In addition to being a terrific bass player, Jim Reynolds is a walking musical archive. During a recent interview with The Eagle, the creator of "Wild Card" rattles off the names and members of a host of local bands, both contemporary and older, from the Tor Krauter Band to Whiskey City.
Wild Card actually is a shifting group of local musicians whom Reynolds convenes to play gigs with when the individuals are available. The band was voted one of the top 10 local bands in a recent Facebook poll by The Eagle.
Reynolds is one of the founders of another legendary combo, "Wishful Thinking," which was hugely popular in the area in the 1980s and early 1990s. Since then, he has worked on countless projects and played with some of the best local musicians in the business.
Reynolds recently talked with The Eagle about Wild Card and the element of uncertainty it brings, his musical influences, and the inspiration of 45s in his development.
Q: Explain the concept of Wild Card.
A: Well, in the last several years, I just believe that there are a lot of musicians in the area who weren't getting the exposure they should have. So in 2007, I put together this band that wasn't a band. It was whomever I could pull together to play a gig.
Really, a big part of it was trying to give something back. When I was starting out, there were guys like Steve Ide, who was always willing to talk to me, always willing to spend time answering my questions. That was huge. And it really inspired me.
Q: So that's it?
A: (Laughs.) No. Besides being a musician, I'm a huge music fan. And getting to pay with a lot of these guys, guys like Tony Webster and Jim Sears of Whiskey City, it's so much fun. I'll be up at some of these gigs and I'll look over at Jim (Sears) and I'll just shake my head. I can't believe I'm on stage with him.
Q: One of the things that would seem to be a problem is making sure everyone is on the same page musically.
A: Yeah. And I'm a pretty meticulous guy. But it's like having a new band every time out. You play with guys like Tor Krauter and Tommy Filio, and it's a little nerve-wracking. And after the show, a lot of the artists admit that they were a little nervous about what would happen. But they're so good, it always works. And I feel as though we've created something new every time.
Q: How long have you been playing bass?
A: About 26 years. I'm self-taught. I can remember watching a rehearsal when I was younger, and the band didn't have a bass player. So I figured if I learned to play bass, I could be in a band!
Q: Who are your influences?
A: My influences are sort of obvious: The Beatles and The Band. And more recently, Wilco and the Jayhawks. They all have a very authentic sound.
Q: What was the first record you bought?
A: Well, the first records I ever listened to were 45s. My father owned Graham's, a restaurant that used to be on Railroad Street (in Great Barrington), and when the jukebox guy came to change the records, he'd bring the old ones home. So I was listening to Billy Joel, Hall and Oates and a lot of ‘80s bands.
Q: Any favorite spots the play?
A: La Cocina on a Sunday night was so much fun. I would finish up a gig with Wishful Thinking, playing for 500 people on Saturday, and then head up to La Cocina on Sunday and play before a couple dozen people. It was great.