They were, however, in need of bass player. When a fellow musician at the bar recommended a local high school student (also of a jazz background), they decided to bring him in. The 16 year old Stefan Lessard played well, and, after getting his parents permission, dropped out of school to tour full-time.
The band played their first gig on May 11, 1991 at a private rooftop party.
By 1997, the band had reached great popularity across the country and, to some degree, the world. To combat an increasingly profitable bootleg market, the band released a live album, Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95. This album featured popular songs from the band's three previous albums and included longtime collaborator and guitarist Tim Reynolds. In late 1997 the band returned to the studio with producer Steve Lillywhite and an array of collaborators, including banjoist Béla Fleck, vocalist Alanis Morissette, guitarist Tim Reynolds, keyboardist Butch Taylor, and the Kronos Quartet, to compose and record Before These Crowded Streets, their third album with RCA. Before These Crowded Streets represented a great change in direction. Instead of relying on upbeat hit singles, the album as a whole stunned many with its complexity.
In 1999 Dave Matthews released a solo live album, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds Live at Luther College, from a 1996 acoustic concert played by Matthews and longtime friend guitarist Tim Reynolds, and the band released a live album, Listener Supported, a concert from September 1999 that was also partially shown on PBS.
During the year 2000, the band set up its own recording studio in a large house in the country outside Charlottesville, Virginia. With longtime producer Steve Lillywhite at the helm, the band began work on a fourth studio album. Heavily influenced by personal conflicts, notably the death of his uncle and his resulting alcoholism, the songs recorded with Lillywhite rank as some of the darkest Matthews has ever written. The band's attentions wandered during the seemingly never-ending recording sessions; they spent more time riding four-wheelers through the countryside and playing video games than writing or recording music. In the end, the studio sessions were a failure. In August of 2000 the sessions were scrapped and the band's seven-year relationship with Lillywhite was over. Some believe the band was unhappy with the atmosphere of the songs and frustrated with Lillywhite's often perfectionist style of production, while others believe Lillywhite was made into a scapegoat for the band's lack of professionalism during the recording sessions.
In October 2000, an energized Matthews began writing with Glen Ballard, most famous for his work with Alanis Morissette. The band soon joined Matthews in a Los Angeles studio, quickly recording what was to become Everyday. While the album gave the band a much-needed fresh start, Ballard's slick pop-music approach to production was very different from the creative process used to produce previous studio albums. In the end, the album was completed but the band seemed unsatisfied. Drummer Carter Beauford's sarcastic jibe that the band had "charts and everything" ready for them shines light on a session where the band, which had in the past collectively composed its music, was turned into a backing band for Matthews with no creative input. The February 2001 release of Everyday was a huge commercial success—the singles "I Did It", "The Space Between" and "Everyday" gained the band an even larger level of popularity. But like the band itself, the fanbase was disappointed with the release. Its poppy, slick sound (including Dave Matthews' first ever recording sessions on electric guitar) was a great departure from the band's previous work and the complete antithesis of the songs recorded with Lillywhite.
The conflict came full circle when, in March of 2001, the 2000 studio sessions with producer Steve Lillywhite were leaked on the internet. Over established internet channels such as the Dave Matthews Band Mailing List, the tracks spread like wildfire. Better known as The Lillywhite Sessions, this rough album was universally lauded by both the fanbase and the popular press. After critical comparison of the two simultaneous albums, many fans were frustrated with the band's decision to scrap the work in exchange for "Everyday". Tracks such as "Bartender", "Grey Street", "Captain", and "Grace is Gone" caused many to wonder aloud whether the band had thrown away its best (albeit unfinished) work.
The Lillywhite Sessions would, however, finally have their chance to shine. In response to overwhelming fan support, coupled with a popular and widely publicized online campaign known as the Release Lillywhite Recordings Campaign, the band returned to the studio in 2002 to record Busted Stuff. Produced by Stephen Harris, the recording engineer under Lillywhite on previous albums, the resulting CD provided new treatments of much of the Lillywhite Sessions material, along with newly written songs "You Never Know" and the hit singles "Where Are You Going?" and "Grey Street". Busted Stuff received moderate critical and commercial success and was generally well-received by the band's fanbase. Later that year the band released its fourth live album, Live at Folsom Field, Boulder, Colorado, recorded July 11, 2001. The live release highlighted songs from both Everyday and Busted Stuff. On September 24, 2003 Dave Matthews Band reached another milestone in the history of the band when they played a free concert on the Great Lawn in Central Park, New York City to benefit New York City schools. A live recording of that show was released later that year as The Central Park Concert on CD and DVD.
