There’s a lot to love about Tift Merritt. Her songs are Joni Mitchell by way of Appalachian alt-country; she looks like the product of some sort of heavenly Taylor Swift-meets-Liz Phair catfight. In conversation, she’s generous with her time and considerate with her answers, more so since the start of her monthly radio show, “The Spark,” where she’s interviewed the likes of Nick Hornby and Teddy Thompson.
And yet the cosmos truly seems to have it in for Merritt.
Trouble over me: Tift Merritt swaps her Gravity Lounge gig for a set at the Music Resource Center on Wednesday, April 22, with Shannon Worrell and the MRC’s stellar piano.
There was her “kidnapping” by a taxi driver in London—on the evening she was slated to record her new live album, Buckingham Solo, no less. Her gig at Gravity Lounge was momentarily in limbo when the Downtown Mall venue closed its doors. And, less than five minutes into our phone interview, Merritt simply disappeared from the line.
But Merritt rebounds well. Buckingham Solo is the sort of fan’s record that elevates Merritt’s best attributes—conversational Karen Carpenter vocals, a commanding grip on her guitar’s neck. Starr Hill Presents managed to relocate her April 22 gig to the Music Resource Center. And, moments after we were disconnected, Merritt was back on the line because, when you’re performing live, you learn to roll with the punches.
“I think the nature of playing live is that it’s a really fluid process—it just changes very naturally,” said Merritt. “You add a couple of songs, you put a different venue in, a different crowd in, and give yourself the freedom to make it a unique experience.”
In some ways, a live record might make for a more difficult tour. Buckingham Solo documents a pretty ideal Merritt show, a live set that seems all too tempting to repeat in its entirety. Feedback asked Merritt if she felt pressured to change her setlist after recording Buckingham.
“I think about it like, ‘I don’t want to do a setlist that’s exactly a studio tracklist, either,’” she answered. “You can take a snapshot of live music on one night and it looks one way, and you can take a snapshot of it another night and it looks another way.”
Building The Bridge
Don’t touch that Dial, because Feedback is climbing onto his soapbox. On Saturday, April 25 at 8pm, The Bridge/Progressive Arts Initiative hosts its first annual fundraiser, “The Revel: Anomalies.” The night kicks off with a “fairy welcome” and fake mustaches, hits a peak during an auction of works by some of the city’s finest artists, and finishes with a dance party and music from Wes Swing and Sarah White.
Tickets for the 11pm after-party start at $10 (and $20 gets you an open bar), while full admission for The Revel is $50. Feedback encourages you to take a look at page 35, where C-VILLE’s Erika Howsare previews top-notch work from the auction, and to give where you can.
I wanna live with The Cinnamon Band
There was no shortage of love for Great Lake Swimmers frontman Tony Dekker during his band’s set at Outback Lodge last week; it seemed at times like the only thing the man held longer than his fresh water-clear vocals was the gaze of a gaggle of gals. The high point of the night for Feedback, however, was an opening set by Staunton’s The Cinnamon Band, who passed him a copy of its new EP, Buena Vista, after its set. Watch C-VILLE next week for a review.