STORY WRITTEN BY CHRIS CAMERON
For Digital First Media
Some might know Tim Reynolds as the dynamic guitarist from the Dave Matthews Band. But Reynolds’ musical talents extend beyond his acoustic and electric work for the popular jam band. With a career spanning nearly 40 years, he has explored almost every musical style, from rock, jazz, and blues, to classical and reggae. When he’s not on the road touring with DMB he’s likely working on his solo work or with TR3 (Tim Reynolds trio). It’s safe to say that the man keeps busy.
Reynolds has been a musician since childhood. He started off learning piano and eventually became the bass player in a gospel band in his hometown of St. Louis. He had a peripatetic childhood, the son of devoutly religious military parents. He moved from Germany to Alaska through much of the Bible-belt of the Midwest.
“I wouldn’t describe my parents as being kooky, but they were really religious,” Reynolds said. “There was always music in the house — my dad played the piano and some guitar and my mom played the piano, but it was all strictly gospel.”
When his older sister introduced him to rock music, it became a secretive joy that he was initially reluctant to share with his parents.
“My uncle Bill used to come visit us and he was a really good guitar player and he’s the one who inspired me to pick up the guitar. He played country gospel and he’d be in the kitchen playing until the early morning with his foot stomping on the floor. I remember my mother would tell him to quiet down and not wake the children. I just wanted him to keep playing!”
When he started playing rock music, he didn’t feel the need to hide it from his mother.
“I’d play her a Beatles song and she’d say ‘that’s nice,’ but then I’d show her a Grand Funk Railroad record and she’d say, ‘If they’re making so much money, they really should cut their hair.’ But my dad was more intense — he thought I was playing the devil’s music, so I ran away. My mother must have talked to him because eventually he said he wouldn’t tell me what to do anymore.
“That was really just a small moment in my life, but when you’re a teenager a month feels like two years and when you’re older a month feels like two minutes.”
Reynolds took music theory classes during high school and studied with different teachers before eventually heading out to carve his own path, relocating to Charlottesville, Va., where he started adding psychedelic and progressive rock to his repertoire.
It was in the mid-1980s that he founded his electric rock trio, TR3, and he toured with that band throughout the 80s and 90s. It was during this time that he met and befriended Dave Matthews and their musical partnership began.
“I always knew I was going to be a musician,” he said. “When I moved to Charlottesville, I went to a job recruiter’s office and they gave me a questionnaire asking me what skills I had. I looked at it and said I don’t have any skills other than making music.
“I met Dave in the late 80s and he was always really talented. He was an actor in the local theater before he became a musician and he had lots of theater friends, so that’s how I initially knew about him. When he started playing music there was already a curiosity about him amongst this large group of people who knew him from the theater.”
Matthews and Reynolds collaborated on and off again over the years, recording acoustic performances together and writing material, but it wasn’t until 2008 that Reynolds officially joined the band. He was reluctant at first due to his commitments with TR3 and his desire to continue his work as a solo artist.
“They used to tour throughout the year,” Reynolds said. “I didn’t want to commit to really long tours, but before I joined them in ’08. We had just recorded an album together and they were planning on doing summer shows, so I was able to make it work. I wanted it to work. Dave is just the sweetest guy and he’s a really friendly guy to work with.”
Reynolds is preparing for a December release of his new acoustic solo album, “That Way,” which he’s really excited about. He’s particularly enthused about one song which will feature a string arrangement.
“I’ve been listening to a lot of 20th Century classical music recently,” he said. “I geek out on music. For me learning music is like reading — it’s an endless journey and it always evokes a certain memory or a feeling.
“I love playing live in all these different towns around the world because every night the music is different, depending on who you’re playing for and where you’re playing it. I live for that and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do.”