Review | Photos | Assembly of Dust | Strange Folk Duo | SF

Words by: Tyler Weeks | Images by: Sterling Munksgard

Assembly of Dust with Strange Folk Duo and American Jubilee :: 03.07.13 :: The Independent :: San Francisco, CA

Full review below photo gallery!

Strange Folk Acoustic Duo
Reid Genauer, lead singer and guitarist for both Assembly of Dust and the now defunct Strangefolk (formed in 1991 in Burlington, Vermont and disbanded in 2000 after Geneaur went on to pursue a Graduate degree at Cornell), didn’t need to say a whole lot to his fans on Thursday night at The Independent in San Francisco in between songs. For the most part, they knew the story of how both bands got together. Essentially opening for himself with lead guitarist and singer John Trafton as the reunited “Strange Folk Acoustic Duo,” he did explain however that he and John met “decades ago” at orientation at the University of Vermont. He followed that up by saying “John has aged better than I have.”

Truth be told, both seasoned musicians have aged quite well, and sounded as though there frankly hasn’t been any break in playing. Aside from a couple of Strangefolk reunion shows early last year, Genauer’s efforts have all been around Assembly of Dust since their 2002 inception in New York. Both Genauer and Trafton seemed quite comfortable playing together again and commanded the near capacity crowd with songs that lyrically soared and had excellent guitar work, with John often soloing over Reid’s steady rhythm playing. Their songs mostly conveyed a message of positivity with lines like “It’s a fine life that happens to me now and then” and “Dance Dance Dance, move your feet and move your mind…leave your troubles all behind” among others. Highlights included a cover of Stephen Stills' “4+20” and AOD Members Jason Crosby and Adam Terrell hopping onstage and jamming it out as Trafton and Crosby exchanged dueling guitar and fiddle Solos to a very enthusiastic crowd crowd.

Headliners Assembly of Dust came out about twenty minutes later and immediately got down to business with extraordinary musicianship and very high energy that were consistent throughout their two sets over two and a half hours. Credit must be given to Dave Diamond, whose ultra-precise fills and super clean cymbal work were very captivating to watch and listen to. Furthermore, Genauer’s stage demeanor was laid back and comfortable, even as he jammed out hard and smiled in approval of what his band was doing. If one were to search for a band that knows how to bring an Americana and Alt-Country influence to the pantheon of the jam band scene, look no further.

Assembly of Dust
Keyboardist Jason Crosby (who as previously mentioned also played fiddle in StrangeFolk’s opening set for a song,) was a master at his craft, often looking straight ahead as he played, but when an extended jam would come on had a tendency to lock eyes with his bandmates and build the songs up to great heights.

While Assembly of Dust is clearly influenced by The Grateful Dead and even the likes of Wilco, perhaps no other member showed that off better than lead guitarist Adam Terrell. While more of a Garcia-esque sound was present, the way he physically presented himself in the midst of soloing was indeed similar to Wilco guitarist Nels Cline. Terrell, like the rest of the band, was unassuming in his stage presence but still knew and was able to acknowledge with confidence when he was filling the air with incredibly versatile and technical playing, which came early and often.

Bassist John Leccesse locked in perfectly to the steady grooves that flowed throughout both sets, certainly the perfect addition to Diamond’s percussive expertise. Combined with his dancing and at times his closed eyes as he seemed to be in an almost blissed out state, he was probably the most lively member in terms of moving around.

One major highlight of AOD’s set came when members of opening act American Jubilee (young, great Rootsy Americana group that often plays Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, CA) came onstage and played “Telling Sue” with the band. As Crosby once again took to the Fiddle, Pedal Steel guitarist Ross James, along with guitarist Grahame Lesh, Mandolin Player Brian Lesh and keyboardist Craig MacArthur, all exchanged solos with practically every member of AOD and sang collectively in perfect harmony. The overall looseness of this show was inspiring to say the least, as members from all three bands made appearances in AOD’s sets throughout the evening, including Trafton from Strangefolk. American Jubilee is not currently touring with AOD and they sounded great playing with them after perhaps a few hours of practice before or during soundcheck.

Genauer then went on to announce that the next song was the title track from their new (and free!) album Sun Shot released just a few weeks back on February 26. The album was funded by a kickstarter campaign and follows up Found Sound from 2011 and 2009’s Some Assembly Required which featured collaborations with Mike Gordon of Phish, David Grisman and Keller Williams, among many others.

[Published on: 3/22/13]

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