We are getting so close to the number one spot!
The artist that comes in at number four was introduced to me over a decade ago... by Phish! I went to a Phish show and this next artist was the opening act. As they finished their set they became the first opening act I did not want to stop playing. If Phish never came on stage I would of been happy. I bought their CD the next day and my love of...
The Dave Mathews Band
...began. This artist was an easy inclusion in the top ten most important musical artists (with a debut album out on or after 1990).
Dave was born and raised in South Africa but moved to Charlottesville, VA and soon after formed a band. Taking the mantle of the Dead, Phish and Blues Traveler they poured their time and energy into play live shows... a lot of live shows. Their infection of the music scene spread with their efforts.
As I waited for Phish to come on and the lights came up on DMB, it was immediately apparent they were different. They are a truly integrated band. A mix of race, musical instraments and sounds rise from this ensemble.
If DMB is anything, they are smart. Their music is tight and precise while still sounding like a backyard jam session. Dave's songs are woven with clever lyrics and unanticipated rhymes. More than anything, it is the underlying rhythm that makes them who they are.
Like Ani, Dave understands that it is how you play (as much as what you play) that matters. His African roots grew a tree with branches of jazz, Celtic folk, blues and even fifties pop. Like Ani, Dave has a charisma on stage. No chick is safe at a Dave concert. Don't want your wife/girlfriend or partner to have a crush on Dave? Don't ever take them to a show. Dave seems real. He seems kind. His love of the music only seems matched by his love for the fans.
His first studio album (Under The Table And Dreaming, 1994) took awhile to spread but it did end up in everyone's CD rack. Once The Best Of What's Around, What Would You Say and Typical Situation started getting radio play it all fell into place.
At first these songs seemed pop mixed with granola. The more you listened the more you heard. It does not take long to realize how deep his music is. One time you can focus on just the lyrics. Another time you can just listen to just the music. Each time you hear something new... something you missed.
He brought the singer/songwriter movement back to the scene. Without Dave, there would be no Meyers, Johnson, Folds or Blunt. He reminded us that it was OK to just play for the love of playing. It was OK to be a live band that happened to put out CDs. It was OK to carry on the spirit of the Grateful Dead without trying to sound like the Dead.
His summer tour dates are already out. Already seen Dave? Go again. Never seen him live... time to write down the dates in pen. There are few live experiences like his show. Just go.
Here is the list so far:
4) Dave Mathews
5) Ani Difranco
6) Rage Against the Machine
7) Smashing Pumpkins
8) Tori Amos
Only three artists left... only three spots left. One of these will be number one. Many have guessed... some will be surprised. Post your guess. How will