Walking down memory lane to "Live at Luther"

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You know that one friend? The one who is always on the cutting edge of music from today, tomorrow and the past? (And despite the fact that I'm a choir nerd, I'm not talking about Eric Whitacre or J.S. Bach. I'm talking Courtney Barnett, Bob Dylan and, of course, Dave Matthews.) My good friend Dutcher is that kind of friend for me. He is a HUGE fan of Dave Matthews Band, and I'm not even sure if he knows how many times he has seen them live in concert. He recently shared that the Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds Live at Luther College album is being released on vinyl for the first time as part of the festivities for National Record Store Day on November 24.

When we first met, Dutcher mentioned "Dave" as his favorite band, I told him that I was at the "Live at Luther College" concert both times – first in 1996 as a wide-eyed first-year student, and in 1999 as a more veteran senior about to move out to the real world three months later. This figuratively blew his mind, and our friendship was forever cemented. At the time of the concert when the album was recorded (February 1996), the Dave Matthews Band was a big thing. Their first major studio album, "Under the Table and Dreaming," was just starting to get national attention. While we were all excited that he was coming to Luther, a lot of us were disappointed that it was not the whole band. It was only him and some guy named Tim Reynolds… little did we know what this concert would become in the long run! It was an acoustic concert, but the energy in the room was electric. Dave and Tim played a mix of songs, some well-known and others not even on the radio yet. And of course, you can tell which ones we knew at the time because of the cheers coming from the crowd. (My roommate was the annoying guy throughout the album yelling "Play Pig!" Maybe he was mad because he was in the back row of the balcony and I was sitting in the front row of the old CFL orange chairs? Who knows…)

Dave talked a little before and after each song, and partway through the concert he introduced a song called "Crash Into Me." We all sat there, listening, not knowing that this song, about to be released on the album "Crash," would become the big hit of the summer of 1996 and be nominated for a Grammy the next year.

Fast forward three years, and I was one of the many Luther College students who went to the Book Shop during J-Term to purchase our copies of the "Live at Luther College" album. Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds were back on campus a few weeks later to start the tour to help promote the new album. Once the album dropped, it put a big virtual pin on the map for Luther College. If you told someone you went to Luther College, they would often ask where it is. Our new response was, "you know, that Dave Mathews 'Live at Luther College' album?" This would trigger a barrage of questions about if you were at the concert, had you met Dave, did you have a poster from the concert, and where had he and Tim stayed overnight while in Decorah? Here are my answers: I was at both concerts, I did not get to meet Dave or Tim (but some friends of mine were on the SAC concerts committee and did get to meet them), I don't know what happened to my poster, and I don't know where they stayed that night.

I'm not sure if I'll be standing in line on National Record Store Day to get my copy of "Live at Luther College" on vinyl. You can be sure I'll be listening to the album, though, and remembering what it was like to hear the music live, for the first time, before it was the next big thing.

Eric Ellingsen

Eric Ellingsen

Eric Ellingsen, originally from Oregon, Illinois, is the coordinator for music marketing and tours-choral at Luther College. He plans and implements all the choir tours, as well as marketing special music events on and off campus and managing logistics for the annual Christmas at Luther concerts. A proud Luther alum from 1999, Eric majored in music and sang professionally for 12 years in Minneapolis before moving back to Decorah in 2011 with his husband, Andrew Ellingsen '03. When not in his office, Eric enjoys singing, being on stage for community theater productions and of course, spending time in building and planning new creations in his Lego room.

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