The Dave Matthews Band played its first gig at a private party held on the roof of a downtown Charlottesville warehouse in May of 1991. On Saturday, DMB will play a sold-out show at John Paul Jones Arena and kick off its 25th anniversary summer tour, which includes 48 dates in almost as many cities, before the band takes time off from touring in 2017. Ahead of the epic road show, C-VILLE Weekly asked 10 local music people to talk about the band and its influence.
“Seeing them go from a local band to international stars probably encouraged a lot of hopes and dreams and showed what could be possible. Musically, I don’t think there was a whole lot of influence except that they were/are a very good band with excellent musicians that made other musicians want to get their shit together. I’d say their mentors and the people responsible for even getting that band together, such as John D’earth and others, had and have far more influence on the overall Charlottesville musical aesthetic.”
Music Resource Center, Beetnix
“There was a large influx of musicians to the Charlottesville area due to the success of DMB because they believed there was a vibrant local music scene in the area. Unfortunately, the success did not necessarily translate to a unified, greater locally supported music scene. That is not to say that there isn’t some support for local music, but the draw of a local music scene that could financially support a regularly gigging artist was/is not the reality of Charlottesville.”
Lauren Hoffman + The Secret Storm
“I was in middle school when my dad [Ross Hoffman] first had me listen to a demo tape of just Dave. I thought it was pretty great and told him so, and my dad seemed to think my approval meant a lot. Soon after that, Dave was at my dad’s apartment…working on ‘What Would You Say’ when I came in. They realized that this grunge-alterna girl did not like the ridiculous pop song they were working on. So they relished in tormenting me with it for the next half an hour while I hid behind my hair and bad attitude.”
“I always enjoy seeing them live to this day. I miss LeRoi [Moore]. I still remember playing with them one time and they were a bit late. ‘Where were you guys?’ ‘Playing a day gig. Sorry.’ They busted their asses, and it has, and will continue to, pay off big.”
White Star Sound (songwriter/producer)
“I used to bear more than a passing physical resemblance to Dave [and] was in a band that Red Light was helping out, as were my friends in Agents of Good Roots. I happened to tag along when they toured as the opening act for DMB in ’98. One night I helped load onto the stage when, suddenly, the place erupted in deafening cheers as I, misidentified, confirmed every suspicion these 15,000 people had about Dave—that he was just the kind of guy who would be helping the opening band carry their guitar amps.”
The Skip Castro Band
“The first time they played Trax on a Tuesday night, I ran into LeRoi on the Downtown Mall, and he said, ‘Come check out my new band.’ They started playing, and my world changed color. The hair stood up on the back of my head, and my hands were shaking. Coran Capshaw came up and asked, ‘What do you think?’ All I could say was, ‘If this band doesn’t make it, there is no God.’ He said, ‘Yeah I was thinking the same thing.’”
“I remember thinking when I heard ‘Satellite’ and ‘What Would You Say’ for the first time that they were creating such a new sound, that the whole rock scene would shift toward what they were doing. He was singing in a way that was very strange but cool—phrasing like a jazz artist on a sax or horn.”
“When Seven Mary Three was starting out, we opened up for DMB at the outdoor amphitheater at William & Mary. This would have been one of our first real, ‘Oh shit, we need to play well’ shows. I remember we were too loud, too just-out-of-the-garage and too unprofessional for the crowd. I watched DMB’s set and realized we needed to practice a lot more.”
“I started writing songs in the early ’90s and was encouraged by friends, including David and LeRoi, to record my first record, which they both played and sang on. Red Light Management was instrumental in getting me on the road and exposed to audiences all over the country. [But] I still think there are ways they could be even more active in cultivating local music. DMB isn’t the beginning and end of the Charlottesville music scene.
“All roads lead back to Trax when Coran was the owner/manager and began managing DMB and bringing great music to Charlottesville for the first time. Today we take having amazing music to hear every week for granted.”
Sons of Bill
“The coolest part of the whole DMB story to me is that the original lineup came from John D’earth’s Thursday night jazz band.
“I was deep into distinctly unpopular ’80s metal during the height of his popularity, so I never really went through a Dave phase personally. But, Before These Crowded Streets is a record that has truly stood up over time. I remember seeing the video for ‘Don’t Drink the Water’ and thinking, ‘Damn Dave. That’s pretty metal.’”
See a photo gallery of the different C–VILLE Weekly covers Dave Matthews Band has graced in the last 25 years on our Instagram account @cvilleweekly.