Bassist Stefan Lessard (aka Fonzy) is the youngest member of Dave Matthews Band, by a good seven years. He was just 16 when approached by the then bartender Dave Matthews who asked Stefan to join him, Carter Beauford and LeRoi Moore in their attempt to form a band. He was the perfect fit. Being so young, he saw the band as a continuation of his musical education and took the group very seriously. Still fresh in high school, he weaved simple yet strong bass lines proving to be an integral part of the new sound being created by the group.
Born in Anaheim, CA, his parents had both been musicians, which had a great effect on Stefan. Stefan remembers music always being played in his house and recalled that his Dad would get back from his 9 to 5 and immediately start playing guitar or flute, while Stefan usually banged on the bongos. Stefan was quoted as saying, “My Mom had a beautiful voice and she and my Dad would do jazz gigs at weddings or lounges. They always wanted to be playing more, but the music couldn’t support the cost of life.” His family moved back and forth between California and Rhode Island until they landed in Virginia when he was 6. It was around this time that he began to show a real interest in music.
Stefan’s first music teacher was a woman by the name of Mary Carol. She taught him the violin and piano first and then began teaching him the guitar. He was struck by the beautiful relationship she had with music. He fondly remembers spending time on her porch in the country with her friends while they played old time bluegrass and folk music. Stefan credits her with giving him the belief in true expression with music. In high school, Stefan picked up the bass and took to it right away. He stunned the high school music teacher with his serious attitude toward playing and was soon playing alongside of local jazz greats, LeRoi Moore and Carter Beauford being two of the greatest. He started playing regularly at small bars and coffee shops as well as community and private functions where he began earning the reputation of being a good, solid bass player. He started with electric bass at first but quickly moved to the upright. He had been playing upright bass for about a year when he was asked to play some music with Dave, Carter, and Leroi. He jumped at the chance but upon playing his upright with them, he felt the sound of the group called for the electric. In the beginning, he was not only the youngest member but also the only one playing an electric instrument.
Stefan was accepted a year early to VCU where he was enrolled almost a month before he was faced with making the decision between being a student and playing with the band. The choice was not easy but his instincts told him to stick with the band. Matthews used to love telling people that Stefan was the only person he knew who both dropped out of high school and college. Stefan’s tastes range from Hip Hop to Soul to Alternative to Heavy Rock to Metal to Jazz to World Beat to R&B to Reggae and so on. Stefan describes how music must appeal to him, “The music I listen to needs to stimulate my mind, nod my head, move my feet, or shake my hips, if it doesn’t we don’t get along.” Stefan plays outside of conformity, always reaching out for the new style while paying respects to the old.
Stefan likes to spend his off time playing with his son Diggy and daughters Hazel and Flora. His other activities include snowboarding, skateboarding, graphic design, painting, raising dogs, playing video games, driving fast, skim boarding and ATVs, just to name a few. Stefan maintains his own lifestyle/music/clothing website at IZSTYLE.com and has been involved with musical side project Yukon Kornelius. Yukon Kornelius is a rock band which formed in late 2007 for charitable purposes and in addition to Stefan, consists of Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies, Adam Gardner of Guster and drummer Eric Fawcett of N*E*R*D and Spymob. Keep your eyes and ears directed toward Stefan Lessard. He truly is a modern day extreme musician.