Tim Reynolds would like to introduce you to his electric trio TR3. Many know him for his higher-profile acoustic duo — as in Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds: Live at Radio City — and his sideman stints in Matthews' band. Some may also know of Reynolds' florid solo acoustic guitar work, which blends classical, jazz, funk and rock in very pretty, evocative ways.
But following his relocation from New Mexico to the outer banks of North Carolina back in '07, Reynolds hooked up with drummer Dan Martier and bassist Mick Vaughn, who kickstarted his current electric phase. Unable to come up with anything better, they lifted the name TR3 from another guitar trio Reynolds fronted in the mid '90s.
"Unless you're Neil Young, and everyone knows you do both things, it's hard," says Reynolds of his current balancing act. "It's almost like you have to re-educate the club world by literally going out there and doing it."
While the 53-year-old musician was raised on classic rock and jazz, his tastes are wide-open, and you can expect a similar ethos from TR3. The band's live set ranges from first-generation TR3 originals ("simple roots rock stuff with different elements of funk and soul") to newer compositions and a bevy of covers that include James Brown's "Sex Machine," a searing version of Neil Young's "Ohio," Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, Prince, Golden Earring and Portishead.
"A lot of people don't have a reference point for [TR3] other than that they know it's not going to be acoustic, hopefully," Reynolds laughs. "So we play stuff that we know the audience likes, so there's a lot of different covers — not necessarily all in one night — we still do mostly originals, but we do spice it up."
The band's 2009 debut album, Radiance, ranges from the shuffling folk-blues "The Wind Just Blew the Door Wide Open," to the sleepy dub jam "By Your Side," '70s funk firestarter "Move On Ahead," the rockabilly/middle-eastern/skronk experimentalism of "Kabbalah," and even a bottom-heavy hard rock tune, "Cave Man." Uniting it all is the indisputable reality of Reynolds' shred-tastic playing — hammer-ons, harmonics, double-jointed grooves and blinding solo runs, delivered without leading the groove down a blind alley.
Plans are for the group to release a live album by June, if not sooner. But Reynolds is also anxious to get back into the studio.
"I feel like the longer we play together, the more we clue into each other's thing," he says. "Whenever we go out on the road and play and rehearse, it just feels like it evolves and I can't wait to get into the studio with that."
Meanwhile, Reynolds' other musical sides haven't gone entirely astray. Last year he released a double album of solo acoustic music, The Limbic System.
"In a part of my inner soul, I do miss it, if I don't do it," he says of his solo acoustic excursions. "But I really feel we have to get this band out there and play a lot of gigs. I feel like I'm able to do both things. You just have to make space for it in the linear time frame, make time to dedicate to each thing, and be patient with it."