Show review
Dust This!

Stone Church (11/25-26 05)
Newmarket NH

The Wire
Written By:Jon Nolan

If stupid is as stupid does, then Assembly of Dust has to be the smartest band around. These guys do everything right. Thats what you get when you put together a crack band of veteran musicians who have been around the block a few hundred times. With former and current members of musical heavyweights like Percy Hill, Strangefolk, Moon Boot Lover and Groovechild, you cant call them anything but an all-star band. The self-described hick funk-ers of Assembly of Dust (AOD to the fans) have had one hell of a year, too. Theyve cracked the commercial radio nut, played the epic Bonnaroo Music Festival to 15,000 people, and even backed legendary former Allman Brothers guitarist Dickey Betts. And this weekend, theyll play two nights, Friday and Saturday, at The Stone Church in Newmarket.

The best moment weve had yet, says AOD drummer Andy Herrick of the bands banner year, is when we had the opportunity to be Dickey Betts band. Ill tell you man, thats the one that stays in my head all the time. Herrick and Co. joined Betts at The Theater at Madison Square Garden to perform the Allman Bros. hits Ramblin Man and Blue Sky at this years Jammy Awards. It took a while for it all to sink in.

It wasnt until after, when I was walking off stage, says Herrick, and Dickey Betts puts me in a head lock and says, We were in a band together there boy! and I was like, Hey, and youre Dickey Betts! Then I bumped into Perry Farrell and thats when I thought OK, Ive gotta go home now. Im from New Hampshire, this isnt supposed to happen.

AOD, full of area musicians, had its genesis in 2002 when Reid Genauer gathered together a group of friends whom he had met touring throughout the years to back him on his new project. Bassist John Leccesse, keyboardist Nate Wilson, guitarist Adam Terrell, and Herrick on drums, all got the call. In 2001, Genauer had left his post as frontman for the legendary Vermont based band Strangefolk so that he could pursue an MBA at Cornell University.

When he assembled the new band a year later, it was a calculated attempt to put together a group of people who shared not only his musical vision, but his business strategy as well. With the fall 2004 release of their debut album, the live record The Honest Hour (Hybrid Records), and successful, smart touring behind it, the plan is starting to pay off.

Some of the other projects (Ive been in) have had the talent, but have been without the business sensibility, says Herrick. Reid has that, and he surrounded himself with people who have it, too, and hes been able to harness that end of it which is huge.

The other thing, adds Herrick with a laugh, is that weve all played 200 gigs a year in a van sleeping on peoples floors and I think theres something to be learned from that.

Hybrid, the bands label, has played their part, too. They helped the band crack into commercial radio with their first single, the aptly titled Man with a Plan. Its a song that loosely documents Genauers transition from Strangefolk to marriage, Cornell, and, eventually, AOD. As a result of that radio success, Herrick says they were able to take advantage of newfound opportunities like an appearance on the nationally syndicated NPR show World Cafi, a live set in the Sirius Satellite Radios studio, and especially a performance at this years epic Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, Tenn.

We played between Drive By Truckers and Joss Stoneor Kings of Leon, I think, says Herrick. The whole set was good and got a good reaction, but it was hilarious to play that one song (the single, Man with a Plan) and hear everybody let out a cheer at the first couple notes. None of us have ever experienced a tune thats sort of spoken for the band before theyve arrived.

It helps to have some top-notch songwriters. Genauer and keyboardist Nate Wilson write most of the material for the band.

We have a lot of faith in the songs Reid and Nate write together, says Herrick. Even on our worst day, everyone in the band loves the way those guys write songs. Modern technology plays its part, as well. They do it a lot on cell phone, Herrick says. Nate will call and leave (Genauer) a tune on the piano on his cell phone, and Reid will call him back and leave him all the lyrics. It works out. Everyone brings their own thing.

All the members of AOD have known each other for years. Often, the other bands in which theyve played have performed together on bills at clubs or festivals like New Yorks The Gathering of the Vibes, attended by tens of thousands of music loving people each year. Being in a band full of people who have known each other for as long as they have makes the experiences, and especially the victories, all the sweeter.

Weve all been playing (The Gathering of the Vibes) for years at different times of the day, different slots,says Herrick. With the exception of Reid, no one had ever done that (coveted) Saturday night slot under the lights, in the dark.

Wed all just sort of laughed about it, he adds. Wed all played this thing so many times but we hadnt gotten to play that set. Well this year, we ended up getting that set. We played right before (Bob Weirs) Rat Dog, and the sun went down and the lights came on to the big stage with these huge screens.

It was another special moment Herrick isnt likely to forget, and the significance of each members years of hard work in AOD and other hard-working bands was not lost on him.

I think there was like 10,000 or 12,000 people in front of us when we were playing. When I looked around the stage because I know all these guys I had a genuine appreciation for how hard everyone has worked to get there. That was a pretty real moment.

Assembly of Dust will cap off the year with another World Cafi appearance, a show at NYCs Irving Plaza, and two pull-out-the-stops nights at Bostons Paradise Rock Club. But before that you can catch them in good ol Newmarket, where they all cut their teeth rocking the stage at The Stone Church.