Sun-Drenched Afternoons And The Loneliness That Nobody Notices: Why Dave Matthews Is For Summer and Every Season In Between

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(Photo by Michael Charles Roman)

A friend of a friend once said, “Dave Matthews is for summer.”

It’s true. Blasting “Stay” while coasting down the green mountains of Vermont in the middle of June (“For just a moment/this good time/would never end”), watching fireworks rooftop, wedged between the Watergate and the Washington Monument, hearing “Tripping Billies” talk of tequila drinking, and minds wandering to wondrous places on Independence Day does, in fact, scream summer.

But then there are those crisp autumn days, coasting down the Hudson River on the Amtrak Empire Service line, watching the leaves shed their greenery, earphones blaring “#41”: “It used to be/you and me/played for all the loneliness/that nobody notices now.” Or laying on freshly fallen snow in your front yard and taking the advice of “One Sweet World”: “Let us sleep outside tonight/lay down in our mother’s arms/for here we can rest safely.” Or when the sun melts the white away and buds start to bloom in spring, while “Everyday” suggests we, “Jump in the mud of love/get yourself filthy wet/good muddy love/everyday.”

 

 

For me, Dave Matthews is for summer (“Lie In Our Graves”), fall (“Where Are You Going”) winter (“Grey Street”) and spring (“The Best of What’s Around”). And he’s for falling in love (“So Right”), for breaking up (“Some Devil”), for successes (“So Damn Lucky”), for failures (“You Might Die Trying”), for life (“American Baby”) and for lives once lived (“Granny”). For me, Dave is and forever will be the soundtrack to feeling life’s experiences. I’m sure I had heard the iconic 90’s anthem before, but some fifteen years later, I seem to recall a sun-drenched afternoon, riding in the backseat of my older brother’s Honda Passport hearing the Dave Matthew’s Band belt out “Ants Marching” at near deafening decibels. The blend of Matthews’ vocals, a lively violin jam, an alto saxophone wail signaling the end of such a metaphorical march had me hooked instantly.

A few years later, I would join a middle school sweetheart and her family (and 25,000 others) at the famed Saratoga Performing Arts Center, to watch a Dave Matthews Band show (nay, spectacle) and from there, the love affair firmly established its roots deep within. The Northeast humidity couldn’t keep my feet still. My hands stayed raised like a Baptist testifying at a Sunday mass for the 3-hour set. At one point, the dazzling light show highlighted beads of sweat trickling down my face and my date turned to me and asked, “Are you okay?” I was more than okay–I was floating.

From there, we cue the montage.

Another year or two of private school led to homeschooling and moving our sideshow to Los Angeles. All the while, Dave soundtracked my life. The band would go on to play a free show in Central Park for 100,000 people, recording every step, every strum of the guitar, every crash of the high hat and symbols for all of us not able to attend such a scrapbook-worthy event. The boys played their hits, (“Warehouse,” “Too Much,” “Crush”) and the show has gone down in the history books as one of their finest performances. (See pianist Butch Taylor’s four minute epic solo in The Iliad of DMB songs “Two Step”). The triple CD release still rides along with me, my gal and my ever faithful Jeep.

 

 

Years later, as the pages shed from the calendar, myself back in the great Northeast, I got a call from my brother from our nation’s capital. Through a twist of fate, his job as a Budweiser Sales Rep introduced him to a chef at the Union Station Grill who claimed to be lifelong friends with Carter Beauford; arguably one of the world’s greatest drummers who also happens to be the co-founding member of the Dave Matthews Band.

Me, a cynic from inception, found the story too good to be true.

As though the raising of my arched eyebrows could be heard some 300 miles away, my doubts were soon quelled, quieted, and put to rest. In just a few weeks, I would enjoy one of the greatest nights of my life: posing for pictures arm-in-arm with Mr. Matthews himself pre-show, sneaking a glance from behind the backstage curtain, looking out at 20,000 Manhattanites inside the most famous arena of them all, Madison Square Garden, singing (screaming) along to the band’s greatest hits, hugging Carter in his post performance glow outside his dressing room, and later that night laying on a friend’s couch in the village, his French bulldog licking my face, wondering aloud to my brother, “Did that really just happen?”

