When the Dave Matthews Band takes the stage this weekend, one of the musicians' biggest fans will be onstage just before them.
Jimmy DeMartini, fiddle player for the Zac Brown Band, is not just a well-known musician in his own right, but also a former member of a Dave Matthews cover band.
"When Dave Matthews comes up to me and says he likes my violin playing, I wonder if I should tell him I was in a Dave Matthews cover band," DeMartini said. "It is a little surreal to get to watch the show every night [from backstage]. It is amazing, like coming full circle ... I couldn't be happier playing with the Zac Brown Band, but I honed a lot of skills watching the Dave Matthews Band."
The Dave Matthews Band has drawn many into its following since it formed in 1991 in Charlottesville. Despite different bumps in the past two decades, most notably the 2008 death of saxophonist LeRoi Moore, the band has continued to enchant fans with its rare form of jam combined from a mix of jazz, classical, soul, rock, bluegrass and hip-hop sounds.
The Grammy Award-winning band's 2009 album, "Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King," debuted at No. 1, making it the band's fifth consecutive No. 1 debut. In a way, that's because of the band's devotion to Moore.
If you go The Dave Matthews Band with the Zac Brown Band Where: Nationals Park, 1500 S. Capital Street SE When: 7 p.m. Friday Info: $75; ticketmaster.com
"When Roi died, it shook the whole band and left us saying: 'What do we do now?' " Matthews said in a press statement. "We knew that first of all we had to finish this record that he was already in love with. So all of us went back in with that attitude: 'We can't mess around with this one, because this one is an ode ...' "We had this obligation to Roi, and therefore to ourselves. So I sang like I wanted the stars to be able to hear, or like I wanted the little fish at the bottom of the ocean to hear me screaming. And I think that's how everyone approached their parts," he said.
That dedication to their music -- almost 20 years after the Dave Matthews Band formed -- is something the members share with the Zac Brown Band, which plans to release its next album -- "You Get What You Give" -- in September.
The band, as many fans know, began as something akin to parties at Zac's Place, a restaurant Brown and his father owned just outside of Atlanta. The Zac Brown Band formed as the result of those jams.
Although the band has accumulated massive critical and popular acclaim, especially since the 2008 release of its album "The Foundation," the members continue to reach out to fans and become continually reinspired by music.
"We took four days off [recently] to attend Merlefest in North Carolina," DeMartini said. "It's tough for us to take time out of our schedule, and we thought it was important to go to this and be reinspired again. We spent four days and just became fans again. ... We're constantly building and growing and we're just super-happy."