I first met Dave Matthews in the catering line for the Horde Tour back in 1994 at Old Orchard Beach in Maine. We were both on the come-up and bursting on the scene.
Little did I know at the time that Dave and his band would be my generation's “Kings of Rock 'n' Roll." I imagine that Dave Matthews is the top-grossing (or one of the top-grossing) touring acts every year. And it's been that way for probably 15 years. Go, Dave.
The question is, what is it about Dave's music, songs, his band and his personality that has connected year in and year out to make him one of the biggest names in rock? Is it hit songs? Well, yes and no. Lots of artists have hit songs, but that doesn't always translate to big touring numbers. In fact, more often than not, it seems like hit songs can detract from touring acts that have blown up on the strength of their live shows.
Is it the style, the consistency, the light show, the hot girls at his shows? What is it about Dave!?! I could keep making you guess what it is, but I'm gonna break it down what I think it is. It's MELODY and worthwhile, thoughtful lyrical content.
When I first met up with Dave, I didn't understand his music at all. I was steeped in Delta blues and hip-hop. I wanted something funky or straight up like blues. I really didn't get what he was doing. I didn't hear any funkiness, I didn't hear any blues. I was lost trying to understand what the appeal was.
Dave took us on tour a bunch in the early days as he started to skyrocket into the big amphitheaters and stadiums. I will never forget that moment in the UNLV basketball stadium where his music connected with me. The band started playing what is still my favorite among many favorite Dave Matthews songs, "Satellite" (tab here.) What a gem. A diamond in the sky. That song came on and the whole room was connected. The whole room was euphoric and floating together with the music. I realized right then that it was the melodies that Dave sings and that the great soloists in his band play that move the crowd.
The other thing Dave has is a very laid-back, generous, humble, intense and witty personality that connects so well with his crowd. People, myself included, feel like they know Dave as a friend. He has that type of connection. He is a true master of in-between-song banter that is truly beguiling.
Don't let Dave and his band’s laid-back personality fool you, though. The DMB are all musical virtuosos and very passionate and inspired performers. The band swells, jams and takes every song to the limit every time. A DMB show is a truly magical experience. The soloists like Boyd Tinsley and Tim Reynolds are out of control. Tim Reynolds is one of the most gifted guitar soloists in the game.
Dave Matthews himself is one of the most unique guitarists I've seen. He makes all types of chords and melodic lines that give the soloists a platform from which to explode. They definitely explode too!
DMB's fan base is one of the most loyal fan bases around. People love them. It's a family vibe, its a personal vibe and most of all, the DMB shows are always a good time so you leave feeling inspired, full of music, melody and probably a little bit tipsy.
I think "Satellite" demostrates everything great about Dave's writing and the band's virtuosity and accompaniment. Peep it out. And just one more thing: When I'm opening for Dave next time, make sure you leave the parking lot tailgating scene with enough time to catch my set!
G. Love, aka Garrett Dutton, has been the front man and founder of the alternative hip-hop blues group G. Love & Special Sauce since their inception in 1993. Widely known for his upbeat hits "Cold Beverage," "Baby's Got Sauce" and "Hot Cookin'," G. Love returned to his blues and country roots on his latest release, Fixin' To Die (Amazon, iTunes), produced by Scott and Seth Avett. A road dog if one ever existed, G. Love performs roughly 125 shows a year all over the world including Australia, Japan, Brazil, UK, Canada and the U.S. G. Love teamed up with Gretsch to create his own signature model, the Gretsch G. Love Signature Electromatic Corvette, which features a pair of TV Jones Power'Tron pickups, deluxe mini-precision tuners and a cool Phili-green color scheme with competition stripe that would make ANYONE from Philadelphia proud! Check it out here.