September 1st, 2003
In an entertainment event sponsored by America Online (AOL) to benefit public schools, Dave Matthews played Wednesday before a New York Central Park packed 70,000 strong.
AOL, in conjunction with the Dave Matthews Fan Club and Ticketmaster, distributed the majority of the (free) tickets to students and fan club members. The event, initially intended to be a small gathering of Dave Matthews fans in Central Park, was opened up to the public at the urging of AOL, who, over the past year, have given more than one-million dollars in support of public education.
Matthews, due to release a solo album entitled "Some Devil" on Tuesday, steered clear of these debut songs during his two-hour-plus performance. Dave's band, who've been behind him and his sometimes lengthy instrumental encores, was not hired to back Matthews' production of the album. Nonetheless, the sheer enthusiasm and intensity of Wednesday's performance conveyed no ill-will between the Band and Dave.
And the evening did not pass without at least a few notable surprises. Guest guitarist Warren Haynes was invited by Matthews, late-performance, for a joint trek through Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer." Haynes, known best for his work with the Allman Brothers and Gov't Mule, is an accomplished guitarist inclined to "jam", from time-to-time--one of Dave's trademark paradigms. But while the evening in total may have been a more memorable music experience for stalwart Dave Matthews fans rather than casual listeners, it did serve to support one purpose proficiently for all involved: education.
Perhaps the most fitting epitaph for Dave's evening was his introduction: "Nice to run into you in the park tonight," he said, "My mind is blown."