Thursday, 20 June 2013 13:06

Assembly of Dust, Chandler Travis Play Putnam Den This Weekend

By Staff Report | Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The 2002 breakup of alt-roots phenoms Strangefolk left its leading light Reid Genaur adrift, searching for his “where to next” moment. A classic album by a classic American band provided that guidance and to Genaur’s formation of Assembly of Dust, due to appear locally on Saturday night at Saratoga’s Putnam Den live music venue.

“I can remember locking myself in my room with a set of headphones and listening to The Band’s ‘Music From Big Pink’ album over and over again,” said Genauer, the lead singer and founder of the New York based quintet. “As I listened I felt almost like I was there in the room with The Band at a moment of perfection. That intimate listening experience drew me in and is what inspired me to be a musician.”

Drawing on that influence and countless others over the last 10 years, Assembly of Dust has crafted a unique sound that recalls the likes of The Band, Traffic and Neil Young. They have taken that early ‘70s Americana swagger, put their own funky spin on it and earned comparisons to the next generation of Americana heroes including Ryan Adams, Mumford and Sons and Wilco. The allure of spacious production value has clung with Genauer his whole life and when he listened to Ray Lamontagne’s 2010 album “God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise,” he heard something that struck a chord deep within him. After just a few seconds sniffing around the liner notes he found the name he was looking for and within a couple of months Assembly of Dust was in the studio with engineer Ryan Freeland.

With three Grammy’s on the shelf and credits that include musical luminaries like Bonnie Raitt, Joe Henry and Art Garfunkel, Freeland’s aesthetic was exactly what Genauer was going for on Assembly of Dust’s fourth studio album “Sun Shot.”

“I’ve always had a penchant for acoustic music,” said the songwriter. “While ‘Sun Shot’ isn’t an acoustic record by any stretch of the imagination, it has the touch and nuances that allows the listener to be nearer to the music. It’s certainly a mellower record, it’s a vibey record, and it’s the most singer-songwriter record we’ve done.”

While the recording processes used on “Sun Shot” harkens back to an analogue past, the rest of the project was decidedly technology driven. In the summer of 2012, as they struggled with the realities of financing an artistic venture of this scale, the band launched a crowd sourced funding campaign through Kickstarter. Looking back on it Genauer talks about the project as more of a spiritual journey than simply a fund raising exercise.

“When we went into it we were thinking of a black-and-white exchange of goods and services, but what we discovered was a weighty emotional interchange,” he admitted. “The Kickstarter contributors demand something beyond a record and we found it to be a really intimate experience to craft special rewards for people who genuinely care about us and our music. It helped us truly appreciate the passion our fans feel for us and the depth of our community.”  

“Sun Shot” is one part Singer-Songwriter, one part Alt- Country and one part Rock and Roll, but the thread tying it all together is Genauer’s heartfelt and beautifully written lyrics. In 2009 The New York Times praised Genauer’s songwriting skills as some of the most eloquent “to emerge in the long wake of the Grateful Dead” and the songs on “Sun Shot” may be the best work of his career. The raw building blocks of Genauer’s songs stand strong on their own and they are polished to brilliance in the hands of the band he’s surrounded himself with: Adam Terrell (lead guitar), John Leccesse (bass), and two newer members Jason Crosby (piano and violin) and Dave Diamond (drums). Together Assembly of Dust has created an album laced with the influences Genauer recognized as a child.  It’s a recording with many rooms. Some are flashy and aloof, others bony and pale, but collectively they are “Sun Shot.”

Chandler Travis Brings His Philharmonic to the Spa City Friday: The Spa City’s Putnam Den rock music venue has staged its share of unique creative talents in its four-year history, but this Friday’s show featuring beloved cult act the Chandler Travis Philharmonic just might be the weirdest—in the good kind of way.

CTP is a nine-piece ensemble based in Cape Cod that includes a horn section, string bass, keyboard, mandocello, guitar, drums, accordion, and singing valet. They’ve been called the missing link between the Kinks and Sun Ra as well as the heirs to the NRBQ legacy.

The Philharmonic was born in the fall of 1996 at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, on the occasion of Chandler doing a guest shot there with a house band led by multi-instrumentalist and singer Dinty Child.

When asked if he would like to add any additional instrumentation, Chandler, having always hated when elderly bands ran out of ideas to this extent, facetiously suggested, “Oh yeah, let’s get some horns and chick back-up singers.”

Strangely, Dinty complied with the horn part, booking (among others) genius trumpeter Keiichi Hashimoto, and the CTP was surprisingly hatched.

Later on, cross-dressing drummer Rikki Bates, a pal of Chandler’s from the Incredible Casuals and one of the more amazing instrumentalists on the planet, and Keith Spring, (NRBQ) helped complete the picture.

Since then, the band—all colorfully garbed eight pieces of them, plus singing valet Fred Boak --- have introduced the concept of alternative dixieland and omnipop to audiences all over Massachusetts and far beyond. The Village Voice declared them “keenly entertaining,” calling Chandler “a true New England eccentric and a master of daft power pop,” and the band “a blend of Ringling Bros. and Ra that puts the harm back in Philharmonic,” and the New Yorker has repeatedly concurred.

The band released its debut album, “Let’s Have a Pancake,” along with 26 other website-only full-length CDs (the improbable and ground-breaking RadioBall series) in 2000 as a means of welcoming in the new century; four more “official” Philharmonic releases followed, all on the Sonic Trout label, the most recent being 2010s “The Chandler Travis Philharmonic Blows!”The release followed hard on the heels of Chandler’s first solo release in a decade, 2009s “After She Left.”

While Mr. Travis fronts a number of varying lineups (the smaller versions of which have become popular sellouts at Caffe Lena over the years), Fridays show will provide an increasingly rare chance to catch the full glory of his big band setup.

Local alt-roots duo Holly & Evan will open the festivities.

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