Reid Genauer in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv, Israel
Talk about making the most of a business trip.
When Reid Genauer, frontman of 90’s titans Strangefolk and this decade’s Assembly of Dust, was in Israel for work in early June — he’s a stateside part of Israel’s booming high tech industry — he opted to stop by Tel Aviv’s Polly for a casual acoustic show. The last-minute gig was an impressive draw, with dozens of American-Israeli immigrants and a few native Israelis packing the small bar while Genauer strummed through his long catalogue of country-leaning folk songs.
Alone onstage, Genauer opened with the fast, jumpy Strangefolk tune “Rachel,” looking around almost like he couldn’t believe so many people showed up so far from home.
“I can’t tell you how cool it is to be 3,000 miles away from my kids and playing for all of you,” he laughed, before riffing about some of the comforts of home: “What’s funny about McDonald’s is that it’s disgusting. But when you’re traveling, it’s disgustingly familiar.”
Except, of course, that in the States McDonald’s isn’t kosher.
For much of the crowd, catchy, hearty folk songs like “Arkansas Down,” sung in Genauer’s slightly Southern affect, was strange only in that it’s not every night Tel Avivis can get down to Americana. The scene leans staunchly towards beat-heavy grooves rather than acoustic strumming. But from the elderly Israeli couple sitting on the stools up front to the Orthodox twenty-something with sidelocks caught in a heavy groove, the crowd ate up Genauer’s set.
Genauer dipped into Neil Young’s “Comes a Time,” referencing the rock-and-roll godfather’s upcoming show in Tel Aviv, and also tackled Gillian Welch’s gorgeous “Look at Miss Ohio.”
But it was Strangefolk jam “Roads” that got the biggest reaction: even with just a microphone and an acoustic, Genauer belted out the song’s big, howling chorus: “I don’t know where I’m going but I’ll get there.”
Along with Genauer’s awe that, yes, he was playing a gig in the Middle East, the tune was a perfect match.