TR3 - Watch It

Thursday, March 27, 2008
Higher-Power Trio by Sean Corbett

Thursday, March 27, 2008
Higher-Power Trio
Guitarist Tim Reynolds brings his newly formed band to FTC
By Sean Corbett

Tim Reynolds and TR3
March 28 at Fairfield Theater Company
70 Sanford St., Fairfield, CT
7 p.m. $32, $42. (203) 259-1036

At this point in his 30-plus-year career, most people have become familiar with the name Tim Reynolds by way of his acoustic duo work Dave Matthews and for his unmistakable contributions to the albums Crash, Under the Table and Dreaming and Before These Crowded Streets. But few know who he is, what he's about or how wonderfully crazy he is.

Fan sites dedicated to Reynolds speculate that he believes in aliens and that he is one himself. He's always taken the low road with his music, never seeking fame and often shying away from it, in order to keep his music as free-flowing and inspired as possible. Offered record deals, he turns them down, seeing only restrictions and roadblocks. As far as Reynolds is concerned, anything that's worth doing is worth doing on nobody else's terms but his own.

This year, however, marks the return of his funk-rock trio TR3, which, since 1999, has been on hold. Reynolds has meanwhile been touring the country as a solo guitarist, with his friend and tour manager, Fluffy Centner, who drives the van. Sometimes he'll bring a Strat or a drum machine or bass track he's written, but he says it's usually easier to travel light.

Offstage, Tim Reynolds is a gentle but wildly energetic and often hilarious man. He's about 5 feet tall, has long, wizardlike gray hair and he greets you with a slow, peaceful bow and a smile. On stage, whether he's playing Bach on the acoustic or his own brand of death metal on the 7-string electric, he packs as much power, creativity and speed as any guitar icon you can think of. For TR3 this year, Tim broke out his hardest and funkiest tunes. Covers include James Brown's "Sex Machine," King Crimson's "Matte Kudasai," Prince's "Purple Rain," the Doobie Brothers' "Jesus is Just Alright" and Focus' "Hocus Pocus."

Reynolds is also one of the smartest, most peaceful and introspective people you'll meet. I've spoken with him six times over the past five years, after six different shows, and I've learned countless lessons from just being around him about humility, respecting your talent and remaining open to what the world offers you on a daily basis. I've also learned the importance of remaining a little bit crazy.

I met the newly formed band in the basement of the Main Pub in Manchester, after their two-hour-plus show there. It was a small place and the roughly 200 people in attendance packed the room from the stage to the back wall. The makeshift green room was surrounded by hanging Indian tapestries and there were a lot of bananas inside. I set myself up, said hello to Tim, met Mick Vaughn (bass) and Dan Martier (drums) and put the tape recorder in the middle of the room, on a stool.

Fairfield County Weekly: Tim, you've been working alone on acoustic, drum machines and tracking your own bass lines for years. Has that been a sort of preparation for starting a band again?

Tim Reynolds: It was really an orgasmic kind of thing. You've got organic and then you've got orgasmic. And so really, yes.

FCW: So, as a band, have you guys gone out to the desert yet to take peyote?Tim: Whewwwwwww!!

Dan: Metaphorically, yes! I think we sort of have, mentally, without the peyote.

Mick: Yeah, we have gone out, yeah, to the desert and we took it in. But not even the desert, yet.

Dan: We should do that, though. That's on the list.

Mick: Yeah it's on the list.

FCW: Dan and Mick: How did you come to play in a touring band with Tim Reynolds?

Mick: We knew of him, and didn't know any of his personal music. It just kind of happened. We hooked up because we play a lot locally and I guess he was looking to put together a band. Dan and I play together a lot, for years. It just kind of gelled. We met on a Thursday, played on Friday night.

Dan: When you find people with open gates to communicating through music, it's like a dream come true. It doesn't happen often or with everybody. You have to be free in it, and when you're able to do that, it's super rewarding.

FCW: Tim, you've always been in the business of avoiding the call of the record label. Now with a new band, have you reconsidered? Are they knocking at the door?

Tim: Well. Seriously. I was approached by Jimmy Swaggart's ministry and he wanted to do something in the gism genre. And because it's, I'm down with that. So I think we're going to do some crying music. [Starts chanting. Four seconds.] And it's really more like a Jesus contact than like a record contract. You see? That's what I'm talkin' about.

FCW: You guys play some excellent covers. Do you constantly add songs? Change the setlist?

Mick: Yeah, it's possible. Next week you might hear a tune you didn't know we were gonna play. The sets change every night...we actually played a few tunes tonight that we haven't played in a while.

Out of nowhere, Tim is talking three times as fast as normal. He starts dancing. He's singing and dancing, real fast now. Dan takes out his video phone.

Tim: I got it, man! You know what, I got it. I think I got it. We're gonna do a Caustic song. You know Caustic? We're gonna do a song like that. We're gonna do a Caustic song. We're gonna be kickin' it. And it'll be all whack. It'll be so cool. Here's what we do...[inaudible]

The guys start beat-boxing. Tim lays down the rhythm, Mick and Dan add what they can. It lasts three seconds and everyone's laughing.


Dan: So, we just learned a song!

FCW: TR3 has gone through many different stages over the last 20 years or so. But it's always been highly regarded in select little circles as mind-blowing, no matter who's playing. Can you talk about how it started?

Tim: Well, it's very mysterious. At first I was kind of coming out of this band called Cosmology. Then there was this drummer and bass player: [Robert] Jospe [on drums] and Ron Pruitt [on bass]. And that was the first incarnation. And at about the same I met Johnny Gimour and Huston Ross and used to jam too. And then I kind of got with those guys for many years. They were like TR3, depending on who could make what gig. And I moved to New Mexico and kind of got out of touch with everybody because I was so far away. And then I got in trouble with the law, and it slowed me down. And then I moved to the Outer Banks, where I land in heaven, on an island, with these guys. We start to play and it's like we love each other and we just came to each other. We hung out in [Dan's] basement and got high...

Dan: High!

Mick: High! [harmonizing]

Tim: this basement room where he has us like being in a lovely bubble of music-love. It's '70s-like and I felt really at home. My troubled soul was soothed, and we had a good time doing that. And now we're here.

FCW: I'd like to ask about your work on the new Dave Matthews Band album, which is in the works, right?

Tim: Well, there's a start on a project. But I can't really say much more than that, because that's what it is. It's a really good start and I like it. It's in the very beginning stages.

FCW: Tim, you're meeting the Dalai Lama on April 11 in Seattle before a Dave and Tim show...

A rapid change of mood in the room occurs. Not abrupt and awkward, but slow and peaceful. The laughter stops and everyone is quiet.

Tim: I'm just speechless really. [Signals that he's serious. That he can't think of anything to say.] It's really something else. I'll probably just weep. And be embarrassed, you know? And disappear. And I hope that happens. It seems very surreal that this would happen to me. Yeah, I think I'll probably disintegrate and pass out, or cry. Because he's a very good cat. Jesus on Earth. And he's the ultimate hero, you know? Forget about it.

Tim starts droning.

I hear hints of throat-singing.

The tones he's producing are deep and thick. He's definitely done this before, and for much longer.

The others join in.