I can’t say I’m a huge Dave Matthews fan. I have his solo disc because the song “Gravedigger” struck a chord with me, and I picked up Stand Up (2005) on the basis of the former and was terribly disappointed. They’ve had several live records out since, but no studio recordings. That will end on June 2nd, when Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King arrives in stores via RCA Records.

The new album arrives under a bit of a cloud. In August 2008, LeRoi Moore, the saxophone player that gave the group so much of its unique personality, died due to complications from injuries suffered in an ATV accident.  The DMB has been characterized by many things, both positive and negative, but one of the most positive had always been the close ties between all the members. Matthews once was quoted on the Charlie Rose program saying that his band was comprised of “brothers from other mothers.” The death of one of their own shook the band up, and nearly apart.

Now, it is standard practice that when a member of a band dies and the band soldiers on, they might memorialize him or her in song. They might offer them a token dedication on their next recording. The Dave Matthews Band has apparently gone one better, by making the entirety of their upcoming album a tribute of sorts to LeRoi “GrooGrux King” Moore.

groogruxTo further endear this upcoming album to the public, the band and RCA are offering a track up for free, for a very limited time. “Funny The Way It Is” can be had at this location for the price of your e-mail address and the patience to deal with the label’s touchy server (keep at it, it’ll work eventually.) Ordinarily, we’d put the track up for you, but since they’re giving it away themselves, have at it.

I must say that I enjoyed the song, and even though, again, I’m hardly a devotee, I’ll be picking up the album in June. The cover, pictured above, features art by Matthews himself with Moore’s face an integral part of a Mardi Gras celebratory scene. Perhaps I’m too easily moved by sentiment, but there’s something about how all involved have chosen to make Moore the crux, and not the aside, of Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King that appeals to me. As hopeful as I am about the upcoming Alice in Chains, I doubt much will be made of Layne Staley’s absence, so the Dave Matthews Band’s decision to go on with the show, intact with LeRoi Moore somehow in spirit, strikes me to be a rather brave move.

You win this round, Matthews.

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