DMB on Stones stage? All signs point to maybe

No matter which town they're in, when the Rolling Stones plug in and play for an audience, there isn't a bigger event in the rock 'n' roll universe that night. But when Mick, Keith, and company play Charlottesville in October, the audience could be in for a night of star power the likes of which is rarely seen.

The big question is, will a certain local singer-songwriter and his band make an appearance?

Rumors started flying May 5 when the Stones revealed the dates for this fall's North American tour. Most curious about the itinerary is their Scott Stadium show on October 6, just three nights after they play D.C.'s MCI Center. Fans wondered why the band would travel a mere 110 miles south to play another show in the same relative geographic area. All conventional logic pointed to Virginia's most famous musical export: Dave Matthews Band.

It wouldn't be the first time Matthews has been linked to Sir Mick. DMB opened for the Stones on several occasions during the 1997-98 Bridges to Babylon tour, and Matthews himself made encore appearances with the headliner on two occasions. In a live pay-per-view concert event in St. Louis, Matthews shared vocals with Jagger on "Wild Horses." Months later, Dave appeared at all three of the Stones' shows in Amsterdam, lending his voice to the lesser-known "Memory Motel," a plaintive duet enshrined on the Stones' 1998 live album, No Security.

Given this prior connection, speculation was rife in May that DMB would come back home to occupy the bottom half of the bill for the Scott Stadium show. Such hopes were dashed on June 15 when promoters announced Trey Anastasio as the night's opening act.

But the Dave buzz did not die down.

If there's one band whose history is most intertwined with DMB, it's Anastasio's former group, Phish. Until their split last year, Phish was largely considered an equal in status and concert-drawing power. In 1999, Rolling Stone even went so far as to call them "two of the best live bands of the '90s." Not only did the two bands share the stage on multiple occasions, but both were pioneers in allowing fans to record live shows, and they're the only two bands to be immortalized with their own flavors of Ben & Jerry's ice cream: DMB's "One Sweet Whirled" and "Magic Brownies," and Phish Food.

Moreover, Anastasio has hovered particularly close to Matthews in recent years. In 2003, when Dave recorded his solo debut, Some Devil, Anastasio lent both his guitar stylings and songwriting talents to the effort. In fact, the two have become so chummy that when Anastasio sought new representation after Phish's split, he decided to join Mattews as a client of Crozet-based Red Light Management.

And if the Stones coming south from D.C. seems like a detour, Anastasio is coming all the way down from his home outside Burlington, Vermont, and won't play any shows immediately before or after Charlottesville. This is especially intriguing considering that most of the other opening acts on the Stones tour are scheduled to perform at multiple stops, including the John Mayer Trio, which will open the shows immediately before and after Charlottesville.

According to Patrick Jordan, Red Light's director of marketing, Anastasio chose Charlottesville specifically. "The Stones offered Trey a few dates, but because of commitments with his new record coming out," says Jordan, "he just decided that Charlottesville would be the place to play."

Part of that reasoning could be that his friends in the Dave Matthews Band may have wrapped up their own summer tour by then. Currently, the last date on DMB's North American itinerary is September 11 at Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheatre. With four-fifths of the band residing in Central Virginia and Matthews still owning a home in the area, it would only be natural for Anastasio to meet up with his friends on this short trip.

Will it be onstage with the Stones?

"If I had a good friend visiting town, I would certainly show up and hang with him. For musicians, that means performing together," says Waldo Jaquith, a founder of the newsy DMB fan website, "And as long as he's here, why not do something with the Stones? It would be perfectly appropriate for them to go into 'Memory Motel' and have Dave come onstage."

"I think that's a bit of a rumor," says Jordan, "but it does make for an interesting story."

And perhaps an interesting story is all this Kevin Bacon-esque speculation will ever be. But if it does come true, it will be a musical legend retold by Charlottesvillians for years to come.