Crowded Streets brings music of Dave Matthews Band back to Plains Twp.
PLAINS TWP. — Gabe Matthews, of Fairfax, Virginia, lives just a few counties away from where Dave Matthews formed one of the music industry’s most prolific touring acts.
Nearly a decade into honing a Dave Matthews Band tribute act, Gabe Matthews’ group Crowded Streets has travelled throughout the country sharing some of that live energy with fans.
Crowded Streets will perform at 10 p.m. Saturday, April 16 at the River Street Jazz Cafe, 667 N. River St., Plains Township. On his second tour through the Wyoming Valley, the Crowded Streets front man talked about how he came to lead a DMB tribute and what makes the music so special.
Matthews — no relation to Dave Matthews — said he was playing in cover acts in the Fairfax region when he realized those groups were a dime a dozen in the area.
“We immediately thought of a tribute act, and at that point we tried to determine what tribute act had enough of a discography as well as longevity to sustain itself,” Matthews said.
Crowded Streets formed in 2006, 12 years after DMB had reached the ears of mainstream listeners, and Matthews knew there was something unique about the sound.
“I think Dave Matthews Band entered the scene at almost a perfect time,” Matthews said. “It was in between grunge and pop-rock and the fall of metal. At the time, you didn’t hear a band that amplified the sound of a saxophone and a violin.”
Veterans of capturing that sound, Crowded Streets has played as far north as Albany, New York and as far south as Miami, Florida as well as playing throughout the mid-Atlantic region. The group’s upcoming gigs are taking them as far west as Minneapolis, Minnesota, but Matthews said the band is excited to return to the Wyoming Valley.
“We’ve played there one other time,” Matthews said. “I was blown away by the reception. Everybody that was there was so responsive and so warm and welcoming. It was humbling.”
With a large catalogue of music to tackle in paying tribute to DMB, Matthews said the setlists Crowded Streets delivers depend on familiarity with the venue.
“When we go into new venues, you don’t know what to expect, so we take the conservative route with the hits,” Matthews said. “Now that we’ve got one show under our belt in Wilkes-Barre, I get the impression we can stray a little bit and play some of their deeper tracks.”
Matthews said getting to deeper cuts is something the band enjoys.
“The hits are great, and they’re the hits for a reason, but there are some songs Dave Matthews Band has played and recorded that the level of musicianship that goes into those songs is unparalleled in my opinion,” Matthews said. “It’s a joy for us to play some of the deeper tracks where we get to demonstrate the level of musicianship in this band.”
Despite his affinity for performing the lesser known DMB tunes, Matthews said his favorite song to perform is “#41,” a fan favorite, because it reminds him of his gratitude toward his bandmates.
“That’s one of the songs where I get to sit back and watch the guys in my band play their hearts out,” Matthews said. “I sit there, and I’m in awe of the guys I surround myself with.”
While the spectrum of tribute bands ranges from strict authenticity in reproduction to creative improvisation in paying homage to another’s music, Matthews said Crowded Streets falls somewhere in the middle.
“There are signature licks Dave Matthews Band has in certain songs that are signature for a reason,” Matthews said. “We don’t want to stray from that. However, the beauty about the Dave Matthews Band is you have that jam band aspect. You have creative freedom to go out and do something completely different. Even though you’re paying tribute to another band, you have the ability to make that song your own, and that in my opinion is really cool. Every time we play ‘#41,’ it’s going to be different than the time we played it before.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts
If you go
What: Crowded Streets — The Dave Matthews Experience
Where: River Street Jazz Cafe, 667 N. River St., Plains Township
When: 10 p.m. April 16
Tickets: Advanced tickets are available for $10 by visiting www.riverstreetjazzcafe.com. Tickets are $12 at the door the night of the show. Doors open at 8 p.m., and patrons must be 21 and over to attend.