As a member of the band Moon Boot Lover in the late 1990s, drummer Andrew Herrick played a lot of shows in the Hudson Valley, some at The Chance in Poughkeepsie but more at Cabaloosa on Main Street in New Paltz.
The 32-year-old New Hampshire native fondly recalls walking through downtown New Paltz and coming across impromptu, late-night drum circles on the sidewalk. He also remembers playing in houses where friends lived, where he might have been crashing for the night, and meeting musician after musician after musician who had just watched him perform at Cabaloosa.
"I'd go to some party and realize, 'Wow, I just played to a room full of musicians,' " he said.
Another memory Herrick has of playing the Hudson Valley is of eating well, before and after gigs, courtesy of fans and friends who also happened to be students at the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park.
"You always played on a full stomach," Herrick joked. "Someone would make us a great dinner. We'd wake up in the morning and someone would make us a great breakfast."
Herrick has since gone on to join the Assembly of Dust, a band that may not have achieved mainstream success but is nonetheless an anchor of the underground jam band circuit. This community consists of bands dedicated to improvisational rock music and fans willing to travel great distances for one night of music.
On Dec. 10, Herrick returns to the region for a concert in Kingston with his Assembly of Dust band mates. The ensemble fronted by Reid Genauer, former member of the Vermont-based band Strangefolk, is set to take the stage at BSP — Backstage Studio Productions — on Wall Street in Kingston.
That afternoon at 2 p.m., Reid Genauer and Friends will play a free acoustic set at Belleayre Mountain in Highmount, west on Route 28 from Kingston.
When the Dec. 10 show popped up on the band's schedule, Herrick "told the guys how many good times I had there. That whole area to me, it's just steeped in the history of the music we love as a band — The Band ... Steely Dan."
Garth Hudson and Levon Helm of The Band as well as Donald Fagen of Steely Dan live in Ulster County.
"It was just a scene," Herrick said. "It just breeds what good music's all about. Sometimes you go to a city and it's sort of the opposite. You see these big billboards for Ashlee Simpson and stuff."
This region, Herrick continued, "Constantly presents you with the potential to play the best music. It's got a real natural, real inviting appeal. And people are more than willing to go out."
Going with the groove
The Assembly of Dust is likely to play some good music when they set up shop in Uptown Kingston.
On a live CD titled "The Honest Hour," which was recorded during February 2004 in Troy, the band wanders down dusty country lanes, rips through rockers and keeps on course while roaring through cataclysmic explosions.
"I play them, just because they have this great '70s-Atlanta rhythm section groove that I just love, the layered instrumentation of it," said WDST (100.1 FM) midday host Jimmy Buff, whose station is presenting the show. "It's really good music. It just bounces me along. There is so much going on in the music."
Herrick grew up around music. His grandfather was a drummer and his grandmother played piano. Other family members were tap dancers and actors, pursuits in which Herrick has participated, though his calling early on came in the shape of high school rock bands.
He attended the University of New Hampshire with future Assembly of Dust band mates Nate Wilson, the keyboard player, and John Leccese, who plays bass, both of whom would also go on to play in the band Percy Hill. All three knew guitarist Adam Terrell, a former resident of Orange County who lived off campus and also plays in Assembly of Dust.
In 2001, after nine years with Strangefolk, Genauer left the band, got married and graduated from the Johnson School of Management at Cornell University. In addition to performing with the Assembly of Dust, he currently works as director of creative marketing at eMusic.com, a digital music service focusing on independent bands and record labels.
Herrick grew to know both the guys in Percy Hill and Strangefolk when Moon Boot Lover opened shows for each band. When Genauer embarked on a solo record after graduating from Cornell, he asked Herrick to play drums. Since then, Herrick said, the bonds between everyone have simply grown stronger.
"You know, that thing that you feel the most, you feel that, in the sense, when we're off-stage, the relationships we have with each other are real solid," Herrick said. "If we weren't doing this, we'd probably still be in New Hampshire, playing anyway. ... The real thing the history brings to the table, you can have a really genuine appreciation for how hard everyone on stage has worked to get where we are. You generally know where they are coming from. You can kind of guess the next move. I think it makes the special moments more special."