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Dave Matthews Band Essay, Research Paper
When the contemporary Dave Matthews Band came out in 1991, they had no idea what was in store for them. The Dave Matthews Band has influenced many people and have also contributed to the great musical movement of the 1990 s and of today.
The Dave Matthews Band takes from widely varied musical interests of five musicians to create a unique sound that combines the influences of folk, jazz, rock, world beat, and reggae. David Matthews, the band’s namesake and lead guitarist and vocalist, began to assemble the players in 1991 to accompany him on a demo tape of original songs. At the time, a waiter in Charlottesville, Virginia, Dave Matthews says he aimed high, approaching the musicians he respected most. (The Official Dave Matthews Band Website, 1997)
Jazz players LeRoi Moore and Carter Beauford agreed to help out. The trio then approached Stefan Lessard, who at 16, was already an accomplished upright bass player, about playing electric bass guitar for the band. When one of the tunes seemed to need violin, they enlisted the string expertise of Boyd Tinsley, and a band was born. (The Official Dave Matthews Band Website, 1997)
Dave Matthews was born in South Africa on January 9, 1967. His family moved from place to place and finally settled in America. He never acquired a high school diploma, so jobs were limited. He took a job as a waiter, but his dream was to be in a band. (Delancey, 1998)
Over the years, Dave Matthews had written many songs, and at this point in his life, wanted to make a demo tape. He and his manager, Ross Hoffman, went out on a mission to find musicians for the band. They found LeRoi Moore and Carter Beauford whom Dave respected greatly. (Delancey, 1998)
LeRoi Moore plays many different instruments, including saxophones, flutes, pennywhistles, and assorted reeded instruments. Before joining the band, LeRoi played jazz at many night clubs in the Charlottesville-Richmond area.
Carter Beauford, the oldest member of the band who was born on November 2, 1957 making him 42, has been playing the drums since his childhood. Jazz playing ran in the family, as his father played trumpet in a band. After college, Carter gave up the drums and decided to teach history, but that soon ended when he signed for a band called Secrets in 1984. (The Official Dave Matthews Band Website, 1997)
When the band broke up in 1990, Carter then landed a job on the jazz show “Bet on Jazz”. This too, didn t last very long and Carter returned to Charlottesville to play random gigs. Dave heard that Carter was back in town and decided to approach him about recording a demo, to which Carter quickly agreed.
Now a group of three, Dave, LeRoi, and Carter found Stefan Lessard who was only 16 at the time. Even at his young age, Stefan was a very well respected upright bass player in Virginia. The band, however, was looking for an electric guitarist. Yet after listening to some of the tapes, Stefan was easily persuaded to change his instrument and join the group.
Peter Griesar who was the band s keyboardist and harmonica player didn t stay too long. He joined the band at its start, but soon quit in March of 1993 due to the touring of the group, which Peter did not enjoy. He said that the rock and roll touring lifestyle wasn t for him. Fortunately, Peter left on good terms and is still known to play with the band when in Virginia.
The last member of the group to join was their violinist, Boyd Tinsley. Boyd was a classical violinist
until 1985, when he switched over to rock and roll and has since defined the rock n roll violin. Before joining the Dave Matthews Band, Boyd has his own Boyd Tinsley Band, which he continued to play with until 1993. In 1993, Boyd met up with the members of Dave Matthews Band and said to them “I like what you re doing, I like you sound, so I m going to quit my other bands and join you guys.” (Martell, 2000) And the rest is history.
There is, however, another guitarist that is usually associated with the band, but hasn t been christened a Dave Matthews Band member. Tim Reynolds has played with Dave for a longer time than the band has been together. Tim joins the band on tour, but mostly plays acoustic shows with just Dave on the “off-season”. (The Official Dave Matthews Band Website, 1997)
In addition to Tim, a variety of artists play with the Dave Matthews Band, or known to fans as DMB. Artists such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Ben Harper, Bruce Hornsby, Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, Edwin McCain, Phish, John Popper of Blues Traveler, Rusted Root, and many more have accompanied Dave Matthews Band in their numerous sold-out shows all over the world. With such a wide variety, one can
certainly agree that Dave Matthews Band appeals to everyone.(Challen, 1995)
The first official gig (an artist s term for a show or a concert) for Dave Matthews Band was on May 11, 1991 at a private rooftop party in Charlottesville. The first public show was at the 1991 Earth Day Festival. The band continued with local weekly gigs, until the word of the band got out and clubs began to fill up, tours began to cover more territory and the amount of fans grew at an incredible rate. (The Official Dave Matthews Band Website, 1997)
On November 9, 1993, the Dave Matthews Band released its first album under its own Bama Rags label. The album, titled “Remember Two Things”, was recorded live at The Muse Music Club on Nantucket Island in August of 93. The album was on the College charts as the highest independent entry and was soon certified gold by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), which is quite the accomplishment for an independent album. (The Official Dave Matthews Band Website, 1997)
Dave Matthews Band s RCA debut, however, was released on September 27, 1994. “Under the Table and Dreaming” was a very successful album and was certified four times platinum
by RIAA. “Under the Table and Dreaming” was dedicated to Dave s sister Anne. Unfortunately, Anne was murdered in South Africa by her husband, who then committed suicide, in 1993. (The Official Dave Matthews Band Website, 1997)
Although Dave had endured such a tragedy, by this time, the Dave Matthews Band had kicked off its first national tour. The tour lasted for more than a year and by 1995, the band returned to the studio to record its next album. (The Official Dave Matthews Band Website, 1997)
On April 30, 1996, the Dave Matthews Band s “Crash” debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart. The band continued its sold-out tour across North America, but came to a halt when bassist, Stefan Lessard s three-week-old daughter, Aslan, died of unknown causes. The Dave Matthews Band quickly canceled the next 11 shows. (Morse, 1996)
The band is a close-knit band and when something happens to one member, it happens to all. Here is what Dave had to say to the Boston Globe s Steve Morse on September 27, 1996:
“We didn’t have a meeting or anything,” said Matthews. “Everything just stopped — and that’s
the way it should be. We didn’t want to sit down and say, ‘Well, what should we do now?’ It was very evident what we should do. And that’s to cancel. Because there’s no way we could have
continued playing. There’s no way we could have had a replacement.”
