Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Best Of Pickin' On Dave Matthews Band - The Ultimate Bluegrass Tribute

Looking for a new way to enjoy your Dave Matthews Band until the release of Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King? Well, your cousin Ryo might have the answer to satisfy that craving. The Best of Pickin’ on Dave Matthews Band is the Ultimate Bluegrass Tribute to one of the greatest bands around. Complete with banjos, harps, mandolins, and fiddles, this 14 song tribute is chock full of innovative interpretations to the classics that we know and love. So, is The Best of Pickin’ on Dave Matthews Band worth the investment of money and time? Let’s dive in and find out!

I have to admit, when I learned there were no vocals on this disc, I was a little skeptical. Part of what makes Dave Matthews Band so great is the eloquently written lyrics. If there are no vocals, how can those lyrics be heard? Well, after a couple of spins, rest assured, the music sounded great even without the vocals.

The disc opens with a rousing rendition of Tripping Billies. Immediately, the mandolin and fiddle kick in on the opening notes, and never let up from that moment on. Tripping Billies sounds as good in bluegrass as it does live. While this version of the song is much shorter than the jamming version that DMB performs in concert, it is a great way to open the tribute. It sets the tone for good things to come.

Notable greats done in classic bluegrass style include What Would You Say, Ants Marching, Crush, Typical Situation, and Jimi Thing. The funk and groove is replaced with harp and fiddle, but the songs sound polished, well cared for, and blistering.

Everyday is quicker paced than the original, but in a great sounding style. The unique take on this song makes it stand out and separates it nicely from the original. This is a solid version and one of the better tracks.

Typical Situation is without a doubt the best song on this disc. The bluegrass band does it almost note perfect and listening to the tribute version of this song has actually increased my appreciation for the original. Every nuance is captured in this remake and brings it to life in a whole new way; simply breathtaking.

The Best of Pickin’ on Dave Matthews is not without some faults. The Space Between is hard to recognize, even after confirming that the proper track was being played. It is nothing like the original, but unfortunately in this case, that didn’t make it a good thing. This version of the song does not add up to the rest of the album and was an overall disappointment.

The decision to shorten the songs, rather than going into a bluegrass long jam version similar to the originals is a shame. It would be very interesting to see how the fiddles, bass, harp, and banjos could put together a 15 minute jam on songs like Jimi Thing and Crush.

Overall, this is a unique take on a stand out band, and The Best of Pickin’ on Dave Matthews Band certainly delivers. If you’ve listened to the studio versions endlessly, if you’ve played out all of your live cuts and just can’t wait for the new DMB disc, cousin Ryo highly recommends that you give this a try. You won’t be disappointed and it may even increase your appreciation of this remarkable band.

The Best of Pickin’ on Dave Matthews Band is available on CMH records. Visit to learn more or to order a copy.

Track Listing
Tripping Billies
Crash Into Me
What Would You Say
The Space Between
Too Much
Ants Marching
Where Are You Going
Typical Situation
Don’t Drink The Water
Jimi Thing

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