TR3 - The Left Hand of Darkness
TR3 - On This Mountain Born in Clouds

Thursday, February 28, 2008
TRue to TR3 by Dan Craft

TRue to TR3

By Dan Craft
Thursday, February 28, 2008 10:56 AM CST

When last we crossed paths with Tim Reynolds, he was sharing marquee space at Radio City Music Hall with an ex-bartender, name of Dave Matthews.

The occasion: last summer's CD/DVD release, "Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds: Live at Radio City Music Hall."

No false advertising claims there. (And yes, Dave used to serve Tim his drinks; more about that, shortly.)

The double-disc set, recorded and filmed in the preceding year at the hallowed venue, sports the two long-time collaborators sitting and singing with their unplugged axes in hand.

"They rock as hard as two guys with acoustics can," judged Rolling Stone in its subsequent review.

Though Reynolds has been intersecting with Matthews for 20 years now, casual observers might guess that, without Matthews at his side, Reynolds recedes to wherever low-key guitars go when the limelight is turned off.

But serious guitar enthusiasts know the score: the thought of Reynolds in recession is downright absurd. Witness his appearance this weekend (7:30 p.m. Friday) at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts.

That's where he'll be bringing his newly reconstituted band TR3, sporting its namesake on guitar. Rounding out the trio: Mick Vaughn on bass and Dan Martier on drums.

They're equal opportunity musical employers, by the way, embracing all sound comers. The result: a tightly wound, yet freely administered fusion of funk, rock, R&B, jam, jazz and world beats.

While Reynolds admits "there's always a bump in the activity" that comes with any of his high-profile Matthews collaborations, he says "I stay focused and try not to just capitalize on that and take advantage of it."

He describes their relationship as "a free-flowing thing where he never says drop what you're doing and come do it with me. It's always been good because we keep it fresh with each other, which might not be the case if we'd been on the road together regularly for 10 years instead of seeing each other irregularly in a fresh environment."

When he tours as either a solo performer or, now, with TR3, Reynolds says his own fans "know that whatever I do, I'm not going to be like that," meaning a Matthews tribute performer.

You're more likely, he hints, to catch a cover job on a Prince or Peter Gabriel or James Brown tune than, say, Dave's "Crash" or "Stay."

The Matthews baggage he totes "just brings the energy level up." Besides, he adds, "the name TR3 has been around a long time now, and I really don't think about that (the Matthews connection) anymore."

Indeed it has.

An Army brat born in Germany 50 years ago and raised around the Midwest, including a stint in St. Louis, Reynolds began his musical life taking a few piano lessons that didn't pan out. But they gave him the grounding in basic music theory that inspired him to pick up a guitar and begin finding his own voice.

The few times he tried to take guitar lessons he says his teachers pretty much told him that they couldn't teach him anything he wasn't already discovering on his own.

Some of it was absorbed from a guitar-playing uncle who sometimes lived with the Reynolds family; more of it was sponged from the rock gods in his life during early the '70s, from Yes to Genesis to Hendrix to Led Zeppelin.

The most important of all was learning "by just playing with people and hanging out with musicians you admire."

Meanwhile, "all of my favorite guitar players and the ones I love most have been part of great songwriting teams," says Reynolds.

A polished songwriter himself, Reynolds says he eschews indulgence -- riffing for the sake of riffing -- on behalf of working organically within the formal structure of a song.

The turning point for Reynolds came in the mid-'80s, when he wound up in Charlottesville, Va., regularly gigging at a club called Millers, whose bar was tended by a struggling musician, name of Matthews.

At that time, circa 1987, Reynolds was fronting his own band, TR3, a continually evolving unit whose membership periodically shifted.

Charlottesville in the '80s was a hotbed of musical activity and, notes Reynolds, being in a band was just one of the things you did.

One night, Matthews sidled up to Reynolds at the Millers bar and asked him to jointly form a band.

Reynolds' response: "I've got a band and I kind of like the way it is. You should start your own band."

