The History Of DMB: Chapter II
By Jake Vigliotti
June 2, 2007
Coran Capshaw owned both Trax and The Flood Zone, a bar in Richmond. That led DMB to get an opportunity to play in Richmond; in front of a different crowd. After honing their sound with some new songs, as 1992 dawned, DMB – now with a keyboardist (Peter Griesar) (1) and Boyd appearing at every show - was ready for a starring role.
DMB’s first shows in Richmond were as opening acts for more nationally-known performers. In January 1992, Drivin’ and Cryin’ performed at Flood Zone with DMB warming up the crowd. Opportunities like this helped give DMB some real experience in front of large crowds.
So DMB had some fairly large gigs, but a dearth of original songs. Some band members mentioned to Dave, the chief song-writer, they needed more original tunes. The band did not perform much live in March 1992 to focus on some fresh material. That mini-break turned out to be a prosperous time for the band to get some new songs, and make their other songs tighter.
Among the songs to come together during that time were Lie In Our Graves, Help Myself, and lyrically complete versions of Satellite and So Much To Say. Prior to that, the lyrics to Satellite were not as defined as they are now, and So Much To Say was still a work in progress.
DMB performed at Van Riper's festival outside C’ville in early April. In addition to it being the 3rd DMB show to be videotaped (2), DMB met their first lawyer, Chris Sabec. From there, the band became more of a real-legal entity, and also picked up their touring a bit more. DMB played another festival in late April (4.22), which again helped expand their fan base by exposing their sound to more fans.
After Boyd became an official member (performing his last BTB show on 4/30/92), DMB was playing Tuesday’s and Saturday’s at Trax in C’ville, and Wednesday’s at The Flood Zone, 70 miles south in Richmond. That left Sunday’s Monday’s and Thursday’s to hit the road. And hit the road DMB did.
As long as DMB could get back to C’ville by Tuesday, Monday’s were days that DMB could go to North Carolina, Northern Virginia, or any place within a 10 hour drive. They were quickly becoming more popular regionally. In May 1992, DMB traveled down to North Carolina to spread the sound (3). As in Virginia, despite not a lot of pre-hype, DMB wowed the crowd, who told their friends, and so on.
In June 1992, the band attempted an album of sorts. It was a one-shot try at an album (similar to how The Beatles recorded their first record). The sessions, called the Ardent Sessions (after the studio) featured multiple takes of their most popular songs. (4)But the session turned into a Demo instead, to show record companies what the band really sounded like.
But as we all know, it’s DMB’s live sound that really makes this band what they are, so despite the demo, the band did even more touring, building a fan-base throughout the Southeast. This was a crucial decision for the band; rather than sit on their laurels and shop around a professional demo, they continued to travel and build a fan base. Many a band has cut a demo, but not every band can get fans to travel around to follow them. (5)
July through November was a very productive time for the band. They wrote more songs (6), expanded their tour, and grew new fans. In August 1992, DMB performed their first show in New York, and the famed CBGB’s, taking percussionist Miguel Valdez with them for the show. Valdez was a Frequent Guest during that time (7)
DMB was still performing at Frat parties as well. Their legend preceded them often, and more than a few shows were shut down due to large crowds (8).
How did this popularity happen so fast? Fan-taping. From the very beginning, DMB allowed fans to record their performances, and distribute them. Even as early as their 1st shows in 1991, fans were ‘plugging in’ to the soundboard to get a recording. Despite the fact that we, the fan, may not have every DMB show, virtually every DMB show has been taped (9). It’s this phenomenon that had fans singing along to Ants Marching at a 12.04.92 show in Charleston, SC on the band’s first trip there.
On October 27, Dave announced he would debut 5 new songs at a special Halloween show. That didn’t exactly happen, but the song Halloween did debut. Dave also met his future wife Ashley that evening (10). She would most likely be the inspiration for the next new song, Granny (11).
