By: Marisa Sloan
There are a lot of people who enjoy listening to the Dave Matthews Band, but it takes a particularly deep appreciation to decide to start a Dave Matthews cover band — and keep it going. Josh Moyer, who learned how to play guitar by listening to Dave Matthews in the late ’90s, did just that. Watchtower is a “Dave Matthews tribute band” based in Winston-Salem, and the only one of its kind in North Carolina.
The band was thrown together about two years ago for a charity event called the Friday Night Music Club in Winston-Salem, and despite its origins as a one-off event, Watchtower remained together ever since. Moyer, by day a solo acoustic performer, leads the band on rhythm guitar and vocals. Evan Bloom, Joshua Shelton, Brandon McCotter, Ralph Butcher, and Dustin Foley are the professional musicians who fill out the rest of the instruments.
“We do the full band thing like you’d see at a big Dave Matthews Band show, with the saxes and the violins,” Moyer said. “We even have trumpet and stuff like that. We also do the duo — the Dave and Tim thing that you see on the smaller shows that they’ve done.”
In the past two years, Watchtower has been met with success. Last year, they played the closing night of the Winston-Salem Open Tennis Tournament for 3,500 people, and this past Memorial Day weekend they played for the Gears and Guitars Fest in Winston-Salem. They also play smaller venues around North Carolina and into Virginia, but Moyer believes they’ll hit their demographic of Dave Matthews fans in more festival and regional circuits.
“It’s been exciting, and we’re just trying to get some wheels on it and get some momentum behind it and get some awareness out there that we’re here,” Moyer said.
For Moyer, although original music has substantial artistic merit and it’s gratifying to write original songs, people will always want to hear songs they’re familiar with. Any Dave Matthews fan worth their salt knows that the jam band is renowned for its live shows; improvisation is a staple, and they play songs differently each time they perform. One might think that a Dave Matthews cover band would have a difficult time walking the line between improvisation and emulation, but it’s all part of the fun for Watchtower.
“I’d always tell people we’re a jam band, we just happen to play one person’s music,” Moyer said. “We just bring the whole rig to the gig, and you never know what’s gonna come out. So that makes it exciting for us, and makes it exciting for the audience, too.”
Because Moyer is expecting his baby to arrive any day now, Watchtower won’t have any upcoming shows for the time being.
However, you can follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@watchtowerdmb) for more.