Dave Matthews Band is an American jam band, originally formed in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1991 by bartender 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, all of whom Dave met in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In the early 1990s, the band established a cult following through relentless touring, an active taping community, and an independent LP, Remember Two Things. (Keyboardist Griesar left the band in 1993, shortly before the release of "Remember Two Things".) After signing to RCA Records, Dave Matthews Band, under the direction of producer Steve Lillywhite, released Under the Table and Dreaming in 1994, a critical and popular smash that firmly established the band's style of pop-rock with improvisational leanings. Under the Table and Dreaming would be the first of three albums released under Lillywhite's direction. This was followed by Crash (1996). For most of America, Crash was the record that put the Dave Matthews Band on the map. Featuring the hit single "Crash Into Me", as well as fan-favorites such as "Two Step", "Tripping Billies", and the Grammy-winning "So Much to Say", Crash would go on to be the band's best selling album.
By 1997, the band had reached great popularity across the country and, to some degree, the world. To combat an increasingly and illegally 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 and would be regarded as the band's greatest studio effort. In 1999 the band released two live albums: Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds Live at Luther College, from a 1996 acoustic concert played by Matthews and longtime friend guitarist Tim Reynolds, and Listener Supported, a concert from September 1999 that was also partially shown on PBS.
Arguments have raged throughout both the Dave Matthews Band's fanbase and online communities dedicated to discussing bands such as Phish and the Grateful Dead as to whether or not they are a true jam band. It's perhaps more accurate to state that the band's music and that of the many bands influenced by it is a breakaway sub-genre of jam band. While Dave Matthews Band are unquestionably the driving influence behind this sub-genre as it exists today, the style arguably owes its roots to Widespread Panic of Athens, Georgia. The Dave Matthews Band is taper-friendly.
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", "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 2002 the band returned to the studio 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 single "Where Are You Going?". 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.
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 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, DMB Live Volume 1: 12.8.98 Worcester, MA, 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, DMB Live Volume 2: 9.12.04 Golden Gate Park, included the guitarist Carlos Santana and gave fans previews of newly-penned songs "Joyride", "Hello Again", and "Sugar Will", all presumably destined for release on a 2005 studio album.
Not only did the band release music in 2004, but it was also accused of releasing human waste into the Chicago river. On August 8, 2004, the Illinois attorney general alleges that a driver of the band's tour buses dumped "80 to 100 gallons of liquid human waste" into a Chicago river architectural tour boat. Even though the band denies that it happened, Chicago police claim to have surveillance tapes from local businesses showing the bus on the bridge at the time of the incident. No band members were on their buses at the time of the alleged incident. On October 22, 2004, the band released a statement for the first time about the incident. On the same day, the band donated $50,000 each to the environmental groups Friends of the Chicago River and The Chicago Park District. On January 19, 2005, Cook County filed criminal charges against bus driver Stefan Wohl, accusing him of reckless conduct and discharging contaminates to cause water pollution. Three private lawsuits have been filed against the band and bus driver Stefan Wohl as a result of this incident.
In the fall of 2004, the Dave Matthews Band returned to their studio in Charlottesville, Virginia with a new producer, Mark Batson. The album, as of yet unnamed, is slated for release in Spring 2005. DMB also hosts a new website containing current information, videos, and audio samples from the new album.