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INTERVIEW: Tim Reynolds

Photo Cred: Stephan Pruitt

I first heard about Tim Reynolds from his collaborations with Dave Matthews. Live at Luther College was a superb and intimate acoustic look at the ‘90s star’s material, however, what so many latched onto on that record was the complex and beautiful compliment that guitarist Tim Reynolds brought to the show.

For many DMB fans they know the origin of the band starts in Charlottesville, VA. The story is now common knowledge and lore among even the more pedestrian fans. Dave Matthews, a transplant from South Africa by way of New York, he was a bartender at the now famous bar Miller’s in Charlottesville. A bar that featured a budding and strong jazz and improvisation scene where Matthews met original members Saxophonist LeRoi Moore, Drummer Carter Beauford, Bassist Stefan Lessard, and Fiddle Player Boyd Tinsley.

However, that scene also included a military brat and aspiring jazz guitarist Tim Reynolds. Who took time out of his current tour to sit down with CincyMusic to discuss his past with Dave Matthews Band, his solo work, and what he has coming up in the future.

“I followed a girl there,” said Reynolds. “I had just gotten married and didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be a “Jazz Musician,”’ Reynolds said sarcastically. “I loved the South, although there are some big differences from the Midwest.”

Reynolds, who was born in Germany but moved around a lot as a kid spent a majority of his time in St. Louis growing up.

“That’s where I met LeRoi and Carter,” said Reynolds. “And then of course I was introduced to Dave. I was playing Miller’s a lot with my band TR3 (Tim Reynolds 3) and Dave just really connected with our music. He loved the blues, rockier parts of our music.”

Reynolds and Matthews became fast friends and then collaborators. Reynolds, although very modest about his role in influencing Matthews, is one of the motivating factors that contributed to the creation of the early iteration of Dave Matthews Band. The two would be collaborating partners for years to come. However, Reynolds would decline the band's attempts to join the band until 2008 after their release of the Grammy winning record Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux King.

“I always hated touring,” said Reynolds. “It’s ironic because that’s really all I’ve been doing for the past 15 years. But, I think I needed to realize that I could tour with a very successful band and that allows me to play these small clubs and work on other endeavors I wanted to pursue. I mean it’s what Rock & Roll is, it’s getting to play the music you love as much as possible. I love playing with these guys I love and I don’t know what else I would do if I wasn’t playing music.”

Big Whiskey was a huge turning point in the band's career as they had lost their backbone and original member LeRoi Moore in a tragic accident. As a longtime friend of Moore’s, Reynolds said that tour was a really beautiful moment for him and the rest of DMB.

“LeRoi was such a beautiful soul,” said Reynolds. “It was a really tough moment for everyone. I met LeRoi when I first moved to Charlottesville and was one of the reasons I found my place in that scene.”

This tour was also a momentous occasion for me as a fan. Now having seen the band nearly 30 times, I first began my journey with the “Caravan,” on this tour in 2008 at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. As a kid I was just so elated to see my favorite band at the time, however, I knew that this would be different from all the CD’s I had grown up on. No LeRoi Moore? How could they go on? I was like seeing the E Street Band without Clarence Clemmons. However, adding Saxophonist Jeff Coffin and Reynolds the band began to soar to new heights and were almost rejuvenated in the wake and memory of Moore.

I had also just started playing guitar and Reynolds absolutely blew me away. I was in awe. This short man, with long gray hair and sunglasses possessed the power of all the guitar hero gods I loved while being able to hang back and give the band a needed energy boost that I hadn’t heard in their music before. I was able to bounce between the genre blending that the band had always done but also allowed for them to access new sounds and music that they weren’t able to achieve as a live band before.

“For me it’s always been easy to play with (DMB) because Dave is such an incredible songwriter,” said Reynolds. “There’s a lot less work you have to do when the songs are already so good. But playing with the band live gave me a new outlet to try new ideas and that helped me with my other music.”

Now, 15 years into his official tenure with the band, Reynolds has released several pieces with both TR3 and solo work that is completely different from any of his work with DMB. One of those albums was an ambient and instrumental album he did in collaboration with Michael Sokolowski. An epic that blends Reynolds guitar and synthesizers dueting for this peaceful and atmospheric COVID-era record.

“I had been working on these files I had been recording during COVID,” said Reynolds. “And I had been doing these YouTube live videos but didn’t know what to do with these pieces. At the same time Nine Inch Nails had released this completely ambient album and I love it! I thought that’s how I could make these songs into something. I’m constantly recording these little pieces on my phone and what not so I wanted to put some of these pieces out while doing something completely different.”

Having been on tour for sometime now, Reynolds has found a new source of inspiration and says he has several new solo albums planned out for the coming years—all with different concepts.

“I’ve started recording every idea I have,” said Reynolds. “I was recently on my honeymoon in this picturesque place and found a lot of inspiration. So I started writing this sort of honeymoon album.”

In the last decade Reynolds has been playing arenas, festivals, and big summer amphitheaters so to be back playing clubs like Ludlow Garage he says it’s inspiring and rejuvenating.

“I love playing smaller clubs,” said Reynolds. “To me they have the best energy. When you’re playing and can see the audience's faces just feet away from you, there's just a different energy. I don’t know what it is, but I love playing these smaller clubs. It sort of keeps you grounded after playing these big venues all summer. It’s also just so fun playing with these guys who I love and have been playing with for so long. It’s a lot different vibe though, we’re driving around in a sprinter van versus the big buses I normally tour with (in DMB).”

Reynolds will be playing with TR3 this Thursday, October 12, at Ludlow Garage here in Cincinnati. The historic venue is small for those who haven’t been there before and tickets are selling fast. Doors open at 7:30 pm and show starts at 8:30 pm.