After spending almost a decade as a member of the popular jam band
Strangefolk, Reid Genauer walked away from the music business at the end of the
group's summer tour in 2000. He enrolled at Cornell that fall to get his masters
degree, and pretty much vanished from the music scene for close to a year. The
singer and guitarist eventually reappeared as a solo performer, and he's
currently preparing to jump back into the musical fray as the front man of a new
His new group is loaded with veterans from the regional jam
circuit, and includes keyboardist Nate Wilson and bassist John Leccese from
Percy Hill, former Moon Boot Lover drummer Andy Herrick, and lead guitarist Adam
Terrell from New Hampshire's Groovechild. "I've known them
all for years, and they know each other even more intimately than I do," says
Genauer. "Our bands have played together since the early 90's. The two bands we
played with most back in the day were moe. and Percy Hill. They were like our
Long-time fans of Genauer's music should feel
right at home with the sound of his new band. "There's a lot
of Strangefolk material in there because that's what I've dedicated myself to
writing for over the years, and that's kind of who I am musically," says the
singer. "It's fun to bring some of those songs back and breathe new life into
them. Nate has a whole collection of songs as well, and there's one that we have
been noodling with at sound checks that we'll probably add to the repertoire at
some point. Part of the problem is they live in New Hampshire and coordinating
rehearsals is a bitch."
"It's certainly in
keeping stylistically with the music I made with Strangefolk, but there are
different musical minds there. It's a little funkier than Strangefolk and
there's some slightly different dynamics. The guitar solos are a little less
explosive and a little more melodic. Adam is a more melodic player with a little
less tension in his release and a little less fire and
The band has begun working on an album, and if
everything goes according to plan, it should be out by the fall. "I want to make sure that I take the time to do it right," says
Genauer. "I'm getting a masters right now, and trying to get a masters and make
a full length record has been an interesting experience. Since late January,
I've been in the studio on and off for like 16 twelve hours days. It's nice in
some ways, because it lets you step away from the other piece and let your brain
sort of percolate in a different direction. And then when it's time to
re-approach the music or school, depending on which camp I'm coming from,
there's a freshness or enthusiasm that wouldn't be there if I just focused on
one or the other. And there's a degree of exhaustion, because I'm not really
taking a ton of time for rest and relaxation."
"The nice thing is I have the luxury of waiting," he adds. "I
don't have a tour where I'm going out for two months and the album has to be out
for it. So, I'm just going to sit back and make sure that the music sounds good,
and then think of a smart way to get it out there to the world and take it from
there. The nice thing is that all of these guys have been out on the road and
know it for what it is, and they have a very realistic perspective on how a band
needs to come together."
The group has played a few shows so far,
and all of their current gigs are booked under Genauer's name. "We have yet to come up with a name to call the band. My name will
probably be a part of it, but I'd like to have a band name; Reid Genauer &
the Heartbreakers or whatever," he laughs. We're in the process of making a
record, and I think probably when it comes out we will unveil the official name
of the band."
They've set up a web site at REID GENAUER.COM that contains lots of
band information, and its most important feature is the music material. "We're trying to really get the music out there since a lot of
people have yet to hear the group," says Genauer. "We've been trying to get
MP3's up on the site and get some shows out on the trading circuit, and we're
slowly chiseling away at that."
Genauer is clearly excited about
his latest project, but he's unsure at this point how far he's willing to go in
pursuit of his musical interests. This is his final semester at Cornell, and
he'll have plenty of time to think about everything once school is over. "I don't have a clear vision of that," he admits. "I know I don't
want to be on the road six months a year, so I'm just looking at how I can have
a career in music. I'm trying to include music as a piece of the puzzle, rather
than have it be the entire puzzle. That's a tricky balancing act, and I'm trying
to figure out how I can do that."
The daily grind of being on the
road with Strangefolk really wore him down, and it was the main reason he
decided to leave the band. "We had a model and sort of an
ethos that just was deeply entrenched in being on the road, and that was all we
knew how to do," he recalls. "Our infrastructure and our lives depended on it.
For me it came at the sacrifice of enjoying it. It became too much of a job for
me, and not enough of a release. My personal life suffered, and artistically I
felt like I was suffering because I felt flat and uninspired night after night."
"There are choices one is forced to make
throughout your life, and for me it got to the point where it was sacrifice my
involvement in Strangefolk, or sacrifice my enjoyment of making music. It was a
difficult decision to make, but its one I'm feeling more and more comfortable
with as time passes."
"For all of us in
Strangefolk, that was our first band, our first love," he adds. "I started
playing with Jon in 1991 and the band began going on the road in 94. It was a
great ride. It was a ton of fun and a great experience all around, and I
wouldn't trade it for the world."
His final performance with the
band came on Labor Day weekend in 2000, and he's spent most the last two years
concentrating on getting his degree. "School is sort of an
incubator zone where you can go and figure out who you want to be when you grow
up," states Genauer. "It seemed like a safe place to step in to after a life of
a touring debaucherous rock and roller, and it was. It's been a positive
experience, minus the friction from walking away from the band and the emotions
tied up in that. Once that sort of smoothed out, it's been a cool couple of
years. And I really have been enjoying playing music again, which is a blessing.
To take control of my life, for sure, that was a piece of it. And also just to
step away from the music and hear it again is great for me."
his musical batteries were recharged, Genauer started booking some acoustic gigs
last year. "I'm still doing some of that," he says. "I've
got a few shows here and there that I'll do solo acoustic, and I try and do a
small solo acoustic set before each of the band performances. That's the way I
evolved musically, the singer songwriter thing. I started playing, writing and
singing songs by myself. When Jon and I started Strangefolk, that was a new
experience. So for me going back and playing by myself is a matter of
reacquainting myself with my past and my musical evolution."
"One of the things that we're going to start
incorporating in this next run is to do some acoustic music as a band, so that
there's a whole range from solo acoustic to band acoustic to full electric.
They're obviously totally different songs when they are the campfire sing-along
versions versus the raging Hammond organ and screaming electric guitar versions.
It's a lot of fun in terms of performing, and I really like seeing the songs
take on different personalities based on the orchestration. It's cool to be able
to hear a song one way and then hear it breathed a different way the next
Upstate New York music lovers can check out Reid Genauer
and his band when they perform in the area next month. The group is playing at
Armory High in Syracuse on May 3rd and Milestones in Rochester on the 4th, and
these shows are shaping up as two of the hottest dates on the spring music