Dave Matthews Band is back! If you are a big DMB fan like I am, you might be asking what I mean by that. All you have to do is look at one of the DMB related Facebook groups and realize that to most fans, people still live, eat and breath DMB.
But the reality is the band took a break from touring last year for the first time in 25 years. Their last studio album – Away from the World – was released back in 2012. And, original member Boyd Tinsley was fired from the band about a month ago due to allegations of sexual misconduct against a former member of his side project Crystal Garden. So, for people who are not die-hard DMB fans, you might have thought they had disappeared for a while.
Well, I just saw the first 3 of my 11 shows this summer, and they are back with a vengeance! Their new studio album – Come Tomorrow – was released on June 8th and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 charts. They are back this summer with a full tour. They’ve added keyboardist Buddy Strong to the line-up. And, they seem to be having more fun than they’ve had in a long time.
As I’ve become more and more involved in the DMB community of fans, I’ve learned that you can’t make everyone happy. There will still be people that complain about the set lists. And there will be people that can’t get over Tinsley’s absence. You can read about my “7 Stages of DMB” here:
But my view after seeing three shows, is that DMB sounds better than ever, and they are having fun playing again. So just enjoy it and be happy the band is still doing their thing night after night this summer.
Keep reading to find out more about the first three shows of my DMB summer tour!
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ABOUT THE BAND
Dave Matthews Band (or DMB to their fan base) was formed in Charlottesville, VA in 1991. Matthews had moved to Charlottesville and was working as a bartender at Miller’s, when he became friends with Ross Hoffman. With some encouragement from Hoffman, Matthews made a demo of some songs that he had been working on. Matthews approached Carter Beauford (drums) and LeRoi Moore (saxophone) – both of whom were local musicians – and asked them to work with him on the songs. They both agreed and the very early stages of DMB was born.
The newly formed band needed a bass player, and 15-year-old Stefan Lessard was recommended to the band by another local musician – John D’earth. Peter Griesar was a bartender at Miller’s and a keyboardist. After joining the guys in a few rehearsal sessions, Griesar officially joined the band as well.
Dave, Carter, LeRoi and Stefan played their first gig on March 14, 1991 at Trax, which was a local music venue in Charlottesville. In 1992, Boyd Tinsley (violinist) officially joined the band, and DMB started playing every Tuesday night at Trax. The band became popular with local college students who attended UVA. The students would “tape” the shows, and started sharing the tapes with their friends. Word about the band spread across the country.
On November 9, 1993, DMB released their first album – Remember Two Things – on their own Bama Rags label.
Over the last 25+ years, the band has gone through a number of changes. Peter Griesar left the band in March of 1993. Butch Taylor (keyboardist) became a frequent guest beginning in 1998, and was part of the band from 2001 – 2008. Tim Reynolds (guitar) was also a frequent guest with the band, and became an official member in 2008.
But the biggest change for the band was the unexpected death of founding member LeRoi Moore, who tragically died after being in an ATV accident on his farm in Charlottesville in 2008. Even 10 years later, many fans of the band mourn his loss. While the gap in the horn section was filled by Rashawn Ross (trumpet) and Jeff Coffin (saxophone), die-hard fans will tell you that they can never match the distinct sounds of Moore.
In 2018, DMB has gone through yet another transformation, after firing Tinsley. They brought on a new keyboardist – Buddy Strong – who seems to be filling the spots where Tinsley’s violin used to play.
Their latest studio album – Come Tomorrow – is a mixture of brand new songs never heard, newer songs that they have been playing live for a couple of years but never recorded, and old songs that were never recorded but have been re-imagined for the new album.
DMB SHOW #1 – JUNE 9TH – JIFFY LUBE LIVE – BRISTOW, VA
The last time I saw the full band perform live, was at The Gorge in September of 2016. So, I was excited to see DMB at my first show of the summer in Bristow. In addition to the show, we were throwing a big tailgate party with some friends, so we were keeping an eye on the weather forecast as they were calling for some storms.
Trying to stay optimistic, it looked like we were likely going to be rained on at some point, but it wasn’t going to be a wash out. So, I armed myself with a Ziploc bag for my phone and a change of clothes in case I needed it. We got a few brief showers during the tailgate. When it got to be time to go in, we got in the car to grab our tickets and head inside. Before we could get out, a deluge of rain started coming down. Since we had pit tickets and knew we would be under the roof once we were inside, we decided to make a run for it and try and get into the venue. Big mistake!
Because of the bad storms, the venue shut the gates and wouldn’t let anyone in. So, we spent over an hour standing under a tree waiting for the storms to pass. The good news is that the weather eventually cleared and we made it into the venue. The bad news is that the show didn’t start until after 9:30 p.m. (with an advertised original start time of 8:00 p.m., although the band typically doesn’t take the stage until closer to 8:30 p.m.), which meant that even with playing past the standard curfew, we were going to get a compressed show. The good news is that a short show is better than no show!
As soon as Dave took the stage, he apologized to the crowd for the delay and thanked everyone for sticking around. He said that they were going to play as many songs as they could, until the venue dragged them off the stage.
If you have been to any DMB shows, you know that they tend to have pretty long “jam sessions” on several of their songs. It was clear that for this show, Dave was trying to get as many songs in as possible, so the typical jam sessions were limited.
