As if having one of the more creative titles wasn’t enough to fuel a ton of marketing, Dave Matthews and his “Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King” tunes have been showing up everywhere around me. And I’m lovin’ it.
Dave headlined the “Austin City Limits” Music Festival earlier this month. He and his band were on display for the second time this month on “The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien.” And on my last Delta flight, the whole “GrooGrux” CD was featured.
Sometimes a new CD by an established star is so well-marketed that the actual music and inspiration gets lost. Not so with this CD, as “GrooGrux” is a great ride.
“Why I Am” is a rockin’ song in which he honors departed band member LeRoi Moore, the saxophonist and band co-founder who died just over a year ago from injuries sustained in an ATV accident.
“I grew from monkey into man,” Matthews sings in tribute, graduating to “I grew drunk on water turned into wine.” He then confesses “I was slave and master at the same …time.”

“But it’s why I am,” he goes on, “Why I am still here dancing with the GrooGrux King.”
Dave has frequently made spiritual references in his music, and in this CD he doesn’t depart. “It makes no sense, oh bow to the priest while I worship the wench,” goes the song, later adding “Heaven or hell, I’m going down with the GrooGrux King.”
Dave Matthews has reached the wonderful point in his career–much like Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg in the movie industry–where he can really produce things that are personal and important to him. He also seems to do pretty well in sales, which is nice. “Big Whiskey and the Groo Grux King” also features fine songs like “”Funny the Way It Is”,” my favorite, “Lying in the Hands of God” and “Shake Me Like a Monkey” which is launched by a great instrumental, a la Elton John’s “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” LP.
It’s the seventh studio CD for the DMB, the first without former saxophonist LeRoi Moore and the first CD since 2005’s “Stand Up.” And it may be his best. The inspiration of honoring a friend–combined with artful spiritual references and gritty DMB rock riffs–makes for a wholistically great experience. And the addition of Tim Reynolds (for the first time since 1998’s “Before These Crowded Streets”) is icing on the cake.

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