Words by Gabriela Kerson
Lucas Reynolds :: 04.30 :: Starr Hill Music Hall :: Charlottesville, VA
It's a Sunday night in Charlottesville, Virginia; the warm air smells of summer. As the local college kids cram for their final exams, another rite of passage is happening at Starr Hill Music Hall on Main Street - Lucas Reynolds performing a solo show. Music executives, young couples, and single women sit quietly waiting in the candle-lit room. At the age when most musicians make it or fade away, 27-year-old Reynolds is fighting hard for his words to be heard. In the last three years, his band Blue Merle was signed to Island Records, released their first CD working with producer Stephen Harris of Dave Matthews Band fame, were featured artists in Jane Magazine, were tacked on the walls of girls' bedrooms, were dropped from their label, and finally called it quits. They played their last show in Nashville on Wednesday night to a group of old friends.
This tour, Reynolds is on his own, traveling light with a surfboard and his guitar. He takes the stage with a relaxed air, his big grin, short blonde hair, and lanky, laid back stance belie the fact that this is a new experience for him. Heading back to his home town in Vermont, he's sharing some of his thoughts and growth from the last few years on the way.
With him is visual artist Rachel Kice. She writes Reynolds' welcoming words, "Thank You Guys," on a 5' x 5' blank canvas attached to a spinning easel on the stage, then decorates around the words with little yellow smiley faces and big red hearts.
Reynolds sets the opening notes of "Burning in the Sun" on steel guitar and organ, and then he wails on the vocals and guitar. As the song ends, the canvas is almost full of color, and the solo guitarist has made his point. He's great on his own.
Then began the Reynolds originals. The first was inspired by a conversation about the sounds avalanches make and growing up, "This is the sound of your life moving on." An easy mix between gritty and smooth, the repetitive chorus and simple lyrics tug at the heartstrings of anyone who's aware of growing older. The next, "The place where we met," takes tried and true clichés and makes them feel new again. "It was one of those nights," he sings, talking about going to work still smelling of booze and "looking for a woman who's looking for a man."
Reynolds is one of the last true romantics. He wants to fall in love and doesn't mind letting the world know. The stand-out song of the set, "Apple Picker" tells the story of a boy and girl in love in Vermont in the fall. His personal sound is an enticing mix of folk, country, rock, a little bit of soul, and a dash of pop. Ending with a Blue Merle tune, one line catches my ear, "I'm proud to be a part of your history." This is a man who is moving on. What a relief he's bringing us with him.
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