2004 saw the band release more music than any previous year. In June, Dave Matthews Band: The Gorge, a combination 2-CD/1-DVD set with highlights from their 3-night tour closer at The Gorge in George, WA from 2002, was sold in stores. The Band also exclusively released a 6-disc CD set from the same run featuring all three nights, with each night spanning across two CDs. Later in the year it was announced that highlights from the Band's extensive live archives would be available for purchase via the official website. The first such release, Live Trax Vol. 1, featured guests Tim Reynolds, Béla Fleck, and Jeff Coffin and had been nearly universally accepted as one of the greatest shows in the Band's history. The second release, Live Trax Vol. 2, included guitarist Carlos Santana and gave fans previews of newly-penned songs "Joy Ride", "Hello Again," and "Sugar Will," all at the time presumed to be destined for release on a new studio album in 2005, though only "Hello Again" was actually included on the album's subsequent release. The other songs that debuted during the summer of 2004—"Crazy-Easy," "Good Good Time," "Joy Ride," and "Sugar Will"—were all absent during the duration of the 2005 touring season.
In August 2004, the band became notoriously famous when up to 800-gallons of their raw human waste was dumped from their tour bus through the Kinzie Street Bridge in Chicago onto passengers aboard a sightseeing boat below.
In the fall of 2004, the Dave Matthews Band returned to their studio in Charlottesville, Virginia with a new producer, Mark Batson. The band considered itself to be at a crucial crossroads in its evolution. The negative reaction of many of its fans to Everyday and the middling success of Busted Stuff, coupled with Dave Matthews' belief that the band has not made a great album since Before These Crowded Streets, all worked to create a sense of eagerness, if not urgency, on the part of the band to create a stellar album. Stand Up was released on May 10, 2005, debuting at #1 on the Billboard charts with sales of 465,000. Fan reaction towards the album was mixed, with some feeling that the band had received new energy and others feeling that it was too simplistic. Stand Up spawned the hit singles "American Baby," and "Dreamgirl." The band supported the album with a summer-long tour culminating in a four-night stand at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where they recorded their first live album ten years earlier. On the third night of the stand, the fans started a massive "Halloween" chant, a favorite song off the album Before These Crowded Streets. Although the song is rarely played, the band gave into the chant and played an impromptu version of it. Old and new fans alike were delighted. The proceeds from the fourth Red Rocks show, which totalled over $1 million, went entirely to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Dave Matthews Band embarked on a brief tour in the fall of 2005, with dates throughout November and December. Overall, the 2005 winter tour was quite a success. It featured the return of old school songs such as "Minarets," "Halloween," "Pig," "Christmas Song," and "Recently." The 2005 Red Rocks concerts were released on November 29 as a "best of" CD/DVD combo entitled Weekend on the Rocks. The Complete Weekend On The Rocks, a box set of all four Red Rocks concerts, is also exclusively available from DMB's official store.
The band returned to the studio in March of 2006 before embarking on their annual summer tour, which will feature, as of now, 51 shows across North America, beginning May 30 in St. Louis, Missouri and concluding on September 23 in their hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. In addition, the band will also appear at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on April 29th. Notable omissions from the initial tour itinerary include the Chicago market, as well as the Boston market. Since that time, rumors of a two-night stand at Boston's Fenway Park in July have been officially confirmed by the band, and will take place on July 7th and 8th. Chicago also finally got a date at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in nearby Tinley Park, Illinois slated for September 15th.
The Artists
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Dave Matthews Band
Dave Matthews Band is an American rock band, originally formed in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1991 by singer and guitarist Dave Matthews, bassist Stefan Lessard, Leroi Moore, who plays a wide variety of instruments from the saxophone to the flute, violin player Boyd Tinsley, drummer Carter Beauford, and keyboardist Peter Griesar (who left the band in 1993), all of whom Dave met in Charlottesville. Since 1998 the band has performed at most of their shows with keyboardist Butch Taylor, although he is not officially a member of the band. Moore, Beauford, Tinsley and Taylor also do back up vocals.
In lieu of military service, a Quaker-raised Matthews attended the University of Virginia beginning in 1986. He had played piano and guitar as a child, as was beginning to decide that he wanted a career in music. Working as a bartender in Charlottesville, Virginia, he started to encounter jazz musicians, who had some local fame in their own right. After hours jam sessions turned into an idea for a band.
Before These Crowded Streets
24 - Don't Drink the Water
Stand Up
25 - Dreamgirl
26 - American Baby
27 - Too Much