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Dave Matthews Band

Dave Matthews Band helped define the jam-band underground of the 1990s with their energetic, musically and emotionally rich sound and have gone on to become an enduring American musical institution. Steeped in the progressive, multicultural sounds of the '80s -- they spliced bar-band college rock with groove-based jazz and worldbeat explorations given slippery life by Matthews' exuberant exhortations and moody introspection -- the group built a following through traded cassettes of live performances. 1994's Under the Table and Dreaming was their big breakthrough hit which saw them vault into the mainstream; constant touring and albums like 2009's Big Whiskey & the GrooGrux King kept the group there. No matter how many hits or changes in lineup they had, the band remained road warriors, returning to the studio on occasion to release albums like 2023's Walk Around the Moon. An emigrate from South Africa, Dave Matthews settled in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1986. While bartending at a local bar called Miller's, Matthews started to become part of the city's thriving college rock scene. He struck up a friendship with guitarist Tim Reynolds, who encouraged the fledgling singer/songwriter to pursue his muse. Once Matthews had a demo tape together in early 1991, he recruited musicians he admired, eventually bringing drummer Carter Beauford, bassist Stefan Lessard, saxophonist Leroi Moore, and violinist Boyd Tinsley on board, along with keyboardist Peter Griesar. Through constant gigging, the band built up a strong word-of-mouth that spread throughout the region; the buzz would go national in part due to a tape-trading network cultivated by the group's hardcore fans. Griesar left the lineup in March 1993, but the Dave Matthews Band moved ahead in his absence, releasing the independent album Remember Two Things later that year and issuing a live EP, Recently, in 1994. After fielding offers from major labels, the band signed with RCA and released their debut effort Under the Table and Dreaming in September 1994. By the following spring, the record had launched the hit single "What Would You Say" and sold over one million copies, thus setting the stage for an extremely successful career. A year and a half after the release of Under the Table and Dreaming, the record had sold over four million copies in the U.S. alone, propelled in part by the success of "Ants Marching" and "Satellite." The Dave Matthews Band responded by releasing 1996's Crash, which entered the charts at number two and quickly went platinum. The group spent the bulk of 1996 touring in support of the eclectic album, which reached multi-platinum status and spun off five successful singles, including the Grammy-nominated "Crash into Me." That same year, Matthews launched an attack on bootleggers in conjunction with the federal government, targeting stores that were selling semi-legal discs of live performances. The efforts of Matthews, his band, and his management resulted in an unprecedented crackdown on for-profit bootleggers in early 1997 -- with nearly all of the major foreign bootlegging companies placed under arrest by the United States -- thereby putting a moratorium on the entire underground industry. To further combat bootleggers, the Dave Matthews Band released an official double-disc live album, Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95, in the fall of 1997. It was an unexpected success, debuting at number three on the charts and selling a million copies within the first five months of its release. The live record paved the way for a string of future DMB concert recordings; it also drummed up support for the April 1998 release of Before These Crowded Streets, the group's most ambitious album to date. Another two-disc live effort, Listener Supported, followed one year later, and summer tours kept the band busy as the decade drew to a close. The new millennium, however, saw the band returning to the studio with producer Glen Ballard to record a fourth studio album, Everyday, which was issued in February 2001. Although notable for its slick, mainstream-minded sound -- not to mention the presence of electric guitar, which Matthews had never used on previous albums -- it was overshadowed by rumors of a darker album that had been recorded with Steve Lillywhite in 2000. Although the original album was rejected, the band eventually chose songs from those sessions, re-recorded several others, and released the results in July 2002 as Busted Stuff. Its debut single, "Where Are You Going," fared well on national radio, and the band rounded out 2002 with the release of Live at Folsom Field in November. Several years after releasing Live at Luther College, a concert album that did not feature his band, Dave Matthews released his first proper solo album in 2003. The moody and brooding Some Devil was supported by a "Dave Matthews & Friends" tour -- the "friends" being Trey Anastasio, Brady Blade, Tony Hall, Ray Paczkowski, and Tim Reynolds -- and the album's chief single, "Gravedigger," earned Matthews a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. Boyd Tinsley also released a solo album that year, but the Dave Matthews Band reconvened shortly thereafter, releasing two additional live albums (The Central Park Concert, The Gorge) and returning to the road in 2004. The bandmates also joined Bruce Springsteen's Vote for Change tour toward the end of the year, just as their mail-order-only DMB Live Trax series debuted. In early 2005, they launched a website that featured progress reports on their next album in the form of video footage, diaries, and soundbites. When the flawed Stand Up finally appeared in May, it was the band's first album of all-new material since 2001's Everyday. Like its three predecessors, Stand Up topped the charts, making DMB the only band other than U2 and Metallica to score four consecutive number one albums. Weekend on the Rocks, another live set, followed Stand Up at the end of 2005, and a two-disc compilation entitled The Best of What's Around, Vol. 1 collected studio material and unreleased live recordings one year later. Matthews and Tim Reynolds launched another joint tour in 2007, canvassing Europe and North America in the process. A performance from the latter continent was featured on the album Live at Radio City Music Hall, which served as a companion piece to 1999's Luther College. Meanwhile, the Dave Matthews Band released their own concert album, Live at Piedmont Park, and began working on new material, although the project was temporarily shelved during pre-production as the band diverted its focus to touring. The musicians returned to the studio the following year, but unfortunately, LeRoi Moore passed away before the record could be completed. The saxophonist had suffered a serious ATV accident in June and ultimately succumbed to his injuries two months later. Former Béla Fleck saxophonist Jeff Coffin joined in his place, and the band heralded his inclusion with the release of Live at the Mile High Music Festival, a three-disc set capturing a Colorado performance from that summer. Early the following year, the Dave Matthews Band paid tribute to Moore with the release of Big Whiskey & the GrooGrux King. The three-CD/one-DVD set Europe 2009, which chronicled a July 5, 2009 show in Lucca, Italy (CD) and a June 26, 2009 show at O2 Academy Brixton in London (DVD) arrived in December 2009. Additional performances were documented on 2010's Live in New York City and 2011's Live at Wrigley Field, the latter of which was released during the band's 20th anniversary. The Dave Matthews Band's seventh studio album, Away from the World, released in 2012, found them reuniting with producer Steve Lillywhite, who produced the band's first three studio albums. Away from the World debuted at number one upon its September 2012 release and found DMB embarking on another extensive international supporting tour, one distinguished by their first jaunt through South Africa. As Dave Matthews Band were prepping the album release cycle for their ninth album, Come Tomorrow, in early 2018, the band announced that Boyd Tinsley was stepping down. That news arrived in February; in May, he was fired after the revelation of a lawsuit alleging Tinsley sexually harassed a musician hired for his side project Crystal Garden. Tinsley was immediately replaced by keyboardist Buddy Strong. Come Tomorrow debuted at number one upon its June 2018 release; Tinsley appeared on only one track on the record. Dave Matthews Band returned to the road in 2021, playing summer tours that year and the next. Walk Around the Moon, the band's tenth album and first with Strong as a permanent member, appeared in May 2023. Produced by Rob Evans, Walk Around the Moon found Matthews in a particularly reflective mood, although it still found space for celebration.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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