Tag Archives: Ben Reynolds

Interview : Mike Tamburo

Mike-prayer-poseI sat down over tea with composer and multi-instrumentalist, Mike Tamburo, near his home in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  We talked at length about the arc of his musical career from the middle half of last decade to present.  Mike will be on tour starting in July, supporting his latest recording as Brother Ong, Mysteries of the Shahi Baaja Volumes 1 & 2.

W&W: It seems like whenever I’m out performing there will inevitably be someone who, after finding out I’m from Pittsburgh, asks: “How’s Mike Tamburo?  Make sure you tell him that I said hello.”

(Laughs)

W&W: The community that’s loosely formed around guitar music tends to be a small world.  You’ve obviously made your way around it and left a positive impression.  Can you reminisce for a bit about the years when you were touring extensively: where all did you go and who were some of your touring companions?

First of all, tell them all that I’m fine. (laughs again)  In 2005, I decided that I wanted to permanently stay on tour.  I’d just been through a traumatic shift in my life… honestly, at that time music was the only thing that I had.  I didn’t really know where to start.   A lot of people were connecting for the first time through the internet.  So I started reaching out to people that way, booking shows during the three week period before I left.  Nick Schillace found me and suggested we go out on tour together.  I listened to his music, which was incredible, and said “let’s give it a try.”  Other than talking to him on the phone I didn’t know anything about him or his life…

W&W: It’s a quick way to get to know someone!

(laughs) … definitely, and we were headed through a part of the country that’s a little bit harder to tour in, making our way from Detroit to Seattle.  I remember South Dakota was very difficult.   We ended up playing at a Christian Bookstore and I accidentally offended the promoter.  It’s one of the memories that is sure to keep Nick and I close (laughs again)… we endured the “red” states together, and parts of the country that neither of us had any experience with.  We had beautiful shows in Iowa City, Nebraska, Minneapolis (where I met Paul Metzger) and Seattle.  By the end of it, Nick had become one of my closest friends.  His older songs feel like the soundtrack to my life during that time. Continue reading

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Ben Reynolds November Tour

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Scottish guitarist Ben Reynolds is getting ready to embark on a quick US tour. We reviewed his Tompkins Square debut How Day Earnt Its Night not too long ago, and have since been spinning his Strange Attractors album Two Wings, which is equally good! We’re going to try to take some video at the Pittsburgh performance, so keep an eye out for that… and visit Reynolds’ Myspace page for updates on the TBA dates.

11/10 – Zebulon w/ Eric Carbonara, Mike Wexler, David Copenhafer
258 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn NY

11/11 – The Outpost w/ Eric Carbonara, Concord Ballet Orchestra Players, Mike Tamburo
186 1/2 Hampshire St, Cambridge MA

11/12 – The Appohadion w/ Mike Tamburo, Tom Kovacevic, Prisma
107 Hanover St, Portland ME

11/13 – The Spotty Dog w/ Mike Tamburo, Alex Turnquist
440 Warren St, Hudson NY

11/14 – TBA w/ Mike Tamburo
Providence, RI

11/15 – BAR w/ Mike Tamburo
254 Crown St, New Haven CT

11/16 – Issue Project Room w/ Mike Tamburo
At The Old American Can Factory, 232 3rd Street, 3rd Floor, Brooklyn NY

11/17 – House show w/ Mike Tamburo, Eric Carbonara
4500 kingsessing Ave, Philadelphia PA

11/18 – Schlow Memorial Library w/ Mike Tamburo + others TBA
211 S. Allen St, State College PA

11/19 – Morning Glory Coffeehouse w/ Mike Tamburo
1806 Chislet St, Pittsburgh PA

11/20 – TBA w/ Mike Tamburo, Nick Schillace
Detroit MI

11/21 – Skylab w/ Mike Tamburo
57 E Gay St, Columbus OH

11/22 – Hop Hop w/ Mike Tamburo, Keenan Lawler
800 N. Limestone St, Lexington, KY

11/23 – Little Hamilton w/ Mike Tamburo, Keenan Lawler, The Paper Hats
1318 Little Hamilton Ave, Nashville TN

11/24 – Swan Dive w/ Mike Tamburo, Keenan Lawler, Nathan Salsburg
921 Swan St, Louisville KY

