Introducing The Wandering Rocks
• Anyone who knows Karl Mullen knows that he's never been quiet -- musically speaking -- for long.
He galvanized the punk scene here as an Irish immigrant fronting Carsickness in the '70s, before easing back on the electricity with Ploughman's Lunch and his solo work in the '90s and beyond.
In 2004, however, he left Pittsburgh and his job as creative director for Club Cafe for a position at the new World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.
During that time, he did some soundtrack work for dance companies, but in terms of writing and performing, he says, "It was too intense at the venue, because I was working every night till 2 or 3 in the morning, and after the shows, I was out with the bands, and it was seven nights a week."
He left there two years ago and is now based in Williamstown, Mass., where he lives in an old farmhouse with a barn where he works on his paintings.
"I think I was here a week or two, and someone invited me to a party," he says, "I sang songs with these strangers, and they were like, 'Wow, that sounds good. Let's do it again.' Before you know it, having not played for quite a few years, a band emerged out of this thing."
The five-piece band is The Wandering Rocks, which just released a debut album and will play Club Cafe Friday. Mr. Mullen, in his most pastoral folk mode, is joined by three female singer-players (Sarah McNair, Jackie Sedlock, Cassandra Cleghorn) and bassist Jason McNair, of the alt-rock band The Mommyheads.
"It's pastoral up here, it's bucolic," he says. "There's a lot of snow in the winter, but in the spring and summer, everyone is outdoors, and it's a small town of like 4,000 people, and 2,000 are college kids that come and go. A lot of stuff goes on at people's homes and people's gardens and backyards and sing-songs and people with guitars and fiddles and cookouts and barbecues. It's great."
The album was recorded live in a barn, with an audience, and produced by a friend, David Chernis of the Damnwells, who lives in Woodstock.
"He said, 'The close voices that you're doing, just stick some mics up there and play the songs,' and we kept it kind of like that. I guess I always liked that DIY thing, but I like it even more these days where it's not a highly processed record. It's mostly live, first takes. If you came to see us in the kitchen, that's what you'd hear."
Mark Dignam opens the show at 7 p.m. Admission is $8; www.clubcafelive.com.
Shades of 'Violet'
• Cait Cuneo, who performed with the soul group Black Coffee, has ventured off for her solo debut, an EP called "Violet," which, as her website states, "stands for strength, women empowerment, heart, light, guidance and individuality."
Ms. Cuneo attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston and was chosen for the Berklee "P-Funk All-Stars."
After that, "Cait toured with soul group Black Coffee the past two years through the Northeast," says her brother and manager, Vince. "They played with acts such as Lee Fields, Betty LaVette, Gregg Allman, and Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears."
Ms. Cuneo is a smooth and self-assured R&B singer who incorporates element of hip-hop and jazz on five slickly produced songs.
"These words and melodies are my own," she says in a statement. "I hope you are accepting of them, because I am opening up my whole world, heart and mind to you. Working towards this opportunity and dream is what I live and aspire for. I am my sound."
She plays a release show at the Rex Theater, South Side, 9 p.m. Friday. Admission is $10 advance; $12 day of show. For details on her go to www.caitcuneo.com.
Zombo's Snow Ball
• Zombo, a character who keeps Lawrenceville hopping, presents The Snow Ball, an event that features 10 bands plus acoustic acts and DJs using both floors of Club Cattivo.
Among the bands will be The Harlan Twins, Chet Vincent & The Big Bend, Carney Stomp, Faithful Sinners, Thunder Vest and Vertigo-go.
It begins at 6 p.m. Saturday with acoustic acts on the first floor and DJs in the basement providing a laid-back cocktail/dinner atmosphere. The bands start at 8 p.m. and run five on each floor. The cover is $10.
Club Cattivo is at 146 44th St., Lawrenceville. Go to www.zomboworld.com.