For more than a decade, Reid Genauer has built his name and reputation, and experienced a substantial amount of success both on the road and in the studio. Yet like so many performers, he has found that success in these two arenas are in some ways mutually exclusive. Performing and recording are two very different beasts Genauer explains.
But with his and the Assembly of Dusts new disc, The Honest Hour, an album recorded live and with an ear and mind toward song craftGenauer seamlessly melds the two and uniquely bridges that gap once and for all. The highly anticipated release hits streets on September 14, 2004 on Hybrid Recordings.
The discs nine songs are a mix of new AOD songs and reimagined versions of songs Genauer wrote for his former band, Strangefolk. Culled from a show in Troy, NY in early 2004, The Honest Hour, the bands spirited sophomore disc, boasts both the open-sky breeziness and energy of a live show, but also the pristine production of a studio album.
We approached this as if we were playing a studio album live, says Genauer, the bands main lyricist. The distinction really comes down to three things: song selection, performancebecause we chose the songs in a more succinct and album-like wayand how it was mixed and mastered. Genauer rightly adds, I think that if you took out all of the crowd noise, people would not know this was performed in a live setting.
The Honest Hour arrives just a year after the Assembly of Dusts self-titled debut, and this latest release documents the start of a highly prolific songwriting period that Genauer and keyboardist Nate Wilson (the bands core writers) are still enjoying. The songs on The Honest Hour are genuine, timeless, and substantive: a testament to critics who early on dubbed Genauer one of the most vital voices, singers, storytellers and songwriters of todays live music scene.
The music Genauer makes with Assembly of Dust could be labeled hick funk, and has been compared to the likes of Paul Simon, CSNY, and The Band. Drummer Andy Herrick and bassist/backing vocalist John Leccese lend the band a funky, almost Motown vibe, while Wilsons rolling keys drop in jazz references. Guitarist/backing vocalist Adam Terrell, meanwhile, is the musical glue that holds it all together. He and I have very similar musical influences, but he is also well versed in jazz. So hes able to weave the country and the jazz and the Motown groove into one seamless landscape. Wilson, he adds, is the watchdog of sorts, making sure that the songs are cohesive.
The Assembly of Dust formed in 2002, a year after Genauer left the Vermont-based Strangefolk, a band that he co-founded some 10 years earlier while pursuing an environmental science degree at the University of Vermont. After a decade with the band, he says it was time for a professional and personal change. I had to take control of my own destiny again, musically and logistically, he says.
In that first year after splitting with Strangefolk, Genauer got married, enrolled in business school at Cornell University in upstate New York and formed AOD: all of which is loosely documented on Man With a Plan, the leadoff track on The Honest Hour. After collecting a M.B.A. from Cornell, Genauer now lives in Manhattan and works around his touring schedule as the Director of Creative Marketing at eMusic.com. Who better to work with the artists than a fellow musician?
Genauers vision for the AOD band was already well developed when it came time to put together his new project. Over the past decade, he had shared numerous bills with Leccese and Wilsons Percy Hillof which they remain members and Herricks Moon Boot Lover. Terrell, meanwhile, was a member of a collective dubbed Groovechild. As you watch other bands as a fan, he says, you kind of earmark players that you know kick ass. I knew before I had even played a note with any one of them that they were all grade-A players.
In many ways that assertion is supported by the celebrity cast of characters the band has played with over the last year: members of Phish, Spearhead, Cake, moe, String Cheese Incident, The Allman Brothers, The Grateful Dead, The Talking Heads and Chuck Berry. Reid also supported David Crosby and CPR on the Northeast leg of their national tour.
On Roads, one of the tracks on The Honest Hour, Genauer sings, This is a song about lifestyles/Decisions that we make/Roads that we abandon/Others that we take. And perhaps more than ever before, with Assembly of Dust and his new life, he feels like hes traveling down the right road. Im happy with life right now. I love being married; I love the guys in the band. I feel reborn. I feel like Ive been given a second chance to do things right.
And part of doing things right is finding that balance between structure and improv, closing that divide between the recorded and live realms. The Honest Hour is one of many recorded projects that the band will do so. But with the live performance, Genauer says, having some element of improv keeps it interesting for the audience and for the players. So I dont think we will ever get away from that. You want to serve up a four-course meal in terms of your musical offerings: rich live shows and rich recordings both demand a unique blend of creativity and structure. A lot of bands just come up and serve steak and thats it. Were trying to deliver a well-balanced musical diet.
Reid Genauer is available for corporate events, private shows, milestone celebrations (birthday, anniversary), fundraisers, festivals, and more.