Reid Genauer, co-founder and former lead singer of the Burlington-based, grassroots rock band Strangefolk, has assembled a new band comprised of four other veteran musicians of the ever-growing underground jam band scene. Genauer and Assembly of Dust (AOD), his newly formed band, treated fans at Winooski's Higher Ground to a highly anticipated two night Halloween run that ended Nov. 1.
Coping with the business and the road
Genauer has a distinctive voice that almost any avid jam band listener can recognize. A powerful storyteller on stage, Genauer is blessed with the ability to write and structure compelling songs in genres like folk, blues, jazz, rock, and pop, which leave the listener with a lasting impression that just might hit home.
At the peak of Strangefolk's success, the band released their own album on an independent label in 1997 and then signed with Mammoth Records. Producer Nile Rodgers was to produce the band's upcoming album, which they hoped would be their ticket to invade the mainstream music environment. But just before the release date, Mammoth was bought by Disney, and the band's contract was lost. Genauer was devastated. The corporate world had become so vast and intimidating that it forced Genauer to enroll in business school at Cornell.
Genauer left Strangefolk in the fall of 2000 due to the combination of the band's intense touring schedule, having a family at home to support, and the disillusionment of intimate musicianship in the hands of corporate record companies.
Bob Kennedy, Assembly of Dust’s manager and jam band music promoter, says Genauer dealt with the stressful touring schedule with "massive amounts of beef jerky...he just buckled down and made it through. He just focused on the music."
While at graduate school, Genauer started trickling back into the music scene, playing solo performances at small cafés and clubs around various New England college towns to fans who had long awaited his return to the stage. Genauer's first scheduled solo concert sold out three weeks in advance. Since then, he has gotten back into song writing, assembled a new band, and earned an Ivy League business degree.
Genauer by no means has cut off all ties with his old band. He appeared with Strangefolk in August, at the band’s annual Garden of Eden festival in Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Assembly of Dust: All smiles, for the most part.
"I think they all enjoyed reconnecting. Reid's main focus is AOD, but he has a lot of heart for Strangefolk," says Kennedy.
"I think he felt great about being a part of the Strangefolk scene again. A momentous occasion for him and the band."
St. Michael's junior Greg Serve is back and fourth on if he was
a big Strangefolk fan when Reid was with the band.
"If I had to choose between Strangefolk and Reid's band, I would go to Reid's show," he says.
The Assembly of Dust
The Assembly of Dust features Groovechild's guitarist Adam Terrell, Percy Hill's bassist John Leccese, keyboard player Nate Wilson, and Moon Boot Lover's Andy Herrick on drums. Genauer hand-picked each member, all of whom are good friends and have played with him in the past. Percy Hill and Strangefolk played together at many shows in the Northeast during Genauer's last few years with the band.
With ten years of touring behind him, Genauer has learned what works on stage. AOD is comprised of musicians who Genauer feels have the skill and creative ability to play pop music but with strong exaggerations toward ripe improvisation when performing live.
"They bring a degree of sophistication and ease that Strangefolk didn't; Strangefolk was all about raw energy and bursting with youthful exuberance," Kennedy says.
"While this band also brings a lot of energy, they are more measured in their approach and play the songs with a more mature musical palette."
"I saw them about a year ago," says Serve. "Someone actually got engaged during the show. It was real intense."
AOD has surprised audiences everywhere with their explosive live shows and they have formed a loyal fan base since the band's inception.
The band headlined two music festivals last summer, the Wormtown Festival and the Vermont Alternative Music Festival, and also played major festivals such as Gathering of the Vibes, the Berkshire Mountain Music Festival, and the moe.down festival in Turin, N.Y.
Kennedy isn't sure about their plans for next summer, but he expects them to headline those show again, as well as appear in others.
Over the past year, AOD has been working behind Genauer on his solo album, aptly titled Assembly of Dust. The album features 12 new songs written and arranged by Genauer.
Local fans for a local band
"They love playing in Burlington," says Kennedy.
"The vibe of the crowd is always awesome. The band has had some of their best gigs there."
Junior Brian Horton says he wasn't a big Strangefolk fan in the past, but he enjoyed listening to their music.
"I like their old stuff compared to today's," he says. "It's energetic, enthusiastic and imaginative."
"They (AOD) are a really good jam band, but with more of a lyrical base and the scene is really cool," Serve says.
"The band can go both acoustic and electric so you never know what you’re going to get. That's what makes the whole jam band concert experience so exciting."