There’s an old adage to never meet your idols. People often say this from experience, having met one of their own only to be disappointed. Sometimes they’re mean. Pretentious. Downright despicable. You discover that the 1080 HD is a resplendent mask that covers who they really are. But if you’re a DMB fan, in the case of Dave, Carter, Boyd, Stefan, Reshawn, Jeff and Tim, my hope is that one day you do meet them. They’re what you’d hope them to be and more–they’re funny, affable, kind and generous. In the years since our first Garden experience, we have broken bread with the band and their family almost a dozen times, thanks to Chef DC (now lovingly referred to as “Uncle”) from Saratoga, MSG to the Hollywood Bowl. And now, we know the crew, who follow their bosses’ lead and treat everyone in the Biblical sense–as they’d like to be treated.

Earlier this year, the band released their new album Away from the World–their sixth studio album to debut at Number One on the charts. The album has its customary soulful, upbeat tracks like “Belly Belly Nice” and “Rooftop” but like a Saint Agur blue cheese, the band has aged and matured. Such proof can be found on “Gaucho” which features a choir of children proclaiming, “We gotta do much more than believing/if we really want to change things.” Or when Dave strums the simple yet somehow profound ukulele and whispers, “You know the feeling when you’re in too deep/and then you make it out/the taste so sweet/sweet.”

 

 

The album, like Big Whiskey and the Groo Grux King before it and arching back through Matthews’s entire discography, resting on his debut, (the independently released Remember Two Things) are indeed, all for summer.  Bonfires, beers and waves crashing in the distance are complimented perfectly by his music. And he’s there when dusk appears sooner, or when kindling is needed to start a fire, or when birds return from their tropical getaways.

Matthews’ songbook sings the seasons as well as anyone’s.  And if it’s “5 o’clock somewhere” then it might as well be summer somewhere out there, too.

-Follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelCRoman

 

 

 

  • LinZ

    great article mike… made me reminisce about camp and summers past…

  • Bryan

    very well said, an original & real read

  • Hackey

    Thanks. Really enjoyed this. Well written.

    Jealous.

  • DancingPenny

    That was a beautiful description of the DMB experience, best I’ve read. The band’s music is more than music, it really is food for the soul and the best soundtrack to life that anyone could ask for. Thanks for sharing your words.

    • Michael C. Roman

      Thank you for taking the time to say such nice words dancing penny!

  • Shelley Roberts

    Wonderfully written and well said. I think you catured how a lot of DMB fans feel.

  • Lindsay Swart

    Made me cry. This was very touching and true to how genuinely Dave fans feel for their music.

    • Michael C. Roman

      I’m moved by your being moved by the essay. Thank you Lindsay.

  • Michael C. Roman

    Reading everyone’s comments makes writing pieces like this worth it. I am humbled and grateful for such acknowledgments.

  • Sophie Davies

    Any good friend of mine has naturally had an immense liking for the Dave Mathews Band and so this describes almost every pleasure moment and road trip ever had or imagined…!
    Impeccably written and oh so true!
    And still every time I turn around, one younger friend claims to be “Dave Mathews biggest fan”.
    He is eternal, just as you put it.

  • gtoddh

    I’m so happy I was directed to this article via Facebook. It describes exactly the feelings I have for the Dave Matthews Band. I was lucky enough to meet Dave in passing and that short encounter will be with me forever. Thank you for this article!

    • Michael C. Roman

      Thank you for taking the time to read and write such a nice response

  • Jodi

    100% agree. I love DMB so much so that I almost exclusively listened to them for 6 years! Mostly because nothing moved me lyrically, musically and emotionally–everything else seemed like noise in comparison. I have memorized full concerts, every lyric and note–I have said repeatedly that there is a Dave song for every occasion. I know that if I ever was lucky enough to cross paths with Dave that he would be a very cool dude. Thanks for the piece.

