TR3 - Watch It

Friday, August 13, 2004
Out From The Shadows by Josef Woodard

(Note from Fluffy: By the way there is one mistake, the new CD is called "Parallel Universe" NOT Parallel View.)


When: 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: SOhO, upstairs at 1221 State St.
Cost: $12 with dinner, $15 for show only
Information: 962-7776

By Josef Woodard

Tim Reynolds may not be a household name, but the guitarist has entered vast numbers of households as well as the mainstream music world as a sometimes right-hand guitarist with Dave Matthews. Like many a musician whose best-known work is as a supportive team player, a different private persona is lurking. That more personal side of Reynolds involves life as an eclectic and technically adroit player, who sometimes works in the genre of instrumental steel string acoustic guitar.

Local audiences will get a close-up exposure of that side of Reynolds when a short California tour brings him to SOhO on Sunday night. Reynolds is following up his last-released album, "Chaos View" with a double-CD called "Parallel View," to be released this fall. Expect to hear music from that project as well as his unique spin on covers like The Beatles' classic "All You Need Is Love."

Before heading into the studio for a day's work to finish his new project, Reynolds was interviewed by phone from his home in Santa Fe, N.M. This is a manic time, as he jumps from a professional studio to his low-fi home studio, chasing and trapping ideas.

"It always happens right before I go out on tour," Reynolds comments. "I get these urges to do a bunch of extra home recordings, which makes me fried. It's like the ant that can't stop to find the next piece of rock to put in the hole."

This scurrying will result in an album consisting of one polished studio disc and one "bonus disc" of humbler home studio experiments made over the past couple of years. "Since I can afford to do it," he says, "I'm just going to make a bonus CD. I don't have to worry about a record company OKing it."

One advantage of releasing music on your own label is the freedom from having to answer to label brass. "I've always done stuff on my own," Reynolds says. "I just can't quite make that leap of faith to the big-label scene. But I respect record companies, because all the records I have are on somebody's label. I guess because of working with Dave Matthews, who is on a label, I can reap the benefits. It's his gig and it's a sideman gig for me, there's not so much invested. It's not like this thing that I'm worried about how it's going to turn out."

Playing the guitar became an obsession and an emotional release early on for the mostly self-taught Reynolds. He was born in Germany and raised in various American towns, an itinerant military brat whose parents were rigorously conservative Pentecostal Christians. After playing music under the aegis of the church, Reynolds followed his wildly diverse instincts, into jazz, experimental music, rock and friendly musical gray areas.

While living in Charlottesville, Va. in the 1980s, Reynolds led an electric trio called TR3. It was at a regular gig in a local club that he met Matthews, then a bartender. A musical bond was forged. Fast forward to the '90s, as Matthews' own music found a rapidly expanding following and career momentum. Reynolds was naturally folded into the Matthews' musical world. He has guested with the Dave Matthews Band over the years, including a show at the Arlington Theatre, and also recently teamed up in acoustic duo format with Matthews.

Through it all, Reynolds has maintained an unusually open-minded view of music. "I just got back from Ozzfest with my children," he says. "We all had big fun. There's a whole thing about rocking out that's just awesome. But then also, the acoustic guitar can have a similar aesthetic. This is rock 'n' roll to me. Old acoustic rock rocks like nobody's business, like Elvis Presley with the brushes and acoustic bass and him on acoustic guitar. It's rocking, man."

Reynolds will be rocking, solo acoustic-wise, on his California tour. The format is partly attractive because, as he says, "the logistics of that are so easy," but there's a much deeper and more musical attraction. "I love drum machines and everything else, but I also love the idea of a guy standing up there with an acoustic guitar. That's a whole different vibe. A song is like a place, if it's a good song. You go somewhere. I've always enjoyed that about music.

"I like hearing guys who can play a lot of licks, but the real musicians are the ones who create a space where you are taken somewhere. It has nothing to do with playing a lick. It's just emotive. It's like the old-school Indian music, music that just draws you in."

In fact, Reynolds' rambling musical background has prepared him for a life all over the map, stylistically. After focusing mainly on electric guitar for many years, he found himself "immersed in ethnic music" in the late '80s and early '90s, playing sitar and violin, which he says "drew me back into the wholeness of acoustic guitar. When it's a solo instrument, you have to be more aware of the architecture of the music."

Although his acoustic work puts him squarely into the realm of celebrated acoustic players like Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges, Reynolds points to other influences. Back in Charlottesville, he remembers hearing Pierre Bensusan, Duck Baker, Tuck Andress and especially the late, great Joe Pass, who mastered the art of solo jazz guitar. Pass was Reynolds' "first idol in that solo performance world. With him, it's all about the flow. He knows all the technical stuff, but that's not where he's coming from."

But Reynolds' own music resists easy categorization, as much rock and folk as jazz and world music-influenced in nature. He has a grand view of that diverse approach, spilling over into his extra-musical idealism. "Artists are showing us the way to break down the walls of prejudice. Music is the best example of how people can love something so much, but not kill each other over it. Most people who like different kinds of music will stop short of fighting over it. It should be a good lesson in all things."

These days, Reynolds is busy trying to find a workable balance between life as a sideman and as a manically creative solo artist. He appeared on Matthews' solo album last year and was on the road with his old friend, on the "Dave and Friends" tour.

"I maintain a connection with them," Reynolds says, "but it's not full time. I like to do my own thing and I don't really want it to be a big, big thing. I like to keep it right on the edge of the radar," he says with a laugh, "not above it.

"I'm kind of a private person. I like to go play and I like to be a little famous, but I wouldn't want the commitment of being really famous. It's time consuming, when I just like to make music and see what it sounds like. If it's good, I go to the next thing."