As mentioned in my previous post, this last week marked the fifth anniversary of LeRoi Moore’s death. To mark both this and the return of the video series after the summer hiatus, it’s only fitting that I highlight a few choice moments here. Believe me, it’s difficult to select only a handful out of the many favorites.
“Sugar Will” is one of the handful of then new songs debuted on the 2004 summer tour. Only one of which, “Hello Again,” was ultimately given a studio release. However, “Sugar Will” and “Crazy Easy” were my favorites of that group (which also includes “Joy Ride,” featured here). Here’s Roi getting down on “Sugar Will” at The Gorge on 09.03.04, one I regularly return to:
“Stand Up” isn’t a song that gets a lot of love. This particular solo isn’t anything profound but it always gets me moving without fail. The video is taken from the bonus DVD in the Weekend on the Rocks box set (from the 2005 run at Red Rocks Ampitheater, with this song coming from 09.11.05). And Roi’s lick at 3:41 is a treat:
Here’s a charming cover of the country ballad “Long Black Veil” by Dave Matthews and LeRoi. For this video, someone synced their home footage with the audio from the official Gorge box set release. (Good move.)
LeRoi Moore, Dave Matthews Band saxophonist and founding member, died five years ago today. He succumbed to complications from an ATV accident a few weeks shy of his 47th birthday. I’m sure there’ll be various remembrances throughout the DMB-centric corner of the internet, but I’d like to chip in my $0.02. It seems cliché but, although I never met the man, he and his music are with me each day.
Regular reader of this blog know my deep love of DMB’s music. (See below.) Not only does he play a large role in a favorite band, but I count him among one of my favorite saxophonists. I always include his name if someone asks who my biggest saxophonic influences are. Roi can’t be written off just as “the sax player” a la Dick Parry. It’d be presumptuous to say that Roi single-handedly changed how a saxophone was perceived in rock and pop music, but it’s notable that he served as the band’s co-lead soloist (along with violinist Boyd Tinsley). Sure, he was no Trane or Liebman, but he didn’t set out to be, at least not with DMB. (And, conversely, I don’t see either of them playing in Roi’s style the way he did.) For me, his playing is a near perfect blend of jazz-influenced, soulful rock and pop. It’s not to be compared to strictly jazz saxophonists because it’s not jazz. It’s a different aesthetic. And although he was a working jazz musician before DMB, he grew into something much more. In fact, looking back, while I’ve often gone through spells in which I aspired to be the next young jazz lion, the truth is that my aim has often been more in Roi’s direction – to be a high quality, stylistically flexible musician.
Though I knew of the band beforehand, it all really began with my purchasing Crash soon after its April 1996 release. As a young adolescent playing the saxophone, I was floored to hear a pop/rock band featuring the saxophone so prominently, and not just in the radio singles. At the time I was only tangentially interested in jazz, and most saxophonic pop references were of the “guest feature” variety, generally in a honky R&B style: Pink Floyd’s various sax cameos, 50s and 60s rock, etc. (I touch upon this continuing trend here.) Without this becoming a Crash-centric post, that album proved to be a real turning point for me. Roi’s solo on the studio recording of #41 is perhaps the first instrumental solo I committed to memory. And not because I made a conscious effort to do so; rather, I just listened to it all of the time. (Imagine my delight when I attended my first DMB concert and the band opened with “#41.”)
I remember the shock of learning the news the night he died. I was with my girlfriend (now wife) and she put up with my impromptu memorial service which included moping on my couch, teary-eyed, watching the Listener Supported DVD with a picture of Roi on my laptop screen. We fans knew that he’d been in critical condition, as he’d not been on the tour since late June (with Jeff Coffin – another of my favorite saxophonists, completely separate from his DMB association – filling in, later to be his permanent replacement). I’d spent every summer – and occasional winters – seeing him and his bandmates in concert since 2000, and I’ve missed him at every show since that night. Sure, I still have my hundreds of hours of recordings, but it’s just not the same. The band has taken a slightly different direction with Coffin now playing full time. It’s not worse or better, just different. I absolutely love what they’re doing now, but I miss Roi.
