Dave Matthews tickets go on sale on Jan. 19 for a June 16 Saratoga Springs concert, “An evening with Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds,” at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. And when I read a quick brief about their upcoming concert, I was immediately taken back to Charlottesville, Va., the city I lived in for a couple decades. I was thinking about how I knew most of the founding band members before they were actually the Dave Matthews Band. The only one I never met was its namesake, Dave Matthews. And I wonder how our paths did not cross because we were both local bartenders.
In the early 1990s, there was this sushi bar, Tokyo Rose, that had the best ever sushi and live jazz. It's still there actually. A good friend of mine and incredible musician, Sal Soghoian, introduced me to Carter Beauford, Dave Matthews' drummer and now deceased LeRoi Moore, Dave Matthews' sax player. They were playing jazz and R & B with Sal and George Melvin for dinner and donations in the basket with a group called Blue Indigo. See photos of everyone at Tokyo Rose in about 1990. ( http://www.salsoghoian.com/photos/blueindigo01/BI-01-01.html)
And for a few months, I spent time eating sushi and joking with Carter and Sal between sets. When I got a magazine assignment covering the music scene in the Blue Ridge Mountains, they encouraged me to include their work in the piece.
Carter and LeRoi also played jazz with my neighbors, John D’earth and Dawn Thompson, who played at Miller's, a local bar, and at weddings that I was often working as a bartender. So we were all working together at sometimes lavish events.
At the same time, I was very good friends with Stefan Lessard’s (Dave Matthews’ bass guitarist) father, Ron Lessard, also a bass guitarist. One night, when we were out for coffee, Ron holds up a cassette tape and says, “Stefan is in this new band and they’re good.”
That was 1991 (I think), Stefan was 16. We went out to my car and played the cassette, it was the first tape of the Dave Matthews Band playing together.
While reporting my magazine piece, I ran into Boyd Tinsley, Dave Matthews’ violinist. And when I told him I was coming out to see his band for my story, he suggested we meet for lunch. And we did, although I can't remember what he ordered.
My daughter and I still went to hear the Boyd Tinsley Band play in a Charlottesville bar and we were both smitten by his charm, fabulous boots and incredible talent.
A few years later, I moved into this little offbeat log home enclave of artists and in the duplex attached to mine, were two young hippy guys who worked for the Dave Matthews Band and come to find out, Carter lived a few houses down from me.
Today, I look at what they have done and created and remember how good I thought they were then, and still do.