World Live Cafe
Written by: Tim Newby
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Assembly of Dust,World Live Cafe, 12-28-05
The Assembly of Dust has evolved from being a group of friends coming together
to back lead singer Reid Genauer (as he embarked on a solo career after his departure
from the seminal jam-band Strangefolk in August of 2000) to developing into a tight,
cohesive unit with their own distinct style and sound.
After Genauers departure from Strangefolk, many thought it would be the last time they would
see the energetic frontman on stage as he took leave from the music scene and enrolled
at Cornell University to pursue his MBA. While at Cornell he played at a few open-mic nights,
but it was nothing compared to the sold-out shows and headlining spots he was used too.
A little less than a year after parting ways, the self confessed music junkie played
his first official gig at the famous Wetlands Preserve in New York City.
This eventually evolved into a series of gigs with friends Andy Herrick,
John Lecesse, Adam Terrell, and Nate Wilson.
The first couple of shows they played together would usually include a solo set by
Genauer followed by a full band set. Early shows were filled mostly with Strangefolk
songs and tunes Genauer had written since he had left. And most nights came off as
Genauer and a backing band, and were usually billed as such. A quick look at old
ticket stubs confirms it, as many of them are labeled Reid Genauer and Friends or
Reid Genauer and the Assembly of Dust or some variation of the two. Slowly they developed
their unique sound and Genauer and Wilson established a strong writing partnership
that was able to incorporate both of their strengths and styles from their former bands,
Strangefolk and Percy Hill. The other members of the band also began to carve out their
own identity and a brand new distinguishing sound was born.
Besides being filled with Strangefolk songs, early shows were also populated with many
old Strangefolk fans looking to hear their favorite tunes. But on an increasing basis
and especially on this evening, the crowd seemed to be made up of Assembly of Dust fans,
many with little or no recollection of Genauers past glories, instead only knowing
of his current triumphs.
Sets that were once dependent on Strangefolk songs to get them through the night,
no longer need that pop of familiarity to excite a crowd. The Assembly of Dust
has now created their own impressive catalog of songs with which they can satisfy
their fans. In the past Strangefolk songs were treated like conquering heroes,
getting the largest cheers and biggest ovations during shows, but on this evening
those songs were more like whispered legends, not getting the same response they
once got as they proudly marched across the stage, but still able to humble a crowd
with their power. The appearance of Strangefolk classics, What Say You, Walnut and Elixir
brought a smile to many an older Strangers face, but left many others scratching their
heads wondering what song this was.
The crowd saved their biggest cheers of their night for the more familiar Assembly
of Dust tunes, Avenue of the Giants, Etta James and Man With a Plan, which as soon as
it started, prompted the guy behind me to exclaim, This is the best fucking song ever
as they played it midway through the 2nd set.
The real strength of the night was a couple of newer tunes that are starting to develop
legs and find the band getting more comfortable with them each show. A long extended
dreamy intro from Wilson on his keys, led into Hells Kitchen, which has blossomed
into the type of song that can stand as the centerpiece of a set or show. Wilsons
lengthy intro blended effortlessly into Genauers subtle acoustic guitar, before
being joined by his powerful, commanding voice. It provided just enough space
to build for guitarist Terrell to fill with his tasteful solos that added an
edge to the soulful quality of the song, all underscored by the rhythm section
of drummer Herrick and bassist Leccese who proved a light bouncy touch, making
Hells Kitchen the type of newer song that encapsulates everything that defines this band.
This was followed by an even newer song, Heartblood, that continued to spotlight the band
as a whole, and their dynamics on stage.
The highlight of the night proved to be the one song that proved me wrong.
On the way to the show I kept saying to my friends, I hope they dont encore with
an unfamiliar song, when they do it can just sap the energy from the show.
After wrapping up their 2nd set with Stone Choir, they returned to stage and
played an entirely unfamiliar tune, that had me captivated from the first note.
Walking on Water, which was making only its third ever live appearance
its second since being reworked and having Genauer take over the lead vocals
proved to be the lasting memory of this show. A gorgeous song, that was sung with
heartfelt emotion and displayed all the characteristics that make this band special.
And with the complexities it presented from each band member it gave a hint as to
the lasting power this Band has.