Snowdome Studios Presents Special Showcase: Ruby on the Vine and the Swales at Tierney's This Saturday, March 26

A note from Dave Cushing: It’s been a busy year at Snowdome Studios and a number of album projects have come to fruition, including "Stranger Things" by The Swales and "Along King’s Highway" by Ruby On The Vine, both based in Montclair. The two bands will be playing highlights from their CDs at Tierney’s Tavern on Saturday March 26th. Please consider coming out to support local music! Everyone attending receives "Snowdome Studios Presents - Vol. 1," a CD featuring 11 fresh tracks by the Swales, Ruby On The Vine, Angels Garage, The Skels, Rich Deans, Boz Metzdorf, and Dave Kleiner. Music starts at 9. Hoping to see you there.

Photo: Dave Cushing and Scott Anthony at work on the Swales CD at Snowdome Studios.

Please read more about these two bands below:

Snowdome Studios Presents Ruby on the Vine and The Swales at Tierney's, Saturday March 26

Two local bands, Ruby on the Vine and The Swales, will headline “Snowdome Studios Presents,” this Saturday, March 26 at 9 p.m. at Tierney’s Tavern. It’s a special live showcase of bands that have recorded at Snowdome Studios in Montclair.

Both bands have new CDs out or soon to come out, featuring smart, thoughtful songs that mine the rich tradition of classic ’60s rock and pop for rocking riffs, seductive hooks, and great layered sounds.

And both bands are fronted by veteran musicians with long rock ‘n’ roll resumes, who put down their instruments for a couple of years to have families, but found themselves drawn back into writing songs and performing.

As Dave Cushing, the master of dials and switches at Snowdome points out, both bands feature “serious lyricists who plumb the depths of contemporary New Jersey suburban adult life and themes.”

The soon-to-be-released CD, Along Kings Highway, finds Ruby on the Vine singer/songwriter Myrna Marcarian restless and searching. The CD was inspired by an eye-opening trip back to rediscover her roots in Ohio, where she first staked her claim to fame in the early 1980s, trading romantic barbs as half the vocal team and keyboardist for indie rock favorites, Human Switchboard.

But from the opening riff of “Walking on Water” with its soaring lines and swirling effects, to the snaking guitar line and menacing feel of “Along Kings Highway,” it’s clear Marcarian is on a journey, trying to balance being an artist with some of the more mundane, sometimes disappointing aspects of everyday life.

While her 2004 CD, This World of Days, with the gloriously beautiful harmonies in songs like “You Belong to Me,” mined a more domestic vein, this CD’s filled with questions and travel metaphors as she tries making sense of a life beset by mixed messages, divergent paths, and unpredictable setbacks.

There are exceptions—the trippily pretty “Presby Gardens,” and the country-tinged “Bittersweet,”—although even there the refrain is “I can’t lose or win…” but in general, the music chugs and crackles and pulses, especially when the band rocks out, as on “A Little Bit of Luck.”

“In terms of music, a lot of this CD was born out of frustration and reflection and coming full circle,” Marcarian says. “I really feel like I’m right back at the beginning.”

Though rock ‘n’ roll called her back, she’s clearly still trying to figure out where she’s going with it. But listeners who hitch along with her on this CD are guaranteed a great ride.

On the Swales new CD, Stranger Things, singer/songwriter Bob Carr comes off as kinder and gentler—just as thoughtful, a little world-weary, but still retaining a self-deprecating sense of humor. The CD is full of stubbornly ingratiating lines that get into your head, go round and round and don’t want to leave.

Carr’s searching for some answers, too, and lets you into his mind. In “Confusion’s Anthem,” he’s got questions large and small. “I don’t know what it is about me/ Am I naïve, is there a book that I can read/ To help me figure out these things,” he sings on one of the oddest, but easy-to-identify-with choruses heard in a while.

In a world where “everything’s gone bust” and “love don’t need to rust”—the loping “Pocket Full of Hole”—he’s wistful and wishful, asking “Could it be the start of you and me?”

The CD is full of real vignettes of everyday life with all its dreams recast and scaling back—from “Stranger Things,” to “Little Fundraiser.” Carr’s got an easy, conversational style as a lyricist that makes the songs ring true, and the band can serve them up with energy and flesh them out with just the right sounds.

On one of the best songs, the shimmering, evocative ’60s pop declaration of independence, “Napoleonette,” he finally gets mad enough to read the riot act to a woman who’s “five foot none and all of it emperor”—“When I get home things are gonna be different/ No more bowing down / To the smallest girl in town / You wait and see,” he sings. But it’s more funny and pathetic than it is angry—as if he’s trying to convince himself of what he’s saying. And after listening to the rest of the CD, you kind of get the feeling he doesn’t stand a chance anyway.

While Ruby on the Vine and the Swales have lived a little and carry some battle scars, listeners will discover an intelligence and honesty in the music of both bands that they can relate—and even dance—to.

Everyone who attends the Tierney’s show will receive a Snowdome Sampler CD, Snowdome Studios Presents - Vol. 1. Besides featuring Ruby and the Swales, the CD also includes music by Angels Garage, The Skels, Rich Deans, Dave Kleiner, and Boz Metzdorf—11 tracks in all.

Howler, a surf punk band from Minneapolis, will open the show.

Tierney’s is located at 136-138 Valley Road in Montclair. The show starts at 9 p.m. The cover charge is $10.

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