Written by Stu Fox

One of my favorite sets at this yearís moe.down was the rockiní show that Reid Genauer & the Assembly of Dust played on Sunday afternoon. The former Strangefolk front man and his band really ripped it up on the main stage and the glittering grooves that these veterans of the jam scene laid down was one of the musical highlights of the festival.

The Assembly of Dust was rocking throughout the entire set and the musicians spiced up their sound waves with glistening solos and intricate instrumental jams that heightened the intensity of their songs.

We actually kind of sculpted our set a little bit today just because itís a rock and roll crowd, said Genauer after their performance. We pulled out some of the real rockers and tried to rock it hard today knowing that the moe. fans come out to see a rock show.

The last time I had seen the group was in May 2002 and their sound was still in the early formulating stages of development back then. Genauer was living in Ithaca at the time and in the final stages of getting his degree from Cornell while the rest of the band was living in New Hampshire. Although they were playing some occasional weekend gigs, it was difficult to work in many rehearsals around his school work.

The bandís overall sound was definitely a work in progress at that time but it has really blossomed around the edges over past year. AOD may have rocked things up a little for moe.down but their progressions are a lot more complex and expansive than the last time I saw them. Itís like the group was in a holding pattern while Reid was in school and the musicians werenít able to solidify into a tight cohesive unit until they could focus full time on their music. I enjoyed them the first time around but the evolution process has had a magical effect on their soundscapes.

Weíre starting to really gell and kind of have a distinct AOD sound, says the singer and guitarist. Plus we started rehearsing. Rehearsal helps a lot. And weíve certainly gotten to know each other personally in ways that we hadnít before. We were almost like co-workers and that relationship has evolved into a much deeper one. Weíre having a fantastic time and itís just really intoxicating to see the band grow musically, to see the fans embrace it, and we want as much of it as we can possibly do without wrecking the equation.

The group is loaded with veterans from the regional jam scene 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 the New Hampshire band Groovechild. Iíve 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 90ís. The two bands we played with most back in the day were moe. and Percy Hill. They were like our cousin bands.

The band released their first album early this year and theyíve been busy on the regional circuit since it came out. We played some festivals and have had some great responses with really high energy and great crowds in front of us, says the singer.

Band members were expecting many of their old supporters to pick up on AOD but theyíve been pleasantly surprised by the reaction the CD has had in the regional community outside of their older fan bases.
I thought it would be a lot of people just from the old bands but there have really been a whole bunch of new people that seem to be coming out, says Herrick. Especially last spring, a lot of people were coming to the shows and most of them were turned on to the music by someone else or heard the CD. And all of the people from before who followed us in other bands are really supportive of this which is great.

While the other band members have all been part of successful touring bands before, this is a totally new experience for Terrell.
Iím just thrilled because before I bumped into Reid and we decided to start playing, I spent a good long chunk of time where I was just sort of a bedroom guitar player and I wasnít really playing gigs that much, says the guitarist. The ones I was playing were just sort of thrown together events for the night where Iíd go out and play a gig.

Iíve played with a ton of people for years and years but I never really got out there like the rest of these guys did, he continues. I never was really in a band that toured around. So Iím just thrilled. Iím out playing festivals in the summer and playing at night in rooms with a good band. And itís a pleasure playing with all of these guys. Iím real psyched about it.

Genauer has been writing new material with Wilson and members of the band feel this songwriting collaboration has been a turning point in the formation of their overall sound. It seems like everything kind of took a turn when Nate and Reid started writing together, says Herrick. We started to find our own sound and then we went back and incorporated that into Reidís older stuff. So it all kind of started to grow together.

Weíve been writing a lot lately and itís great, adds the singer. The end result is something that neither of us either created before or would have created without one another, so it feels really unique and new. Weíre all really excited to have new material and its fun to have new songs. It really freshens up the whole repertoire.

The bandís self-titled debut was recorded during the first half of 2002 and is a reflection of the early musical heartbeat of the Assembly of Dust. The musicians have spent plenty of time in the studio over the years and you can feel the experience of these players in the way the songs unfold. Wilsonís sparkling keyboard work and Terrellís melodic guitar lines play important roles in the pacing of the musical movements and the recording is enhanced by the contributions from a number of guest musicians. Many of the tunes feature the shimmering female background vocals of the Stone Choir and the voices of Mabel Evans Whelch, Libby Jones and Karen Lonsky really add to the enrichment of the melodies.

Genauerís seductive vocals and songwriting expertise casts a spell over the recording from beginning to end. His imposing musical presence leaps out on the opening track as he brushes his glittering intonations over the funky melodic rock grooves of Burned Down, and right away you know that this is Reidís baby. The singer who turned on so many music lovers during his days with Strangefolk has got a brand new bag so hop on board and enjoy the ride.

The music floats into a gently rolling rock melody on Filter, and then the singer does a moving reading of Songs We Sing as Whelch adds some shimmering back-up vocals. Things mellow down easy during the ballad Drawn, and the band lays into a bouncy up-tempo groove on Tavern Walker which features some delicious harmonic sweetening from the Stone Choir. The musicians fashion up an enchantingly soft mood to suit the carefree lyrical message of Forty Five Degrees and then shift into swaying melodic rock grooves for Etta James and Sideways Train.

The singer slips into a stripped down format of acoustic guitar and vocals to convey the intensity of the emotional anti-war song Shame, and then his soulful vocal delivery fires up the intoxicating funky progressions of Love Junkie. AOD heats up some righteous soul grooves for Bow and the tune drifts into a gospel-flavored rave-up near the end as it rides off into the sunset on the harmonic intonations of the Stone Choir. The CD winds down with the singer songwriter doing a solo acoustic version of Serenade Serene.

Long-time fans of Genauerís work with Strangefolk are going to feel right at home with the music of his new outfit. The music spins through a series of rock cycles and the emphasis on melodic structures allows his vocal talents to really shine in this setting. AOD is not as jam-oriented as the singerís former band but the grooves are as intoxicating as anything heís ever done. The thing that probably stands out the most to me on this impressive release is the maturity of his songwriting.

The band has concentrated on playing regional gigs up until this point and the expectations are they will be branching out and hitting the national scene in the near future.

I think potentially it can be interrupted that the band is not hungry or something, but itís actually just the opposite, laughs the singer. Weíre totally hungry for it but having sort of chased the rainbow for the pot of gold, having chased the dream and really burnt ourselves in the process, weíre using a little bit of mature restraint to try and pace ourselves for the race. But if anything, it makes you want it more, not less. Weíre going to keep on keeping on. The question mark is when and how weíll expand to other places in the country and thatís something we still have to work out. We know that at some point we will and until then weíre just happy doing what weíre doing. Rocking the free world!