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Published: 2013/03/19
by Randy Ray

The Essential Tabs of Reid Genauer

RR: You only have a handful of dates coming up for AOD, including a couple shows in New York. Are there AOD dates that haven’t been announced?

RG: Yeah, I think the southern run will be four dates, and, I forget all the timing for all of this, but we have another run in New England that is booked, just not announced, and we’ll keep peppering them in there. Our aim with Kickstarter and with Sun Shot, was to really try and get as far and wide as we could. I think we are going to go back in the fall to the West Coast, where we just were, and do sort of South of San Francisco, like San Diego, L.A., and places down that way, so we’ve got a lot going on, and we’re really enjoying the hell out of it. There is no reason not to do it.

RR: And if it wasn’t enough to enjoy the hell out of all that with Assembly of Dust, you have the ongoing Strangefolk reunion. I suppose it may be difficult to underline your feelings about all of that, but how does it feel to be back with the original group. I believe it is a year this month since everything got rolling again.

RG: Jon Trafton joined us in San Francisco. He and I did an acoustic set, and he got up and played with AOD for half of the second set of our show, and that was really fun. Where there might have been, at one point, I don’t know, people walking on egg shells a little bit, or feeling like their feathers were ruffled, it was just the opposite. It was a really comfortable hang, and everybody was laughing and having a good time. On a personal front for me, that’s really rewarding. I know that Strangefolk still has a community of people who orbit around it, and that was really, really cool to pick up ten years later, and to see all of these faces and personalities come out of the woodwork that I hadn’t seen in a long time, so that’s really fun.

I think we’re a better band than we were. I know that there are those that would beg to differ, and I guess there are things that people reacted to positively that might not be there. Maybe, some of the chops aren’t as blazing as they were in the day, but we’re playing the songs with—much like I described with AOD—more maturity. We just sound less saggy and like the song is driving me and the band, rather than the band driving the song. I like that. We hadn’t been doing it together, and people are bringing their individual wisdom to a context that was very raw and rough-hewn back in the day. Hopefully, we haven’t totally muted that rawness. I don’t think we have, particularly with what Luke Smith brings [on drums]. He brings a lot of intensity and energy to the frame, so that’s been great.

Again, on a personal level, Strangefolk was a time in my life and a musical organism that I’m immensely proud of everything it is part of, so I felt alienated from it all of these years. It was sort of like a man without a country when it came to that, so to be able to re-claim my connectivity and my place in that band is, for lack of a better word, heartwarming. I have the posters on the wall. I guess I didn’t even really realize it. I looked at it with a sort of detachment, like it was somebody else, if that makes sense. I felt severed from it, which I was by my own doing. To have that bridge re-built feels very natural, but also very fulfilling and holistic. All of the pieces are there; there’s not this big gouge in my history. (laughs)

There’s a cool story about that, actually. Amber Trafton, Jon’s wife, and I have gotten to know each other. We really hadn’t because they got together post-[Strangefolk’s] split. Well, you know, we’ve met a couple of times, but never got to know each other. She was just saying that she was experiencing the same thing where she felt, somehow, I think disloyal is too strong a word, but it was just not as relevant to listen to the old tunes and the old records and the old shows, so she never did. She got to know Jon as a person in the wake of all that stuff, and it just wasn’t part of their relationship. So, she’s gone back and listened to all of that stuff, and she had a very similar experience, it was like an awakening for her, and she felt like she got to know her husband in a more complete way. I don’t know; I think that kind of says it all.

RR: Speaking of chunks of time come and gone, I wanted to get your impression of sealing the gap of fourteen years between when Strangefolk last played at the Capitol Theatre in December 1998, and the band’s return to that venue in late 2012. Was that a surreal experience for you?

RG: It was. It’s a great room. I think it was more of a surreal experience just to go to the room. It’s awesome, the sound system is awesome, the crowd is on fire, and, yeah, it was surreal in that those memories feel like it was yesterday. I remembered conversations I had in the green room, and I didn’t remember, actually, that much about the show. (laughs) I remember not being that particularly inspired about it on that evening, but once I went back and listened, it was Strangefolk at its best. It was Ben Collette who chose the show, and he chose well [ 12/27/98—Live at the Capitol Theatre.

[Last year] I felt much more in command of the situation. I remember playing it the first time, and just feeling like somehow it was beyond me. I don’t really know what I mean by that, but I think the band, in general, was like that. We were just not as command of the band; therefore, not as in command of the room. I don’t know, it was just really relaxed and it felt really good.

RR: You had Al Schnier open up with a solo set for those Capitol Theatre gigs, so that must have brought that timeframe back, as well—not like you haven’t seen him in the last 14 years. (laughter)

RG: He’s my rock ‘n’ roll Forest Gump. He just keeps popping up. That added a whole other layer of context and continuity. He was really enthusiastic about the band. He always has been. He’s always been really generous and supportive. It was just another data point. I think we could have done anything, and our fans would have been happy, but it is nice to hear your peer say that you sound all right.

RR: Strangefolk returns the favor with a spot at snoe.down in late March.

RG: I’m looking forward to that. It’s a great festival. We played it with Assembly of Dust before. It’s a high energy gig, and it’s certainly familiar territory for me and the band, but, yeah, it’s going to be a lot of fun.

RR: And more to come. You’ve had a few career milestones over the last year, so I was wondering how you maintain your balance as you segue between various gigs.

RG: I don’t know. It’s what I do and what I’ve done for a long, long time now. There are times when it’s a struggle when I haven’t slept (laughter), like today. There are moments. I just figured it out. I don’t know. It fits together like a jigsaw puzzle, and the pieces are contiguous. I’m not jumping around being nine guys. I’m just one guy doing a bunch of different things that all have some commonality to it, and it really comes down to putting creativity to work. That’s my m.o.

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