected Songs for New Album:
The Dave Matthews Band may have abandoned the songs they were working on before recording Everyday, but they were soon leaked online, prompting the group to re-record them for 2002’s Busted Stuff. Their era of being a multi-platinum juggernaut was soon coming to a close, but the group remained a strong seller and a huge concert draw. Proof of their still-potent live following was that before and after Busted Stuff, the group released live records, and both went platinum and hit the Top 10.
To the casual observer, 2003’s Some Devil might have seemed like just another Dave Matthews Band record, except for one thing – it didn’t include the Dave Matthews Band. A solo record, Some Devil represented a stripped-down version of the themes pursued in Before These Crowded Streets. Well-received, Some Devil went platinum, even though Matthews insisted that the album in no way suggested that the band’s future was in doubt.
Less Radio Airplay:
Two more live albums preceded 2005’s Stand Up, a record that was written in the studio, a change from previous Dave Matthews Band efforts. Stand Up went to No. 1 and earned platinum sales, but the band’s stranglehold on radio had loosened – “American Baby” was the lone breakout single but even it failed to cross over to different radio formats, a problem Dave Matthews Band never experienced in the ‘90s.
Tragedy visited the Dave Matthews Band when saxophonist LeRoi Moore died August 19, 2008, due to complications from a June incident when he crashed his ATV and suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung.
'Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King':
The Dave Matthews Band announced that their next album, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King
, would be released on June 2, 2009. The first single, “Funny the Way It Is,” became available on April 14.
Dave Matthews Band Lineup:
Carter Beauford – drums
Stefan Lessard – bass
Dave Matthews – vocals, guitar
Boyd Tinsley – violin
Dave Matthews Band Discography:
Remember Two Things
(live album) (1993)
(live album) (1994)
Under the Table and Dreaming
Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95
(live album) (1997)
Before These Crowded Streets
Live at Luther College
(live album by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds) (1999)
(live album) (1999)
Live in Chicago 12.19.98 at the United Center
(live album) (2001)
Live at Folsom Field, Boulder, Colorado
(live album) (2002)
(solo album) (2003)
The Central Park Concert
(live album) (2003)
(live album) (2004)
Weekend on the Rocks
(live album) (2005)
Live at Piedmont Park
(live album) (2007)
Live at Mile High Music Festival
(live album) (2008)
Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King
Away From the World