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The History Of DMB: Chapter IV

By Jake Vigliotti
July 14, 2007

1994 began tragically. Dave’s sister Anne was murdered in January (1), causing DMB to cancel some shows in Colorado (2). Dave returned in time for a January show with Tim Reynolds in New York, where Dave opened with a slow, sad, Tripping Billes dedicated to her memory (3).

The loss of his big sister had quite an effect on Dave. The four children (Anne, Dave, Jane and Peter) were a close-knit family, partly due to the loss of their father in the 1970’s. DMB fans are aware of the closeness of Dave and his sister Jane, but despite the distance, he was close to Anne too. After the loss of his sister, Dave told friends in Tuscaloosa, AL that he was considering leaving the music business immediately (4).

As the band worked up songs for their first major label release, Dave tried out a few songs dealing with his loss. Nothing became of the song Sister (5) and Me and Her – most likely to the personal nature of the songs. Kind Intentions, a song from the previous year and most likely related to Anne, was attempted in some Sound Checks around that time, and it’s likely Me and Her is a re-working of the song.

It did take a bit of time for Dave to get his bearings straight after the tragedy, naturally. Part of that certainly had to do with the touring schedule: even with a major record deal, DMB was still out every night playing for packed houses. They once again ripped through the southeast, but played a few larger cities along the way. The build up to the recording session saw DMB making new fans and packing new locales. Despite the infancy of the internet, a mailing list (called Minarets after the DMB song) announced the DMB schedule to fans, and helped spread the music, via trade and Tree-distribution. (6)

The band tightened some songs during the 94 tour (Rhyme and Reason is one), and went into a June recording session with Steve Lillywhite for what would become Under The Table And Dreaming (7).

The band didn’'t have what one would classify as a typical session. They had all the songs written previously, so all they had to do was to lay down the tracks. Almost every song was recorded as a full-band track (rather than in pieces and put back together). That gave the album a bit of a ‘live’ feel to the tracks as well (8).

Lillywhite, at that time most famous for producing U2 albums, quickly established his mark on the band. He introduced a new sound to the popular song, What Would You Say, by putting a harmonica intro (courtesy of John Popper). The story associated with Popper's involvement is that he wrote his harmonica intro and solo very quickly; in fact, Dave went to visit the washroom and by the time he exited, Popper wrote his music.

DMB repeated some songs from their first release, Remember Two Things, but the songs that repeated were certainly more polished. The version of Ants Marching on UTTAD is more like the live versions played than the live recording from R2T. Warehouse arguably was the most ‘produced’ song. The session went quickly, and DMB was completely done with the album recording-wise by early July (9).

The band continued their college tour as the album was getting its finishing touches, playing throughout the southeast and building momentum (10). These shows were absolute sell-outs – with reports of places being packed to the gills with fans. DMB hadn't a new song in almost a year, so every song was a group-chorus, fans screaming along with the songs. DMB joined on the H.O.R.D.E. tour, and despite not being the ‘featured’ act, they certainly played to larger crowds than most of the bands.

DMB played in Charlottesville and Richmond again for their release party for their first major-label release. Clearly, the band had outgrown its old stomping ground. To some fans, this marked the end of DMB. After all, prior to the major label release, DMB was their band; that cool little thing that not too many people knew of. But the band’s talent was too great to be confined to smoky bars in small southern towns. The record brought new fans in different parts of the country. DMB played out west, traveling through Montana and into California.

Despite the new album, DMB worked on new tunes. Get In Line (11) debuted in Boston in October, and while in Montana, DMB played a jam that would become Rapunzel 4 years later (12). Talk about not resting on your laurels. They also worked an intro for Satellite into a song (Proudest Monkey).

A strange thing happened in California, and DMB made the kind of move that can take a band from the brink of popularity and send them back to obscurity. DMB performed a show and played their single, What Would You Say. After the song, they noticed ‘fans’ leaving, after hearing the one song they came to hear. They decided at that time to give WWYS a rest, and made new fans with a majority of songs not on the UTTAD album.

Just think about the risk! Imagine you hear that James Blunt song “Your Beautiful” on the radio and learn he’s coming to town. You buy a ticket just to hear that song, and he doesn't play it! Odds are you’d be pretty melancholy. DMB did this, yet gained fans! That goes to show the strength of the DMB catalog, the confidence in their playing, and down-right inability to follow the norm. It worked.

DMB finished up the 1994 year, one of very high highs and extremely low lows, with a New Year’s Eve show in Hampton, VA. Smokey bars were about to go the way of the dodo.

(1) Anne lost her life in a murder-suicide committed by her husband. Due to the horrific nature of the crime, DMB officially did not comment nor mention the cause of her death. This was also partially due to the fact that Anne’s two children became wards of Dave and his sister Jane (meaning they’d be in the US). The children were fairly young, and in an attempt to shield them from the tragedy, very little info was given to them concerning the deaths.

If you read through the Minarets digest listings from that time, you can see the dearth of info. Fans were not even aware of Dave’s sister living in South Africa, and originally the story given to fans was she was killed in an auto accident.

(2) The Samples filled in for DMB, with Boyd, Roi, and Carter guesting on the shows. Proceeds went to Anne Matthews family. DMB also canceled two shows in Chicago (which would’ve been their first trip there).

(3) The Album Under The Table And Dreaming is also dedicated to her memory.

(4) At a dinner in Tuscaloosa after his sister’s death, Dave told friends that he was going to quit the business. According to someone at the dinner, the group told him not to quit. Weather this was a serious notion or just part of the mourning process, only Dave knows.

(5) We now call the 94 version of “Sister” Sister-94, to lessen the confusion between the current song Sister and the original one (about two different sisters, Anne and Jane). People associated with the band said that Dave did not even recall the 94 version of the song – the recording was not even known about until a fan found a tape he had with the song in 2006.

(6) A tree setup would work as such: a person tapes a show. He copies the show to five people (branches), who copy their version to five other people, and so on. Most tree’s only went a few branches deep to preserve quality (the further down in generation an analog tape went, the more scratchy it sounds). But it wasn’t uncommon to see 40-50 person trees.

(7) According to the Minarets fan email, the original plan to go into the studio may have been earlier in 1994, but the personal tragedy to Dave pushed back the date. There are also mentions of live releases in late 94 or early 95, which is consistent with what most believed was accurate information at the time; that a live album would follow UTTAD. That was probably more of a ‘big picture’ plan, and the 1997 Live release of 8.15.95 became what was to be a 2nd live album (which is now the live trax series).

(8) The full recording session is listed in the tour archive, but notably absent from the album was Granny. DMB went in with the thought of the song being the first single, but instead it was cut from the album. Instead, DMB released What Would You Say as the first single, a song that recently came back into set lists.

(9) Believe it or not, most ‘old school’ fans greatly disliked UTTAD. Many thought the album was over-produced, disliked the WWYS harmonica (why not on SMTS like it used to be?), and felt that most songs were flat. And with that, fans never ever complained about the band again… or something like that.

(10) Most of those stops – the small college towns – would be the last time DMB would play in those towns. And virtually every stop received a mention of the new album, to the roars of the crowd.

(11) a recording from a sound check in 1994 (7.21) showed that Dave tried Get In Line during that recording. Ironically enough, that sound check was known but mis-identified prior to the recording. A fan that heard the song and at the time believed it was Rhyme And Reason.

(12) Fans discovered the recording after Before These Crowded Streets was released. The show was known in trading circles prior to that, but wasn’'t a popular show.



The views and comments expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of antsmarching.org.


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