State of the reunion: Strangefolk’s Garden of Eden returns to Jay Peak

 

Celebrated Burlington-born folk-rock band Strangefolk brings its Garden of Eden festival back to Jay Peak Resort’s Stateside Amphitheater for the third straight year Aug. 10-11, continuing a successful streak of reunion shows of one of the most popular bands to ever come out of Vermont. The quartet — guitarists Reid Genauer and Jon Trafton, bassist Eric Glockler and drummer Luke Smith — will play two sets of music per night. Friday’s night’s festivities will include funky opening act Moon Boot Lover and special performances of songs from the recently released “Conspire to Smile” project, an album conceived by Genauer that features all of the members of Strangefolk and Genauer’s band Assembly of Dust. The album, billed as Reid Genauer & Folks, features two new Genauer original songs: the funky shuffle “Amplified Messiah” and the buoyant title track — the latter is the first studio recording by the four original members of Strangefolk in nearly two decades. The 13-track album also consists of classic cover songs and more than two dozen musicians total, including Jason Crosby of Phil Lesh & Friends, Northeast Kingdom native Jennifer Hartswick of Trey Anastasio Band, Ryan Montbleau, and Grahame Lesh and Elliot Peck of Midnight North. Genauer calls the album “a collaborative recording intended to infuse social media with positivity.” “At the heart of that communal sentiment is Strangefolk’s Garden of Eden festival,” adds Trafton in a press release, “a place that we gather once a year to celebrate that community and rock out.” Both the “Conspire to Smile” album and a live Strangefolk recording from the Palladium Theatre in Worchester, Mass. in 1999 are available as free downloads. (Both are available by going online to www.reidgenauer.com/blog/garden-of-eden-overview.) Saturday’s lineup also includes opening band Dead Winter Carpenters and a late-night show by the Dave Grippo Funk Band featuring Maine guitarist and Strangefolk collaborator Stevie Jones. Dead Winter Carpenters is a Northern California-based roots rock band featuring West Bolton native Jesse Dunn on guitar and vocals, who says that “seeing Strangefolk as a kid in Vermont” inspired him to become a musician. Hatched on the University of Vermont campus in 1991, Strangefolk started off as an acoustic guitar duo of Trafton (the “strange”) and Genauer (the “folk”), during their sophomore year. Smith and Glockler were soon added to fill out the sound. After rising through the ranks of Burlington’s vibrant local music scene, the band had by the mid-1990s garnered a huge regional following on the strength of its considerable songwriting and vocal skills, and its danceable blend of acoustic melodies and hard-edged rock. By 1998, Strangefolk had landed a record deal with Mammoth Records, was touring nationally and had a mailing list of more than 20,000 fans. Strangefolk underwent substantial changes in 2000, though. After the band’s record deal collapsed when Disney purchased Mammoth in 1999, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Reid Genauer left the band and headed for graduate school before starting a successful solo career with a different band, Assembly of Dust. The remaining threesome added new members and forged ahead with Strangefolk for a few years, but eventually took an indefinite hiatus from the band. In March 2012, the original quartet reunited for shows at Higher Ground in South Burlington and the State Theater in Portland, Maine — both of which quickly sold out. Several more reunion shows followed, including headline gigs at Burlington’s Waterfront Park and the Flynn Center, among others. In 2016, Strangefolk brought its original lineup to Jay Peak, reviving its Garden of Eden festival 20 years after the original fest in the tiny northern Vermont town of Eden, which inspired the name.   Jay Peak Resort Strangefolk’s Garden of Eden festival is Friday, Aug. 10, and Saturday, Aug. 11, at Jay Peak Resort’s Stateside Amphitheater. Doors open at 6 p.m. Strangefolk headlines both nights. Moon Boot Lover and Conspire to Smile perform on Friday; Dead Winter Carpenters and the Dave Grippo Funk Band perform on Saturday. Tickets are $40, $60 for two-day pass (general admission; children 6 and younger free); call 802-327-2154, or go online to www.jaypeakresort.com.

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