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Ear Bliss: Dudesmash 2 features new releases

September 12, 2013

On its full-length debut called The Maybe Boys, Toy Soldiers from the City of Brotherly Love, a.k.a. Philadelphia, offer lots of looks and all of them mighty fine.

The Dudesmash music fest is the brainchild of local heroes Deer Tick. The inaugural event was held in June of last year both indoors at the Met Café in Pawtucket and in the club’s large outdoor courtyard. Curated by Deer Tick, it featured a mix of like-minded local and regional acts. Dudesmash 2 happens on Saturday, Sept. 14, and follows a format very much in keeping with the initial event.

The lineup is solid as a rock led by Deer Tick and The Low Anthem in the headlining positions. The local front is once again well represented with acts such as Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons, Last Good Tooth, Smith & Weeden, Ravi Shavi, The Kolour Kult, and Vio/Mire. The regional side of the ledger features T. Hardy Morris of Dead Confederate and Diamond Rugs fame and up-and-coming Philadelphia-based band Toy Soldiers.  Whereas Deer Tick has a new album due out on Sept. 24, a copy was not available at press time for inclusion in this week’s Ear Bliss. New albums from T. Hardy Morris and Toy Soldiers, however, did make the cut and they get the look-see this week. Oh yeah, The Met Café is located in the Hope Artiste Village at 1005 Main St. in Pawtucket. Grounds open at 4 p.m. and music begins at 5 p.m. It’s an all-ages event. Visit for further information.

Toy Soldiers
“The Maybe Boys”
Rocket Science Ventures

On its full-length debut called The Maybe Boys, Toy Soldiers from the City of Brotherly Love, a.k.a. Philadelphia, offer lots of looks and all of them mighty fine. A high-energy five piece, the quick and dirty on Toy Soldiers is roots rock ‘n’ roll. A look at album liner notes and who the band thanks is your first clue as to where these fellows are coming from, musically speaking. Icons from the blues, garage rock, R&B, and rock ‘n’ roll words, namely Charley Patton, Link Wray, Little Richard and Buddy Holly are each thanked. Toy Soldiers expertly channel the spirits of those legends across the 11 songs comprising “The Maybe Boys.” It all begins with front man and lead vocalist Ron Gallo. Gallo, who wrote or co-wrote all but one of the songs, possesses a voice with great range, not to mention some nifty histrionics. The band moves deftly from the100-miles-per-hour rock and roll atomic bomb of leadoff track “Tell the Teller” with its swirling organ and relentless guitars to the Crescent City rhythms engulfing both “Been Here All My Days” and “This Old Town” to the barroom-styled honky tonk of “Heart in a Mousetrap” to the rockabilly fun of “Red Dress” to the heart-stopping soul of “Maybe.” “The Maybe Boys” comes at the listener hard and with gusto to spare and by album’s end, just may leave you breathless. This is clearly a band a band to keep an eye on. Visit

T. Hardy Morris
“Audition Tapes”
Dangerbird Records

Up until this solo debut, T. Hardy Morris was best known for his work in the bands Diamond Rugs (which he founded) and most prominently Southern-based psych-rock band Dead Confederate. On “Audition Tapes,” Morris takes a step back from the oft-times frantic and roughhewn nature of his prior work for a record on which the emphasis is more on the singer and the songs. Moving between cool psych-spiked rockers (“Disaster Proof”), laid back numbers a little bit country (leadoff track “Luck”), and stripped bare confessionals (“Hardstuff,” “Quit Diggin,’” and the title track), there’s a dreamy quality to the voice of Morris and his songs and music. The accompanying press release says Morris was abundantly inspired, oftentimes invoking the spirits of Elliot Smith, Alex Chilton or fellow Georgian Vic Chesnutt. Being a fan of all of those sadly departed, but immensely talented tunesmiths, Morris with Audition Tapes takes a solid first step on the road to entry in that club. Visit

Is trekking to Pawtucket for Dudesmash 2 maybe not your cup of tea? Well, closer to home, the Ocean Mist (895 Matunuck Beach Road, Matunuck) offers up a hoedown of its own Saturday. It’ll be the second annual Country Bluegrass BBQ Festival. Festivities get going at 3 p.m. with Lizzy James & the Greystone Rail. Also performing are the Mary McGuire Band, Brian McKenzie, Girls Guns & Glory, and Hot Day at the Zoo. 
The Commence Fence Music Series kicks off its 21st season on Saturday with North Carolina-based singer - songwriter Malcolm Holcombe. An incredible picker on the guitar who possesses a nicotine-riddled howl for a voice, Holcombe’s songs move between bewitching and heart breaking. The Common Fence Point Community Hall is located at 933 Anthony Road in Portsmouth. Show time is 8 p.m.
A terrific twin bill happens at The Met Café (1005 Main St., Pawtucket) on Wednesday, Sept. 18, featuring two acts with Califone and Richard Buckner each touring behind brand new albums. Richard Buckner’s new album is called “Surround” (Merge Records). Buckner recorded the album by his lonesome playing everything. It is a heavy, post-Americana soundscape of songs and music which on first listen, maintains the intensity of past works. In the headlining role is Chicago-based avant-gardists Califone, also with a new release titled “Stitches” (Dead Oceans Records). It is the first album the band has recorded outside of its home base. Written and recorded in Southern California, Arizona, and Texas, frontman Tim Rutili said, “Those dry landscapes and beaches and hills and shopping malls all made it into the music.” Find out for yourselves. Doors are 8 p.m. and music begins at 9 p.m.
Dan Ferguson is a freelance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on WRIU-FM 90.3.


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