I made my annual pilgrimage to the band’s three-night stint at The Gorge Ampitheatre ten days after his death and it was an emotional weekend. After canceling a couple of concerts for the funeral, the summer tour resumed as normal that weekend in Washington. Watching the band, particularly Carter, play through “Bartender,” the weekend’s opener, in tears was moving. (There were many tears throughout that weekend.) On that first night, the crowd launched into an impromptu tribute of cheers and glow sticks for Roi between songs partway through the set. The crew flashed a picture of Roi on the screens and Dave told the band and crew to hold off until the crowd had finished. It was a memorable six minutes before the band launched into a special “#41.” I’ll never forget it. For those that may have been there, and other fans who weren’t, here it is in two parts:
And the tribute video shown before the encore each night brought a tear every time:
I still listen to Roi all the time, but he’s been getting some extra attention over the last week as the five year mark approached. It really does seem like just the other day I was enjoying his playing on the first part of the 2008 tour in Chicago, Detroit, and Buffalo. But at least I can still enjoy the wealth of great music he left behind. And to cap off this humble tribute, here is perhaps my single favorite solo of his from an official release: the flute and saxophone solos from “#41” on 1999’s Listener Supported:
Regular readers know I’m a DMB fanatic and I’ve written about the group at length before and in three other MTH-V entries (here, here, and here). Simply enjoy the debut single’s video (“Mercy,” which features much many fan contributions) and get your copy ASAP. (My “super deluxe edition” should arrive any minute…)
I briefly discussed my frustration with social media here about eighteen months ago. I can’t remember what specifically moved me to write that, but I clearly recall being annoyed while I typed. (The heat didn’t help; I was living in Houston at the time.) Regardless of what was happening then, one things remains true: the social media (over)saturation has only increased, and I don’t think it’s all been for the better.
Sure, I tweet. And have a Facebook page (now a “lovely” Timeline). And have satisfied the LinkedIn and Google+ requirements. And tumbleweed occasionally brushes past my space. (Yawn.) But for those of you who may be connected to me through those various avenues, you know that I’m not the most voracious user. The networks mentioned above are listed in order of activity. I’ll tweet a few times each week, but 99% of those are related to either blog updates or gigs and recordings. Occasionally I’ll tweet something separate, as I did on Sunday about the Charles Lloyd concert. Same goes for Facebook. The rest are pretty much parked to secure the name and satisfy my minimum requirements of existing and have a “friend”/connection. I’ll accept incoming requests, but rarely am I logged in or doing anything. I think I can safely say that my online presence is an abject failure, considering I never created a Tumblr and only recently joined SoundCloud (again, mainly to park).
In full disclosure, I am pretty active with Twitter and Facebook (aside from personal/private accounts), and do see their value. They’re interactive – allowing me to be more interactive via my site and blog – and are helpful tools for getting short bursts of information out to people. With social media in general, I try to stick to the core: information and interaction.
Since first securing michaelteager.com a number of years ago I intended for my website to serve as the hub. I still do. The main site and MT-Headed are where you can find all you need to know about Michael Teager the musician, teacher, and blogger/writer. All else is just a satellite, nothing more than a TIE Fighter to this Death Star. You won’t find much of anything different on the other sites, and that’s not unintentional.
A few months ago I was listening to Paul F. Tompkins discuss his social media presence on The Long Shot, and my jaw hit the ground when he said he’d like to trade in his main website for separate, equally active presences on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. It just doesn’t compute for me. Similarly, Spin magazine recently went über-hipster by focusing on album review tweets. Lame. Have our attention spans really become that short? Is general readership just that lazy? Or are so many figures and organizations so desperate to be on the “cutting edge” of social media that they’re willing to sacrifice part of their core platform in the process? (I fear it’s a combination of all three, with the latter taking the largest bulk of blame.) If someone’s interested, my hunch is that he or she will click the mouse or tap the screen. Perhaps more than once! If twice is too much, then perhaps a “fan” wasn’t really lost…
Perhaps my biggest complaint about social media in general is that with everyone gunning to get everyone’s attention at all times, there’s too much irrelevant information churned out each and every hour. After all, I’m subscribed to a whole host of outlets for updates on items of interest. However, to retrieve that information, I have to suffer through so much garbage that it’s often more trouble than it’s worth. It’s too Who cares?!? as opposed to Hey, that’s neat! I’m sure I spend at least 90% of my time deciding what not to read rather than what to click through to. (There’s a similar correlation to my nightly comb through my RSS subscriptions, but that’s more heavily curated.)
