Tift Merritt and the Carbines, Opal Divine's Freehouse, 12:05 a.m.
A day earlier, I'd been crowded down front at the Austin Music Hall when a miniature blonde asked to bum a smoke. She introduced herself: Tift Merritt, down from Raleigh to support her hometown pals in Whiskeytown. At Opal's tonight, Merritt is as tiny as I remembered--the guitar over her shoulder is at least as big as she is.
But her voice is bigger. She's wedged with her band, the Carbines, at one end of the bar's open front porch, but even the traffic humming by a few feet away can't mask her swooping cry. The songs are average at best, but Merritt's pipes and charm are rare. If we're trading country futures, you can keep your Shelby Lynne. (Smith-Lindall)
Sunday, March 19
Alejandro Escovedo, Continental Club, 1:00 a.m.
The saggy, baggy guy in the rumpled suit standing a few feet behind me looks familiar. When Peter Bruntnell's not sucking his drink through a straw, he's listening intently as Alejandro Escovedo and friends bring the weekend to a close.