The story of the Dave Matthews Band begins in early 1991 in Charlottesville, VA. David J. Matthews, a bartender at a local hangout called Miller's had been working for the past two years with friends in Charlottesville’s music scene to put some songs he had written on tape. Recording in the studio of Chapman Stick-player Greg Howard, and utilizing the musical talents of guitarist Tim Reynolds and jazz trumpeter John D'earth, Dave recorded several demos and started looking for more players who could compliment his unique guitar-playing style. Dave first approached drummer Carter Beauford, an accomplished musician who had played in a jazz-fusion band called Secrets, along with John D'earth and future DMB keyboardist Butch Taylor. Next, Dave approached saxophonist LeRoi Moore, a frequent performer at Miller's and other venues around Charlottesville. Based on the recommendation of John D'earth, 16-year-old musical prodigy Stefan Lessard was invited to play bass. Completing the band was keyboardist Peter Griesar, who had played with LeRoi and Tim Reynolds in a band called The Basics, and who was also bartending at Miller’s with Dave.
In the spring of 1991, the Dave Matthews Band recorded their first demo. Feeling that there was something missing from the future fan-favorite "Tripping Billies," violinist Boyd Tinsley of the Boyd Tinsley Band was brought in to guest on the track. Everyone was so pleased with Boyd's addition to DMB's sound that he was invited as a guest for the band's first public performance at Charlottesville's Earth Day Festival on April 20, 1991. Their first paid gig was a few weeks later on May 11, 1991 - a private party on the rooftop of the South Street Warehouse, in which they collected about $70 by passing around a hat.
October 22, 1991 marked DMB's first performance at the Trax Nightclub in Charlottesville. Weekly gigs soon followed, and after a time the band was also playing regular shows at The Flood Zone in nearby Richmond.
1992 was a busy year for the young Dave Matthews Band. The band was playing regular gigs at Trax and Flood Zone, building a loyal and ever-growing fan base. By May, Boyd had officially joined DMB, and the band had performed its first radio show for WTJU 91.1 FM in Charlottesville on May 5, 1992. They also started branching out into neighboring states. May 11, 1992 marked the band's first out-of-state performance, at the Atlantis in Nags Head, NC. Soon the band would be crisscrossing Virginia and the surrounding states in a red van.
All this time on the road gave DMB the chance to add songs to their catalog. Future album singles like "What Would You Say," "Ants Marching," and "So Much To Say" were all in rotation by this time, as well as rarities that would soon disappear from the sets, such as "People People," "Spotlight," and "Blue Water." These early songs were captured for future generations of DMB fans to hear thanks to the band's taping policy, which encouraged fans to bring their own recording rigs, or - in the early days - plug directly into the band's soundboard.
In many ways, 1993 was a year of transition for DMB. The first major change was the loss of Peter Griesar. The crammed touring schedule, which had the band traveling across Virginia and beyond in increasingly larger venues was not the kind of atmosphere that Griesar preferred to play in. After his final show on March 23, 1993, Griesar left the band amicably and later pursued a solo career. DMB soldiered on, however, and played a number of stellar performances that spring. One that stands out was the April 10, 1993 performance at The Bayou – DMB’s first show in Washington, DC. The show was later released as part of the DMBLive series.
1993 also saw the first of what would become a series of acoustic shows featuring Dave and long-time friend and fellow guitarist Tim Reynolds. One of their first performances as a duo was at the Prism Coffeehouse in Charlottesville on April 22, 1993. This show would later be released as part of the DMBLive series.
DMB's increased visibility also drew the attention of major record labels, but the band was initially hesitant about signing a contract. Instead, they compiled a set of studio takes and live performances recorded at Trax, Flood Zone, and The Muse during the fall of 1993. Remember Two Things was released on November 3, 1993 on the band's own Bama Rags label. The album debuted on College charts as the highest independent entry, and went on to be certified gold by the RIAA - a significant accomplishment for an independent album.
