Friday, August 22, 2008

R.I.P. Leroi Moore: Confessions Of A (Former?) DMB Fan

Hearing that Leroi Moore passed away Tuesday, I thought—possibly for the first time in years—about the Dave Matthews Band. From 1994 to roughly 1997, I was a diehard: Collecting the CDs, learning the songs, trading bootlegs (on cassette!), and catching the group whenever possible. (Their gorgeous set at the Fox Theater in Atlanta in '94 remains one of my favorite live memories.)

That said, several less-than-stellar albums, coupled with my shifting musical tastes, meant I was basically done caring about DMB some ten years later. I actually loved Busted Stuff (and its bootleg cousin, The Lilywhite Sessions), but even that album's dark beauty couldn't drive me to see the band perform again. And don't get me started on the generic glut of frat-happy acoustic-driven bands that spread like fungus in the wake of Matthews' success. (O.A.R., I'm looking at you...) Is it wrong to blame DMB for the sins of their lesser knock-offs? Of course not, but eventually your tastes shift nonetheless, until listening to Remember Two Things feels like viewing an old college yearbook photo. "I remember this person.... from a long time ago..."

I never got to meet Leroi in person (though I did interview Dave himself... twice). But from all accounts, he was a quiet, gentle man with no trace of ill will towards anyone, not to mention a standout musician in a band lousy with them. In a summer of too much death already (George Carlin, Isaac Hayes), Moore's passing reminds me of the loss of Danny Federici earlier this year: A consummate sideman 'til the end, he made the people he played with sound better. And somehow, that kind of gift is never fully appreciated until it goes away.

My favorite Leroi performance... on flute, no less!

And for further reading,
here's a transcription of the interview I did with Dave for Performing Songwriter back in 2003. My earlier interview from '95 used to be online as well... but no longer...

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