After recuperating from the death of the infant, the band finished its tour and headed back into the studio to make its third album, “Before These Crowded Streets”. This album debuted at number one on the charts and it the band s strongest debut to date. Dave Matthews Band spent the following year on the road, selling out stadiums, arenas, and amphitheaters across the country. (The Official Dave Matthews Band Website, 1997)
Dave Matthews Band s most successful albums, however, are its live recorded albums. Albums such as “Live at the Red Rocks, 8-15-95″, “Live at Luther College” which is an acoustic concert with only Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, and “Listener Supported”. These live recorded albums provide fans with a high-quality and reasonably priced live album to the over-
priced, ill-produced, and illegal bootlegged versions of Dave Matthews Band s concerts. (The Official Dave Matthews Band Website, 1997) It is illegal to copy or reproduce any artists works without the consent of the artist, however, the band does allow fans to record their concerts. (Nancies.org, 2000)
Most of Dave Matthews Band s songs are written by Dave, himself. The songs are, for the most part, positive and upbeat, which contributes to the trying peace in the world during the 1990 s. (Rolling Stone, 1999)
From the band s first recorded album, the first track, “The Best of What s Around” contains lines such as:
See, you and me
Have a better time than most can dream
Have it better than the best
And so can pull on through
Whatever tears at us
Whatever holds us down
And if nothing can be done
We’ll make the best of what’s around.
This particular excerpt tells us, the listener, that we should “make the best of what s around”. In other words, we should take what is given to us and use it to our advantage. Many lyrics of the Dave Matthews Band give good-natured advice.
More advice that is given to us are words to show us to not let our troubles keep us from living our lives. The longer we are in despair, the more of our lives are gone:
Rip away the tears
Drink a hope for happy years
And you may find
A lifetime’s passed you by
Dave then sings to his fans “What’s the use in worrying, what’s the use in hurrying?” in the song “Dancing Nancies”. We should take our time and not worry about the petty things that have come our way.
Although many people like to think that they have lived their lives to the fullest, when in all actuality, they are questioning whether or not they have lived their lives well:
I can’t believe that we would lie in our graves
Wondering if we had spent our living days well
I can’t believe that we would lie in our graves
Dreaming of things that we might have been
One of the band s most powerful and moving songs, “Cry Freedom” contains such lyrics as:
Hands and feet are all alike
But gold between divide us
Hands and feet are all alike
But fear between divide us
These particular lyrics say that we, as humans, are all alike but money and fear keep us apart. The Dave Matthews Band wants us to throw these fears and reasons for not becoming one race away. They believe that:
Just love will open our eyes
Just love will put the hope back in our minds
Much more than we could ever know
Oh, so don’t burn the day away
Even though the Dave Matthews Band advises us to “Eat, drink and be merry”, they know that love is the key to happiness in the world.
The Dave Matthews Band has grown from a small band in Charlottesville to an amazing pop group that has effected a wide-range of people throughout the world. Through good times and bad, the Dave Matthews Band stays upbeat and at the same time, gives great advice to the people of the world today.
The 1990 s was a time for the music culture to flourish. Many bands made their way in and out; very few managed to stay, Dave Matthews Band being one of them. The Dave Matthews Band s appealing music and messages have brought adults, teenagers, and young kids together on the television, radio, and in stadiums. This band has made a mark in history as one of the greatest bands of the 90s and today.
Gratitude and appreciation are feelings expressed toward the band from many different parts of the world. For the most part, people like the music, but it all comes back to the Dave Matthews Band who have so greatly contributed to the World of Music.
Challen, Richard “Wide Awake in Dreamland” Edge Magazine, 15 Apr. 1995.
Dave Matthews Band, (1999). [Online]. Available: http://www.rollingstone.com/artist/davematthewsband
Delancey, Morgan (1998). “Step Into the Light” [Online]. Available: http://www.dmbml.com/archives/news/book.html
Martell, Nevin (2000). “Music for the People” [Online]. Available: http://www.musicforthepeople.org/Martell
Matthews, Dave. “The Best of What s Around.” Under the Table and Dreaming. CD. RCA, 1994.
“What Would You Say.” Under the Table and Dreaming. CD. RCA, 1994.
“Dancing Nancies.” Under the Table and Dreaming. CD. RCA, 1994.
“Lie in Our Graves.” Crash. CD. RCA, 1996.
“Cry Freedom.” Crash. CD. RCA, 1996.
“Tripping Billies.” Crash. CD. RCA, 1996.
“Pig.” Before These Crowded Streets. CD. RCA, 1998.
Morse, Steven “Tragedy Interrupts Dave Matthews Band’s Winning Summer” Boston Globe, 27 Sept. 1996.
The Nancies, (2000). [Online]. Available: http://www.nancies.org
The Official Dave Matthews Band Website, (1997). [Online]. Available: http://www.davematthewsband.com
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