DMB released the Recently EP on March 1, 1994 to satisfy hungry fans who were desperate for new music. The EP featured a radio edit of the "Recently" performance from Remember Two Things, as well as Dave & Tim performances of "Dancing Nancies" and "Warehouse," followed by full band performances of the Bob Dylan cover "All Along The Watchtower" and "Halloween," all recorded live the previous February. Two other shows of note were Irving Plaza in New York City on March 26, 1994 and Town Point Park in nearby Norfolk on April 26, 1994. These were later released as part of the DMBLive series.
Now with a few live recordings under their belt, DMB felt it was time to release a studio album. After signing with RCA records early in the year, the band was introduced to producer Steve Lillywhite – famous for his work with Peter Gabriel and U2. The band soon recorded its studio album debut, Under The Table and Dreaming, which was released on September 27, 1994. Singles for the album were “What Would You Say,” “Ants Marching,” and “Satellite.”
Shortly before Under The Table and Dreaming’s release, DMB embarked on their first national tour. The tour was full of sold out dates across the country, including a fantastic performance on October 22, 1994 at the Blue Note in Columbia, MO. The show was later released as part of the DMBLive series. Shortly thereafter, the band performed their first European gigs in Amsterdam and London. DMB ended 1994 as one of the hottest up and coming live acts in America.
More success would follow in 1995. DMB made their national television debut on the Late Show with David Letterman on February 24, 1995, performing “What Would You Say.” They also had two short European tours in March/April and June/July, introducing their music to even more fans.
The US summer tour contained some of the band’s finest performances to date. On August 15, 1995 the band played a stellar show at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO. This show would later become Live At Red Rocks, the first of the band’s official live album releases. Other notable performances from that tour were one of the band’s first West Coast shows, on May 5, 1995, at the L. B. Day Amphitheater in Salem, OR, the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco, CA on May 10, 1995, and the Meadow Brook Music Festival in Rochester Hills, MI on August 23, 1995. The Oregon and Michican concerts were later released as part of the Live Trax series, while the California show became part of the DMBLive series.
By the fall of 1995, the band was ready to return to the studio with Steve Lillywhite to record their next album. Under The Table and Dreaming had been certified four times platinum by the RIAA, and the pressure was on to create a proper follow-up. The band would revisit some of their earliest tunes, as well as try out new songs like “#41” and “Proudest Monkey.”
1996 began with the first acoustic tour for Dave and Tim Reynolds. The short February tour of college campuses gave fans an opportunity to hear familiar tunes in a new way, as well as get a preview of the new songs from the upcoming album. Of particular note is the February 6, 1996 show, which was later released as Live at Luther College. It would be the first official release of a Dave & Tim show. Live at Luther College debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart and has since been certified platinum by the RIAA.
Finally, the band was ready to release their second studio album. Crash was released on April 30, 1996, and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart. Singles for the album were “Too Much,” “So Much To Say,” “Crash Into Me,” and “Tripping Billies.” The band held a release party concert that night at the Classic Amphitheatre in Richmond. The show was later released as part of the Live Trax series.
Following the release of Crash, DMB embarked on more sets of national and international tours. They ended the year with an incredible New Years Eve show at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, VA. This show marked the first-ever guest appearance by the entire Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, a bluegrass/jazz ensemble that would continue to have a close relationship with DMB in following years. The show was later released as part of the Live Trax series.
1997 was a special year for the members of DMB. The year began with a request by the recently re-elected Clinton Administration to play at one of the president’s inaugural balls on January 19, 1997. Another highlight was the Grammy Awards on February 26, 1997. After several nominations over the years, DMB succeeded in winning the Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “So Much To Say.”
Dave began his touring schedule with another acoustic tour with Tim Reynolds, and followed with a block of DMB tour dates across North America. Though elevated to the level of national pop stardom, DMB continued to do things precisely as it had from day one: organically, with a grass roots mentality.
