SHOW review
Dust Free: Reid Genauer Goes It Alone At Sullivan Hall

By Written by David Schultz
Monday, April 28,2008

On a typical night, Reid Genauer shares the stage with such a fine array of musicians that its easy to lose sight of his special gifts as a singer and songwriter. Over his lengthy, estimable career, Genauer has played an integral role in the growth and development of Strangefolk and Assembly Of Dust. This month, Genauer has picked up his guitar and hit the road on his own for a short spate of acoustic shows, embarking on his first true solo tour. In taking the stage by his lonesome, Genauer has been playing select shows along the East Coast, providing a rare treat for his fans. For the New York gig, Genauer opted against playing one of the cozy, intimate venues that teem throughout Manhattan in favor of the club-like environs of Sullivan Hall.

In dusting off much of his material, Genauer cut directly to heart of each song. Stripping the Assembly Of Dust material of its musical flourishes, Genauer let his voice and lyrics carry the show. After appealing to the movie geeks in the audience by welcoming everyone to the Dexter Lake Club, Genauer joked that anyone looking to rock tonight may have come to the wrong place, that all you were going find here was someone baring their soul. He was slightly disingenuous with both statements: thankfully, Genauer didnt get all Ani DiFranco on the crowd and with some solid guitar playing, he did manage to rock the house quite a bit.

Playing before his hometown crowd, Genauer seemed to relish the environment, commenting that with 6 wedges (monitors) and 4 whiskeys at his disposal, he might be the happiest hes ever been. At the outset, the decision to play an acoustic show in a hall more suited to louder styles seemed to be a mistake as the chatter of the crowd threatened to overwhelm the music coming from the stage. The hallmark of any good singer-songwriter, Genauer nimbly fought the nattering masses and for more than an hour and a half, needing nothing more than his guitar, his voice and a handful of finely crafted songs to attract their attention. As he played, Genauer slowly quieted the extremely chatty Sullivan Hall crowd; he never completely silenced the audience, though he did get the majority more interested in him than their own conversations.

Genauer debuted some new material, of note, the pleasant The Second Song which he appropriately played as the second song of his set. For the most part though, Genauer offered solo renditions of songs from his Assembly Of Dust catalog with the best moments coming when he bore full throttle into AODs most soulful and energetic tunes. In trotting out Harrower, Telling Sue and, by request, Speculator, Genauer relied on his remarkably strong voice to provide the power normally delivered by fellow Dusters Nate Wilson, John Leccesse, Adam Terrell and Andy Herrick. They played better with the Sullivan Hall crowd than softer, more reflective songs like 40 Reasons and 45 Degrees which yearned for more respectful ears.

In the acoustic setting, the wonderful narratives of Genauers literate lyrics were more pronounced. A gifted wordsmith, Genauer writes wonderful tales full of dust-bowl imagery and insightful observations. He also proved himself an amiable host, chatting with the audience between songs. He confessed that on his recent string of solo shows, hes learned why singer/songwriters talk so much: they simply get tired and need a break. More talkative than at an Assembly of Dust show, Genauer didnt treat the night as his own version of Storytellers, keeping the night focused on the music. As the night came to a close, he eased into a faultless version of Songs We Sing that provoked the same joyous reaction from the crowd as it does at any Assembly of Dust show.

With his glasses and slightly doughy physique, Genauer does not look like your prototypical frontman. Appearances can be misleading that way. Displaying a powerful voice, full of the empathy he carries for the subject matter of his songs, he never wavered or dropped his intensity over the course of the night. In displaying a subtle and self-assured charisma, Genauer revealed himself to be an incredibly engaging solo performer as well as one the more unlikely people to get a crowd gleefully dancing to just one man playing an acoustic guitar.