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Dave Matthews Band Ready For A Year Off The Road In 2011

of the Oakland Press

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Since it rolled out of Charlottesville, Va., 19 years ago, being on tour has been a “Typical Situation” for the Dave Matthews Band.

That’s why news that the group intends to take 2011 off the road came as a surprise, shock and disappointment to the group’s dedicated legion of fans — who have snapped up some $530 million worth of tickets during the last decade alone. That’s why Matthews felt it merited a formal announcement before the band’s current summer tour began.

“For us, it’s a big deal,” he says. “I certainly feel an obligation to the people that support the uniqueness of the band’s career and have made it ... sort of habitual or a moment of quite a few people’s summers, it would be, I guess, ungrateful to not say everything.

“I felt that about everyone around me as well — the crew and the band and the people that work with us. I wanted to give everyone a long heads-up.”

Matthews, 43, says there’s no particularly dramatic reason for the break next year — and certainly no rancor between the band members. “Right now,” he explains, “I think the band, in our relationships with each other and with the music, we’re in the best place I can remember us being. For that reason I thought that taking a year to sort of recharge my creative juices and sort of not have the safety net of touring with the band for a year and just see what my head comes up with was sort of my idea.

“I thought there’s no time like now.”

There are some, however, who think the announcement may be overstated.

“I’ve known Dave and those guys since I was a kid,” says Hootie & the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker. “I’m sure a year off for them is gonna be 40 shows. I’m sure they’ll be playing.”

But Matthews, who has a few new songs that he’s “messing around with” to follow up 2009’s platinum “Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King,” contends he has other plans for 2011.

“I want to look at music not as a professional,” Matthews says. “I’m always ... a professional to a degree, but I’d like to do it for a year where I’m just an amateur, where the only reason I’m doing it is out of love so I can come back with this group of people that I’ve played with for 20 years and have something more.

“So I’m really excited about playing this year and not having a real plan other than trying to make the most of it and ... then next year hide behind a tree. And I hope that anyone that’s hunting me doesn’t find me.”

And, Matthews promised, he has “every intention of going back to these same people,” meaning the band.

“That’s my plan,” he says, “to come back to these same people and reconvene, just having taken a little time to stare at the stars and stare at our kids.”

THE DAVE MATTHEWS Band and Martin Sexton perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 23, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Clarkston. Tickets are sold out. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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