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Saturday, October 6, 2001
RegisterGuard.com

Reynolds' rap: Dave Matthews' sidekick stays solo

By LEWIS TAYLOR The Register-Guard

TIM REYNOLDS may be calling his latest tour a "solo acoustic" outing, but you can expect to hear more than just a man and his guitar when he comes to the WOW Hall tonight.

"I just like to beef up the sonic palette a bit," Reynolds said, speaking by telephone from Southern California.

Along with six-string and 12-string guitars, Reynolds is traveling with a 12-string baritone and an electric guitar. Touring in support of his latest album, "Nomadic Wavelength," he's also packing a sampler filled with snippets of conga drums, double basses, timpani and other instruments. Only recently did Reynolds begin experimenting with a sampler.

They've been around for years, but I'm the typical dumb guitarist who has refused to jump into it," Reynolds said. "It's a way I can incorporate some of the things that I do without dragging a lot of stuff around."

Replicating the sounds of a band without actually having to be in a band is a dream come true for Reynolds, who is still best known as the guy from the Dave Matthews Band who was never really in the Dave Matthews Band.

He has toured with the DMB, recorded an album with Matthews (1998's "Live at Luther College") and contributed to nearly every one of the group's albums, but he's never officially joined the group.

Reynolds met Matthews at Miller's bar in Charlottesville, Va. Matthews was the bartender and Reynolds played weekly gigs.

"When they (the DMB) started, I already had my own band," Reynolds said. "I told him (Dave Matthews), `I've got a band and I kind of like the way it is. You should start your band.' I could see that he needed to do his own thing."

Reynolds doesn't take any credit for Matthews' eventual success, and he doesn't seem to harbor any resentment toward the multi-platinum-selling rock star. Although he still works part time with his own world-beat band, TR3, Reynolds is happy to go it alone.

"Being in a band is like raising a family and being a dad," Reynolds said. "Realizing that I didn't need to do that ... it was liberating."

Reynolds (who is a dad, by the way) may have foregone membership in one of the most successful touring bands on the planet, but his affiliation with Matthews hasn't hurt his career any. After years of toiling in relative obscurity in Charlottesville clubs, his music is reaching new audiences.

Independently, Reynolds has released six solo albums and four records with his band. He has entertained offers from major record labels, but he has declined them all. "I've given lots of thought to it, but every time I got close to it, I found it was just too constricting," Reynolds said. "I'm just a guy who likes to be way more loose about my stuff. ... I'm a lone wing nut."

Reynolds' lone-wing-nut approach has led him down some strange musical paths. Raised by a conservative and devoutly religious military family, he played the bass in a Pentecostal church band for six years starting at age 12. By the time he graduated from high school, he had begun to explore jazz and psychedelic rock - much to his parents' chagrin. Strangely though, it was reggae music that first convinced him to become a professional musician.

"When I first heard reggae, I thought it sounded like a bunch of drunk people who couldn't play," Reynolds said. "Then I came to realize that it was so spiritual and so pure and simplistic, and that there was some music in there."

As Reynolds bopped around from Midwestern band to Midwestern band, he incorporated reggae standards into his repertoire. But his musical experimentation didn't stop there. He taught himself to play the guitar, piano, sitar, mandolin, violin and a number of different percussive instruments, and he immersed himself in everything from disco to country.

After a misguided attempt to join the Air Force, Reynolds moved to Charlottesville and put aside his musical ambitions to work in the toy department of the local Kmart. The plan was to settle down and raise a family.

"I was so tired of being in the Midwest," Reynolds said. "I loved Charlottesville. I remember just thinking it was one of the most exotic places in the world."

Instead of focusing on settling down, Reynolds immersed himself in the local jazz scene. He teamed up with saxophonist Michael Brecker, met guitarist John Abercrombie and played with John Dearth, Bruce Hornsby's trumpet player.

The musical bug had bitten Reynolds once again, and his sonic explorations this time were just as varied as they had been during his first bout with musical fever. Along with jazz, he explored world music in his newly formed trio, TR3, and even found himself at one point playing in a country-western band called Southern Love.

"Because we were so awful, it freed me up to not really care whether it was good or bad," Reynolds said. "In a way, being in the worst band possible was kind of the best thing for me."

Now living in Santa Fe, N.M., Reynolds seems primed to come out from the shadow of Dave Matthews. DMB's latest album, "Everyday," was the first record not to feature Reynolds, who says he has more than enough on his own plate to keep him busy. His latest release is an ambitious, 17-song CD that covers a broad musical landscape ranging from free jazz to funk to electronica.

He's also begun releasing experimental compositions over the Internet. "Id," a new, Internet-only album, is available for free at Reynolds' Web site (www.TimReynolds.com), and he has more experimental releases on the way.

"I figure if I'm putting out all of this music on my own, I can just make it available for people who want it," Reynolds said. "I would feel guilty selling this stuff, though. ... I'm kind of just creating an outlet for the neurotic schizophrenic that I am."

Recently, Reynolds started down a new musical path, which seems just as unusual as some of his earlier sojourns. His latest love is metal, specifically modern metal acts such as the Peoria, Ill., band Mudvayne. The obsession doesn't seem to be dying down.

"I think it's just like eating a hamburger or something," Reynolds said, explaining his metal affliction. "Music is food, and meat is a real simple analogy to metal."

Metal probably will not take over Reynolds' music entirely, and you probably won't have to worry about today's show turning into a headbanger's ball. But don't expect Reynolds to play any songs by the Dave Matthews Band, either. Out of respect to Matthews (and to himself), he's made it a rule not to cover any DMB tunes in concert - even though he knows people will ask.

"I don't get annoyed anymore, because it's happened so many times," Reynolds said. "It's just the way people are."

Entertainment reporter Lewis Taylor can be reached by phone at 338-2512 and by e-mail at ltaylor@guardnet.com.