New Year's Jam Comes Off Assembly Line
Thursday, Dec 28, 2006
Written by Christopher Blagg
You won't find Assembly of Dust on MTV or any Top 40 radio station.
There are no sex-tape scandals or flashy silhouette-dancing commercials beefing up the
band's profile either.
So how did low-visibility Assembly of Dust score not one, not two, but three
back-to-back gigs at the Paradise this New Year's Eve weekend?
According to AOD songwriter/frontman Reid Genauer, the answer has something
to do with buckets.
As a musician you struggle to figure out what bucket you live in,
Genauer said."In general, I think we have our hands in a few different buckets.
I believe our music appeals to a broad range of people.
While at present we don't live in a mass media place, we do appeal to several
of these smaller orbits. It might be the singer-songwriter scene, the jam-band scene,
the alt-country scene and even the indie-pop scene at some level."
Assembly of Dust, which plays the Paradise tonight, tomorrow and Sunday, has indeed
forged a unique blend, employing classic folk-rock structures that seamlessly balance
songwriting and improvisation. While jam-band nation may stake the biggest claim to AOD,
the band’s country accents and melodic pop sophistication have perked the ears
of a following beyond the neo-hippie scene. AOD's new CD,Recollection,
- a follow-up to its beautifully polished, live 2004 set,The Honest Hour
- comes out in March, and reveals songcraft and polish leagues ahead of the jam-band pack.
AOD's delicate balancing act derives from the powers of collaboration.
While Genauer may be front and center, he's surrounded himself with a veritable
supergroup from the New England jam-band scene. The ace in the hole is keyboardist and
fellow songwriter Nate Wilson (of Percy Hill and the Nate Wilson Group). When writing
songs together, Genauer plays yin to Wilson's yang.
For me the lyrics and the arrangement and the finishing of a song come very
easily, Genauer said. "The thing that I find myself more challenged with is
coming up with a fresh idea for a musical theme. I don't want to speak for Nate,
but my feeling is that for him it's the opposite. He's very prolific when
it comes to coming up with a cool musical theme. Collectively we're two halves
of a whole and we complement each other nicely."
Just because the Genauer/Wilson combo makes for greater attention to song detail
and structure doesn't mean the band has abandoned spontaneity.
For the live shows, Genauer said,"we still will try and have
a blend, to make sure the songcraft doesn't get lost in the noodling. But we all
enjoy the improv element, and the audience certainly enjoys it. The truth is, I don't
think anybody, whether you're a musician or a fan or a rock critic, enjoys going to
see a show that is a carbon copy of the album."
Assembly of Dust is not Genauer's first touring band. In the 90's, he co-founded
Vermont's beloved Strangefolk. But after 10 years of touring and recording, Genauer
needed a change.
Strangefolk just became an impossible situation, Genauer said.
"It just stopped functioning as a vibrant organism. I needed to reassess, needed a change.
So I jumped into the great unknown and this is where I landed."
With an even bigger following than Strangefolk and New Year's shows at the
Paradise that are quickly turning into a Boston tradition (AOD gave two year-end performances
there last year), Genauer's landing looks like a soft one.