Dave Matthews Band formed in Charlottesville, Virginia, in early 1991 when vocalist/guitarist Dave Matthews decided to put some songs he had written on tape. Instead of simply recording himself with a guitar, he opted to bring in some instrumental help to give his musical ideas more depth.
Matthews found assistance in drummer Carter Beauford and saxophonist LeRoi Moore, who were both accomplished jazz musicians in the local Charlottesville music scene. Based on the recommendation of distinguished local jazz guru John D’earth, 16-year-old musical prodigy Stefan Lessard came on board to play bass. Completing the lineup were keyboard player Peter Griesar (who left the band after a couple of years) and talented and classically trained violinist Boyd Tinsley.
The band’s first public performances were at a Middle East Children’s Alliance Benefit at Trax Nightclub in March and at the City of Charlottesville’s Earth Day Festival in April. The first official gig for the newly conceived Dave Matthews Band was May 11, 1991, at a private party held on the rooftop of the pink warehouse on South Street in downtown Charlottesville. Regular gigs soon followed at two local clubs – Eastern Standard and Trax Nightclub.
Dave Matthews Band began 1992 with a Tuesday night residency at Trax that continued throughout the year. Word of the group’s unique sound quickly spread. Clubs started to fill up and tours began to cover more territory. The fan base grew at an incredible rate as DMB ventured outside its native Virginia to North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington DC, Pennsylvania and New York.
The band continued to tour up and down the Eastern seaboard, playing a mixture of headline shows, supporting dates and festivals, including DMB’s first H.O.R.D.E. dates. The group’s fan base continued to grow at an astonishing rate. By allowing concertgoers to tape shows for personal use, Dave Matthews Band created what remains to this day a highly interactive community. In September, DMB played its first show at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre, opening for The Tragically Hip and The Samples. Two years later, DMB would headline the legendary venue.
On November 9, 1993, DMB released its first album, Remember Two Things, on its own Bama Rags label. The album, which had been recorded live at The Muse Music Club on Nantucket Island in August of 1993, debuted on the College charts as the highest independent entry – a significant accomplishment for an independent album. Remember Two Things was subsequently certified Platinum.
In May 1994, Dave Matthews Band began recording Under The Table and Dreaming – its first studio album and RCA debut – at Bearsville Studios in upstate New York with famed producer Steve Lillywhite (Rolling Stones, U2). Tim Reynolds, a guitarist who frequently performed live with DMB and had also began to play shows with Matthews as part of an acoustic duo, played on all tracks. Bama Rags released Recently, a five-track EP, on May 17.
DMB celebrated the September 27, 1994 release of Under The Table and Dreaming with a hometown show at McIntire Amphitheater, where the mayor of Charlottesville proclaimed it Dave Matthews Band Day. The group embarked on its first national tour thereafter and also played its first European dates.
Under The Table and Dreaming debuted at No. 34 on The Billboard 200 and spent 116 consecutive weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 11. The success of the album’s first single, “What Would You Say,” at radio expanded the band’s audience. In November, DMB shot footage for the accompanying video – its first – during a return engagement at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO.
Dave Matthews Band made its national television debut in February 1995 on “Late Show with David Letterman,” performing its multi-format hit “What Would You Say.” Over the course of the year, the band also made its first appearances on “Saturday Night Live” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
Dave Matthews Band continued its tour in support of Under The Table and Dreaming, crossing the U.S. repeatedly and touring Europe twice. The group made its first headline appearance at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre, opened for the Grateful Dead at a three-night stand at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, performed at the Glastonbury Festival and played Farm Aid, marking one of its first performances at a large-scale benefit concert.
By the fall of 1995, when DMB returned to Bearsville Studios with Steve Lillywhite to record their follow up album, Under The Table and Dreaming had been certified four times Platinum by the RIAA. (It is now six times Platinum.) The band was again joined in the studio by guitarist Tim Reynolds. DMB finished up the record at Green Street Recording Studios in New York City.