To compete with the growing supply of over-priced, illegal bootlegs surfacing in record stores, RCA released DMB’s first full concert live album, Live At Red Rocks 8.15.95 on October 28, 1997. Without any marketing or promotion, Live at Red Rocks debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 chart and was instantly certified platinum. The overwhelming success of the album would spur a string of official live releases, as well as the Live Trax and DMBLive series.
DMB ended the year by reaching new heights. The band had the honor of opening for the Rolling Stones on selected dates in November and December. They were also busy writing songs for their follow-up to Crash.
For the Dave Matthews Band, 1998 was another year of transition. It began with another round of recording sessions with producer Steve Lillywhite. The sessions were a mix of song ideas the band had been working for several years, as well as a large group of new compositions. The result was Before These Crowded Streets, which was released on April 28, 1998. The critically acclaimed album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart – the band’s strongest debut to date. Singles for the album were “Don’t Drink The Water,” “Stay (Wasting Time),” and “Crush.”
DMB hit the road on a series of national and international tours, selling out amphitheaters, arenas, and (for the first time) stadiums. New tunes from the album quickly evolved into fan favorites. DMB also chose to bring along musicians that had made guest appearances on Before These Crowded Streets. Banjoist Béla Fleck; backup vocalists Tawatha Agee, Cindy Myzell, and Brenda White King (known by DMB fans as the Lovely Ladies); keyboardist Butch Taylor; and guitarist Tim Reynolds all made appearances on the road.
The band ended the year with a short winter tour, delivering some of their most impressive performances to date. Highlights include an amazing performance on December 8, 1998 at the Centrum Centre in Worcester, MA, later released as the first album in the Live Trax series. The band’s final show of the year, on December 19, 1998 in Chicago’s United Center, was DMB’s first show to be webcast live over the Internet. It was later officially released as Live in Chicago.
DMB also spent 1998 looking for ways to reach out to their ever-growing fan base. That year, DMB’s official website was launched, complete with band bios and tour dates. Also that year was the founding of the official DMB fanclub, known as The Warehouse. For a yearly fee, Warehouse members would get first dibs on concert tickets, a membership package with exclusive DMB merchandise, and other perks.
There was no rest Dave Matthews, who started the New Year with yet another Dave & Tim acoustic tour. This time, the duo was able to promote their shows with the release of 1996’s Live at Luther College on January 19, 1999. Fans had the opportunity to hear their favorite tracks from Before These Crowded Streets in an acoustic setting, as well as the debut of new tunes like “Bartender” and “Digging A Ditch,” slated to appear on DMB’s upcoming fourth studio album.
After another successful summer tour, the band traveled to New Jersey’s Continental Airlines Arena, where their September 11, 1999 performance was videotaped for future broadcast on PBS. Based on the successful sales of Live at Red Rocks and Live at Luther College, the show was chosen as the third installment of officially released live albums. Titled Listener Supported, the show was released on November 23, 1999. The video of the show was released on VHS and later DVD, making this the first of DMB’s video releases. The album was quickly certified double platinum, and the video has sold over a million copies as well.
Dave Matthews Band spent the first half of 2000 in the studio with Steve Lillywhite working on the follow-up to Before These Crowded Streets. This time, the majority of songs would be new ideas that had never been performed live. The sessions were more difficult than originally anticipated, and the band chose to begin their annual summer tour and road test the new tunes before finishing up the album.
Once again the band crisscrossed the U.S., playing plenty of old favorites while at the same time introducing fans to new tunes like “Busted Stuff,” “Sweet Up And Down,” and “JTR.” Also joining the band on the road was keyboardist Butch Taylor, who would appear during most of the shows of the tour. Three highlights of this tour are the June 26, 2000 show at the Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, OH, the August 27, 2000 performance at the Meadows Music Theatre in Hartford, CT and the August 29, 2000 show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY. These shows were later released as part of the Live Trax series. By the end of the tour, DMB had been recognized as the top-grossing touring band in the U.S.
