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A new inspiration 

Tim Reynolds moves to Outer Banks, reforms old band

Tim Reynolds is busy with a "power struggle between man and machine." He's trying to program a microwave in his new Outer Banks home without much success. Our phone conversation is broken up by intermittent beeps from time to time, though it's not quite a distraction. For a guitar player that has an intricate, almost intense, knowledge and appreciation for his instrument of choice, Reynolds is also quite laid back.

Though he started moving from New Mexico to the new homestead in Kill Devil Hills in June, he's still not through. He's made four cross-country trips to get things from the old place and sounds as if he's in no rush to finish -- he still has four dogs there that his neighbors are taking care of.

"I still love it out West," Reynolds says. "My family agreed to come out here and it was a good change. The whole island is less space than it would take me to drive into town in New Mexico -- it made me kind of a hermit, which I liked though. I can hook up with other musicians in a minute."

His low-worry approach seems to follow him into his music. He performs with Dave Matthews when needed, does solo tours around the country -- or at local spots -- and figured he'd form a new lineup for TR3, his original band, in a moment of inspiration. Or, maybe it was from boredom. The last time the band existed was in the mid-1990s.

"We've had a lot of different players at different times according to their ability," Reynolds says. "We performed on an individual gig basis instead of signing to a label or constant touring which allowed it to survive for a lot of years. It was in an organic, grassroots mode."

The band disbanded when Reynolds decided to do more of a solo act. He tried to shed the TR3 monicker because of a newfound interest in modern music where TR3 had more of an old-school vibe to it.

The current lineup is playing new songs, old TR3 songs and even some covers. "It's all things between now and then, but to play everything we've done would take several hours a night," Reynolds says. "We're just picking stuff from the beginning to more recent new songs and stuff that hasn't been recorded. We're also daring ourselves to play some fun covers." He adds that the favorite cover of his that they'll play is "Hocus Pocus" by Focus, which started off as a dare.

He says his approach to the band is just having fun -- not the main focus and not a side project. "I have a lot of things going on, so nothing is a side project to the other, it's just a different focus," Reynolds says. "I did an acoustic tour last year and I still have half-a-dozen songs that I still need to demo or record before I start this other mode." The TR3 gigs will continue through early spring -- in a "couple weeks on, couple weeks off" rotation.

He's been playing with the band a lot to get them tighter and used to playing with each other. There are moments he takes the lead in the new group, but times he hangs back in others. "You have to get wings before you fly," Reynolds says. "Having a drummer brings a whole new life into things than playing with a drum machine. A drum machine also plays it the same way every time and a drummer can bring something outside the same basic structure."

If it seems like he's doing a lot, it's because he is. Acoustic gigs last year, TR3 now and, oh yeah, he also released another album with Dave Matthews last year from their show at Radio City Music Hall. Reynolds may be best known in some circles for his shows with good friend Matthews.

"I just want to play music in whatever format that I can," Reynolds says. "It's almost like a Zen thing with Dave because we've been playing for so long. You want to play songs different every time or you'd get bored. With two acoustic guitars ... there's a looseness in playing with Dave and they're all great songs. I'm not concerned about the top layer, I'm just sitting back in the music."

However, casual listeners who only know Reynolds name from his Matthews association shouldn't go to a show expecting to hear "Crash Into Me" or "Ants Marching." Reynolds expertise on guitar is known as much for an intricate playing style as it is for its weirdness. It's a "think outside the box" style that leans on making noise that most people wouldn't dream of making.

"I could get as weird as I want with Dave, but that's just because he's a great guy," Reynolds says. "I try to restrict that though. When you think you know something about an instrument, you want to find out what else it can do. I grew up with electric blues and then got into progressive rock and am reconnecting with those older recordings. You think something is simple until you investigate the nuances."

After all the years creating something new and unique, it seems like Reynolds is ready to start something new again and let his surroundings guide him down a different path, though he also wants to release some of the acoustic music that he's already recorded.

"I really enjoyed that time in New Mexico because I got to record so much stuff," Reynolds says. "I really just got the sound and results that I wanted, and now coming out here, I've started playing with musicians more. I'm not trying to shed any part of my past. I'm just gonna play what I wanna play."

TR3 will perform at the Visulite Theatre on Jan. 25 at 10 p.m. Tickets are $16.

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