In January 1996, Dave Matthews Band received its first GRAMMY® nominations, with “What Would You Say” up for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and Best Music Video, Short Form.
Crash, Dave Matthews Band’s second RCA studio album, was released on April 30, 1996. It debuted at number two on The Billboard 200 and was subsequently certified seven times Platinum. Entertainment Weekly praised the GRAMMY-nominated album as “rootsy yet exotic.” “Too Much” was a Top 5 hit at Modern Rock radio, the first in a series of singles from the album.
The Crash tour launched on April 30 at Classic Amphitheater in Henrico, VA. The band introduced a new sound system, which helped take their live show to a new level, and also began capturing multi-track recordings of its shows. While on the European leg of the tour, DMB opened for Bob Dylan and Neil Young. The group headlined Madison Square Garden for the first time, playing a pair of shows in October.
In February, Dave Matthews Band won the GRAMMY® Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for “So Much To Say.” RCA reissued Remember Two Things on June 24, 1997.
The band continued to tour steadily, headlining sold-out amphitheaters across North America. Though having achieved national prominence, DMB continued to do things precisely as it had from day one: organically, with a grass roots mentality.
In late 1997, the band began recording a new album. On October 28, 1997, Bama Rags/RCA label released the official double-disc Live at Red Rocks 8-15-95. Without any marketing or promotion, Live at Red Rocks debuted at No. 3 on The Billboard 200 and was instantly certified Platinum. It was a high quality, reasonably priced alternative to the over-priced, ill produced and illegal live DMB CDs that were beginning to flood the bootleg black-market. The overwhelming success of Live at Red Rocks, combined with the band’s tremendous touring achievements, underscored how Dave Matthews Band had grown from a grass roots phenomenon to one of the hottest bands in America.
RCA released Dave Matthews Band’s third studio album, Before These Crowded Streets, on April 28, 1998. The critically acclaimed recording was the band’s first album to debut at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 – and ended the Titanic soundtrack’s stranglehold on the top spot. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, Before These Crowded Streets featured such guest artists as Béla Fleck, the Kronos Quartet and Alanis Morissette.
Rolling Stone praised the band for pushing in “adventurous new directions,” noting: they play as if their lives – and yours—depended on it.” “Don’t Drink the Water,” “Crush” and “Stay (Wasting Time)” were among the hit singles, which is now certified triple Platinum.
The band was on the road from mid-April through December, touring North America, Europe (where DMB opened for the Rolling Stones on numerous dates in addition to playing a mixture of headline shows and festivals) and Brazil.
On January 19, 1999, Bama Rags/RCA released Live at Luther College: An Acoustic Performance by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds. Recorded on February 6, 1996, it marked the first album from the pair, who occasionally toured together as an acoustic duo. The second in a series of live Dave Matthews Band-related releases, Live at Luther College debuted at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 and has since been certified Platinum. As with Live at Red Rocks, the success of this second live album was based solely on word-of-mouth buzz.
Matthews and Reynolds launched an extensive tour in January. Dave Matthews Band’s summer run included a stop at Woodstock ’99. The band’s September 11 concert at New Jersey’s Continental Airlines Arena was captured on Listener Supported. Released on November 23, 1999, it was the third installment in the ongoing live album series. A video of the performance, also titled Listener Supported, was released at the same time. The double-disc album was quickly certified double Platinum, and the video also sold over a million copies.
The band spent much of 2000 on tour, playing two or three consecutive nights at venues across the country and finishing the year as the top-grossing rock band in the U.S.
In the fall, Dave Matthews began working with legendary producer Glen Ballard in Los Angeles, planning to fine-tune song arrangements for DMB’s next album. Instead, the pair wound up co-writing 12 brand new songs in a matter of days. The rest of the band soon joined them. Ballard helped the group focus and tighten their arrangements and Matthews played electric guitar for the first time. From this explosion of creative chemistry came the band’s fourth studio album, Everyday, which featured special guests Carlos Santana and Vusi Mahlasela.