After finishing the summer tour, DMB returned to the studio, but found that the difficulties from earlier in the year were still present. It was agreed that a fresh approach to the album was needed, and Dave Matthews Band and Steve Lillywhite parted ways. In November, Dave joined legendary producer Glen Ballard in Los Angeles to work out new ideas for the album. The sessions were inspiring to Dave, and the pair wound up co-writing twelve new songs in a matter of days. Dave played the electric guitar for the first time, and Ballard helped bring a sense of focus and tightness to the arrangements. The rest of the band was brought in, and production on a completely new album began, breaking only for a short winter tour to finish out the year.
The wait for DMB’s fourth studio album ended on February 27, 2001 with the release of Everyday. The fresh sound and change in style resulted in phenomenal commercial success for Everyday, which has since gone triple platinum. Singles for the album were “I Did It,” “The Space Between,” and the title-track “Everyday.”
DMB once again spent its summer touring the country and exposing sold-out audiences to the first-ever performances of the songs from Everyday. Many songs from the so-called Lillywhite Sessions of the past year remained in the setlists as well. Keyboardist Butch Taylor returned as well to help flesh-out the Everyday tunes, as well as the Lovely Ladies. One standout performance was the July 11, 2001 concert at Folsom Field in Boulder, CO. The show was later released as Live At Folsom Field on CD, VHS, and DVD.
On August 21, 2001, DMB released a collection of their music videos entitled The Videos 1994-2001 on VHS and DVD. For the first time, all the band’s videos from “What Would You Say” to “The Space Between” were presented together, along with director commentary and behind the scenes footage.
Despite the success of Everyday, DMB fans were still hoping that the new tunes first heard during the 2000 tour would someday receive a proper studio release. In early 2002, the band went back into the studio to give those songs a second try. Steve Harris, who had worked as one of DMB’s production engineers for several years, was asked to produce the album. In addition to revisiting the Lillywhite Sessions tracks, the band also wrote two new songs: “Where Are You Going” and “You Never Know.” On July 16, 2002, DMB’s fifth studio album, aptly titled Busted Stuff, was released. Singles included “Where Are You Going,” “Grey Street,” and “Grace Is Gone.”
DMB immediately went on the road to promote Busted Stuff. Fans were excited to hear the new songs, the reworked versions of the ’00 songs, and even the return of forgotten favorites, such as the ever popular “Pig” which hadn’t been played live since 1999. The 2002 tour also marked the first year featuring keyboardist Butch Taylor as an official touring member.
The band ended their summer tour with an epic three-night stand at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, WA on September 1-3, 2002. All three nights of these amazing shows were videotaped in high-definition and 5.1 digital surround sound. A 2 CD/1 DVD compilation set, simply called The Gorge, was soon released. It featured select performances over the three nights, behind-the-scenes documentaries, and the “Grace Is Gone” music video. A 6 CD box set containing all three nights in their entirety was also released, marking DMB’s first website-exclusive album.
Even with the summer tour behind him, Dave still felt the need to perform. Fans in Seattle were treated to a special solo show on October 24, 2002 at Benaroya Hall. The show was later released as part of the DMBLive series. The band then returned for a short winter tour, including a memorable show on December 21, 2002 during which DMB was joined on stage by the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
Having released two studio albums in as many years, the members of Dave Matthews Band knew that 2003 should be something a little different. Both Dave and Boyd went into the studio to work on solo projects, and Dave then spent the spring doing an acoustic tour with Tim Reynolds – the first since 1999. Of particular note is the March 29, 2003 show at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, which was later released as part of the DMBLive series.
