Reid Genauer-A Conversation with

Written by Dennis Cook
Spring 2005

There is some music that envelops us like a favorite sweater, a hug from a good friend, a breeze that lifts us out of a gray day. Reid Genauer and the Assembly of Dust possess this quality in spades. Combining the tensile tight musicianship of The Band with a gentler ear for pop hooks, they populate their story-songs with sharecroppers and folks with names like Honey Creeper and Samuel Aging Spalding. Their mixture of the wistful and guardedly hopeful echoes Steely Dan in their heyday, though sweetened with more country roads & warm smiles than Becker & Fagen ever allowed. Their name evokes images of God breathing life into Adam or other poetic transformations.

That's funny. I just kind of thought of it but there was definitely a method behind my madness, states Genauer.I wanted something that kind of balanced our music. We play an upbeat rather light hearted version of rock and roll and I wanted a name with a little edge. I think its a cool dichotomy. Also I think one of the coolest things about rock and roll bands is they are like clubs something/somewhere to belong to. Finally I wanted something that hinted towards the twang element of our music the country and western undertone. Assembly of Dust meets all 3 of those criteria check, check, check.

Listeners may be familiar with Genauer from his days in Strangefolk, arguably one of the first jam bands to make any kind of splash in the mid 90s. Formed while still a student at the University of Vermont with Jon Trafton, Strangefolk melded aggressive noodling with much stronger songcraft than their peers. Reids decision to leave the band a couple years back was not an easy one but his new band feels like hes finally found his proper setting.

Well, one of the coolest things with AOD is that we really support each other, musically and personally. In Strangefolk we were like a bunch of brothers. Everyone was competing for resources, attention and somewhat selfish in their interpretation of the song, including myself. The resulting friction created an energy and a passion that I think was contagious but somewhat spastic, explains Genauer.

In AOD I feel much more comfortable and at home. I'm a singer/songwriter and a bandleader and I am able to be both in this band without making apologies or fighting with the band. We all have a shared vision and a strong sense of mutual respect. I forget the exact lyric but Paul McCartney once wrote the love you make is equal to the love you take and I think that holds true for bands. The more you give of yourself musically and personally the more you get out of it. I feel fortunate to have a band that lets me be myself, that supports my strengths and compliments my weaknesses.

Assembly of Dusts latest release, The Honest Hour, is a thoroughly satisfying 60-minute live performance recorded in February 2004 in New York City. In many ways the five piece band echoes the clean, buoyant vibe of late 70s Paul Simon. To me that is like the highest compliment, states Reid.I think he is one of the greatest songwriters and his band in the 70s was insane! I definitely look to Paul Simon as a role model he is a master of all of the elements I look for in a musician. I like songwriters who are good lyricists, have soul, authenticity, sophistication and play with grace and restraint. Others for me are Lennon/McCartney, Garcia/Hunter, Robbie Robertson, Neil Young, and Willie Nelson.

Theres undisguised joy on their new one, a real passion for playing in front of a crowd. Besides Reids smoked honey vocals & able guitar, theres the incisive lead guitar of Adam Terrell, John Lecceses bouncing bass, the Steve Gadd-solidity of Andrew Herrick on drums and superlative inducing keyboardist Nate Wilson, who also makes music with Leccese in Northeast cult favorites Percy Hill. Everyone but Herrick also sings and theres a growing density to the arrangements that only comes from steady gigging.

Performing is one of the greatest highs I have ever experienced. It is definitely one of the key components that has kept me doing this, states Genauer. The best parallel I can draw is when you are at a cocktail party and you have an amazingly intimate and intense conversation with someone you are attracted to. You leave the party feeling intoxicated not only by the liquor but also by the interaction. Take that phenomenon and times it by 1000 and thats what the live concert experience is like for us, especially since Jack Daniels is on our rider.

The kind of music AOD makes would have been major radio fare just a few decades back. In the '70s strong songs played well could get over on the airwaves. But that's not often the case today. Still, Reid remains optimistic, Im not ready to concede that there is not a place for this kind of music. Our album has been received well by radio and we are continuing to see adds. In fact I think there is a widening opening for real music on the airwaves and there are mainstream artists who, like them or not, are playing real music and having commercial success (Norah Jones, Josh Rouse, Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews and even John Mayer). That said, the majority of music on radio is still crap. I think there are a lot of factors the primary one is that radio is so closely tied to the major label system. The result is a kind of musical Budweiser that is benign, consistent and easily digestible.

As tight & tasty as the playing is in AOD, it's the songwriting that seems the real heart of their sound. Everything, the singing and the solos, seems designed to accent the tune.

Definitely! I'm a lover of songs as are the rest of the guys, states Genauer. Believe me, I love a good instrumental improv as much, or more, as the next guy but ultimately jams are fleeting and songs are immortal. I always say I would rather see a bad band play a good song than a good band play a bad song. Of course our goal is to have a good band play a good song. I think thats the winning combination the musical bull's eye. We all have shared vision of hitting that mark.

Honest Tune