When lead vocalist Tammy Laforest’s first album, Copper, came out last year, she was a front woman without a band. Her album, which incorporates grand string arrangements, singer-songwriter elements and big guitars, seamlessly presents a variety of styles that didn’t need just any band – it needed the right band.
George Dussault, founder of Galilee Productions, produced Copper and, over the years, has worked with the performers who would come to form The Dust Ruffles. Tammy, drummer Al Diaz, guitarist Bobby Dumont and bass player Sharlene De Nardo are all tested veterans of the Providence scene. Al and Bobby make up half of Providence’s Pistol Shot Gypsy – who recently opened for Ace “The Spaceman” Frehley at Lupo’s this September – and Sharlene, with Bobby again, is in SEXCoffee.
“I was releasing an album but I didn’t have a band for the CD release party,” Tammy says. “George Dussault suggested they join me for that party.”
As Bobby tells it, George approached him and Sharlene (Tammy and Al had already been playing together sporadically for months) with an opportunity to back the Copper release show. “We did our homework, but very quickly it really gelled. The band got tight and here we are,” Bobby says.
I was familiar with The Dust Ruffles before seeing them perform at Dusk on Harris Avenue in August – they’re one of those bands that always pops up on my Facebook feed. But I did my homework leading up to seeing them live, gobbling up Copper and their crazy-catchy pop-rock single, “Romeo.” “Romeo” gives the best hint as to what to expect from seeing the band live, but even that doesn’t do it justice. The Dust Ruffles can wail – plain and simple.
First off, Tammy’s voice is big. Like, rock star big. It’s the kind of voice that deserves to be belting out of a large wall of speakers in an arena – jumbotron broadcasting the sight of her and The Dust Ruffles back to the cheap seats – but this was Dusk and there were moments when I thought the roof might come off. Not what one would expect when Tammy steps up to the mic with an acoustic guitar. Pile on top of that a band with chops for days and amazing four-part vocal harmonies; what I’m trying to say is that you should probably go see this band. Like, yesterday. Or if yesterday doesn’t work for you then maybe on October 30 at Dusk.
Tammy, it turns out, is a big fan of costumes. Case in point: that time she showed up for a gig in Newport dressed as Wednesday Addams. “What’s the point of being in [a band] if you can’t dress up on stage?” she offers as a hypothetical.
Al completed the picture. “It was a metal show, and we’re not metal at all. We were playing last so I figured everyone would leave but everybody stayed.”
Apparently people flipped when they performed “Flowers,” a bubble gum flavored bit of old school pop off of Copper that is by far the least metal song in the band’s repertoire.
What costumes The Dust Ruffles have in store for their Halloween show has yet to be determined. There were brief talks of a Star Wars theme but someone shot that down quickly. Tammy talked about tricking the audience into a pop-country show, or having a one-man show about Vlad the Impaler figure somehow into the evening, but at the time it was still too far out to get any specifics.
What I can tell you for sure is that no matter what they have planned, The Dust Ruffles are a must if you’re heading out to catch a show. They’ve got an album’s worth of material ready and waiting for funding and a tour planned to Nashville and back after the New Year. Without a doubt, this is a band you’ll want to keep your ears on in 2016.