By Mandy Jenkins
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Boyd Tinsley has to be one of the busiest men in music.
Tuesday, he helped kick off the Dave Matthews Band summer tour, the same day True Reflections, his first solo album, was released.
Although he has performed the self-penned title track at numerous Dave Matthews concerts over the years, violinist Tinsley knows he has yet to prove himself as a singer to the DMB loyal. (He got a little help from his friends; Matthews and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band joined him on his album.)
We caught up with Tinsley earlier this month as he prepared for his jam-packed summer. He talked about his 12 years with the DMB, his fans and this summer's tour, which comes to Riverbend Monday and Tuesday.
Question: How are you going to handle the album and the tour?
Answer: It's gonna be kind of crazy, but it can't be any more crazy than this last year was for me. If I wasn't in the studio or on tour with DMB then I was in the studio with my project, so it was nonstop.
We've had a good nine months off here in Charlottesville (Va.) and I'm feeling relaxed. I'm ready to go on the interviews for the album, but also to go out onstage and jam with the guys.
Q: Will anything else be different about this summer's tour?
A: The only thing we plan on changing in this tour is to put back in the repertoire some songs we haven't played in a couple of years. We've got nearly a hundred songs and there are probably 50 we haven't done in the past few years. We also might work up some of the new tunes that are going to be on Dave's solo album that's coming out in September ... and maybe some of mine, too.
Q: Why did you decide to make a solo album?
A: I wrote "True Reflections" about 10 years ago, and I hadn't really written a whole song since then. I had been planning on doing some songwriting. I started collecting some of these ideas with really no idea of what I was going to do. I wasn't trying to write any certain kind of album or anything - I just started writing.
Q: If you had to pick one, what is your favorite song on the album?
A: Oddly enough, it might be "Cinnamon Girl," even though it's just a cover (of the 1969 original by Neil Young and Crazy Horse). It's one of my favorite songs. I really dig Neil Young. I dig his honesty and all of the passion and soul he puts in his music.
We decided not do it with electric guitar like Neil because nobody can touch that. I suggested we get some acoustic guitars out and slow it down and make it into a ballad. It brings a whole other quality to that song.
The icing on the cake was Toshi Reagon, who just came in with this soulful, but slightly mysterious kind of harmony to my vocals. That song just really blew me away with how it turned out.
Q: The album's closing song, "True Reflections," has been played at Dave Matthews concerts and is on a DMB live CD. Why put it on this album?
A: We've never done a studio version of "True Reflections," so I figured we'd just leave it for this album. I think it really flows well, just a great way to close out the album. One of my favorite parts is when Dave (who sings harmony on the track) is just jamming on the vocals at the end. That is just great.
Q: Has the band been supportive of your solo work?
A: The band has been supportive from the get-go. After they heard the music, then they called me up and told me how much they liked the music and how proud they were of me. That's the cool thing about this band ... everybody is about playing music, about making music.
When they see me making music on my own project, everybody is just behind me. Carter (Beauford, drummer) is doing some songs for soundtracks for movies and TV shows. Dave's doing his solo album and Stefan's (Lessard, bassist) been working on some solo songs. Everybody is rooting for everybody because we're on the same team.
Q: Solo albums have been known to tear some bands apart...
A: I think it would if our focus wasn't on music. That's the only reason we're here, that's the only reason we've been together for 12 years, because we're just about playing music. All of the other stuff is just ... all of the other stuff.
Q: Do you think you've changed the image of the violin in rock?
A: I hope so. I get fans sending me mail about them taking violin lessons because they heard me play. You know, kids taking rock and jazz violin lessons. It is a cool instrument - and it's another way to make music expansive. I hope, if anything, I let people know you can rock out with a violin.
Q: Do you think the audience has gotten younger since the Dave Matthews Band hit pop radio with "Everyday" (in 2001)?
A: I'm sure it has - but I think there's a good mixture of people out there. It's a younger crowd, but it's not strictly one. Most of the crowd's probably young, but I see a lot of 40, 50, sometimes 60-year-olds out there, coming to our shows. They're into the music just as much as the 20-year-olds and the teenagers.
Q: Would you say the DMB concert scene has changed?
A: It's just gotten bigger. From the get-go, we always had fans that were really into the music and kept coming back. Even when we only had 40 people come into a little restaurant we were playing at, those 40 people kept coming back.
Even now when we play for 30,000 people, it still feels like the same core of people supporting the music. We still just play what we feel like - from the heart. We don't try to play songs to sound like the album and we don't try to play like we did last night - we're trying to play like we are tonight.
It's cool the fans are really receptive to that, to let us play our music the way we want. They keep coming back and we really appreciate that.
If you go
Who: Dave Matthews Band, with opening act Dar Williams.
When: 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. Gates open 90 minutes prior to the show.
Where: Riverbend Music Center, 6295 Kellogg Avenue.
Admission: $55.25 pavilion; $37.75 lawn. Parking included. Available at the Riverbend box office and Ticketmaster outlets. (513) 562-4949 or www.ticketmaster.com.
Read the review: Wednesday in Tempo.
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