In January, Dave Matthews Band headed to Rio de Janeiro to play the Rock in Rio festival. The group spent the spring and summer of 2001 touring North America and introducing sold-out audiences to songs from Everyday, which was released on February 27, 2001 and debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200. The album has since been certified triple Platinum. The band launched Everyday with appearances on “Saturday Night Live,” “Late Show with David Letterman” and MTV’s “TRL.” “The Space Between” peaked at No. 22 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and was nominated for a GRAMMY.
“Dave Matthews Band, The Videos 1994-2001” was released on DVD and VHS on August 21, marking the first time that the first 12 Dave Matthews Band videos were presented together, along with director commentary and behind the scenes footage. On October 23, 2001, the band released its fourth live set, Live In Chicago, 12.19.98, featuring guest musicians such as Victor Wooten, Maceo Parker, and a full set with Tim Reynolds.
The band began recording its next album, in January, working with English producer/mixer Stephen Harris at the Record Plant Studios in Sausalito, CA.
Dave Matthews Band was honored to kick off the Hallmark Olympics Celebration series of concerts, which took place in Salt Lake City, UT during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The band performed “The Space Between,” nominated for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group, at the GRAMMY Awards in February 2002.
Busted Stuff, DMB’s fifth studio album, was released on July 16, 2002 and debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200. First single “”Where Are You Going” topped the Triple A radio chart and was a Top 20 hit at Modern Rock. On November 5, 2002, the band released the double CD / DVD / VHS Live At Folsom Field, Boulder CO, the band’s fifth live release overall.
A short U.S. tour in December included two sold out performances at Madison Square Garden, where James Brown joined DMB onstage during the second show.
Dave Matthews Band’s 2003 summer tour culminated with a performance in New York City’s Central Park in front of an estimated crowd of 100,000+ fans. The concert helped raise $2 million for public education and parks in NYC, and was the first in the band’s ongoing series of benefit concerts held in significant U.S. parks.
The Central Park Concert was released on DVD and CD on November 18, 2003. Captured by 30 cameras in High Definition Widescreen video and recorded in stereo and 5.1 audio, the DVD was directed by Larry Jordan, who had worked with the band on Listener Supported.
2003 also saw the release of the first solo projects from DMB. On June 17, Boyd released True Reflections. The album, which featured Tinsley on vocals as well as violin, was hailed by AllMusic.com as a “warm, poignant disc that improves with every spin.”
Dave’s Some Devil was released on September 23 and later certified Platinum by the RIAA. In December he launched the “Dave Matthews and Friends” tour with Trey Anastasio, Brady Blade, Tony Hall, Ray Paczkowski and Tim Reynolds. Emmylou Harris and Spyboy.
Spring of 2004 found the band members in their Virginia studio, rehearsing for the summer tour and working on new tunes for their next album. Some Devil’s first single, “Gravedigger,” earned Matthews a GRAMMY Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance and Dave Matthews Band received the Chairman’s Award at the NAACP Image Awards.
Days after the summer tour ended, DMB played a “Concert to Benefit Bay Area Charities” in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, where they were joined by Carlos Santana on numerous songs. In early October, Dave Matthews Band joined forces with artists such as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Bonnie Raitt, Pearl Jam and REM on the “Vote for Change” Tour.
Producer Mark Batson, who had met the band after its Los Angeles show, was invited to Virginia to help produce the band’s sixth studio album. DMB Live Trax, a highly anticipated series of exclusive live releases, debuted in the fall with 12.8.98 Centrum, Worcester, MA and 9.12.04 Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA.
Dave Matthews Band kicked off 2005 with its first-ever Australian tour. The band celebrated the May 10, 2005 release of Stand Up with an intimate show at NYC’s Roseland Ballroom. The record debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200.