    • Michael C. Roman

      Thank you for your words and for reading Jodi

  • cwalker

    I believe that there is a piece from all of us shared in the Michael Roman article on the DMB, great read!

  • Seamus Werther

    Hey Mike great article, and i agreed with pretty much everything you wrote! Ive been sayin it for years, the emotion Dave’s music evokes is some of the most powerful i’ve ever experienced in relation to music. Hope all’s well in LA, would love to catchup sometime – Seamus Werther

  • Diana

    I agreed with every word, from the seasonal representations of songs, to the amazingness of St. Agur blue cheese. Well written, and thank you.

    • Michael C. Roman

      Thank you Diana. Love me some st agur and dmb

  • Marjohn Heath

    this is beautifully written ~ using song lyrics and vivid imagery, it drops one smack in the center of what the band’s many true fans recognize as the DMB experience. i’m wondering though how it resonates with non-fans. what’s the reaction been from those who have to ask why i must see them live *again* because they clearly don’t get it? or as i like to call them… the ‘others’

  • skyhippie

    chill bumps – So Da*n Lucky!!

  • Lucia Peck

    Thank you for a beautifully written and accurate article about how this band makes us feel. They are all crazy talented musicians, but even more wonderful people. I’ve only met Boyd and Carter, but the warmth and honest appreciation of us as their fans, comes through loud and clear when you talk to them. I have to believe that is a rare thing. This summer, as most summers, I have met some great new friends while in line, or tailgating at the shows. Their love of what they do is obvious when you see them perform. That is the real addiction, watching them have so much fun! Thanks again!

    • Michael C. Roman

      You are most welcome. Thank you for reading and enjoying

  • bigjuice19

    Brother, well done. Nailed the way DMB has shaped many in our generation. Central Park is the one show always in my car as well. Cheers!

    • Michael C. Roman

      Love that Central Park show. Cheers to you!

  • rapunzel67

    Great, great article MCR. Thanks to someones sharing this on our FB page. Please join our FB page: DMB Family. We’d love to have you onboard. Nobody gets why we love this band so much – perhaps they should read this. Thanks for writing such a down to earth whole hearted article.

    • Michael C. Roman

      I so appreciate your words and your invite. See you on the FB page.

  • Jillian

    This expresses the truest love for this extraordinary band that has touched and influenced so many of us for the many many years that they’ve existed. Thank you so much for such a beautiful piece.

    • Michael C. Roman

      Thank you for your words and for enjoying Jillian.

  • Matt Benoit

    Great article. I had the experience spending time with them in Denver in 2005 for Red Rocks. Definitely true about how genuine and nice they are.

  • Krista

    My favorite piece of this article…”My hands stayed raised like a Baptist testifying at a Sunday mass for the 3-hour set.” Beautiful writing and truly captures that special place in our spirit reserved especially for DMB!

    • Michael C. Roman

      Many thanks Krista

  • Tina Taylor

    even before we met, I felt like it was about me/us

  • Tom

    Central Park is 3 cd, not 2 😉
    Great article, I really liked it.

    Tom, listening to DMB since 1994.
    Poland

  • Carlos

    This rocks! I’ve been to many DMB shows and every time it’s a gathering of family. Most recent, I experienced my first east coast show in Charlotte. I was in Raleigh for business and they just so happen to play 2.5 hour drive from me. So, naturally I jumped in the rental car alone and drove my ass there without a ticket. I tweeted @Boyd and he retweeted me which lead to my pit ticket. Yes, this is EXACTLY the type of generosity and humanity that you refer to. It truly bleeds through the band. Needless to say it was one of the best shows I’ve seen. Driving a total of 5 hours through thunderstorms, an unfamiliar area with no ticket – worth EVERY SECOND! And that sweat you speak of, yeah that happened a lot! Thanks for the Sweet post. Rock on DMB!

