Posts Tagged ‘Dave Matthews Band’

In an attempt to stir things up, I’ve decided to start a series of blog posts that will hopefully show up intermittently over the next few months. Each album that falls under this series is one that is absolutely captivating from beginning to end. Track by track, it gets better and better, regardless of the order in which you play them. The first title is Live at Luther College by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds.

I first became a fan of Dave Matthews Band (DMB), long after I should have. Everyone used to listen to them in high school, and being the contrarian that I am/was, I refused to take any interest. I did eventually come around and completely fell for their 1996 album Crash. What I enjoyed most about the band was their storytelling lyrics, told with a background of incredible instrumentation.  A few years later, I discovered 1999’s Live at Luther College (LLC) and things were never the same after that.

First recorded in 1996 at – wait for it – Luther College in Iowa, this 2-disc album features most of the tracks on DMB’s debut album, 1994’s Under the Table and Dreaming. Crash wasn’t released until late 1996, after LLC was recorded, but 3 years before it dropped. It stars Dave Matthews on acoustic guitar, accompanied by renowned guitarist Tim Reynolds: a match made in musical heaven. You just can’t take your ear away. Trust me, I’ve tried.

This record is such a work of art because of its simplicity. Listening to these 2 people and their guitars create the sounds they do, is an experience in itself. Your mind drifts, gets caught up in the music, the words. You just feel it all over. Not to mention Tim’s awe-inspiring, mesmerizing guitar solos, which make you wish you were that good at anything in your life.

Live albums should be a different experience than listening to a studio album. LLC accomplishes this and then some because it’s just more real. If I throw a track on, I’m stuck listening to the entire album for weeks, because all my senses go on a music high and I just don’t want to come down from it. That’s what classic albums do.

Jimmy Fallon has it all. A young comedian/actor/writer/producer/father from Brooklyn who landed a coveted spot on SNL, followed by a stint on Late Night, and now the ultimate dream job as host of The Tonight Show. He has the ability to reach millions of people every night, and the luxury of making his stage whatever he wants it to be. Now, he can add full fledged musician to his portfolio. Here’s a look at some of his best work.

8. Dancer

Fallon started a segment called The Evolution of Dance, during which he performs dance moves of any genre, as it changes over the years. Fallon holds his own, whether it’s hip-hop dancing with Will Smith, end zone dancing with Justin Timberlake, or even Mom dancing with the First Lady herself.

7. Singer

Fallon seems to understand music so well, even in pitch and tone, that he’s able to completely revamp songs enough to make them original, but not too much so they cannot be recognized. An all-clucking version of  The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” with the help of Blake Shelton. A barbershop quartet version of Color Me Badd’s “I Wanna Sex You Up.” And we can’t forget the ragtime version of R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix).” It will make you cry tears of joy.

6. Band Member

Fallon does not always need to be in the spotlight, and is just as comfortable blending in the background. When a star musician appears on his show, he lets them belt out their tunes, while he enlists superior quality classroom or office instruments to provide just the right sound. Robin Thicke took part, as did Christina Aguilera. It’s genius. It’s catchy. It’s delightful. Just like this.

5. Mashup DJ

Fallon got the idea to take clips of NBS newscaster Brian William’s broadcasts, and splice them together to make it sound like he’s rapping. From Snoop Dogg, to Marky Mark, to Sugarhill Gang. Props to the editing guy.

4. Lip Sync Superstar

The almighty lip sync contest. No celebrity contestant holds back, each bringing their A game. They add drama, choreography, pelvic thrusts, and serious stage presence to the studio. It’s literal laugh out loud hysterical. Paul Rudd annihilated the competition, but Joseph Gordon Levitt surprised us all (and Jimmy wasn’t half bad either.)

3. Rapper

The whole world has seen this duet with Justin Timberlake. In fact, there are five installments of it. They take turns singing snippets of famous rap songs, with the appropriate amount of gusto. The chemistry between the two of them  is the epitome of what every bromantic relationship should be. Priceless is an understatement.

2. Impersonator

Lots of comedians can do impressions. But not as many can mimic musicians both vocally and instrumentally. Fallon has some of the biggest stars down pat. He performed Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” as Neil Young, and got Bruce Springsteen to play along. He came up with the idea of an infomercial trying to sell a navigation system with Dave Matthews’ voice. He’s eerily accurate.

1. Fanfare

Being such a big fan of music himself, Fallon gets to interview his idols. Yet he always manages to humble them, by convincing stars like Billy Joel to sing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” with him a capella. He put U2 on the spot to perform an acoustic version of “Ordinary Love.” He even put together a protest song against the 2010 BP oil spill, and rallied the likes of Eddie Vedder and Florence Welch to help him sing it. As icing on the cake, he gets The Roots as his house band.

There are many famous sidekicks out there: Robin, Dr. Watson, Goose. In music, it’s the supporting band members. Sidekicks may not be front and center, they may not be the voice or face of the band, but without them the band can’t exist, it isn’t the same. They’re the backbone, the behind-the-scenes, they bring songs to life. Hats off to a few of my favourites.

Boyd Tinsley.

Most of you may not recognize this name, but you should. He’s the bad-ass violinist for Dave Matthews Band. He takes each song to the next level while rocking out on his violin. During live performances he solos often while the whole crowd listens encouragingly and in awe. In a band with several other instruments, it’s challenging to stand out, but Tinsley has no problem rising to the occasion. Dave takes a step back, gives Tinsley the spotlight and they feed off each other in a beautifully symbiotic way. They need each other, their combined energy and charisma ignites a spark that runs through anyone present, automatically giving everyone chills. When he’s on stage, he can’t stop smiling; he’s not just happy and excited, he’s completely head over heels ecstatic to be doing what he’s doing and it shows in a magnificent way. There’s no greater pleasure than watching a musician become his music. Everyone needs a dude like him in their life.

Flea.

Bassist for the legendary Red Hot Chili Peppers. There’s never a dull moment with him on stage: he’s always jumping around, buzzing all over the place like a, well, flea. He enjoys partial and occasionally full nudity, he wears all sorts of costumes/outfits on stage and isn’t afraid to use his flexibility to his advantage. A lot of their tracks have a strong bass presence and that’s because Flea is an animal on it. Slapping, plucking, popping, tapping, you name it. He makes the most complicated solos seem easy as pie and often jams with drummer Chad Smith or lead guitarist (currently Josh Klinghoffer.) He’s the perfect sidekick to lead singer Anthony Kiedis because he entertains without overshadowing – all eyes don’t need to be on him, though they often are. Other than Kiedis, Flea is the only other original band member still standing, even in spite of Kiedis’ substance abuse issues. Talk about loyalty. Who wouldn’t want this Flea around?

Tony Kanal.

Born in London, raised in Anaheim (with a brief stint in Toronto) and of East Indian origin, Kanal plays bass for uber successful band No Doubt. The whole planet knows Gwen Stefani’s the face, the voice, the star; what most people don’t know is Kanal is too. He’s a songwriter, record producer and also plays keyboard, sometimes on the same track he’s playing bass. He’s a hell of a performer, rocks a faux-hawk like nobody’s business and his fashion sense is at par with Stefani’s. Kanal and Stefani have been friends since high school and dated for years, well into the band’s early days. Eventually they split up and Kanal not wanting to make things awkward, volunteered to the leave the band. What a guy. Thankfully, Stefani didn’t let that happen, but instead wrote “Don’t Speak” to commemorate their demise. Years later, she wrote “Cool,” alluding to the state of her relationship with Kanal. I’ve been saying it for years: Tony Kanal is so freakin’ underrated.