TR3 - Watch It

Monday, March 3, 2003
Radio City Music Hall

Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds - Wood and Steel
by John Rhodes
Dave Matthews is one of the most accomplished singer/songwriters in the world, and Tim Reynolds is one of our most admired guitar virtuosos. On March 22nd, the diverse paths of these two long-time friends will once again cross, when they share a magical evening of acoustic guitar with their fans, at Radio City Music Hall. Recently, we had a chance to talk with Reynolds about his music, his life, and the durable musical relationship between these two great performers.

HL: How did you and Dave Matthews meet?

TR: I was playing at this place in Charlottesville, Virginia, called Miller’s. It was kind of an eclectic folk club, you know. They had jazz and bluegrass nights, rock ’n’ roll and whatever. My band [TR3] kind of started there, and I settled into playing there on Monday nights for about 10 years. When Dave first started working at Miller’s as a bartender, he was such a charismatic person that you couldn’t help but, you know, kind of hang out. He was a musical person and we shared a lot of reference points, like rock ’n’ roll and working in bars. We immediately hit it off as if we were old high school friends.

HL: What was he like at the time?

TR: He was already established on the local scene as a serious actor, and though I didn’t really get out to see Dave’s acting that much, I remember seeing a film of one of his plays and it was amazing. He was acting, but not acting, you know. He was very natural. If he’d get back into acting, he’d be pretty far out. But you know the music business: When you’re doing that big scene thing it takes a lot of time. It’s like a 24/7, 365-days-a-year job. That’s kind of why I opt to stay down under the big screen radar. I’m too neurotic to deal with all that.

HL: How did the two of you start playing music together?

TR: We used to go to Dave’s house, and mess around on four-track recording stuff in his basement, and just kind of go crazy. It was never meant to be anybody’s CD; it was just for fun. We even did a rap-metal version of “Amazing Grace,” not exactly the same lyrics [laughs]. And then, we did a few things that were pretty cool, like basic rock ’n’ roll that you wouldn’t remotely associate with Dave Matthews as you know him today. But we never really put it together as a band, because I kind of had a band going for several years, and we weren’t really looking to add a vocalist. But obviously Dave had the talent that called for a band of his own. So, initially, Dave would just sort of come and hang out, and do some gigs, and sing along on a few songs.

Then a friend of ours, John D’Earth, a local jazz luminary, and a very great spirit in the musical scene in Charlottesville, put together a big Broadway-style show that featured a woman singer. At the end of the show, he thought it would be great to have Dave sing a song. When Dave came out and sang his simple song, it just overshadowed anything else that was supposed to be happening. Everybody got up and started clapping, and Dave was just smiling really big. That was a really charismatic moment. The next thing I knew, the guys (who eventually became Dave’s managers) were calling people around town saying “Let’s get together and put a band behind this guy.” And as you can see, they did it pretty brilliantly. You couldn’t even get into the club where they were playing on Tuesdays. It was just all girls, packed! At the time, I was raising a family and so I said to myself, “I’m not going to get involved in a scene like that. I’m going to stay home, and do my Monday night gig.”

HL: But you continued to play and record with the Dave Matthews Band, even though you stayed home and didn’t really tour heavily with them or TR3?

TR: Well, mostly I just played on the records. I didn’t really do gigs consistently with the band. I just jammed with them a few times up until maybe 1995, and the Red Rocks title. I’m on that record because I was touring with my band, and we had a couple of days off. I went to jam with Dave on a couple of songs and wound up playing on the whole CD. That’s when I started doing these acoustic gigs with Dave—once every couple of months. We did a few in Charlottesville, then one up in D.C. Then we got one to do a concert in New York. This was all while Dave’s band was touring all over the world and kind of building up DMB. Most of the time, I was just sitting at home doing my music, raising my family, and occasionally I would go and do one of these high-profile gigs with Dave. Those acoustic gigs got more popular, so we did our first acoustic tour. That’s when Live at Luther’s was recorded.

HL: Your recent solo work on Chaos View seems to have expanded from a kind of acoustic, ethnic/world jazz to include some more intense, electronic sounds. Was this transition a result of playing with Matthews and his band?

TR: In a way it’s kind of a funny opposite. When I started doing more professional acoustic work with Dave, I really got more into heavy music. I had time to sit around and listen to music that I hadn’t had time to check out before. I also ended up doing a lot of late-night drives, and I found that the more intense music would keep me more awake, and I kind of got a taste for it. It was something I liked in the early ’70s—Jimmy Paige, Jimi Hendricks, and Duane Allman—and then I kind of got away from it. I skipped over Judas Priest, and all that, and went right to Nine Inch Nails [laughs].

An Acoustic Evening With Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds is on national tour from March 19th to April 5th.