With no new material to promote, the band delved deep into their back catalog during the 2003 summer tour. Excited fans were treated to the first performances of “Cry Freedom,” “The Dreaming Tree,” “The Last Stop,” “Pay For What You Get,” and “Spoon” since 1999. Many other fan-favorites from years past returned as well.
The tour culminated with a live webcast performance in New York’s Central Park on September 24, 2003 in front of an estimated crowd in excess of 100,000 fans. The concert helped raise $2 million for public education and parks in New York City. The Central Park Concert was later released on CD and DVD. The DVD, filmed in high definition with over thirty cameras, also included a making-of documentary, and remains DMB’s highest-selling DVD to date.
Summer/Fall 2003 also saw the release of Boyd’s and Dave’s solo projects. Boyd’s True Reflections was released on June 17, 2003. The title track, a song that DMB had performed since 1991, featured Dave on vocals. The other tracks were original compositions and a cover of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl.” Dave's solo project, Some Devil, was released on September 23, 2003. Produced by Busted Stuff-producer Steve Harris, the album featured guitarists Tim Reynolds and long-time friend Trey Anastasio of Phish, drummer Brady Blade, Jr., and basist Tony Hall. Singles included “Gravedigger,” “Save Me,” and “Oh.”
Dave began a short winter tour in December 2003 to promote Some Devil. Dubbed the "Dave Matthews and Friends" tour, all the album players as well as Ray Paczkowski on the keyboards joined in.
Dave began 2004 with an intimate solo performance at the China Club in New York City on January 4, 2004. The show was later released as part of the DMBLive series. Next, the “Dave Matthews and Friends” tour continued through January 2004. This was followed on February 8, 2004, when Dave succeeded in winning the Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for “Gravedigger.”
After all these solo projects, it was time for DMB to reunite and start thinking about the follow-up to Busted Stuff. Working in their private studio outside Charlottesville, the band wrote “Crazy-Easy,” “Joy Ride,” “Hello Again,” and “Sugar Will” – songs that would become staples on the upcoming summer tour.
Dave Matthews Band's 2004 summer tour proved to be another stream of dynamite concert performances. Of particular note was the August 7, 2004 show at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, WI. The show was later released as part of the Live Trax series. They ended the tour with another large benefit concert – "The Concert to Benefit Bay Area Charities" in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on September 12, 2004. This was also released in the Live Trax series.
In the first few days of October, Dave Matthews Band joined forces with many other musicians on the "Vote for Change" Tour to vote out President George W. Bush. The "Vote for Change" Tour was a multi-city, multi-artist tour that included 37 shows in 33 cities in 12 states over 11 days and featured artists such as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Bonnie Raitt, Pearl Jam, REM and more.
In order to respond to the growth of online music purchasing, and following in the example of groups like Phish and Umphrey’s McGee, the Dave Matthews Band started a new series of live releases, called Live Trax, on November 2, 2004. Live Trax are available as digital downloads or in CD format exclusively through the band’s official website, and feature both classic shows and the hottest releases from the latest tour.
Dave Matthews Band returned to the studio in the winter of 2004/2005 to continue shaping their next album. Mark Batson, a well-known R&B and jazz producer, was asked by DMB to come to Virginia and produce the album. Batson brought his own unique composition method to the band, and soon DMB had shelved most of the ’04 songs to make room for a quickly growing collection of new tunes. The recording process was documented by film crews, and short clips were soon uploaded to www.dmbnewstudioalbum.com, along with regular updates on the album’s progress.
After a short Australian tour in the spring – DMB’s first trip down under and also their first international tour since 1998 – the band was ready to release their sixth studio album, Stand Up. The album hit the shelves on May 10, 2005, and was also the first DMB album to be sold as a digital download through Apple’s iTunes Music Store. Singles included “American Baby,” “Dreamgirl,” and “Everybody Wake Up (Our Finest Hour Arrives).”
