In March of 1995, a publicist called me (when publicists still did that) and asked me if I wanted to do a photo shoot with a young band on her label. They were playing at the Aragon Ballroom, opening for Hootie and the Blowfish. I met them at sound check, took them out on the fire escape and did a quick 5 minute shoot. Dave asked me if I was coming back to see the show that night, and I said I would try, although the Michael Jordan led Bulls were in the playoffs and I never missed a game!
So, the next time I saw the band they were playing the following year at Farm Aid in Louisville, KY. Someone from the Farm Aid staff asked me to gather up the Dave Matthews Band and Hootie and the Blowfish, take them on Willie Nelson’s bus, introduce them and get a picture of all of them. They all got along and shortly after that Willie asked Dave to become a part of the Farm Aid board. So, every year, Dave, a master showman, by himself, or with his friend Tim plays in front of 20 thousand people with just an acoustic guitar- and thoroughly entertains them!!
In 2005, Farm Aid did a book on the history of Farm Aid and I was asked to fly out to Seattle and do a photo shoot with Dave and his wife Ashley for the book. We pulled up in front of a small unassuming house, were greeted at the door by Dave, were given organic beer and organic donuts, and spent the next two hours in their yard talking about everything from music to organic tomatoes.
This brings me to last night and the night before. People have said for years that it takes a really great band or artist to jump from the arena level to the stadium level. The Stones did it in 1981,The Jackson Five in 1984, Bruce Springsteen in 1985, Madonna in 1987 and U2 in the early 2000’s. All of those artists successfully figured out how to stage a show that would not make the people in the back feel they were in another state. Combine that with the fact that they are all great performers, and you have a great night of music. Add the Dave Matthews Band to that list. Over the last few years they have started playing stadiums. Over the last two nights Dave and the band played three hours per night for over 78,000 fans, many of whom had waited outside since early morning to get the front row standing room spots against the barricade. I talked to a couple as I was packing up at the end of the show who had driven from New Jersey, and had seen 120 Dave Matthews shows over the last few years! The band was smoking hot both nights, incredibly tight, but still leaving room to stretch out during the songs with some great solos. Dave is the perfect front man, thanking the audience between songs, cracking a lot of jokes, but still playing and singing with everything he has from start to finish.
Oh…. one more thing. Dave seems to have figured out how to control the weather, too. When Jason Mraz took the stage at 7PM last night the sky was gray, there was a slight drizzle and it was sweatshirt weather, and more was expected. When the DMB took the stage at 8:15, the sky had cleared, the moon was out and it had gotten warmer!
It is nice when nice guys finish first!