  • Michelle Hanson

    You nailed it Michael- I have met Dave and never have I been so blown away by his true kindness and time to really listen to me babble on but to hug me so genuinely was the highlight of my photography career at farm aid 2009 – this article was amazing.. Thank you so much 🙂 from one fan to another – all the best-

  • Gina Nicole Taylor

    If I am ever lucky enough to meet Dave, I would want to tell him just how much his music means to me. I seriously listen to “listener supported” #41 every single day just because it makes me smile!
    Great read!!!

  • Tiffany

    Great, great story! Hey, next time you meet Dave, tell him #41girl Tiffany says hello, and I would love to meet him again and hopefully chat for longer next time. We would have loads of fun philosophizing. 🙂

  • Gracelnd77

    Other than meeting the band this could sum up my relationship with DMB. It was also my older brothers (one of which has met the band!) that first gave me a listen and there was no turning back after that. I always tell people there is a soundtrack to my life. And a huge part of that soundtrack has been and always will be Dave

  • Shauna

    It truly is a love affair! Thank you so much for this article, you perfectly put every DMB fan’s thoughts and emotions into words.

  • Brittany Wright

    I’m late in finding this article…but it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for writing such a beautiful piece. And, I too hope that I get the experience of meeting the band some day!

  • Jamie Powderley

    Thank you for putting all my thoughts into this WONDERFUL article. I too, discoved DMB in my (younger) brother’s car. He walked into work, said “Jaim, come take a ride with me. You have to hear this.” Blaring out Ants… I just turned and smiled at him. Then I heard Two Step. Now my kids join my group of ‘Dave’ friends. And my friend, you are right, there is nothing else like a DMB, Adirondack, Saratoga, weekend.

  • Erin

    This is an amazingly well written article…you’ve been able to describe the love for DMB in such a wonderful way.

  • Kris

    Amazing article couldn’t agree more !! Thank you !!

  • kitkatjam

    Dave is the soundtrack of life. Great article; I forget he has other fans, his music seems so personal it’s difficult to imagine he plays for anyone else…though that would explain the crowds at his concerts.

  • Timothy

    Been to well over 100 shows and everything you have said in this article rings true, right down to growing up in Northern Vermont and blasting UTTAD on tape in my first car. See y’all at Gorge 2014.

  • Theresa Maksel

    Michael, what an extremely well written article. You have captured the essence of what every DMB fan feels. When I listen to DMB it puts me in another place… a happy place. Someone recently asked on FB have you ever cried at a DMB concert. I cry all the time!! that’s how much their music affects me. Great article Michael and I look forward to many many more from you.

  • Sponge

    DMB has defined my Summers and my Life for the last 15+ years. Next time I’m down in DC and stopping off at the usual spot (Union Station Grill) before taking the Amtrak back to NYC…Imma try to order a Tennessee Lamb. (Dixie Chicken is on the menu) Excellent article!

  • Laura Roberts

    This article is amazing! Perfect, actually! So nice to read about your feelings and experiences.

  • R. Christopher Prater

    The greatest part about being in the DMB Family, is sharing our mutual love with each other. You guys are just as good as the Band. Thank you Brothers and Sisters All.

  • Kayla

    I am so glad you put this into words for all of us. Those who don’t get it JUST DONT GET IT. Much LoVE

    • Michael C. Roman

      Thanks for reading Kayla!

  • jim dubes

    Excellent article. You put into words what has always been in my head. You are definately one of the lucky ones. I hope to someday be just as lucky as you and be able to meet the guys and have a sitdown chat,… unthinkable, however I am hopeful

  • Missy

    Great piece! Wish there were more like it!

  • Beth

    beautifully written

  • Cara Keife

    Perfect. An oh so right!!!

  • Katherine

    Beautifully written article, Mike. Best description I’ve come across this far detailing the DMB experience. Thank you for sharing!

  • Love your article Michael Roman….you took the words right out of my mouth!