I was just handed a freshly lit joint when the voice of Reid Genauer echoed from the busted speakers of the 1988 Honda Civic.
It was the summer of 2001 and my friend Tom was holding steady at the wheel, a crisp breeze cascaded off Lake Champlain while we aimlessly cruised the back roads of northwestern Vermont. I was 16 and had recently purchased the Strangefolk album Weightless in Water from Peacock Records in nearby Plattsburgh. I bought the record after overhearing some upperclassman in study hall talk endlessly about the "Folk" and their incendiary lead singer.
Of course, by that time, Reid had left the band a year earlier to pursue other things, but his voice stuck in my head, like a seed buried beneath the rich soil of my thoughts, possibility and purpose, only to steadily blossom within my soul and become the soundtrack of not only my youth, but my ongoing adulthood and native land known as the North Country.
When I moved to Connecticut for college a couple years later, that album was one of the first things I packed. It comforted me during those days I was alone and thought of my friends and family, some 300 miles back home. Something in his voice conjured fond memories of times and places I dearly missed, but always knew I could come back to within the melodies spilling into my headphones.
That first fall on campus, my girlfriend, who also left the North Country and went to Brown University, came down to visit. I surprised her with tickets to see Reid at the Tribeca Rock Club in Manhattan. Living over an hour away from each other in high school, we always said our love "was only a Strangefolk record away" seeing as I could push play on Weightless in Water and, by the end, would find myself pulling into her driveway.
Wandering into the rock club, we positioned ourselves in the corner with a cold Sierra Nevada (luckily my emerging beard was the only identification the bartender needed) and readied ourselves for Assembly of Dust, the latest project Reid was immersing himself in. Our beloved singer filled the room with soaring harmonies and unrelenting goosebumps, something I knew and hoped would happen when we finally laid eyes on the man behind the voice.
Since then, the 1988 Honda Civic, the record store, the high school sweetheart and the rock club are no more. I myself have moved onward and upward in my own endeavors. But one thing hasn't left, one thing still remains in my stereo, my record collection and is marked on my calendar whenever it comes within vicinity.
That one thing is Reid.
I took other girlfriends to see him perform at Maxwell's in Hoboken or The Stone Church in Newmarket. I took other road trips to see him alongside Peter Rowan at Bonnaroo, in a hockey rink during snoe.down, opening for Ratdog at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel or his usual appearance at the Gathering of the Vibes. I took other paths and made other decisions, but my past, and what made me who I am today, was not forgotten as long as I always remembered to put on one of his records whenever life got a little too hectic to face without the proper music to inspire my vision and defeat the madness biting at my heels.
And now, a decade since I was handed that joint, in that rusty vehicle with busted speakers, I will finally witness him onstage with the band that kicked it all off. With a sold out weekend run of performances, Strangefolk, the original line-up, will be reuniting for three shows, amid such anticipation and hype, one can only compare it to a reunion of another cherished Vermont ensemble a few years ago.
Catching up with him after a recent Assembly of Dust show in Lake Placid, Reid spoke of his tenure with Strangefolk, why 2012 seemed the appropriate time for a reunion and what will be running through his head when he first approaches that microphone at Higher Ground and looks out into the sea of familiar faces, onstage and off.
* * *

Why a reunion? Why now?
You know, it's something we talked about for a while, batted around. We had a couple friends that are promoters who were urging us to do it, beyond just the fans. In particular, Pete Shapiro [Brooklyn Bowl] and Alex Crothers [Higher Ground] who've been longtime friends and supporters, which helped.
A little bit for the fans, a little bit for you personally?
I think that's fair. The other thing is that it's been long enough and whatever misgivings there were, and hard feelings, have dissipated with time, as with the nature of those kinds of things.