Rock and roll with an Ocean State connection in the band Diamond Rugs and an album delivering a healthy dose of funky instrumental soul are in the Ear Bliss spotlight this week. Letâs get to it.
As time moves on, one gets the feeling Deer Tick front man John McCauley is a restless type of sorts, at least when it comes to making music. Whereas his bread and butter band Deer Tick continues to stay strong and make records and tour, the Ocean State native also seems to like the side projects for the Deer Tick downtime. Last year there was Middle Brother comprised of McCauley along with members of roots bands Dawes and Delta Spirit joining forces to release an excellent, Americana-leaning album heavy on the harmonies and Laurel Canyon-styled folk rock. This yearâs McCauley side project is Diamond Rugs, an indie super group whose self-titled debut just hit stores late in April. Produced by Adam Landry and Justin Collins who helmed the Middle Brother album, as well as Deer Tickâs last album Divine Providence, Diamond Rugs features McCauleyâs DT bandmate Robbie Crowell along Ian Saint Peâ of garage rockers Black Lips, Steve Berlin from Los Lobos, Hardy Morris of Dead Confederate, and another Ocean Stater in Bryan Dufresne from Providence rockers Six Finger Satellite. McCauley carries the bulk of the songs with his distinct wail. The result is a record that is plenty loose and raucous right out of the gates with as much garage spirit as rock & roll with forays into swamp rock and twang. Thereâs a lot to like about this album and for what hereâs betting is a one-off side project, Diamond Rugs delivers the goods in stellar bar band fashion. Visit www.partisanrecords.com.
The closest Diamond Rugs gets to Rhode Island is a free afternoon show at Central Park in New York City on Sunday, June 24. Itâs part of the annual Summerstage series. Also on the bill is Alabama Shakes and Robert Ellis. Visit www.summerstage.org.
What the World Needs Now
Following in the steps of such 1960s soul instrumental luminaries as Booker T. & the MGs and The Mar-Keys and featuring members of fast-rising retro ensemble Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings comes the Brooklyn-based trio Sugarman 3. Itâs been a decade since the bandâs last longplayer and with What the World Needs Now (and yes, the title track of the album is a funkified spin on the Burt Bacharach smash hit), Sugarman 3, along with some special guests from The Dap Kings, deliver 11 hip-shaking instrumentals given the soul deep treatment. Organ, sax, and throbbing backline, Sugarman 3 mixes plenty of party-starter originals with some tasty covers including a version of The Standellsâ âDirty Waterâ which just may make you do a double take. In all, it creates an irresistible vibe. Visit www.daptonerecords.com.
Ocean State stalwart Mark Cutler and his Tiny String Band invade the Greenwich Hotel at 162 Main Street in East Greenwich on Friday night. Music begins at 9.
With summer nearly here, Java Madness in Wakefield (134 Salt Pond Road) begins a Friday evening music series to go with its Saturday and Sunday offerings. This Friday features the jug-band stylings on The K.C. Moaners from 7 to 9 p.m. That same evening, Fungus Amungus brings its soulful jam/funk to The Ocean Mist (895 Matunuck Beach Road, Matunuck) starting at 9.
On Saturday, The Met CafĂ© in Pawtucket presents music in the out of doors for the first time, specifically the large courtyard of the Hope Artiste Village where the club is located. The inaugural âUnder the Starsâ event will feature Ocean State heroes Deer Tick in the headlining position with friends including Alec K Redfearn and the Eyesores, Doomsday Student, Turbo Fruits, Diamond Doves, Knife Party, Liz Isenberg, Boo City, Atlantic Thrills, Ravi Shavi, Still Suit, and The Quahogs. Doors are at 4 p.m. and music starts at 5.
Another place to be on Saturday is Diamond Hill Park in Cumberland (Route 114) for the Blackstone River Theater Summer Solstice Festival featuring Aoife Clancy, Fellswater, Archie Fisher, The Forge, The Gnomes, Matt & Shannon Heaton, Kieran Jordan & Laurel Martin, NĂĂR, Robbie OâConnell, Pendragon, RUNA, and more. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday afternoon finds The Ten Rod Ramblers playing the tunes at The Oak Hill Tavern (565 Tower Hill Road, North Kingstown) beginning at 4 p.m. Later in the evening, thereâs a terrific twin bill at Local 121 in downtown Providence (121 Washington Street) featuring New York-based roots rockers These United States on the road touring behind a brand new self-titled album in the headliner position along with Providence-based band The Silks. Music begins at 10 p.m.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 to 9 p.m. on WRIU-FM 90.3.)