The band then embarked on a lengthy album promotion tour, culminating with an epic four-night stand at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on September 9-12, 2005 – their first shows there since 1998. The original three nights was expanded to four following Hurricane Katrina as a benefit concert for the victims. Every cent related to the show -- over a million dollars total -- went to relief charities in the Gulf Coast. These shows mark the first time that trumpeter Rashawn Ross was asked to guest on stage with DMB. The shows were filmed, and a 2 CD/1 DVD compilation was released as Weekend On The Rocks. An 8 CD box set containing all four shows was also released exclusively from the band’s website.
The Dave Matthews and Friends briefly reformed at the beginning of 2006 as part of the Dave & Friends Caribbean Cruise Getaway on February 4, 2006. Lucky fans got to see the band play on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, followed by intimate performances on the cruise ships after poor weather interrupted the main set. Dave used the opportunity to debut a brand new song, “Eh Hee.”
Dave Matthews Band continued working to help the New Orleans recovery in 2006. The band issued a $1.5 million challenge grate to help build the New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village. The Village is a Habitat for Humanity project that seeks to build more than 300 homes in the city’s Upper Ninth Ward with musicians and other New Orleans residents who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The band also scheduled their first concert of the year at the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on April 29, 2006. During the same period, Dave went on a short solo tour in England to help reestablish the band’s presence overseas.
The band returned to the road following recording sessions with producer Mark Batson in preparation for the follow-up to Stand Up. Over the course of the tour, new tunes such as “The Idea Of You,” “Kill The King,” “Shotgun,” and “Break Free” would be mixed in with the return of some classic songs, such as “Big Eyed Fish,” “JTR,” “Raven,” and “Proudest Monkey.” This was the first tour in which trumpeter Rashawn Ross joined as a touring member. A high point of the tour was a two-night stand in Boston’s Fenway Park on July 7-8, 2006. The shows were later released as part of the Live Trax series, and were so popular that they were soon commercially released by RCA.
After having the pleasure of once again opening for the Rolling Stones in October, the band returned to the studio to work on the new album. In the meantime, RCA released a best-of compilation – The Best of What’s Around Vol. 1 – on November 7, 2006. The album featured both studio and live recordings of the band’s most famous tunes.
Early 2007 found DMB expanding beyond their normal North American stops and reaching out to find a new international audience. The year began with the first-ever international Dave & Tim tour, followed by short DMB tours of Australia and Europe. May 25, 2007 marked DMB’s first performance in Portugal, and the energy from both the crowd and the band soon led to the show’s release as part of the Live Trax series.
In between the international dates, DMB took a break from their recording sessions to perform a special two-night stand at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on March 23-24, 2007. The shows were later released as part of the Live Trax series. Following DMB’s international tour, Dave & Tim regrouped for a few select dates, including a performance at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on April 22, 2007. This show was released as Live at Radio City on CD, DVD, and Blu-ray. It is a show of firsts: it features Dave’s first live performance on the piano on “Out Of My Hands,” it is the first video release of a Dave & Tim show, and it is the first release on Blu-ray disc.
The 2007 summer tour was another mix of old and new. The band debuted the latest tunes from their studio sessions, including “#27 (I Hope You’ll Be By Me Then),” “Cornbread,” “Eh Hee,” and “A Dream So Real.” At the same time, an old fan favorite, “Sweet Up And Down,” returned for the first time since 2000. The tour was interrupted on September 6, 2007, when Dave Matthews Band joined John Mayer, Phil Vassar and Nas to perform a Concert For Virginia Tech in response to the tragic school shooting a few months before.
In keeping with their tradition of performing benefit concerts in significant US parks, Dave Matthews Band performed a webcast show in front of 50,000 fans at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia on September 8, 2007. Proceeds from the show benefited Piedmont Park and aided in its enhancement and preservation. The show was subsequently released as Live in Piedmont Park on CD and DVD.
