Artist and Musician Biographies

Dave Matthews Band

Here is a YouTube Mix of music by the Dave Matthews Band.

The music world was ready for a new sound and that's what it got when the Dave Matthews Band broke into the mainstream with their Under The Table and Dreaming album in 1994. The band's roots stem from Charlottesville, Virginia (home of the University of Virginia) where its lead singer and founder Dave Matthews worked as a bartender in a local college pub called Millers.

Matthews was born in South Africa in 1967, but relocated to New York City as a toddler. He returned to South Africa at the age of 13 when his father passed away and finished high school there. He moved to the US again in 1986, when he was 19, and settled in Charlottesville. The years in South Africa exposed Dave to a number of diverse musical influences and in all probability accounts for the use of what is called "world music" in much of his work.

He met the men who would become the Dave Matthews Band in Charlottesville. By 1990, the band had been formed and consisted of Matthews on guitar and vocals, Boyd Tinsley on the violin, Carter Beauford on percussion, Steffan Lessard on bass, and Leroi Moore on saxophone and various other woodwind instruments. At that point they expected that the name of the band would eventually be changed, but as we know today, the name stayed the same.

In 1993, the band released their first self-produced, self-marketed album, Remember Two Things. The record was only available from the band's office, but amazingly, it sold over 10,000 copies a month. Not bad for a burgeoning rock band with no major record label. With the success of Remember Two Things, the band soon found itself with a choice of major record labels.

RCA Records offered the contract that would allow the band the most creative freedom and so the Dave Matthews Band signed on. Having been created entirely on their own and free from the designs of record-company-created music, the band burst onto the mainstream stage with their second album, Under The Table and Dreaming in 1994. It was produced by Steve Lillywhite, a man who had worked with groups like Talking Heads, U2 and the Rolling Stones.

Under the Table and Dreaming entered the American charts at number 34 and continued rising. The tune of the single "What Would You Say" floated through many a head after the release of this album. The electricity of this multi-cultural band with a variety of instruments was undeniable. Dave Matthews himself offered a voice with a range of expression likened to that of Sting (of the Police). But certainly his voice is not the band and Matthews considers his band to be a collaboration of five leading "voices," though they are not all human voices, but the voices of instruments. Often the instrumental sounds carry the songs of the band. Surely, the absence of one of the members would be sorely felt. Like the other great touring band of the 1990's, Phish, the Dave Matthews Band fits into the genre of rock, but is really a hybrid band dabbling in many styles of music, including jazz and world music.

Early critical reception to the band was often negative and the group was scorned by rock critics as indulging in overblown frat rock. This of course has all changed and now the group is viewed seriously by the critical establishment as a successor to the improvisational concert band tradition of the Grateful Dead.

Although Under the Table and Dreaming was a huge success, an even bigger wave of Dave Matthews-mania was felt by the release of their third album, Crash in 1996 that soon found itself at number two on the charts. The title track from this recording was nominated for two Grammy awards. Other singles from this record also received their share of radio airtime like "So Much To Say" and "Tripping Billies." The Dave Matthews Band was definitely a household name by this time and the record sales between Under the Table and Dreaming and Crash reached over 10 million. While record sales were impressive, the Dave Matthews Band concerts were even more so spectacular. Often playing at small venues near college campuses, the band offered an ideal situation in which to experience their passionately varied music.

Much of their music offers powerful bursts of instrumental creativity, as can be heard in "Two Step" from the Crash album. Like their contemporaries Phish and their predecessors, the Grateful Dead, a Dave Matthews Band concert displays innovative improvisation that makes each concert unique. In an attempt to capture some of the personality of the live concert, the band made two live recordings, Live at Luther College and Listener Supported in 1999.

After Crash, a year of intense touring ensued, leaving the band exhausted. There was much demand from the public at this time to produce more original, new music. In 1997, the group began working on another album. In 1998, they came out with Before These Crowded Streets and successfully overthrew the reigning soundtrack from the motion picture Titanic in the charts. A plethora of successful songs with the eclectic, passionate quality expected from the Dave Matthews Band can be found on this album. Among them is, "Rapunzel", a ballad of Matthew's veneration of women as well as "Don't Drink the Water" and "Crush." The talents of other artists are also featured on Before These Crowded StreetsAlanis Morissette and Bela Fleck and the Kronos String Quartet.

The Dave Matthews Band continued with live concerts another album, Everyday, in February of 2001. A current discography of music by the Dave Matthews Band appears on AllMusic.

Page author: N.G.