Interview with Crowded Streets, A Dave Matthews Cover Band
By Ben Bosa
How do you know if a cover band is really good? You close your eyes and listen.
Then, if you think you’re listening to an “actual” concert by the “actual” artists, you’ve found a really good cover band.
Crowded Streets, who recreates the experience of Dave Matthews Band, is one of those cover bands. They faithfully and successfully recreate the sound and spirit of DMB.
They can do this because everyone in the band does their DMB counterpart justice, not just frontman Gabe Matthews. Yes, that’s right. Gabe Matthews impersonates Dave Matthews and does so with aplomb. He sounds and moves like the South African native.
Crowded Streets’ rhythm sections powers the band like Carter Beauford and Stefan Lessard powers Dave Matthews Band. Crowded Streets’ violinist and saxophonist trade the same famous licks that made Boyd Tinsely, Jeff Coffin, and LeRoi Moore famous.
Dave Matthews Band never relied on gimmicks, choreography, or pyrotechnics. They are all about the music.
Crowded Streets is all about the music too. It just so happens that their music is all from the canon, and in the style, of one of the greatest groups of all time, Dave Matthews Band.
By the way, Crowded Streets is named after Dave Matthews Band’s 1998 album, Before These Crowded Streets.
Question: What made you first want to create this project?
Crowded Streets: All of us were seasoned musicians that played in various “cover” bands in the Mid-Atlantic area. The market was getting saturated with the same type of shows so we looked for something different. No one else was attempting DMB music and the discography supported the longevity.
Dave Matthews Band has released eight studio albums, one independent album, and over a dozen live albums. Their last studio offering, Away from the World, dropped in 2012.
Q: What is your number one challenge when trying to replicate the music of DMB?
Crowded Streets: Definitely the style. DMB meshes rock, folk, jazz, and fusion together—sometimes within the same song. Various time signature changes within a single song requires everyone to be on point.
Dave Matthews was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Many speculate that his exposure to African music at a young age had profound effect on his future musical style. Also, the second and third members to join the band, Carter Beauford and LeRoi Moore (1961 to 2008), are jazz musicians.
Q: What’s it like performing for crowds? Do people resonate with your shows?
Crowded Streets: When people are into what you’re doing, there’s no other feeling like it. We often see many return fans, even at shows where we travel. That’s also a great feeling. We never get tired of hearing: “you guys sound exactly like DMB!” That’s the best compliment we could ask for, and why we feel people continue to attend our performances.
Dave Matthews Band lets their fans record their shows. In fact, the band believes the trading of tapes of their live concerts, known as bootlegs, helped propel them to stardom. They once offered a direct feed from their soundboard to fans but unscrupulous, wanna-be record executives ruin that luxury.
Q: How do you decide which DMB songs to perform?
Crowded Streets: We feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface of DMB songs. Their list is incredible! A lot of what we learn is based on fan input or relevant songs at the time. There are so many to choose from, we wish we could accommodate every request.
Dave Matthews have released 30 singles. Of course, they’ve recorded and performed hundreds of songs. Of those 30 singles, only one has peaked inside the top 20 on the billboard 200. “American Baby” went to #16 in 2005.
Q: Where do you see your band in a few years? What are your major goals?
Crowded Streets: We’d love to be playing packed, outdoor festivals across the country. We’ve played up and down the East Coast and into the mid-west. Only places left to play are on the west coast and Internationally. Lofty goals, we know, but we’re having a blast trying.
Dave Matthews Band toured at least once a year from 1991 to 2016. They are not touring in 2017 although Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds will be. DMB frequently toured in the summer. In 2011, they skipped the sun-drenched trek, and instead, held four music festivals called “Dave Matthews Band Caravan.”
Crowded Streets Lineup
- Gabe Matthews – lead vocals and rhythm guitar
- Nick Soderstrom – bass
- Jake Quattro – lead guitar
- Jamie Lapihuska – violin and backing vocals
- Rick (Kip Wanger) Hodes – percussion
- Eli Gonzalez – woodwinds and backing vocals
About the Author
Ben Bosa is an avid music listener and fan who has attended hundreds of concerts in his lifetime. He has written about live music for a decade and sometimes writes for GoodDeedSeats, a theater, sports and concert tickets company that sells Dave Matthews tickets as well as other national tour tickets.