The summer tour, which featured a new stage set and lighting design by longtime lighting director, Fenton Williams, was epic. The band headlined the Bonnaroo Music Festival and hosted its own multi-artist “Island Getaway” festival at NYC’s Randall Island. DMB also performed in the “Live 8” series of free global concerts that urged world leaders at the G8 summit to increase aid to impoverished nations.
The run wrapped up at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where the band added a fourth night immediately after Hurricane Katrina struck. Over a million dollars total was raised for Gulf Coast relief charities. Weekend on the Rocks, which featured highlights of DMB’s four nights at Red Rocks, and The Complete Weekend on the Rocks were released later that year as well as Live Trax 3, 8.27.2000 Meadows Music Theatre, Hartford, CT and Live Trax 4, 4.30.1996 Classic Amphitheatre, Richmond, VA.
DMB established the Bama Works Village Recovery Fund in 2005, partnering with CARE to aid victims in the years following the 2004 tsunami that had struck eastern Sri Lanka.
Shortly before its return to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, DMB issued a $1.5 million challenge grant to help build the New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village – a Habitat for Humanity project in the Upper Ninth Ward.
In June, Dave Matthews Band announced a plan to arrange for NativeEnergy and Clean Air-Cool Planet to offset 100% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from their touring activities since 1991. On July 7 and 8, the band performed back-to-back nights at Boston’s Fenway Park with Sheryl Crow supporting – concerts that were offered as Live Trax Volume 6 within weeks.
Other tour highlights included the 2nd annual “Island Getaway” at NYC’s Randall Island, a return to Chicago with George Clinton performing and a two show tour-closer at the new state-of-the-art John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, VA. Dave Matthews Band also performed as special guest of the Rolling Stones at shows in El Paso and Seattle.
In October, DMB released its double CD, Best of What’s Around, Vol. 1, featuring a disc of essential studio songs and a second disc of live songs picked by fans. In addition to the Fenway Park shows, two other volumes were released in the Live Trax series: Live Trax 5: 8.23.1995 Meadow Brook Music Festival, Rochester Hills, MI and Live Trax 7: 12.31.1996 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA.
In early 2007, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds played a series of European and U.S. dates, including an evening at NYC’s Radio City Music Hall, which was released as a CD and DVD later that year, entering The Billboard 200 at No. 3. Live Trax Volume 8, a 2004 DMB show from Alpine Valley, was released in February.
Dave Matthews Band played its first shows of 2007 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV in March. Both concerts were subsequently released as the 4-CD Live Trax Volume 9. The first Live Trax release of a show outside the U.S., 5.25.07 Pavilion Atlantico in Lisbon, Portugal, marked the 10th volume in the series.
After European and Australian dates, Dave Matthews Band launched an extensive U.S. summer tour that culminated with two nights at the legendary Hollywood Bowl. The tour had included the band’s third park concert, benefitting Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, where DMB performed for 50,000 fans and were joined by The Allman Brothers Band. The concert was released as a CD and DVD later that year.
In September, Dave Matthews Band joined John Mayer, Phil Vassar and Nas for a Concert For Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. The concert was conceived as a way to help students, faculty and other members of the community move forward in the aftermath of the tragic events that had transpired there in April.
DMB became one of the first artists on Facebook in November and DMB Mobile launched in late 2007, offering official DMB ring tones for the first time.
In early 2008, Dave Matthews Band began working in the studio with producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance) on its seventh studio album. Guitarist and long time friend Tim Reynolds played on the album, marking his first recording with DMB since 1998’s Before These Crowded Streets.
The group headlined the inaugural Mile High Festival in Colorado in July. Dave Matthews Band – Live At Mile High Music Festival and two other concerts – DMB Blue Note, Columbia, MO 10/22/1994 and DMB Town Point Park, Norfolk, VA 4/26/1994 – were released later that year. Volumes 11, 12 and 13 of the Live Trax series also came out in 2008.