11/25 – Heaven Gallery w/ Mike Tamburo
1550 N. Milwaukee Ave, 2nd Floor, Chicago IL

Review : Ben Reynolds “How Day Earnt Its Night” CD (Tompkins Square, 2009)

Ben_Reynolds_How_Day_CoverBy Raymond Morin

Ben Reynolds is a member of the Scottish folk-rock band Trembling Bells, who are currently making a name for themselves on the European circuit. They’ve recently appeared at the yearly Green Man Festival, have a new record out on Honest Jon’s, and every press bit that I’ve seen has made mention of legendary producer Joe Boyd’s affection for the group. Not too shabby!

Mr. Reynolds busies himself with a great many projects, and has amassed a deep discography of noise and improvised recordings on such labels as Last Visible Dog, Strange Attractors Audio House, Beyond Repair, Dancing Wayang and others. The venerable Tompkins Square label tapped him for the third installment in their indispensable Imaginational Anthem compilation series, and this summer the label quietly released How Day Earnt Its Night, an instrumental acoustic guitar record and Reynold’s highest-profile solo outing to date.

Upon listening to the album and digging deeper into his back catalog, it’s clear that Reynolds has many interests, and that being associated with a a single style isn’t one of them. Thus, there is a little of everything on How Day Earnt Its Night… and though the recording quality is warm and clear, and Reynolds is a more than competent picker, there is a certain lack of direction that keeps many of these tracks from being home runs.

The songs generally fall into two categories : shorter, British Isles-flavored vignettes and extended Takoma-inspired explorations. Opener “Skylark (Scorner of the Ground)” takes the former approach, as Reynolds easily picks through some pleasant, stately figures. Though nothing revolutionary, the songs in this style are some of the best on the album, even if tracks like “Risen” and “England” rely more on the moods that they evoke than on any concrete melodic ideas. Reynolds builds most of these British-style songs around a simple alternating-bass with hammer-on riffs in the high strings, generally falling back on picking patterns and ignoring the harmonic possibilities in the chords’ middle voices. “Kirstie”, as lovely as it is, repeats the formula one last time, feeling a little like a song waiting for a singer.


Ben Reynolds – “Kirstie”
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Most of the remaining tracks move in a decidedly more American (Primitive) direction, and the results are, sadly, a little underwhelming. “Death Sings” is bargain-basement Takoma, borrowing liberally from the vocabulary of John Fahey but adding nothing new to the conversation. “The Virgin Knows” is an over-long bottleneck dirge, piling on almost nine minutes of hammer-ons and meandering slide riffs, but never really going anywhere. Reynolds tries to channel Lightnin’ Hopkins on “All Gone Wrong Blues”, but the tune’s recycled blues runs and ever-present harmonica make for a pretty tedious listen.

Ben Reynolds

Ben Reynolds

The wild card on this collection is definitely the title track. “How Day Earnt Its Night” is the album’s centerpiece, sitting somewhat conspicuously between two of the aforementioned British-style tunes. “How Day…” opens with haunting three finger triplet-rolls on the high string, filling in over the course of the next few minutes with stark harmonics and staccato melodic fragments. The results are really pretty enchanting, reminding me of the hammer-dulcimer compositions of one of Reynolds’ soon-to-be-tourmates, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tamburo. Reynolds drops in some downtuned bass-note melodies, coloring the piece harmonically and adding more tension, before the still-blazing triplets are unceremoniously cut off around the eight-minute mark. The breakneck pace slows, and Reynolds noodles somewhat aimlessly for the remainder of the song… a disappointing anticlimax to what began as a very engaging and promising piece.


Ben Reynolds – “How Day Earnt Its Night” (excerpt)
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I’ve got a few discs from Reynolds’ back catalog on their way, and am looking forward to seeing him live this autumn. While How The Day Earnt Its Night lacks originality, it does present Reynolds as a restless and intriguing picker, with both solid technique and an internalized knowledge of a few beloved acoustic guitar styles… and because Reynolds stands to grow exponentially as both a player and a composer, I plan to follow his progress closely.

Buy this CD from Insound
Buy this CD from Tompkins Square
Check out Ben Reynolds on Myspace