The scene inside of Ira Allen last Saturday could’ve easily led a passer-by to believe that there was a wedding ceremony about to take place.
The chapel with its high domed ceiling, and chandeliers was in the process of getting dressed for the occasion, some occasion.
Clusters of pearl white balloons, which seemed to radiate a blue aura, were being tied down to every few pews.
As my eyes, following the rows of balloons, traveled past the dance floor and up to the stage I was greeted by the smiling countenance of Reid Genauer, rhythm guitar player and singer of the Assembly of Dust.
Along with his bandmates guitarist, Adam Terrell, keyboard player Nate Wilson, bassist John Leccese, and drummer Andy Herrick, AOD were preparing to play hosts, not to a wedding, but to their own little party, a Halloween party, the Heaven and Hell Costume Ball.
Inside the Martin Luther King Jr. Lounge, there were tapestries of all sizes, colors, and designs covering the walls, chairs, and couches.
I take my place on a couch adorned by a Bob Marley throw, and settle in to an informal conversation with Reid and Nate.
Brad: Let’s talk about the Heaven and Hell theme, how did that come about??
Nate: I don’t know really.
John: It was actually my idea for last year.
Reid: John always takes credit for all my stuff (laughs), John fleshed it out but it was me, it was just like “Why don’t we go with the Heaven and Hell theme?” We’re going to try and do it every year though.
Brad: A Heaven and Hell theme?
Reid: A Heaven and Hell Ball. This last comment was made with certain vehemence. It was as if the light bulb containing the idea was just turned on over Reid’s head.
Brad: Was there any reason that you chose to hold the first Ball at UVM?
Reid: I went here. So that’s always good, and they invited us and we were thrilled!
Brad: Have you played here since you graduated?
Reid: At the school? No, well back in the day, yeah. But not since graduation.
Brad: You graduated when?
Reid: I graduated in ’94.
Brad: About that, I was reading an article with you done back in the hey-day of Strangefolk. Correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I understood you guys decided to take a year off after your graduation. Upon reforming, you decided that you were going to make the jump from a college band to a national touring act. You said that you never wanted to relive that experience. It seems that Assembly of Dust is right now on the up and up and getting bigger. It seems that you are, in a way, reliving that experience. How’s that going?
Reid: I don’t remember exactly where that quote’s from, but it’s going great. We’re having fun and progressing without getting tainted.
Brad: It certainly seems that way; you guys are playing bigger venues than you have in recent years. I saw your performance with [renowned bluegrass guitarist] Peter Rowan at Bonnaroo this past year, which was amazing. You guys are making your way in to mid-sized theatres as opposed to small bars.
Nate: We’re huge in Eastern Europe, you just don’t know about it. We play like soccer stadiums over there.
Reid: We opened for Michael Hasselhof.
Nate: That’s David’s cousin.
Brad: All right, all kidding aside what are you doing after this?
Reid: Well we’re playing tomorrow night at URI.
I went on to talk to the band about their influences, and what shapes their sound. For those of you that don’t know, this band brings to the table an unique blend of acoustic rock with a jammy southern tinge.
Reid is a master of melody and harmony, and at one point during soundcheck if I had closed my eyes, I could’ve been listening to White Album-era Beatles. At another, I could’ve been listening to a Crosby, Stills, Nash tune penned by the former.
The band takes an eclectic style and rolls it all up into a nice package that they can call their own.
Nate: We’re Basically Yacht Rock
Brad: What exactly does that mean? Like you would listen to it on your Yacht?
Nate: (Laughing) When you’re wearing like boat shoes. We all grew up listening to different stuff, in the band, but I think the common denominator is the classic songwriters of the late sixties and early seventies. Like the Woodstock era; Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, The Band, that’s the stuff we can all agree on. Everything else we fight over, so I guess you could maybe hear some of that coming out in our playing.
Reid agrees with all the influences that Nate has listed. We talk for a little bit about the planned festivities for the night. The band will all be donning white tuxedos, red shirts, devil horns and tails. The set list, they tell me is a special one. It has been formatted in accordance with the theme of the evening.
The stage is decorated with cauldrons of fire, and projected on a screen behind the band is a cartoon image, that could possibly be titled “All Dogs go to Hell.”
The chapel got dark as it started to fill up, both with people and smoke from the dry ice machines hidden in the wings.
A shrill scream filled the air as the band took the stage and got settled with their respective instruments.
A swirling cacophony ensues, and then settles down into one of the bands country influenced numbers. “And I will meet you at the Chapel,” Reid sings. This song resolves into another of their country tinged numbers, which speaks of “A thousand chandeliers shining.”
These songs were expertly picked and seem almost too appropriate for deliverance in Ira Allen.
The crowd, who came dressed up as everything from Richard Simmons to a pineapple girl, to your “Typical UVM Student” seemed to be feeding off the band. As they swayed, the band felt the reciprocation.
The Assembly of Dust is definitely a band with a lot of potential, and I hope to see them around again sometime soon.