Since it came onto the scene in the early 90s, the Dave Matthews Band has taken the world by storm. Currently the #1 touring band in the United States, DMB is an ecclectic group, both racially and musically. The bad consists of frontman Dave Matthews (vocals, guitar), Carter Beauford (drums), Stefan Lessard (Bass), Leroi Moore (saxaphone), and Billy Boyd Tinsley (violin). They have been wildly succesful (two albums at least 3x platinum*) while continuing to produce the highest quality of music.
A Brief History
Dave Matthews was born in South Africa in 1967, but later moved to the United States with his family. He worked as a bartender in the college town of Charlottesville, Virginia. Charlottesville is a musical melting pot, full of musicians who's styles range from country to jazz to punk. It was from this musical utopia that the Dave Matthews Band* formed in 1991. Dave met the other members of the band as they played gigs in the bar. They would share musical ideas and names of other musicians, and through this mixing and meeting process, the band was pulled together.
DMB started out playing the college circuit, performing at parties and frat houses up and down the east coast. They developed a loyal fanbase, thanks in part to the band-encouraged recording and sharing of live performances, sort of a low tech Napster. With their popularity on the rise, the band recorded their first studio album Remember Two Things on an independent label in November of 1993. The album caught the attention of the major record labels, and in September of 1994, RCA/BMG released Under the Tale and Dreaming, which later went multi platinum and served as the catalyst to launch Dave Matthews Band into the national spotlight.
The music of the Dave Matthews Band defies categorization, mixing elements of jazz, rock, bluegrass, and classical music to create a sound that is uniquely DMB. Some songs are folky, infused by classically trained violinist Tinsley. Others are smooth jazzy pieces that borrow from bluegrass. Though the songs themselves may be very different from each other, the end product can easily be identified as DMB.Until recently, their work has been personified by long, complex songs. It is for this reason that DMB has always been more of a concert band than a radio one, which isn't to say they haven't had their radio hits*. Songs like the sad, cryptic "Warehouse" or the anrgy "Halloween" show off the bands darker side, While the lighter side is displayed in songs like "tripping Billies" and "Sattelite." For a band that places its emphasis on concerts, the Dave Matthews Band has had remarkable success with studio albums. This can be at least partially attributted to the production Steve Lillywhite. Lillywhite is famous for producing albums for the likes of U2, the Rolling Stones, and the Talking Heads, and has worked on almost every Dave album. The band has also released a pair of live LPs, Listener Supported and Live at Red Rocks, which have both been wildly succesful as well. Dave Matthews Band's most recent album, Everyday has taken them in a different direction musically. They chose vetran producer Glen Ballard instead of Lillywhite, and wrote twelve brand new songs, instead of recording mostly songs that had been performed many times before at concerts. The songs on Everyday are decidedly different from all past efforts, For one thing, Dave traded in his usual acoustic guitar for an electric on most of the album. Another thing, the songs are much, much shorter than almost all other Dave songs (the longest track on Everyday, at around five minutes, is as long as the shortest tracks on most other DMB albums). Even with a departure from their original style, the band still pulled off a great album and showed that they had not stagnated as musicians.
Our world is full of cookie cutter rock, pop, and rap. DMB is the lighthouse in the storm, relieving us from a torrent of bland mediocrity. In a time when music is beginning to sound all the same, the Dave Matthews Band has managed to attain wide success while being true to its roots.