The concept of a “staycation” isn’t exactly unknown in Rhode Island, a state where it’s quite common to have a summer beach house within a half-hour drive (OK, without summer traffic) of their home. When we want to embrace the summer beach town spirit, we head to Matunuck with its beach bars, water slides, and drive-in movie nights. And when we need to add to the seaside vibes with some live music, there’s nowhere we’d rather be on a summer afternoon than Matunuck’s Ocean Mist.
No cover and $3 ‘Gansett tall boys made Sunday afternoon at the Ocean Mist the bargain of the weekend, as we rocked to the Mallett Brothers Band, Maine exports who filled the room with high-energy country-to-rock originals for two-plus hours. The Mist’s setup is pretty perfect for days like this: the elevated stage is fronted by a spacious dance floor, while the big bar and tables toward the back lets you enjoy the music at a more conversation-friendly volume. Windows let in the sea breeze, and anytime you need a break it’s just a matter of stepping outside onto the oceanfront deck, where a satellite tiki bar awaits. A 95-plus summer day saw more than one patron heading down for a dip into the Atlantic between sets.
If the cheap beers are one pleasant surprise, what comes out of the Ocean Mist’s kitchens is another: the food here is excellent, from sticky ribs to gourmet pizzas that go way beyond bar-food expectations, until you remember that a big part of their business is serving up three meals daily even when the concert stage is vacant.
The Ocean Mist has graced the South County shoreline since 1988 and, with a hard-won plan to protect the property with a new seawall now in place, hopefully will be entertaining Rhode Islanders and Ocean State visitors for years to come. The Ocean Mist is the leading concert venue in southern Rhode Island, hosting 20 to 30 headlining acts like Roomful of Blues, Dr. John, and the Skatalites annually along with countless smaller acts (come Sept. 9 to keep the spirit of summer alive with surf-rock legend Dick Dale). For music by the beach, the Ocean Mist is one of the best venues we’ve been to anywhere, a true Rhode Island treasure!
(All photos © Bob Curley)