Even with the shorter versions of everything, there were still a few songs on the originally planned set list that were cut. However, we got a nice mix of old and new. DMB played the updated version of “Can’t Stop”, as well as new songs “Do You Remember”, “That Girl is You” and “She” (which was a tour debut). We also got some classics like “Warehouse”, “#41”, and “Lying in the Hands of God”.
The addition of Buddy Strong seems to have brought a new energy to the band. As this was the first time seeing the band live without Tinsley, I was most concerned about how “Ants Marching” would sound without the violin. I did miss Tinsley’s solos on the song, but DMB did a great job of utilizing the keys and the horns to fill the gap.
The band played until almost midnight before the venue kicked them off the stage. All in all, it was a good show under the circumstances. I would have been a little disappointed if it was my only show of the summer, but luckily, I have 10 more!
Set List (click on any link to purchase the song directly on Amazon): Don’t Drink the Water, Can’t Stop, Warehouse, Do You Remember, #41, Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin), You Might Die Trying, Lying in the Hands of God, That Girl Is You, The Song That Jane Likes, You & Me, She, Ants Marching, Sister, Louisiana Bayou
DMB SHOW #2 – JUNE 15TH – BB&T PAVILION – CAMDEN, NJ – N1
Camden is our “home” venue, and the two-night stand in Camden has historically been some of the best shows on the tour. The weather was beautiful, so after tailgating with friends we headed inside excited to get a “full” show.
DMB opened the show with new song “That Girl Is You”, but proceeded to play some of their classics like “The Space Between” and “Warehouse”.
The N1 crowd got a few special treats. The band debuted their new song “Come On Come On”, which also featured NJ based trumpet player Matt Cappy as a guest. Cappy also guested on “Jimi Thing”. Jazz guitarist Mark Whitfield of the Whitfield Family Band, absolutely knocked it out of the park on “Jimi Thing” and “Satellite”.
Even though they played “Tripping Billies”, which was originally a song that relied a lot on the violin, I felt the loss of Tinsley much less during this show. To me, it’s a testament to the talent this band has.
Dave, Carter and Rashawn returned to the stage after the encore break with “Sister”. The whole band returned to close out the show with “Grey Street”.
Set List (click on any link to purchase the song directly on Amazon): That Girl Is You, Louisiana Bayou, What Would You Say, The Space Between, Warehouse, Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin), Recently, Come On Come On, The Song That Jane Likes, Jimi Thing, Satellite, Funny the Way It Is, She, Gravedigger, So Much to Say, Tripping Billies, You & Me, You Might Die Trying Encore: Sister, Grey Street
DMB SHOW #3 – JUNE 16TH – BB&T PAVILION – CAMDEN, NJ – N2
Night 2 in Camden is historically a great show (never miss a N2!). Expectations were even higher, as the band announced that they were doing a free live stream of the show. Dave told the crowd on N1 that he had celebrated National Bourbon Day with the horn section the night before. He mentioned that again, and said they celebrated National Tequila Day the night before N2 (even though Google tells me that it isn’t until July 24th). I’m not sure if it was the tequila, or the fact that they were live streaming the show, but the band was on fire!
Along with new songs “Again and Again”, “Do You Remember” and “Samurai Cop”, the show started off with some classics that are always great to hear – “One Sweet World”, “Seven” and “Crush”.
And then they played “Don’t Drink the Water”. Wow! Mind blown! I have seen DMB more than 60 times and have seen that song live dozens of times, and this was the best version I have ever heard. Carter was amazing!
The great set list kept going with songs like “Lie In Our Graves”, Steady As We Go”, “The Idea of You”, and “Lying in the Hands of God” which included Dave’s primal screaming on the American Baby Intro interpolation.
I even have to say that I enjoyed “Stand Up”, which is not typically a fan favorite. I thought Buddy Strong shined on the song and added a great funkiness to it – not only with his keys, but with his singing.
For the last song of the main set, DMB played “Ants Marching” again. They alternated the horns, guitar and keys to fill the void where Tinsley’s violin would have been, and I have to say I didn’t miss Tinsley at all on this version.
The encore set featured “Digging A Ditch”, which is always a treat to hear. I particularly liked the look Dave gave the audience towards the end of the song when he sang the lyrics “Unplug the tv and turn off your phone”. DMB wrapped the show with “Pantal Naga Pampa” into “Rapunzel”.
Set List (click on any link to purchase the song directly on Amazon): Again and Again, One Sweet World, Seven, Do You Remember, Crush, Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin), Don’t Drink the Water, #41, Come Tomorrow, Lie In Our Graves, Steady As We Go, Can’t Stop, Lying In the Hands of God (with ABI), The Idea of You, Stand Up, Come On Come On, Why I Am, The Best of What’s Around, Ants Marching Encore: Digging a Ditch, Pantala Naga Pampa, Rapunzel
If you have been hesitant to see the band because of the new songs and the loss of Tinsley, don’t be. If you thought DMB was washed up, they are not. This band is re-energized. They all have big smiles on their faces throughout the show. They appear to be thoroughly enjoying themselves and being on stage together. DMB is back, and it makes me happy!
I have two more “legs” of my summer tour. I’ll be doing a NJ/NY leg – SPAC, Jones Beach and Holmdel – in July. Then I’ll be wrapping up the summer with a west coast run at Bend and The Gorge. Stay tuned to find out where the band goes from here!
Are you a DMB fan? What do you think of the new album? Have you caught them on tour yet this summer? Do the boys have their mojo back? Let us know what you think by commenting below or e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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