The Nashville Ramblers, a.k.a. The Black Diamonds were definitely one of the finest groups to ever come out of San Diego. I guess New York and Berkeley/San Francisco can also lay claim to the group as they logged time in both those cities too.
Carl Rusk is a naturally talented musician and over the years it's been a thrill to watch him grow and blossom. Though he'd been in the Hedgehogs (with Ron Silva, Ray Brandes and Paul Carsola) and some side project/party bands, his first band as a leader and songwriter was The Mystery Machine in 1983. They had a great '66 garage folk-rock sound and some excellent material, but unfortunately they lasted for less than a year and only one song was ever released (on one of the Battle of the Garages comps).
When Carl teamed up with Ron Silva and Tom Ward as the Ramblers he found an ideal vehicle for his music. Carl and Ron's voices blend together perfectly on the Beatles and Everly Brother-style harmonies that have always been a big part of their sound, and they are both strong lead singers as well. Meanwhile Tom is the ultimate supporting player: a fine bass player who can add a third voice whenever needed.
With the formation of the Ramblers Carl really began to hit his stride as a songwriter, as demonstrated by songs like" The Trains", which to me is a modern day classic. Their live shows are always fantastic. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen them do a bad show.
For one reason or another the Ramblers didn't get around to making an album back in the late '80s when they could have made the most impact. Live, they would blow people away consistently, and they could have done the same thing on record with Carl's original songs and found a much wider audience in the process. They were one of the few bands from the '60s scene that could've actually broken out and found real commercial success. Instead, they stayed within the scene, and for that reason they remain a well-kept secret.
Mike Stax, Editor, Ugly Things Magazine