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......An evening with the battle-hardened Dave Matthews
Band still managed to fill the Sacramento Amphitheater Wednesday night with
more than two hours of music and thousands of energetic fans. Sure, there were
a few empty seats, but after a decade in the business, singer-songwriter
Matthews and his loyal group have built a broad fan base and have kept it
moving with lively shows, perpetual touring and trademark rhythms.
Rocking the USA!
.......From the get-go, when
the band formed in Virginia in the early '90s, the South African-born Matthews
eschewed the traditional band composition, utilizing instead a five-person
lineup (three-fifths African-American) that included a violinist (Boyd
Tinsley), woodwind player (Leroi Moore), drummer (Carter Beauford), bassist
(Staffen Lessard) and Matthews' acoustic - rather than electric - guitar.
.....When the Dave Matthews
Band burst on the scene 10 years ago, it was a refreshing change of pace from
the bombastic rock and pop of the day -- clean, acoustic and groovy, a blend of
world beats, jazz, folk, rock and bluegrass, with nary an electric guitar to be
heard. Fast-forward 10 years, though, and one wonders, is the band as vital
today as it was then? Tough to call. Even though Matthews and company still
draw masses to their concerts, the band has not grown much musically since its
first hit album, 1994's "Under the Table and Dreaming." The rhythms,
once energizing, have not progressed and, as critics have pointed out, the
songs have remained the same. Indeed, it was some of the band's earlier hits
that generated the most energy and fan reaction . The pretty, marching love
tune "Crash," the band's most recognizable hit, and the funky
"Too Much" created more crowd response and greater stage energy than
newer songs like "Digging a Ditch" off the band's 2002 album,
"Busted Stuff." Dave Matthews is a pleasant anomaly in that scenario.
Rather than fading out, he's proven he's got staying power - in fact he seems
to get more popular as the years go by.
......So can Matthews keep his
fervent following going for another decade? If the enthusiastic response to the
rousing encore, "Stay" was any indication, probably so. Matthews and
Tinsley both are releasing solo albums this year, and it may help the group
grow its already solid core of fans.
By Randy Cohen
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All photos and written material courtesy of Rock Publication
.Copyright © 2003
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