As I sit here, glued to the TV, watching CNN's broadcast of the historic inauguration of President Obama, I can't help but think about the idea of change. For many of us, welcoming the new president is a change that couldn't come fast enough. But what about those changes in life that we couldn't predict, didn't choose, and simply wouldn't want? The latter describes how countless Dave Matthews Band fans are feeling about the crushing loss of arguably one of the best saxophone players of all time, Mr. Leroi Moore (1961-2008). Words can't express the sorrow that swept the DMB community when news of Leroi's passing was announced. An outpouring of grief and condolences to the band and Leroi's family ensued, and we are by no means done grieving. Instead, we're listening to our favorite versions of #34, Grey Street, and Stolen Away on 55th, marveling at Leroi's unbelievable ability and finesse. And yet, as we speak, the band is in the studio perfecting the new album, and the Spring tour is only 3 months away!
There is an old saying that when one door closes, another one opens. A door has certainly opened for two time Grammy award winning saxophonist and composer, Jeff Coffin. Coffin is no stranger to the Dave Matthews Band. He has shared the stage with them and many others including: Branford Marsalis, DJ Logic, New Orleans Social Club, Garth Brooks, Phish, Van Morrison, J.D. Souther, The Dixie Chicks and a host of other groups. Coffin began playing regularly with DMB in the wake of Leroi's injury and will be joining the band for the 2009 tour. There is no doubt that Coffin is an amazing musician and teacher. Committed to sharing the art of music, Coffin teaches clinics to high school, junior high, and college students and lists oodles of his esteemed influences on his website, www.jeffcoffin.com, for the benefit of aspiring musicians. Probably best known for his role in the well-loved Bela Fleck and the Fleckstones, Coffin also leads his own group, The Mu'tet, derived from the word mutation and named for Coffin's belief in music as a dynamic and changing entity. Fitting, isn't it? Perhaps we can learn from Coffin's understanding, which suggests that change is inevitable and necessary in music.
It's hard to predict the role that Coffin will play on the new album, but we know he'll be an important factor in the Spring tour. We never would have chosen to experience a change of this magnitude but sometimes it happens that way. I believe that Leroi would have wanted for us to continue whole-heartedly loving this band, and that welcoming Jeff with open arms is as much a tribute to Leroi's legacy as it an affirmation of Jeff's abilities. Everywhere we look, we find that change is upon us, and change is not always easy or fair. Whether we've anticipated and voted for change, or been struck by her in a sudden and unpredictable way, we cannot avoid the twisting turns that life often presents us with. All we can do is remember two things: First, life is short but sweet for certain. Second, celebrate we will!
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self