On August 19, 2008, LeRoi Moore passed away from complications stemming from an ATV accident, which occurred just days after the band’s June 28 show at Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, VA. The loss of their brother and founding band member was a devastating one for the group. While both mourning the loss of LeRoi and trying to celebrate his life, Dave Matthews Band soldiered on, finishing the last few tour dates.
Finishing up Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King at a New Orleans studio in early 2009, the band was able to incorporate much of the material LeRoi Moore had recorded during its 2008 sessions. “His death catalyzed the latest sea change in the band’s music,” said The New York Times while Rolling Stone awarded the album four stars.
Released on June 2, 2009, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200, making Dave Matthews Band one of only two groups in chart history to have five consecutive studio albums enter atop the chart. It was subsequently certified Platinum and nominated for two GRAMMY® Awards: Album Of The Year and Best Rock Album.
The band’s July 5, 2009 show in Lucca, Italy was captured on the three-CD set Europe 2009, which also featured the Across the Pond DVD from a show at London’s Brixton Academy. Other 2009 live releases included Volumes 14, 15 and 16 of the Live Trax series and downloads of four early 1990’s concerts.
In September, as what would have been LeRoi’s 48th birthday drew near, The LeRoi Moore Fund – established by Moore’s trust – announced its college scholarship program.
Dave Matthews Band established the Bama Works Haiti Relief Fund to provide long-term support following the January 12 earthquake. Proceeds from a five-song EP, The Haiti Relief Project, benefited the fund.
Named the biggest ticket seller worldwide of the previous decade, DMB launched a European tour in February, shortly after its performance on the GRAMMY Awards telecast. The summer tour featured headlining slots at the Bonnaroo, HullabaLOU and Mile High Music festivals and shows at numerous stadiums – including Citi Field in Flushing, NY, documented on the two-disc Live In New York City released later in the year. Tickets to the run’s closing nights at Chicago’s Wrigley Field sold out minutes after they went on sale.
After a South American outing, Dave Matthews Band returned to the States for an arena tour that wrapped up at Charlottesville’s John Paul Jones Arena. The hometown show was particularly poignant, as DMB had announced plans to take 2011 off from touring.
Volumes 17, 18 and 19 of the Live Trax series and downloads of several historic DMB concerts were released in 2010 plus Matthews and Reynolds’ 2-CD set Live In Las Vegas.
As Dave Matthews Band celebrated its 20th anniversary, the band members decided to shake things up and trying something new. Although the group had previously announced they would be taking the year off from touring, they couldn’t resist playing a few shows together. So the Dave Matthews Band Caravan was conceived – a series of three-day festivals featuring a diverse array of musical talent performing during the day and full sets by DMB each evening. The traveling festival hit four cities: Atlantic City, Chicago, New York City and George, WA.
There were two live releases from the Dave Matthews Band Caravan outing – Live in Atlantic City and Live on Lakeside – and the band also released Vol. 20 of the Live Trax series plus Live at Wrigley Field and downloads of three additional concerts.
Dave and Tim played several shows, including their first acoustic concert in the band’s hometown of Charlottesville, VA since 1994. Proceeds from that evening and a NYC show followed Matthews’ new model for benefit concerts, which allowed ticket buyers to decide which charities would receive the proceeds through the JustGive.org online donation platform.
In January, Dave Matthews Band reunited with producer Steve Lillywhite, who had produced the group’s first three studio albums, and began work on a new record. Tim Reynolds, Jeff Coffin and Rashawn Ross joined them in the studio. The group debuted many of the new songs during an extensive summer run – DMB’s first tour since 2010. Away From The World was released on September 11, 2012 and the band celebrated with a show at the Hollywood Bowl the following evening. Rolling Stone praised it as the band’s “strongest album in years.” “Mercy,” the first single, was a No. 1 hit at Triple A radio and the video featured contributions from 14,334 fans.
