Reynolds to perform at THT
MIDDLEBURY — Though local boy Luke Reynolds has made it big by joining the ranks of popular alt-rock band Guster, he hasn’t forgotten his roots.
On Wednesday, Dec. 29, Reynolds will return to Middlebury to spend the holidays with his family and to play a show at the Town Hall Theater (THT) to promote his newest solo EP, “Maps.”
The concert will feature the 31-year-old Cornwall musician and his original compositions. Reynolds has toured and played with the likes of Blue Merle, Bela Fleck and Beck; and since September, is an official member of Guster.
Most recently — just last week, in fact — he played with Hall and Oates.
Reynolds, son of Steve and Kathy Reynolds of Cornwall, grew up in an environment where music was important. He began playing piano at the age of four.
“My parents were musical,” the multi-talented musician said in an interview with the Independentlast week. “I grew up in a musical house.”
“We’ve always had an interest in music and a big record collection and there was always music in the house,” said Steve Reynolds, who plays bass guitar, himself, and has made a side business out of building electric guitars for the last 15 years.
Both Luke and his sister Rebecca, 29, grew up with an appreciation for music in the geodesic dome that the Reynoldses call home in Cornwall. Steve built the house in 1971, when he was just 21 years old, and chose the alternative dome shape for its efficient use of space and heat — on a tight budget, he was interested in getting more bang for his buck.
In a number of blog entries that have featured Luke for both his participation in Guster and for his solo work, the geodesic dome has cropped up.
But there are a few people that the blogs fail to mention — Middlebury-area music educators Gene Childers and Anne Severy.
Childers, who taught Luke at Middlebury Union Middle School (MUMS) about 17 years ago, said that he was always a natural musician.
“Luke was one of those who, right from the get go, was an eager and exceptional musician,” Childers said. “He was just very able right as a 7th-grader to play jazz and blues and he was really into it.”
As a middle-school student, Luke earned the first ever MUMS jazz award in 1993, which Childers continued to bestow on one worthy musician every year after that. Reynolds went on to play in Severy’s jazz band at Middlebury Union High School.
“I remember giving (the award) to him on Church Street (in Burlington), during the Discover Jazz Festival,” Childers said.
The Brandon resident said he still keeps in touch with Reynolds and the goings-on in his musical career.
“I not only talk to Luke, but I also hear a lot through his parents,” said Childers, whose son Nathan is also an accomplished performer. “We both have musician sons.”
Since Reynolds left Middlebury, Childers has seen him perform at Higher Ground and has listened to his former student’s recordings.
“He’s developed in a way that when he was at MUMSyou couldn’t predict,” Childers said. “He’s really good at song writing and performance. The last time I talked to him, I told him his lyric songwriting reminded me a lot of Paul Simon’s storytelling ability.”
Reynolds, who played guitar when he was at MUMS, has now mastered keyboard, percussion and vocals, as well. He is a Grammy-nominated songwriter and “multi-instrumentalist who plays a variety of vintage and analog instruments,” according to THT Executive Director Doug Anderson, who booked Reynolds for the gig.
According to Childers, Reynolds has acquired great “skill on several instruments” and “skill at putting a CD together.”
Next week at the Town Hall Theater, Reynolds will perform songs from his most recent solo recording. Though the album is new, at least a couple of people in the audience will recognize many of the songs.
“Every one of his songs has been through 40 different versions, and we hear them all before they are released on CD,” his father said. “It’s always a new experience for us to see which version he selects.”
Steve and Kathy Reynolds couldn’t be happier with their son’s success.
“We’ve always been collaborators in each others’ success and we always supported his musical career and have been very happy to see it progress to the point where it is today,” Steve Reynolds said.
Childers, too, is excited by what his former student has been able to accomplish.
“It’s great to see that he’s persisted and he keeps growing in musical ways and directions,” Childers said. “And he’s still young and I would expect him to just keep on going and going far.”
Before he retired from teaching this past June, Childers taught music for 22 years at MUMS to hundreds of students, but Luke Reynolds hasn’t faded from his radar.
“The thing about Luke is that he was not only able and eager but he was a really nice kid and nice guy to work with,” Childers said. “He took direction very well and played all the time and as well as he could. He’s one of those kids you hope to get a few of through the years.”
Tickets to the 8 p.m. Luke Reynolds concert are $15, and are available online at www.townhalltheater.org, at the Town Hall Theater box office, or at the door. Call 802-382-9222 for more information.
Tamara Hilmes is at [email protected].