Acoustic duos are great, yes, but great meaty bands are better. Such was the case with Strangefolk, a group whose intricate and unusual composition style incorporates everything you ever wanted from a Vermont band: bluegrass, blues, rock and, of course, folk.
Formed by Jon Trafton and Reid Genauer at the University of Vermont in Burlington 10 years ago, Strangefolk's music soon required more personnel. A few extra players were added, and the band began to tour. For six years they crisscrossed the country, earning a national reputation as one of the most coordinated, hardest working bands on the jam circuit. And then Genauer quit.
Drifting off to explore his solo side, Genauer left the band in an awkward position. As a founding member, the guitarist was integral to Strangefolk's sound, and things just wouldn't be the same without him. Yet instead of hanging it up, remaining members Trafton, bassist and vocalist Erik Glockler and drummer Luke Smith decided not only to replace Genauer but to also add keyboards into the mix.
Enter keyboardist Scott Shdeed and vocalist/guitarist Patchen Montgomery. The essentially new band tried out its wobbly legs by touring themselves out, playing 77 shows in eight months. The crowds, full of rubbernecking jam fans at first, soon became devoted. By the end of the tour, the five-man version of Strangefolk -- and its spontaneous-only jam structure, three-part harmonies and elegant, powerful guitar solos -- had once again carved a comfortable niche.
Strangefolk performs Saturday at the Music Hall. Call 800/965-4827 for tickets. The all-ages show costs $10.