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Behind-the-scenes star set to rock Legends

Bob Costa | Friday, January 20, 2006

Around the residence halls of Notre Dame, the music of Tim Reynolds is constantly heard as one strolls through the cluttered hallways where posters of Fox’s “The O.C.” and the music of Dave Matthews are ubiquitous. Yet, most students don’t always pick up on who’s playing the ingenious chord progressions heard behind Matthews’ famously staccato rhythm guitar. Although he’s often times in the background of live shows and recordings of Matthews, Reynolds is as integral to DMB’s unique sound as the vibe of “Ants Marching” and “Crash Into Me.”

Reynolds, who played with Matthews on their multi-platinum 1999 live acoustic album “Live at Luther College,” is well-known for being the jam-rock’s star’s longtime collaborator and guitar virtuoso. He’s played on almost every Dave Matthews Band album and toured as an acoustic duo with Matthews numerous times to sold-out theaters across the country, but also built a stellar solo career.

Legends will be hosting one of Reynolds’ first tour stops of his winter 2006 solo tour, which will also include shows in Chicago and at college bars near schools like Penn State and the University of Dayton. Starting Saturday at 10 p.m., the show, which is free for all Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students, will profile one of the guitar masters of the nineties and perhaps all time.

A longtime resident of Charlottesville, Va., Reynolds moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1997, after nearly 17 years in Virginia. Though he’s content in New Mexico, he said that doesn’t mean he won’t move again.

“I could easily say that I could stay here forever, or leave after some time,” Reynolds said. “Like anything in life, there is a progression. State to state, place to place, eventually country to country, planet to planet, universe to universe, maybe even a big bang. It’s all a journey, as long as you make sure you don’t let your consciousness get snuffed out.”

Reynolds recently released “Parallel Universe,” a two-CD album packed with eclectic forays into industrial rock and pulsating acoustic melodies. Featuring songs like the free-flowing acoustic melody “This Is How Much I Love You” and the brittle but pounding “Mercury Direct,” it is a meshing of different styles and different sounds that brings together the best of his style while playing with Matthews with his own unique cultivation of sound.

“When you create an album, you’re more into the music,” Reynolds said. “The two CDs on the new album are a collection of home recordings that have been kind of sitting around for awhile. It’s a bunch of tunes that I’ve really liked listening to. In a way, ‘Parallel Universe’ is all over the map, just like life is all over the map. I mainly use the guitar but also things like drum machines and other sonic elements so there is much contrast.”

The new album lies partly between his previous electric guitar-based album “Chaos View” from 2002 and his noteworthy 1993 solo debut “Stream.”

“I guess in the last five years I’ve been exploring the use of drum machines,” Reynolds said. “I kind of got into the programming aspect of things and working on representing all aspects of sound. But now, I’m really focusing back on the acoustic guitar itself and exploring how many different ways I can represent a song.”

For Reynolds, the album was a lot of fun with to experiment with different parts of studio production.

“It was full of different things, in a way like old-school Genesis and Steely Dan. It’s stripped down in a way, but also features sounds from nature, even the voice of my daughter, Eura.”

Such home-grown songs and personal creation, especially with the lack of a major-label’s input, has allowed Reynolds to put a sense of warmth and intimacy on many of his tunes as he takes them in so many directions that listeners lose track of the normal verse-chorus-verse paradigm.

During the past few years Reynolds has spent most of his time professionally performing with his own band, TR3, and with Dave Matthews’ solo project – which is often referred to as “Dave Matthews & Friends.” Matthews, Reynolds, Trey Anastasio of Phish, Brady Blade and Tony Hall toured together in 2003 and 2004 to much critical acclaim, playing long, eclectic concerts covering everything from rare Dave Matthews Band songs to the Beatles.

Reynolds’ career began and flourished in Charlottesville, where he was a burgeoning guitarist in the early nineties. By 1993, Reynolds was often playing acoustic sets at numerous local venues with his friend and local bartender Matthews. At that time, Reynolds was much more well-known in the region for his musicianship and Matthews thrived off playing sets with the enigmatic virtuoso. Matthews still fronted his own band, Dave Matthews Band, but spent much time with Reynolds as he honed his own distinctive guitar sound.

As the grassroots following for Dave Matthews Band became an undeniable phenomenon, Reynolds began to carve out a role within that band that he would stick to for the rest of his career. Rather than joining DMB as a full-fledged member, Reynolds decided to help the band during their recordings and on-tour, but still have his focus on his solo work and TR3.

“My music is scattered energy; I like to rock out on the acoustic, reinvent the music, play the fast blues, and cover classics,” Reynolds said. “During the last couple of years I’ve done an acoustic set with a half-hour on drum machine. I’m now exploring more on the twelve-string. Back in the seventies, I first owned a twelve-string. It was simple, and then I had all this apparatus to play with. So now, I just want to challenge myself to learn more high-energy acoustic.”

Notre Dame fans will be able to see just how different a Tim Reynolds show can be. Don’t expect Dave Matthews, but you’ll definitely be in for a night of experimental songs and beloved covers to rock out with.