Growing up as the child of a career military man could make a lonely childhood for some kids, but Tim Reynolds made the most of it. The Grammy Award-nominated instrumentalist, who plays the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh on Thursday, the nomadic lifestyle became ingrained in his soul.
“I’m just one of those people that, once you’ve lived somewhere long enough, it’s just time to move on,” Reynolds says. “There’s just something about moving and finding a new place that informs the landscape of your psyche in a way you can’t really describe. It gets under your skin and feeds into your soul.”
The area most associated with Reynolds has to be Charlottesville, Va., where he first met a young bartender named Dave Matthews, and convinced the talented singer to form his own band.
“We had a good rapport about music,” Reynolds explains. “Most people in Charlottesville aren’t from the area originally, so it was really like a melting pot of musical tastes and influences. Because it was a smaller community, it was easier to get to know the owners of the clubs, to work on getting gigs there.”
During the Dave Matthews Band’s peak of popularity, Matthews and Reynolds toured the country as an acoustic duo, performing stripped- down versions of Matthews’ songs for sold-out crowds. Reynolds’ performances at these shows led many to seek out his solo work, building TR3’s reputation in the process.
When asked if the success of those first pared-down performances was a surprise, Reynolds answers like a veteran: “Yes and no. I kind of watched as Dave built his audience from the ground up ... by the point we went on the road that first time, it really wasn’t a surprise that so many people were coming out to see us.”
Matthews and Reynolds also allowed open recording as a perk for fans, letting concertgoers record Dave Matthews Band or TR3 sets without fear of repercussion. But Reynolds says that has a downside.
“I have no idea how the concert taping got started. Someone else approved that,” he says with a laugh. “I’m a little squeamish about it, personally. I’m a little bit of a control freak, so the fact that everyone makes a couple of mistakes while playing live, and people will be able to hear those mistakes over and over on their recordings, just drives me a little nuts.”
Reynolds has always been considered an unofficial member of the Dave Matthews Band, appearing on albums and touring with the group off and on since the band’s inception, but he became an official full-time member in 2008.
“Dave called me about working on the record ‘Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King,’ which was cool, but there wasn’t a big plan to officially bring me into the band,” he says. “We cut the album, and then the tour started immediately afterward, so it was a very organic decision to just stay with the band.”
Reynolds admits that juggling the duties of working and touring with two bands can be mentally and physically draining. Finding himself on the road constantly, touring with both DMB and TR3, it wasn’t long before he had to make some changes to his schedule.
“In the past, I didn’t want to do the DMB full-time because I wanted to make sure I had time to do my solo work,” he says. “I’ve also run into situations where I just became worn out from staying on the road for three tours back to back to back.”
Now he leaves breathing room between tours so he doesn’t get burned out.
Reynolds says that while he enjoys his work as a sideman with Dave Matthews Band, his true passion project is TR3.
“When you do your own music, you feel it on a different level,” he says. “When I play with DMB, I’m just there to play guitar; on my TR3 tour I am the center of the action.”