Recorded live at Warren Haynes’ 18th Annual Christmas Jam in Asheville, NC on December 16th, 2006 at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, The Benefit Concert Volume 8 is the third release in an on-going series documenting the annual concerts. The concert saw Warren Haynes put together a stellar lineup of musicians featuring Gov’t Mule, Dave Matthews, The New Orleans Social Club, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, The Taj Mahal Trio and The John Popper Project featuring DJ Logic. Warren Haynes also welcomed very special guests Randall Bramblett, Taylor Hicks, Branford Marsalis, Mike Barnes, Mickey Raphael, Brendan Bayliss, Kevn Kinney, Robert Kearns and Dave Schools.
The Dave Matthews Band may not have released the Lillywhite Sessions – the semi-legendary soul-searching album recorded in 2000 but abandoned in favor of the heavy-handed, laborious Glen Ballard-produced Everyday – but they couldn't escape its shadow. Every review, every article surrounding the release of Everyday mentioned it, often claiming it was better than the released project – an opinion the band seemed to support by playing many numbers from the widely bootlegged lost album on tour in 2001. Since they couldn't run away from the Lillywhite Sessions, they decided to embrace it, albeit on their own terms. They didn't just release the album, as is. They picked nine of the best songs from the sessions, reworked some of them a bit, tinkered with the lyrics, re-recorded the tunes with a different producer (Stephen Harris, a veteran of post-Brit-pop bands like the Bluetones, plus engineer on U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind), added two new songs, and came up with Busted Stuff, a polished commercial spin on music widely considered the darkest, most revealing work Matthews has yet created.
On their major-label debut, Under the Table and Dreaming, the Dave Matthews Band is helped by the lean production of Steve Lillywhite, who manages to rein in the group's tendency to meander. The result is a set of eclectic pop/rock that is accentuated by bursts of instrumental virtuosity instead of being ruled by it. That also means that the Dave Matthews Band is capable of turning out pop songs, and as the hit single "What Would You Say" and "Ants Marching" illustrate, they have a flair for catchy hooks.
After five straight solo recordings with producer Mark Hallman at the helm – going back to 1988 – Iain Matthews decided to handle the production duties, along with guitarist Bradley Kopp, for 1999's Excerpts from Swine Lake. Whereas his last couple of recordings lived and died with his writing or vocals, here Matthews and Kopp inject the material with a vibrance that has been somewhat scarce in his work since 1990's Pure & Crooked. It also doesn't hurt that this is as consistent a collection of original music that he's put to record.
After a two-month tour in 1999, Dave and Tim closed their acoustic run on the evening of March 13 at the Berkeley Community Theater in Berkeley, CA. The duo’s time on the road leading up to this night shows as the performance is exceptional. From the first note of the “Granny” opener, to the encore of "Digging A Ditch”, "Lover Lay Down", and "Ants Marching,” there is not an ill note throughout. And yet, it’s not only DMB favorites that shine; but also Tim’s skilled playing of his complex original compositions, as well as fantastic covers of Daniel Lanois’ "For The Beauty of Wynona" and Lyle Lovett’s "If I Had A Boat", make this show a true listening pleasure. This intimate performance has been mixed from the original multitrack tapes.
Here is yet another live album by the Dave Matthews Band. This one is from his Central Park Concert in 2003. This one is three CDs, loaded with hits and near-misses, from one of the most successful stage bands in the business. The Matthews Band is tight, full of enough funk and sass to keep it interesting, and yet is able to convey real emotion to tens of thousands of people, as evidenced by their many live recordings. What sets this one apart is its presentation of one concert in its entirety, and its willingness to leave rough edges in. While the sound is pristine, and the performance reflects the band's well-rehearsed acumen, there are those spontaneous moments on this set that get left off of most band's live recordings – including Matthews' previous ones.