Friday, August 19, 2005

The Assembly Of Dust - Listener Appreciated

Assembly Of Dust
I have trouble liking the Assembly Of Dust, but at the same time I also have trouble NOT liking the Assembly Of Dust. The first opinion stems outside of the musical realm and more into the nostalgic, and really so does the second...

The Assembly Of Dust's core members began as Strangefolk and Percy Hill, my two local favorites during my high school years growing up in Stowe Vermont. I have probably seen those two bands in concert more than all other bands combined. Personally, I always like these two local jam bands better than their contemporaries which hit it big, Phish included. Of these bands, I always saw Nate Wilson on keyboards as the standout of Percy Hill and Jon Trafton on lead guitar as the standout in Strangefolk, but the lead vocalists of both bands were more than capable. Joe Farrell of Percy Hill could outdo Sting on a Police cover, and Reid Genauers could wrench an amount of emotion out of his vocals which is rarely seen in the jam band scene.

I saw these bands grow and prosper, gaining national recognition and musicianship from month to month. Percy Hill put out one of the greatest studio albums of any of the jam bands in recent history, Colour In Bloom, and Strangefolk looked poised to follow in Phish's footsteps. Strangefolk even followed Phish in playing the (my) Stowe High School Prom (please contact me if you have a bootleg of this show, I've heard they exist).

Then, on the Strangefolk message boards in the summer of 2000, I heard that Reid was leaving the band to go to business school and get married. Personally, I had always seen Reid and Jon AS Strangefolk (Erik and Luke are great, but interchangeable), so to me this was the end of Strangefolk. This was not to be so, and Strangefolk continued without Reid. They were never the same, as they have not been able to replace Reid's amazing vocals and are essentially a different band now.

Percy Hill went on hiatus slightly before Strangefolk broke apart, so I was suddenly left with a void. I went to a few Strangefolk shows and they did not bring out the same feeling they used to, so I stopped going to hold on to my memories of the old band. Don't get me wrong, they're still great, but personally I'd rather see Jon playing lead guitar in a new band, or at least see a new SINGER in Strangefolk. Jon's a capable singer, but as a backing vocalist or the occasional song... think of Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam.

So when I heard Reid was playing shows under the name 'The Assembly Of Dust', I was kind of pissed off he had not reformed the original Strangefolk. This aggression grew as I heard he had recruited Nate Wilson and John Lecesse of Percy Hill to play in his new band. But this was quickly alleviated when I read that Percy Hill would still be playing together when Assembly Of Dust was taking time off and the rest of the band was available. I'd always liked Reid, and I can understand his reasons for not wanting to continue on the road. So I eventually came to be ok with the idea of The Assembly Of Dust. I was even excited at the prospect of hearing what Reid and Nate would be doing together. The live recordings I've heard get better and better the later they have been recorded. The Assembly Of Dust website has a bunch of songs to download for your pleasure. Take a listen to my favorites I came across on their official site. I think you may like it....

Oh, and if you're lucky enough to have tickets to the WNCS listener appreciation show which the 'Dust and the John Butler Trio are putting on tomorrow, I'll see you there.

PS - Much love and sympathy goes out to Jon Trafton in his battle with cancer. He looks to be on the road to recovery, but there is still much to go through. I am pulling for you Jon.

Assembly Of Dust - The Deed (Live)

Assembly Of Dust And Derek Trucks - Blues Tune (Live)

Assembly Of Dust - Roads (Live)

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