It was that show where Granny debuted, 11.17.92, that helped considerably spread the word that is DMB. Fans long considered it the best show ever, and from 1992-1995, it was one of the top traded (and owned) shows among fans; perhaps the most frequently owned (12).
By New Years Eve, 1992, the band had about 31 original tunes, and literally 10’s of thousands of fans.
(1) Peter joined the band in August 1991. He was bartending at one of the bars in C’ville where DMB was playing, and during a Sound Check the were doing, he pulled out his harmonica and began jamming with the band. Carter said, “You should join us!”. Prior to that, Peter and Dave had played some two-man shows in 1991 before the formation of DMB. (Step Into The Light info)
(2) The Earth Day show (1991) was recorded via VHS, along with 2.13.92 and 4.5.92. Only the latter two are known in fan-trading circles. There is also a video tape of Dave and Stefan at the Tandem School on Mother’s Day, 1991, but the recording may not contain any of their actual performance, only their introduction by the MC.
There are a number of videotapes from 1992-95 around (some not even on You Tube yet), and it wasn’t uncommon for a fan to bring a video recorder to a bar in the early days and videotape the show.
(3) None of the North Carolina shows from that time are known to exist in trading circles. Boyd mentioned the performances prior to the shows (he was the designated spokesperson for the band’s upcoming schedule), and Dave mentioned the shows during the late May 1992 shows.
(4) There was only one known copy of the multiple takes as of 1999, and it burned in a fire in 1999 (Additionally, back in the day the recording was not always referred to as the Ardent Demo. It went by various nomenclatures, Summer Sessions, 92 demo, 6.1.92, etc.) It did not feature any additional songs than occur on the known copy.
(5) There was at least one other demo. It was recorded in mid-to-late 1992. There was another live demo mixed, generally dated 11.16.92. It is only 3 songs, and it most likely did not lead to much in terms of record deals. Additionally, there are a few songs on the Granny’s demo tape that sound a bit more polished (Two Step is one), so it’s possible that part of that recording was a demo of sorts.
(6) Seek Up was written sometime in mid to late June (we have a recording referencing it as being played previously on 7.8.92), and Drive In Drive Out debuted on 7.8.92. Also, there were many jams around this time that did not develop into a song.
(7) We only have a hand-full of show with Valdez guesting, unfortunately. This show does not exist in trading circles. This show was also professionally photographed.
(8) This happened at Va Tech at one of their 1st performances in Blacksburg.
(9) Again, not every DMB show is known to exist in fandom. In fact, every year we are still locating ‘lost’ recordings from as far back as 1991. Among the gems ‘found’ in the past years has been 11.27.91 (the earliest complete recording of a DMB show), 3.8.94 (featuring the one shot “Sister-94” Song), and a number of sound check recordings from 1994 (7.20 and 7.21.94 to name two specifically).
Also, because DMB had a master tape of a show and fans could plug in and get basically the same quality, there are hi-quality recording of shows that fans have that DMB and their mgmt does not (some were lost, broken, etc, by mgmt).
(10) The two met at an after-party. She was a student from Univ. of Georgia visiting a friend, and Dave was wearing white face paint. She has said in interviews that when the two first met, she thought the tall, skinny guy with the makeup was gay.
(11) Granny debuted a few weeks later, on 11.17.92 at a show that long was considered the best DMB show ever.
(12) That also has to do with the fact that the CD versions of the show are not the best quality. It’s rare to find a hi-quality recording of the show. To give you an idea of how common the show was, I own 4 copies of the show; 3 received from liquidated show collections.
Additionally, the still heard cry for the song “Me and Julio Down By The School Yard” (Paul Simon) has its genesis from this show. Me and Julio wasn’t a frequent cover song performed by DMB, but because so many fans had this show, everyone knew DMB played it. They stopped covering it in early 1993, but performed it with Paul Simon in New Orleans in 2001 when Simon surprised the band by joining them on stage.
The views and comments expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of antsmarching.org.