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PHOTOS: Reno Blackwater Gains Momentum with Three New Members


Reno original rock band Reno Blackwater is gaining momentum in the Reno music scene.

Reno Blackwater started as a three-piece band in 2016 with great success and a sound similar to 80s rock band Dokken. Todd Baumgartner at the helm, Reed Malley on drums and Ben Renken on guitar.

When the other two members moved away about six months after the band’s inception, Baumgartner diligently went to work finding replacement members, which changed the sound of the band, making it a bit heavier. The current lineup includes Todd Baumgartner (lead vocals, guitar), Steve Mac (lead guitar), Mick Capsouto (bass, backing vocals) and Matt Smothers (drums, backing vocals).

With this lineup, Baumgartner plays rhythm guitar but has always been the lead singer. Baumgartner shared that he writes the songs they play from his heart, and that Reno Blackwater is here to stay.

Baumgartner grew up in the Bay Area where his father was a bass player and played in many bands. As a child he was always around music, learned to love it, and knew that’s what he wanted do. He started playing the bass guitar at an early age, and as he got older he played in many bands around the Bay Area, including his first, Wizard. He was also a back-up singer in Flame and they had a huge record deal with a major label. He also sang back-up in the studio for bands like Babylon AD, and many local bands as well.

Capsouto was born in L.A. and his main influences were Geezer Butler and Bob Daisley. Capsouto has played in some top Hollywood bands back in the 90’s with members of bands such as Ratt and Poison. He also was featured on an album produced by Don Dokken with a band called Shire.

In an online interview I asked Baumgartner some questions about the band.

Reno Blackwater
Photo by John Tuckness

ThisIsReno: What bands are you influenced by?

Baumgartner: Black Sabbath and Ronnie James Dio. Dokken came along later, followed by Soundgarden.

ThisIsReno: How did you come up with the name for the band?

Baumgartner: I came up with the name a while ago. I wanted Black Vinyl but it was taken big time, so I settled for Blackwater, which is being used too, but we’re dealing with it right now.

ThisIsReno: Has anything ever happened on stage that you will never forget?

Baumgartner: Well, back in the day I fell into a backdrop… that was some funny stuff.

ThisIsReno: Who are the biggest bands that you ever opened for?

Baumgartner: I opened for the bands I think that made it big like Dokken, then Poison, Wasp, Testament, Davey Pattison. I also opened for Y&T at the Concord Pavilion….great times.

Needless to say, Reno Blackwater is a force to be reckoned with, and they are on their way up to notoriety. You can easily find them on Facebook. All it takes is the interest of the locals first, and then abroad on tour. So, as always, support your local bands and venues….go to a show!

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John Tuckness
John Tuckness
John Tuckness has been photographing rock concerts in the Reno/Sparks/Tahoe area and as far as Northern California since 2004. He tries to attend as many shows as he can. John knew he wanted to be a concert photographer when he went to his first concert, Kiss and Montrose way back in 1976. He saw three guys shooting the show and thought to himself, "that's what I want to do." After many years of undercover work (sneaking his camera into venues), he finally got noticed and started getting photo passes through PR people and the bands. John has had many of his photos published in newspapers, websites and band autobiographies.