After 10 years of Touring, Butch Taylor Calls it Quits
July 5th 1998, the crowd settled into their seats at the Foxboro Stadium in Massachusets. Once the show started, the crowd noticed a new site on stage. A man in the back, just stage right of Dave playing the keyboards. His name we will learn is Butch Taylor.
A stranger to the fans in the crowd, he certainly wasn't to the boys on stage. While attending James Madison University in Virginia, Butch played with LeRoi Moore in the JMU Jazz Band and later joined forces with Carter Beauford in the band Secrets. Butch was also a friend and co-collaborator with Tim Reynolds, certainly no stranger to the "original 5".
But Butch's connection to DMB did not start that night. It started in the studio several months earlier as DMB worked on Before These Crowded Streets. Butch was featured on Rapunzel and Crush, songs that would go on to be staples of a DMB show.
Fans got used to seeing Butch guesting as a keyboardist for the remainder of 1998 and some of 1999. In 2000 Butch was onstage during the August 29th show which was recently chosen as Live Trax 11.
Butch was noticeably absent from the start of the 2001 tour, but as DMB started playing songs from their most recent release Everyday, the boys decided they needed someone tickling the ivories to round out the sound of the songs live. On May 18th Butch Taylor took up the seat he would occupy for the next seven years almost to the day.
Over the next seven years, Butch became a permanent fixture on the DMB stage. His solos followed long epic jams with a perfectly mellow piano section. On songs such as "Bartender" and "Lie In Our Graves", Butch graced the audience with periods of calming solos after Dave wailed or after Boyd tore it up. Butch's solos almost seemed to act as a way for the band to lightly drift off from the song so as to give it proper resting time after the climax.
However, his connections to songs extend far beyond his piano solos. Butch was a musical genius who had a knack for filling in the gaps with certain distinct sounds that have proved to be staples over the years. Do you ever wonder where the 7/8 salsa jam came from on "Warehouse"? Or, how about all those funky riffs in "Too Much"?
The beginning of "Grey Street" is a perfect example of how significant Butch's sound was to the band.
A fan favourite of Butch's work was his collaboration with Carter on songs like Two Step. Both men played flawlessly together, whether it was an up tempo version, or a slowly building jam that ended with Carter slammin' on the drums. The two of them based the structure of their jams in large part of off each other and this created the "Two Step" that fans know and love.
It's been a somewhat tough ride for Butch touring as much as DMB does. As early as the Everyday tour, Butch has mentioned how hard it is to be away from his growing family
However, just yesterday, May 27, 2008, fans received a shocking message.
From the Warehouse:
Keyboardist Butch Taylor has decided to leave Dave Matthews Band. We are saddened by this sudden news but he has our full support. He’s given so much to us and our audience through the years and he will be missed.
Butch's decision to leave DMB just 3 days prior to the start of the Summer 2008 tour has fans reeling. How will this affect the sound of the shows? Will we hear "American Baby Intro" again?
The answers may not please everyone. As it stands, just minutes before DMB takes the stage for their new tour, there are no plans on replacing Butch.
Butch will never be forgotten as the unofficial 6th member of DMB. His scats and solos will continue to be a point of debate for all DMB fans. Whether you want to praise Mr. Chops or debate his contributions to the band, we want to hear from you.