Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Tim Reynolds reaches for the emotion in the songs he plays

Tim Reynolds displays his musical warts proudly.

He's a master technician on the guitar, whether playing solo shows like the one scheduled in Toledo Sunday or with the Dave Matthews Band, but even he makes mistakes. So if you have the taping technology, feel free to show up at the Frankie's Inner-City gig and push "record."

Reynolds follows the jam band ethos that says the music is in the air, so just grab it and take it home with you even if the performance is relatively unpolished.

"It's music, it's out there, and it just seems weird that you can't tape this or that if the technology is available," he said in a phone interview while on the road in California.

"I never play anything perfect, so if they're willing to listen to all the mistakes that's OK."

A lifelong musician, Reynolds, 51, has carved out a career that is predicated on musical exploration. He works with his power trio TR3 for tours like the one criss-crossing the country now to promote their new "Radiance" album, plays lead guitar with the Dave Matthews Band and records with them, and also plays solo shows and acoustic duos with Matthews.

It's an eclectic journey that reflects his childhood. Growing up the son of a military man, he moved from Alaska to St. Louis (which he considers his hometown) to numerous points in between. He started playing music at the age of 12, handling bass chores in his church band. After discovering guitar, he left home and the constraints of a strict, conservative home at the age of 18 and began playing jazz and rock.

His style is loaded with speed and technique, but it can't be pigeonholed into any one sound, which is how he likes it.

"TR3 is more a rock power trio, but we range from funk to metal to rock and stuff that's kind of hard to describe," he said.

Influences range from Carlos Santana to Marilyn Manson. He said one of his most recent explorations is into the work of Allan Holdsworth, a jazz fusion guitarist who plays complex arrangements.

"He's so radically different than anybody else. He always goes to the extreme," Reynolds said. "It's an acquired taste musically, unless you're into jazz, but it's not like jazz either."

That kind of creative curiosity infuses his own playing, which is remarkable to see live because of the speed and dexterity with which he plays. It's hard to imagine him not getting lost in his solos, given their complexity and high skill level.

"It's mostly instinctive and there's very little thought involved, maybe micro-thoughts to be aware of what you're doing, but mostly it's instinctive because you want to play from your heart," he said. "It's more about communicating the emotion of the song or the emotion of the moment."

Reynolds has played with the Dave Matthews Band since the 1990s and generally appears on all their tours and CDs. He and Matthews also did a successful solo tour that was captured on the 1999 "Live at Luther College" album. The band is working on a new album in New Orleans and Reynolds said DMB sends him demos on CDs so he can learn the songs and come into the studio during the tour to record his parts.

It's all part of a near-constant cycle of playing and recording for the guitarist, who lived in New Mexico for eight years before moving to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and finding the two musicians who round out TR3: bass player Mick Vaughn and drummer Dan Martier.

He said everything he does, from his practice routine to prepping new songs for his band or for Matthews involves getting the songs so thoroughly ingrained in his consciousness that he can play them effortlessly and lose himself in jams.

"I'm kind of neurotic about practicing, not necessarily for technique, but mostly songs so I can program them in and there's no thinking involved," Reynolds said.

As for the taping, Frankie's allows it, which means it's OK with TR3. Just don't plan on selling the tapes for commercial purposes.

TR3 plays Sunday night at Frankie's Inner City, 308 Main St.; doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance and are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, charge by phone at 419-474-1333,, and at Culture Clash, 419-536-5683, and Ramalama Records, 419-531-7625. Tickets are $15 at the door.

Contact Rod Lockwood at or 419-724-6159.

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