So the Dave Matthews Band came away empty-handed from this year’s Grammy Awards (in its nominated category of "Best Rock Performance By A Duo or Group With Vocal” for “The Space Between”) after performing a somewhat anemic rendition of song prior to U2’s picking up the award for “Elevation.”
It was an unexpected but noteworthy turning point.
U2 deserved its due in other categories it surprisingly wound up losing, but the loss accentuated a tough lesson Matthews learned with Everyday, which is to say that attempts to make the band “radio friendly” were at best a win-lose gamble and, at worst, a mistake that cost the band’s faithful to question Matthews’ motives.
Sure, the album went double platinum and achieved its goal of exposing the band to Top 40 radio and heavy music video rotation. On the flipside, the group suffered the backlash of its dedicated fan base, a healthy margin of which preferred the unreleased and heavily downloaded Lillywhite Sessions, while adding Everyday to their collections simply to maintain the catalog.
As The Hook goes to press, the band is putting the finishing touches on its as-yet-untitled release, with the first single, “Where Are You Going,” set for release to radio stations across the nation in early April, just as the band begins its tour. According the music industry bible Billboard, the band re-recorded such tracks as “Bartender,” “Grey Street,” Digging a Ditch,” and “Grace Is Gone”— most of which have become staples of the band’s current set list— for the new album.
A Grammy trophy would have rekindled sales of Everyday, but the band is clearly concentrating on a mix of that album’s standouts, cuts from the new album, and its standard crowd-pleasers for its upcoming tour. “Where Are You Going,” first performed by Matthews during last year’s “Groundwork” benefit concert in Seattle, will likely occupy a top spot on the band’s 64-date tour, and— along with an enhanced infusion of the tracks from the Lillywhite Session— will replace some of Everyday’s less-than-memorable cuts.
Still, “Everyday,” the single, sits at No. 9 on the Billboard’s “Adult Top 40” charts, with the album now topping more than three million sales in the United States alone.
Speculation about whether Matthews becomes the Garcia or Dylan of his day is folly; but the band’s corporate masters can’t— and shouldn’t— ignore its tried-and-true recording methodology or its track record in favor of a quick hit.
Hit singles come and go, but Top 40 acceptance has never been either the band's goal or its strength. At this point, Dave could fart, burp, and babble nonsense on tape for 45 minutes and collect a platinum disc. His label, RCA, should know better. The fans want the jams, and it seems Dave has seen the light.
Despite the Grammy loss, Dave can be justifiably proud of his selection as “Best Male Acoustic Guitarist” at the third annual Orville H. Gibson Guitar Awards on February 27 at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood. The awards recognize guitar players for their artistic accomplishments and honor musicians who reflect the spirit of the famed guitar-maker and his belief in quality, innovation, and tradition. At the ceremony, Matthews stood alongside other recipients guitar legend Scotty Moore (Elvis’ original lead guitarist), bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs, and U2’s The Edge.
Elsewhere, also in February, Matthews and the band were honored with a Patrick Lippert Award for their work as tireless proponents of music as a political force. The awards, presented to musicians who work to educate young people about politics, as DMB’s philanthropic and humanitarian contributions do, attract little press and often go unnoticed.
As if the band needed a consolation prize, DMB waxed the competition in the 2002 Playboy Music Awards, taking home the magazine’s awards for “Best Rock Group,” “Best Rock CD” Everyday. Drummer Carter Beauford took home “Best Rock Instrumentalist.”
DMBriefs: Short cuts from the DMB NewsWatch
• According to a release from his new publicist, Jim Merlis, Matthews completed a $5.3 million land deal on February 25. Already a farm owner in Keene, Dave has now purchased 1,261 of the 7,379 acres that Charlottesville billionaire John W. Kluge donated last year to the University of Virginia Foundation. The sale— which includes of numerous cottages, houses, and barns on properties named Spring Hill, Church Hill, Maple Hill, Oakwood, and Seven Pines— makes Matthews one of Albemarle County’s largest landowners. A release says Matthews will emphasize organic farming.
• While DMB grossed as much as $65 million in its 2001 tour, and consistently sold out its shows around the country, industry analysts noted declining concert revenues for even the most durable rock acts. Chief among its targets was the rising cost of tickets and accompanying surcharges. A ticket to a DMB concert last year set the average fan back $56. Those expecting to pay a similar amount for the band’s upcoming tour should not be surprised to note that tickets have jumped another $10, averaging $67.50, with or without service charges.
• A vigilant DMBeat reader amended DMBeat’s list of movie soundtracks the band’s song have appeared on— a roster of lackluster films that flopped at the box office despite the hits tracks that accompanied the films’ soundtracks. Turns out the omission was “Help Myself,” which is included in both the score and soundtrack of the hit horror flick Scream 2.
• To conclude on a charitable note, the band continues to put its formidable finances behind local philanthropic endeavors with a $20,000 grant to allow the McIntire Skateboard Park to remain free to the city’s skateboard-crazed youths.