The Live Trax series continued, with Vol. 21 and 22 bowing in 2012. DMB was featured on Jack Johnson and Friends – Best of Kokua Festival and contributed a track to Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.
In the spring, Dave Matthews Band headlined Jazz Fest in New Orleans – performing in torrential rain – and Atlanta’s The Big Dance concert series during NCAA Final Four weekend. The group’s summer tour featured lots of rarely-played songs and earned them a spot on Rolling Stone’s list of the “50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now.” The run topped Billboard’s Hot Tours chart in September. As the year drew to a close, Dave Matthews Band embarked on its first-ever tour of South Africa, which featured an opening set by Vusi Mahlasela and a special guest performance from Hugh Masekela. The band ended the year with a series of South American dates in December.
Four new Live Trax albums (Vol. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28) were released in 2013, and Live Trax Vol. 1, 2 and 3 were re-released on vinyl in conjunction with Record Store Day. The DMBLive series continued with three new digital downloads.
The BamaWorks Fund awarded grants to the West, Texas Disaster Relief Efforts Fund following the fertilizer plant explosion in the small Texas community, to the Innocence Project, to the Crozet Library, and to numerous Charlottesville area charities.
In April, Dave Matthews Band embarked on its first Australian run since 2005, playing five concerts in four cities. The group took a new approach to its annual summer North American tour. “A Very Special Evening with Dave Matthews Band” featured DMB performing two sets at each show and winding through many different configurations – from electric to acoustic, from full-throttle numbers featuring the entire band to more intimate moments featuring small groups of band members. Lovely Ladies – who had last performed with DMB in 2001 – joined the group onstage on numerous dates. The traditional Labor Day weekend shows at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington featured the return of Dave Matthews Band Caravan. DMB played two headline sets each night, Brandi Carlile performed daily and the Caravan stage hosted performances by Blind Pilot, Shovels & Rope, Ana Tijoux, JD McPherson, Bombino, Dumpstaphunk, Moon Taxi, David Ryan Harris and Betsy Olson.
The band also spent time in the studio, working with producer Rob Cavallo on a new album. DMB’s early history was celebrated with a limited edition Record Store Day release of Live Trax 4, a 20 anniversary reissue of Remember Two Things, a Black Friday Record Store Day release of Recently featuring the rare “Pumpkin” release alongside the original EP, and Under The Table And Dreaming – all available for the first time ever on vinyl. Volumes 29, 30, 31 and the CD/DVD package of 32 from the Live Trax series were released over the course of the year.
In May 2015, Dave Matthews Band returned to “Late Show with David Letterman” for its 13th and final performance on the show. Twenty years earlier, Letterman had welcomed the band for its first national television performance. To celebrity his incredible run on CBS, the band also performed a special set on “Legends On Letterman,” a limited-run concert series that was streamed live.
2015 was a year of touring milestones for Dave Matthews Band, beginning in March with its first shows in Mexico City, which included a headline performance at the Festival Vive Latino. On its summer North American tour, the band played two full sets each evening – a format it had debuted in 2014. “Fans essentially got two shows,” marveled the Des Moines Register. The Cleveland Scene observed, “This is a highly talented group of musicians who have proved their mettle time and time again…It’s physiologically impossible not to have a great time at these shows. It’s summer defined in musical terms.”
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Gregory Alan Isakov joined Dave Matthews Band for its traditional Labor Day weekend shows at The Gorge in Washington State. The final evening of the three-night run marked Dave Matthews Band’s 50th show at The Gorge.
In the fall, Dave Matthews Band played its first-ever show in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and launched its first European tour since 2009, which included the band’s first show in Poland and a headline performance at The 02 as part of BluesFest London.
On November 27, in celebration of Record Store Day, the band released a limited edition, 4 LP box set on pink vinyl of Live Trax 5: 8.23.1995 Meadow Brook Music Festival, Rochester Hills, MI. Volumes 33-36 of the Live Trax series were released over the course of the year.