Hippo Manchester
December 8, 2005

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Nite: From hot dogs to DMB

Dave Matthews and friends set to play the V

By Richie Victorino   rvictorino@hippopress.com

If not for the want of a hot dog, it’s quite possible we would never have heard the lyric, “You come crash into me, and I come into you.”

As it is, Dave Matthews did have a hankering for a hot dog, while at Pink’s in Hollywood. While he sat and ate his dog, legend (or more fittingly, rumor) has it, a Paul Williams song played over the speakers. It was then that Matthews realized that music was life.

The Dave Matthews Band, which started up in Virginia in the early ’90s, gained fame the jam-band way: touring relentlessly, focusing mostly on college campuses and sharing the stage with established bands such as Phish.

But there was always something a little different about the Dave Matthews Band. Though DMB shared a similar attraction to improvisation and jams with other jam bands, they had this underlying pop sound which would eventually allow them to break through the radio shell.

DMB has been described as a cross between a more pop-sounding Grateful Dead and the worldly beats of Paul Simon.

The B behind the DM is the reason for this unique, popular sound. This quintet is much more than a one-man show. Matthews might be the source of the lyrics and the initiator of most of the songs, but DMB tunes establish themselves as unique thanks to Boyd Tinsley’s fiddle, Leroi Moore’s saxophone, Steffan Lessard’s bass and Carter Beauford’s drums. Add Matthews’ impressive songwriting, his at times painfully high, soulful voice to the mix and what you have is something magical.

It helps that DMB are masters at being a band. It’s one thing to nail a song in a studio after 30 or so takes. But to perfectly gel all these musicians — and their instruments — into a tightly wrapped song on stage takes effort, dedication and pure talent.

DMB have released several albums, including their 1994 major-label debut, Under the Table and Dreaming, which included the hit single, “What Would You Say.”

In 2003, Matthews released his first solo album, Some Devil, which featured some of Matthews’ musical friends, including Phish’s Trey Anastasio, as well as longtime Matthews collaborator Tim Reynolds. The blue tone of the album cover matched perfectly with the tracks on the CD. At the time of the album Matthews was living in Seattle, and perhaps the rainy weather really got to him, because the results of Some Devil were primarily somber, haunting songs, including “Gravedigger,” which earned Matthews the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.

DMB’s most recent album releases are Stand Up and Weekend on the Rocks, which features all four 2005 DMB concerts at Red Rocks (Sept. 9 through Sept. 12) in Colorado.