May 6th, 2017 was a night to remember. I’ve been a big fan of the Dave Matthews Band ever since I was a young lad. It began when I first listened to “Under the Table and Dreaming” back in 1994.
What’s wild is that from 1997 all way up to the present, covering DMB tunes at gigs has been a prominent, and highly enjoyable, part of my life. This goes for literally everywhere that I have lived. Boston, Hartford, and New York- in all of these places, I have played in bands that covered DMB tunes.
Fast forward all the way to April 13th, 2017. I was in Europe with the fun-living music circus phenomenon known as “Postmodern Jukebox.” We were gearing up towards the end of an action-packed two-month tour. The last two shows we played were in Portugal, in the great cities of Lisbon and Porto. I noticed that Dave Matthews was playing the same two venues in these cities as us. It wasn’t as DMB, it was a duo with him and his longtime friends and collaborator Tim Reynolds. Some of us in PMJ talked about seeing Dave and Tim play, but alas, the scheduling didn’t work out.
Our last show of the PMJ tour was in Porto. The morning after the show, there were four of us who were scheduled to fly back to New York, with a layover in Madrid. While waiting in line to check luggage, in a very exhausted state, I saw someone who looked familiar. I was thinking “Wow! That guy looks like Dave Matthews.” Then I realized that, yes, it IS Dave Matthews. So I immediately said hi, introduced myself, and asked him how the shows went. He said they went well, asked what I was up to, and introduced me to his family.
I told him about Postmodern Jukebox and it turned out that he was a fan! I then introduced him to my fellow band mates, and we all got some nice pictures together. I also gave him my card to in touch and maybe even play together sometime.
To my surprise, I received a text message later that day, thanking my bandmates and me for being so pleasant, and complimenting our performances in the PMJ videos. It was Dave Matthews who texted me! I couldn’t believe it! So of course I thanked him, and told him that I would check out a show sometime. He told me to let him know which shows I was going to see so that we could meet up again.
After this epic airport meeting and text message exchange, I had literally only ten days to be at home, before heading out on the next PMJ tour, which was going to be a US run, mostly in the south. So during these days, I kept in touch with Dave and I went on his website to see where he and Tim Reynolds were playing. I figured I would also ask if I could join in for a song. After some VERY detailed logistical brainstorming, I noticed that Dave and Tim were playing on May 6th in Nashville. Coincidentally, we had the day off in Knoxville on that day, so I figured I could rent a car and drive a few hours over to check out the show.
I mentioned to Dave the idea of sitting in at this show. To my surprise, he said it was a cool idea, and told me to check in with him a few days before the show. Incredible! I was ready to rock! On the morning of May 6th, I rented a car and formed quite the entourage with some PMJ band mates and crew members. There were five of us and we were ready to roll! We went from Knoxville to Nashville, and rolled up right at 4 pm.
Dave’s tour manager brought us to the backstage area and gave us a nice room to relax. This was epic! Then it was time for soundcheck. I had previously told Dave that my favorite song is “#41,” so we agreed that I would join in on that song. We went over the song once from beginning to end, and Dave said enthusiastically that he liked what I was doing. Boom- we were good to go. The day just kept getting more surreal by the minute.
After soundcheck, Dave told us to make ourselves at home, and then he joined us for dinner! We all had a really good time and talked a lot about movies. After soundcheck and dinner-it was showtime! #41 was in the middle of the set. I followed along the set list and I must say- it was very cool to see my name on it! My friends and I watched the show from the side of the stage, and they strategically took different pictures from different angles. Props to Robyn, Adam, Loreen, and Casey! ☺
When it came time to play, I felt a few quick moments of both excitement and anxiety. But to be honest, that quickly subsided. I shook hands with both Dave and Tim, I made sure to stay musically out of the way of Dave’s vocals, and then when it came time to solo, I did my best to tell a musical story without going on for too long. Before I knew it, the song ended, eight thousand people cheered, and I again shook hands with the two cool gents. I felt that all of my music experience led to this very moment.
I was very familiar with the song, I’ve sat in with countless bands, and I’ve done tons and tons of acoustic gigs with singer-songwriters. The 300+ shows that I have done with PMJ also came in handy as well, to say the least.
One of the most inspirational aspects of this experience was seeing how Dave Matthews (and Tim Reynolds as well) exhibited an intense, zen-like focus, combined with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a down-to-earth demeanor. During the show, Dave and Tim were in the zone. Totally locked in. And all eight thousand people in the amphitheater knew it! It was intense!
Then afterwards, Dave made us drinks and we all joked around and got silly. It is pretty evident that he takes music seriously, but does not take himself seriously. This is very important to me. It helped me to develop a spiritual awakening in which I realized that no one is above music itself. Literally- no one. Music is in and of itself a transcendental force, and it is our job as artists and connoisseurs to respect it.
To be focused, yet realize that we are merely human beings. Anyway- all spirituality and metaphysics aside- this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will never forget for the rest of my life! I hope you enjoyed this story and I also hope that it is in some way helpful for you in your own life.