all photos by Andrew Markowitz.
I first heard Tim Reynolds on the double CD “Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds Live at Luther College” back in 1999. Being a big Dave Matthews fan at the time, I was constantly on the lookout for anything and everything related to DMB, so I’ll never forget the day of my senior year in high school when I saw that bright blue CD cover staring at me from the rack at Best Buy.
I haven’t listened to that album in years, but the one track that always immediately comes to mind is “Stream”, a 5 minute acoustic guitar performance that blew my mind. Who was Tim Reynolds? How the hell did he play this? It was one of those moments that many music fans know, when you hear something that’s so unbelievable you play it again and again and again…and even rewind it to hear your favorite 10-15 second snippet again and again and again…and that’s the only track I really care about on that album. I’m not as much of a Dave Matthews fan as I used to be and I don’t know where that double disc album is but I still pull up that performance from time to time just to marvel at the skill Reynolds displays in that song.
I’ve been able to photograph Reynolds three times in the last year, twice in acoustic performances with Dave Matthews and once with the full Dave Matthews Band. The first performance I saw with Reynolds and Matthews last year was at Constitution Hall and it was nothing short of incredible, one of my favorite shows of 2010. So when the opportunity arose to photograph the Tim Reynolds 3 (TR3) at State Theatre in Falls Church I jumped all over it.
I arrived at State about a half hour before the opening act, Justin Trawick took the stage and I walked in to see a crowd that…wasn’t that large. At all. I was expecting a near-capacity room but that wasn’t the case. If you’re familiar with the State Theater, all the tables were full of people eating dinner and enjoying drinks while there were about 20 people standing in front of the stage.
I’d heard of Justin Trawick and was happy to finally see him perform as he’s been generating buzz in the DC area for a few years now. Trawick’s music is self described as “urban folk rock” and it can be compared to G. Love and Special Sauce (with much better vocals than G. Love’s incredibly annoying style) and Jason Mraz. Trawick’s lyrics are thoughtful and infused with sarcastic humor. From Leesburg, Virginia, Trawick brought out a small but good crowd for an opening act as plenty of people seemed to be familiar with his music. My favorite song of his set was “White Trash Dream,” a humorous song inspired by Trawick’s time as a college student in Farmville, Virginia.
TR3 took the stage and I turned around to see a decent sized crowd in the standing section of State Theatre. It wasn’t packed like I expected it to be, but it was about 75% full. However, I’ve seen State Theatre sold out several times for local acts so I was surprised that someone who has played extensively with Dave Matthews didn’t draw a sell out crowd.
TR3 started off their set with the hard hitting “Gas Mask,” featuring blistering guitar solos by Reynolds. It occurred to me that I’d never seen or heard Reynolds play electric guitar exclusively so this was nice change of pace. The next song was an instrumental, “Cave Man,” which is off the TR3 2009 release, “Radiance”. For this song, Reynolds and his bandmates donned head sets with blue LCD lights over their eyes and suddenly the house lights were shut off. TR3 played the entire song in the dark while looking out at the audience with the blue lights attached to their heads, almost resembling space aliens or robots with instruments.
The next song was “Indoctrinate,” a song that showed off the range of the band. With a pocket that had my head nodding and my foot tapping, “Indoctrinate” had a solid funk base and a message that “The media is a weapon of mass destruction,” which Reynolds repeatedly sang after his solo. Hey, Tim, I’m with you on that, but the lyrics about “masturbating till you feel ok/masturbate till the shit goes away/masturbate till you feel your death/masturbate till you catch your breath” were a little odd, to say the least.
Lyrically, Tim Reynolds wasn’t the best. One song started off with the line “This song is trying to tell you something…”. Okay. But his singing was better than I anticipated after an audience member telling me that he sounded like Tom Waits. Well, Reynolds sounded a lot better than that, good enough to where his vocals didn’t take away from any of the music.
But what about the dancing? Reynolds moves around like Mick Jagger which was a surprise. But the best and funniest moves of the night belonged to bassist, Mick Vaughn who also holds the record for most hilarious faces made in a single concert. I know I wasn’t the only one who noticed as I saw several audience members pointing and laughing while Vaughn pranced around on stage. A few times throughout the night, Reynolds and Vaughn met in the middle of the stage and faced each other while playing and Vaughn made funny face after funny face at Reynolds. It never stopped and it never stopped eliciting a response from the audience. Vaughn didn’t seem to mind though.
But the guitar playing…the guitar playing! Reynolds didn’t disappoint. After every song or two he’d walk over to a rack at the back of the stage, that held about six or seven guitars, and pick one up like you’d select a CD off a shelf. He had everything from a white Fender Stratocaster to a Gibson Flying V and a double neck guitar that’d make Jimmy Page proud. Reynolds is an absolute master of his craft and at times it almost seemed TOO easy for him. As mentioned earlier, he transitions effortlessly between blues, funk and rock; playing a song at a tempo that would make Metallica proud at parts. There was even a song called “Meaning to Tell You” that was reggae inspired. And that’s what I came for, to be able to see someone who his highly proficient at their craft and Reynolds delivered. Other highlights of the show were the Reynolds originals “Revelations”, “Test of Time”, and covers of “Four Sticks” by Led Zeppelin and the classic “Radar Love” with Vaughn on the vocals.
The only thing that was disappointing was the crowd. By the time the show was almost over the crowd had dwindled down to about 50 people. After snapping a bunch of photos and finally putting down my camera to take a break, I looked over my shoulder to see a largely empty State Theatre. I’m not sure what the reason was, but it was a sad sight to see. Reynolds and his band gave a lot of effort and I don’t think anyone who was there was disappointed at all. The dwindling audience was the only low-light of the night for me.
But if you like electric guitar fan, don’t miss Tim Reynolds and TR3 next time they come through!