In the news:
Buoyant Dave Matthews to deliver shows No. 40-42 at the Gorge
Dave Matthews, who first headlined the Gorge in 1997 and has since played 39 concerts there for more than 800,000 fans, is poised for another trio of shows at the fabled venue Friday-Sunday, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2012.
Special to The Seattle Times
Dave Matthews6 p.m. Friday-Sunday at the Gorge, George, Grant County; $48.50-$75 (800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com).
Since its first headlining concert at the Gorge in 1997, the Dave Matthews Band has performed for more than 800,000 fans at the iconic venue — a number unmatched by any other act.
On Friday, Matthews and his rootsy, socially conscious band kick off their annual three-night stand at the Gorge, with concerts No. 40, 41 and 42. Opening are the Avett Brothers and Allen Stone.
"It's still an astoundingly beautiful place," Matthews said by phone. "And the sound is marvelous. I wish I could have been there when someone first clapped their hands and said, 'Wow, this place sounds amazing.' I can't imagine there's a venue like it in the world."
The band's first performance at the Gorge was in 1996 at the H.O.R.D.E. Festival.
"I couldn't have known then that it would become one of the tiny handful of places that people travel to from all over the world to see us," Matthews said.
Matthews was in a buoyant mood when reached at his home near Charlottesville, Va. (where he owns Blenheim Vineyards). Matthews and his family spend most of the year at their other home in Seattle, where his children attend school.
Indeed, the world-renowned rock star was enjoying his other starring role — that of father to twin daughters and a son. The girls, Stella and Grace, were celebrating their 11th birthday.
"They're already disco-dancing downstairs," he said. "They're having a preparty party. Even though it's well past breakfast time, we're trying to get pancakes in them. I haven't wrapped the presents yet, but we'll get to that."
Matthews' riveting, yet world-weary new album, "Away From the World," reunited the group with Steve Lillywhite, who produced the band's first three albums before a falling out after the group's 2000 recording sessions with Lillywhite were scuttled. Matthews and Lillywhite had a heart-to-heart conversation over dinner during the recording of "Away From the World."
"It really opened me up to a lot of things in regard to how he saw the separation and how it went down," he said.
The new album, featuring debut single "Mercy," is due in stores Sept. 11. "Mercy" features the powerful lyric, "Don't give up/ I know you can see/ All the world and the mess that we're making."
The song was inspired by a dinner-table discussion about the state of the world.
"We were talking about politics, we were talking about war," he said. "Whether we said it out loud or not, it was like, 'When are we going to get our (expletive) together?' Not Americans, not Democrats or Republicans, not independents. Not Israelis or Arabs. Everybody. When are we going to get it together?"
A key to the Dave Matthews Band's success is that it approaches live performances "like it's the last time and the first time," said Matthews. "I want it to be the best moment of everybody's musical life. So even if we play something that's dark and pondering, there's an overwhelming joy."
That sense of being "in the moment" carries over to the audience.
"I don't just want to give them a good show, I want to turn their heads upside-down," he said.
Gene Stout: email@example.com