DMB ended 2007 with two nights at the US Military Academy for the AT&T World’s Loudest Pep Rally. Over a hundred colleges competed for a free DMB concert on their campus by sending invitations, text messages, and video to DMB and the West Point cadets were the lucky winners. The shows were also webcast over the Internet.
Throughout 2007, the band kept their tradition of remaining on the cutting edge of fan communication technologies. DMB launched their newly revamped MySpace page in May and became one of the first artists on Facebook in November. The band’s website also launched DMB Mobile in late 2007 which offered official DMB ring tones for the first time.
In early 2008, Dave Matthews Band announced that after several years of exploratory composition sessions, they were ready to start recording the follow-up to Stand Up. Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Alanis Morrisette) was announced as the producer. Tim Reynolds was also involved, marking his first recording with DMB since 1998’s Before These Crowded Streets.
Stefan began 2008 with his own side project, a band called Yukon Kornelius, which performed for the Reverb/Food Banks Benefit on January 9, 2008. The band also included Adam Gardner of Guster and Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies.
DMB would see a dramatic change in line-up as they began their summer tour. In early May, it was announced that Tim Reynolds would join DMB on the road, marking his first performance with the whole band since 2004. Then on May 27, 2008, only days before the start of the tour, it was announced that touring member Butch Taylor had decided to leave the band for personal reasons. DMB began 2008 a different band, but fans soon found the new sound to be impressive. An early highlight was the June 7, 2008 show at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO, which was later released as part of the Live Trax series.
As jarring as the earlier personnel shifts were, they were nothing compared to the news on June 30, 2008 that saxophonist LeRoi Moore had been injured in an ATV accident near his home in Charlottesville. LeRoi remained hospitalized for many weeks, during which time Jeff Coffin of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones substituted on the sax and woodwinds. Jeff was quite familiar with DMB’s repertoire, but added his own unique approach to every song. Fans heard this first hand at the July 20, 2008 Mile High Music Festival just outside Denver, CO. The festival was webcast live, and later released on CD as Live at Mile High Music Festival.
Unfortunately, LeRoi would never recover from the accident, and it was announced that he had passed away on August 19, 2008. LeRoi’s last show, performed on June 28, 2008 at the Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, VA, was released as part of the Live Trax series. Proceeds from the sale of this album were donated to the charities set up following LeRoi’s death.
Despite the loss of their friend and bandmate, DMB carried on, finishing the US summer tour and a short Latin American tour. Dave ended 2008 by performing two concerts (one solo and one with Tim Reynolds) in support of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
At the start of 2009, Dave Matthews Band was hard at work in New Orleans, recording their seventh studio album. In February, it was announced that the album would be titled Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, based on a nickname the band members had for LeRoi Moore. LeRoi was a strong influence on the development of Big Whiskey. The band included as much of his work from early studio sessions as possible in the songs that made the cut, and his image appeared in the cover art. The album also featured touring members Jeff Coffin, Tim Reynolds, and Rashawn Ross.
DMB’s touring schedule for 2009 began on April 14, 2009, coinciding with the release of Big Whiskey’s first single, “Funny The Way It Is.” The band continued on a spring and summer tour to promote the new album, including stops in Europe. The band’s sold out two-night stop at the O2 Academy in London on June 25 and 26, 2009 were filmed for future video release.
Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King was released on June 2, 2009. It was the band’s second album to be released on vinyl, following a limited pressing of Before These Crowded Streets in 1998. In addition, Big Whiskey became one of the first albums released in iTunes’s new LP format – which used expanded album artwork as part of a new graphic interface and included bonus studio and live recordings. Two other singles released from this album were “Why I Am” and “You & Me.”
The band ended the 2009 tour with their first appearance at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Austin, TX, but reconvened a few weeks later to play an intimate show during the Bud Light Port Paradise Cruise. Dave later went on to perform with Kenny Chesney at the 2009 Country Music Awards, performing their nominated duet “I’m Alive” from Chesney’s album Lucky Old Sun.