As mentioned, I do enjoy the interaction. However, not every tweet or update warrants a response from everyone else. Not everything requires a snarky comment (and this is coming from a snarky cynic). And not everyone needs to provide a Hallmark-esque comment for every holiday, award, or death of anyone above a D-list celebrity. Too much piffle leads me to likely ignore the more substantial updates and tweets. (Yes, I publicly grieved – digitally – for LeRoi Moore, George Carlin, and Peter Steele, but they are figures who’ve meant a lot to me over many years, especially the first two.)
I wanted to post this video last week for timing, but decided to wait and see the whole thing first (it’s LONG). Last Monday (02.13.12), Antsmarching.org tweeted this gem to commemorate its twentieth anniversary. It is the earliest circulating (mostly) full-length video of Dave Matthews Band in concert. Watching it over the last week has been a real treat. If you don’t know by now (or if you recently started following this blog), I’m a DMB fanatic. Between owning their entire output and more, seeing them 54 times and counting in concert throughout the country, and being able to fill a small closet with all of the apparel and merchandise I’ve purchased and collected throughout the years, I really should own stock in the band. 🙂
This week’s video is perhaps the most niche of the MTH-V series – serious DMB fans will get the biggest kick out of this. I try to take a generalist approach to most of these, but this is too good to pass by. Although some previous posts – e.g., ICTUS and Trio Mediæval – featured more specialized styles, they were at least clean and relatively produced recordings. This may be DMB, but it’s a 102-minute scratchy VHS transfer of a then-local band. This show took place at Virginia’s Bridgewater College. There’s a neat story about the video and performance, as well as a scan of the show’s poster, by a member of the other band that performed that night here.
As I mentioned, this was brought to my attention by Antsmarching.org, the biggest fan-site for DMB. While I have many strong philosophical disagreements with the various orthodoxies espoused by the site’s moderators, the site itself is an undeniably wonderful source of information. Want to know how many times “Best of What’s Around” has been performed, in what cities, at which point in each concert, and how rare a live performance is in comparison with others in the catalogue? Just look it up. (I love all of the hard data; I just wish they’d give the op-eds a rest. But that’s another post for another day. I’m still happy to have been a member for well over a decade now.)
Some notes on this video since it’s such a lengthy one – I’ll point out some highlights for those without the time/interest to watch the whole thing or freely browse. While some of these might be old hat to other die-hard Ants, it’s still worth mentioning here, as 1) it’s nice to have video evidence of the things heard on many tapes, and 2) this is likely new for many regular readers:
• Love this.
• It is GREAT to have such a nice video documentation of a lot of early LeRoi Moore. While the more hardline jazz influence is evident in a couple places, you already start to hear the direction he eventually went (that of a rock/pop musician as opposed to a “jazz saxophonist”). His solos on “Best of What’s Around,”“Recently,” and “Jimi Thing” are especially choice.
• Speaking of which, that “Jimi” outro is hip…maybe they should bring it back… 🙂
• The video lasts for almost 80 minutes, with the final 22 being audio-only.
• The band at this time included original keyboardist Peter Greisar. The duo performance of “So Much to Say” by Dave and Peter is a nice early glimpse into the song.
• For those who enjoyed the mid-2000s “Louie Louie” interpolations at the end of “Warehouse,” here’s an early incarnation.
• Hearing the juxtaposition of a much-slower “Best of What’s Around” and brisk “Satellite” is an odd switch. Although I think the latter is more due to nerves. (If only they would have played “After Her” instead…)
• Even though the band is still quite young (not two years old), it’s evident they’re already a unit. Keep in mind that their first performance was in March or April of 1991, less than one year prior. Armed with a catalogue of mostly original material (with a few tasteful covers thrown in for good measure), they musically give each other space and keep the audience on energized and engaged throughout. No wonder they’ve been the highest-grossing live act in recent pop history. Even though the tempo gets weird in a number of songs, Carter does his best to keep the band’s nerves in check back there.
• Again, great video evidence to illustrate the anecdotes of fans occasionally thinking Boyd Tinsley was Dave Matthews, as Boyd was initially more comfortable with between-song banter and crowd work than Dave.
• Speaking of which, Boyd gets two vocal numbers: “Angel From Montgomery” and “True Reflections.” They’re both quite rare in live performance nowadays, but luckily I’ve seen them both. “Angel From Montgomery” is especially elusive.
• Interesting introductory banter about the band and their material by Dave, then one of my favorites: “The Song That Jane Likes.” Enough said. 🙂
NOTE:Embedding functionality for this particular video has understandably been disabled, but you may view the whole thing here.