February 28th, 1994
From and issue of Style Weekly
by Andy Garrigue
With a record-breaking first disc out, Dave Matthews Band makes a triumphant return.
Fans knew that it was only a matter of time. That one day they would've able to get their hands on a Dave Matthews Band compact disc instead of the bootleg concert tapes they had been surviving on forever. They also knew that one day the band would sign a major-label recording contract. The momentum had been building for months. With weekly shows at the Flood Zone and Charlottesville's Trax consistently attracting more than 500 people,
how could it not happen?
At the strike of midnight this past Nov 9, the band's first compact disc, "Remember Two Things" went on sale. Before the day was done, one record store in C'ville rang up more than 1,100 copies, DMB had sold out another Trax show and the ink was drying on a multiple-album recording contract with RCA records. According to Big Shots Records out of Athens Ga, who shipped 12,500 DMB discs in the first two weeks, "first-day sales of this album were bigger than any artist outside REM and Widespread Panic." Peter Robinson manager of the A&R label for RCA, commenting in a phone interview, said, "I haven't seen anything like that before for an independent release. It comfirms our belief that they're going to be big, that they're doing to grow and grow and grow, be a career artist. And
we're going to be in it with them for the long haul."
Word about the band, which features violin, saxophone and Matthews' distinctive vocals in a free-ranging melodic mix of jazz, world-beat, folk and pop, has spread by several methods: Bootleg tapes have made the rounds
of friends and college radio stations. There's a Dave Matthews E-net on Internet so fans can communicate with each other. Called "minaret," after one of Matthews' songs, it began at the University of Vermont and is solely fan operated. According to manager Coran Capshaw, "It's traveled across at east 28 states and to Austrailia and Canada." Capshaw estimates the recording is now sold in 25 states, with total sales over the last three months approaching 25,000.
With the release of "Remember Two Things," the band scaled back on area performances. On Feb 24, the band makes their first performance in Richmond since playing at the Marriot on New Year's Eve. After this show at the Flood Zone, the band's next Richmond date is April 3, when they'll perform on Brown's Island with Widespread Panic.
A January tour of Colorado was cut short when news came form Matthews' native South Africa that his sister had been murdered by her husband, who then took his own life, orphaning their two small children. Matthews flew there to be with his family. When Matthews returned, the tour resumed, and two shows at a 1,000 seat venue in Athens sold out in four hours.
How this family tragedy will affect Matthews' music remains to be seen, but there's no question about from where his emotional support has been coming. Commenting on the band's future after bing signed by RCA, he said, "I think our success so far has been because we've stayed together. And the remainder of what comes in the future relies very much on us remaining a tight unit. However we mature together in the business, or manage to survive whatever comes to us, the main focus for me is for us to stay together. Then everyting will take care of itself."