Wolfgang Timber’s barefoot tracks lead to Valhalla Tahoe.
Wolfgang Timber is Tim Snider’s alter-ego named by enlightened friend. It’s also a band that plays the first Valhalla Boathouse Theatre concert of the summer at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 6.
The lyrically conscious quintet is Zach Terán on acoustic bass, Miguel Jiménez-Cruz on drums, Chance Utter on percussion, Lucas Arizu on guitar, and Snider on electric violin, acoustic guitar, as well as the creator and engineer of loop tracks.
The bandleader doesn’t wear shoes onstage.
“There is so much expression in your feet and to play with shoes on just doesn’t feel comfortable,” Snider said. “It doesn’t feel like I am able to give each note its full expression. I grew up in this area, Tahoe and Truckee, just running around. And in Reno on rivers and rocks, just being a wild little kid. So (being barefoot) is just nice to keep the illusion that I’m young.”
A passion for the outdoors explains the Timber half of his moniker. The first part is for Wolfgang Amadeaus Mozart, the Classical period composer who Snider studied as a child.
Always with him is an acoustic violin Snider inherited and was owned by his great-grandfather. The violin was made in 1780, when a 24-year-old Mozart was influencing the musical world. He also keeps the bow played by his grandmother.
“My great-grandfather was a composer from Julliard who came out West to help build the music department at UNR,” Snider said. “My grandmother played and studied musical therapy with violin.”
Snider’s grandmother’s wish was for music to continue in the family, but Snider’s parents never played.
“She passed away with lung cancer when I was 2-months old,” Snider said. “But we visited her, and she held me in her arms and said, ‘Finally, this will be my violinist.’”
“When I was 3½, I saw (violinist-conductor) Itzhak Perlman on ‘Sesame Street.’ I ran to my mom in the kitchen and said, ‘I want to do that!’ She almost passed out remembering that moment with my grandmother.”
Snider practiced three to five hours a day, traveled for lessons in Sacramento and by age 9 was a member of the Reno Junior Philharmonic.
Intense devotion to violin became too much for the boy. “I was burnt out and I wanted to run around barefoot,” he said.
“I quit and when I came back, I learned to improvise. I studied music from all around the world and rock ‘n’ roll and blues and jazz and all of it. I reapproached the violin in a creative way. It became a lifelong pursuit.”
Snider’s Reno band Sol Jibe was a huge local success, and the violinist was featured at the High Sierra Music Festival. He later joined Nahko and Medicine for the People, which performed at sold-out venues such as Red Rocks, The Greek Theater and the Rogers Centre. He left that band before its bandleader was mired in controversy.
Wolfgang Timber formed during Covid’s live-music hiatus. Snider and Terán practiced together.
“Zach is one of the most comfortable-in-his-own-skin people I’ve ever met,” Snider said. Terán suggested Jiménez-Cruz, who played with Terán in a contemporary pop band, The Novelists, join the jams. That trio would go on tour have two national tours at intimate venues with Satsang, a county folk-reggae group led by Drew McManus, who Snider befriended on the road with his earlier band.
UNR music grads Arizu and Utter complete the quintet. North Tahoe’s Todd Holway, a keyboardist, joined the group for its first show in May 2021 at a sold-out, socially distanced Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room.
“Wolfgang Timber didn’t feel like a new band that only came together during quarantine,” Tahoe Onstage music critic Jeffrey Connor wrote. “There were virtuosic solos from each player, even the rhythm and percussion members, eliciting midsong applauses throughout the night.”
About Snider’s performance, Connor wrote, “Sounding more like Van Halen than Mozart, Snider is at his best when he is holding his bow. … His use of loops also allowed him to pick up and play the acoustic guitar throughout most of the numbers and then set down the guitar quickly to play a solo on the violin. On the song ‘Sometimes This,’ the band medleyed into Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Child’ for a few minutes. Hendrix felt like an appropriate choice for Snider’s level of shredding on the violin.”
Like all bands, Wolfgang Timber has endured starts and stops of shows as society recovers from the pandemic.
“It’s wild when you put yourself on the road like that because you never know what’s going to happen. You’ve just do the work and hope and trust that it’s going to work out,” Snider said. “We’ve had a lot of wins and some loses and honestly even the loses have felt good because we’re all doing this for the right reasons. In terms of we love the music, we love playing with each other and we love the community that comes around and supports it.”
At the start of summer 2022, the five-piece has just concluded its first national tour and had what Snider called with its greatest performance to date at Electric Forest Festival in Rothbury, Michigan. The band now has an agent, a deal with Pasadena Records and will release a single this month.
“Gas, hotel, food costs are going through the roof in this country and it’s just making those slim margins even slimmer but at the same time I know that I can’t not do this,” Snider said. “No matter where I’m going to be or what it looks like, I am still going to be putting one foot out in front of the other.”
And he won’t be wearing shoes.
Tim Snider & Wolfgang Timber
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 6
Where: Valhalla Boathouse Theatre, Emerald Bay Road (Highway 89), South Lake Tahoe