Matthews did, and most of the musicians who signed on, notes Reynolds, were musicians (LeRoi Moore, Carter Beauford) he'd been jamming with around town since he moved there in '81.

Nonetheless, the Tim-and-Dave connection never really ended.

If anything, it actually deepened over the next 15 years, with last summer's acclaimed two-disc album, "Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds: Live at Radio City Music Hall," the most recent proof.

As for TR3: the first several incarnations of the band continued, then went on hiatus while Reynolds pursued different avenues, among them a flourishing solo career that has produced seven albums and a readily identifiable playing style noted for its eclectic flourishes that veer from sitar-like tremolo to the pluckiness of flamenco.

During his solo years, Reynolds was based in Santa Fe, N.M., where he moved with his wife, Diane Thomas, a fashion designer based there.

A year or so ago, though, he moved to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There, while settling into the local music scene, he crossed paths with Mick Vaughn and Dan Martier, and was inspired to reconstitute TR3 into the love of his musical life again.

"I've never really had that high school fantasy of being a rock 'n' roll star," Reynolds insists. "I was always gratified just being a musician on the local scene. I never had the desire for that bigger scene -- I thought it was more fun to be able to do my own thing without having a record label and a producer to tell you want to do."

Though it hasn't really worked out that way, Reynolds says he still maintains that downsized mindset as he fronts his own newly reincarnated namesake band on its first national tour.

"It's the juice of life for me," he says of creating music on his terms. "Everything else is meaningless."

The Tim & Dave Show

Chameleon guitarist Tim Reynolds is a man of many career colors, moving in and out of groups over the past 25 years while maintaining his own independent solo career. But it his ongoing association with rocker Dave Matthews that has brought him the most mainstream attention since they first crossed paths in 1987, when Reynolds already was a working musician and Matthews still was tending bar. Following is a chronology of their career intersections.

1987 -- Tim has a regular Monday night gig at a Charlottesville, Va., bar called Millers; Dave is the bartender. They forge a musical bond.

1991 -- Dave forms the Dave Matthews Band and invites Tim to join; Tim has his own band, TR3, and takes a pass.

1993 -- Outside their respective bands, Tim and Dave beginning playing together as an unofficial acoustic guitar duo.

1996 -- Leaving their bands behind, Tim and Dave set off together on an official cross-country tour.

1999 -- Dave and Tim tour again, and release their first album together, "Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds -- Live at Luther College," featuring the Tim-written hit, "Streams."

2003-4 -- In a new configuration, Tim joins the Dave Matthews & Friends Tour, also featuring Phish's Trey Anastasio, among others; Tim performs on Dave's first solo album, "Some Devil."

2007 -- Tim and Dave release their second album (also filmed as a DVD release), "Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds: Live at Radio City Music Hall."

1993-2004 -- Meanwhile, Tim has performed on many a Dave Matthews Band album over the years, including "Remember Two Things" (1993), "Under the Table and Dreaming" (1994), "Recently" (1994), "Crash" (1996), "Live at Red Rocks" (1997), "Before These Crowded Streets" (1998), "Live in Chicago" (2001).

Taping The Show

Per their Web site, Tim Reynolds and his band TR3 are believers in an open-door policy regarding fans taping their concerts.

Both at his solo concerts and TR3 concerts, Reynolds encourages open audio/video taping because "Tim has an amazing talent for improvisation and no two shows are the same. Taping allows fans to recreate the live experience."

Among the caveats: the taping can't obstruct the view of others or go against the venue's policies on the subject.

According to Joel Aalberts of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, where TR3 performs Friday night, "If people want to record the Tim Reynolds show, we're fine with that. Our job is to honor the artists' requests and policies, so long as they don't put the building or our staff at risk (neither of which are likely, given the artists we present)."

Finally, per the Web site, "All recordings must be used for personal use or trading only."

For more on this, go to

Tim Reynolds & TR3

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, 110 E. Mulberry St., Bloomington

Tickets: $20.50

Box office number: (866) 686-9541