Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds on "Storytellters"
Matthews explained the
inspiration for many of his
songs -- which ranged from
an acid trip to something
Oscar Wilde once said --
during a performance for 200
lucky fans in a former synagogue on Manhattan's Lower
East Side. The three-hour acoustic performance with frequent
collaborator Tim Reynolds, which was taped for an
upcoming episode of "VH1 Storytellers," gave those fans
a chance to see the performers up close.
Just after 8 p.m., Matthews and Reynolds walked in and
took their places on a makeshift platform in the center of
the temple. They were surrounded on all sides by fans in
folding chairs. VH1 had one camera halfway back on a
track, another Steadicam roaming around the altar and
two cameras in the back on tripods.
Reynolds stood and Matthews sat as they strummed the
opening chords of "The Stone," from the Dave Matthews
Band's Before These Crowded Streets. Between songs, Matthews told anecdotes, some related
to the songs and others seemingly off the top of his head.
Between the opener and "Crush", for
instance, he talked about a hotel escapade after he
played with Carlos Santana and the Grateful Dead's Bob
Weir at a benefit concert in California. "We were staying at this really fancy hotel in San
Francisco, and we had a few drinks," Matthews said. The
next thing he remembers, he said, was waking up naked
and needing to go to the bathroom. But he picked the
wrong door and ended up in the hallway, locked out of his
room. "Thank God for the complimentary USA Today outside
the door," he said. He fashioned the newspaper into a
loincloth before calling security.
"Tripping Billies," Matthews said, took its name from an
episode years ago when he took acid on a South African
beach. No sooner had he taken it than he decided he
didn't want to trip. "But the acid said, 'Too late!,' " Matthews said. Over the
next few hours, he saw his girlfriend's face turn into his
mother's, watched his hand melt and somehow lost his
clothes. The dragon in the song, he said, is a reference
to the bum rap that Puff the Magic Dragon -- the title
character of the popular children's song -- once took for
being a pothead.
"Christmas Song" came to Matthews after reading a
quote by the Irish writer Oscar Wilde: "If Christ was alive
now, the one thing he wouldn't be is a Christian." Some
fans groaned at that, to which Matthews responded,
"Hey, I didn't say it; Oscar Wilde said it." Heaven seemingly took its own revenge halfway through
the song, when the stage monitors began to feed back.
Matthews abandoned the tune.
Though they were playing acoustic guitars, during
"Warehouse" and the blues classic "John the Revelator,"
Reynolds and Matthews made enough noise to sound
like a full band. Reynolds played lead, using effects,
while Matthews strummed rhythm.
Matthews began taking questions from the audience after
playing "Jimi Thing," from Under the Table and Dreaming
(1994). He told a female fan his favorite drink is bourbon,
and accepted her offer to buy him one after the show.
And what is a Jimi thing, anyway?
"A Jimi thing in some places is a condom," Matthews
said. But for him, he said, it was a temporary song title
that stuck. "It was kind of reminiscent of the early days of
Jimi Hendrix, and we didn't have any names for any of the
songs, so we called it the 'Jimi thing.' "
Matthews broke out a 12-string guitar for "Spoon," and on
"Ants Marching," the set closer, Reynolds threw in one
more fast and furious solo. After a long break, the pair
returned for two encores: "Say Goodbye," about a
one-night stand, and a classical-guitar piece, "Dancing
Nancies." The latter, Matthews said, was inspired by a scene he
saw in a park in Spain. He told his taxi driver, "Look at all
those beautiful women in the park. They must be
prostitutes." Said the driver, "They're not women, but they
sure are prostitutes."