I’ll be honest with you. Half the reason I went down to Newport to hear Tift Merritt perform was so I’d have an excuse to wear my fancy new western wear shirt out in public. There aren’t a lot of places around here where I’d be comfortable wearing such a thing. The Southgate House is pretty much it. Of course, the other factor influencing my decision to go down was the fact that Tift Merritt’s Another Country is one of my favorite albums of the year. It’s a great recording all the way through and has some beautiful cover art. I highly recommend it.
But anyway, I thought I timed things so I’d miss the opening act, but that didn’t work out. I showed up just a few minutes after Matthew Ryan and his band took the stage. I remember he got some good press when May Day was released in 1997, but I never bothered buying it or any of his other studio albums. I didn’t even know he was still around. My loss, though, as I was impressed with his performance. I would’ve bought a recording from him, but he and his band left the venue before I had a chance to get down to the merch table. I’ll definitely add him to my list.
Tift Merritt came on after the break and she put on a great show. She played 9 of the 11 songs off Another Country. It’s the only one of her records I own, so I was happy that I recognized a lot of the setlist. I found that I liked the songs I didn’t know at least as much as the songs I did. I was particularly impressed with “Supposed to Make You Happy” off Bramble Rose (2002) and “Good Hearted Man” from Tambourine (2004). I’ve been trying to cut back on new music purchases lately, but she’s not making it easy for me.
I was also very impressed with the song that ended the show. It was sung in French, but it wasn’t “Mille Tendresses” from Another Country. It was a completely different song. Tift translated the lyrics for us before she sang and it was such a sweet, sad song. I’d really like to track it down.
As always, here’s the setlist:
Main set: Morning Is My Destination/Something to Me/Stray Paper/I Know What I’m Looking For Now/Another Country/Hopes Too High/Supposed to Make You Happy/Keep You Happy/My Heart Is Free/Broken/Tender Branch/Late Night Pilgrim/When I Cross Over
Encore: Good Hearted Man (solo)/Laid a Highway/unknown French song
And I think I’ll close out with something of a side note. I was pretty happy with my evening until I made it back out to my car and found that I had a parking ticket. I’ve been parking on the exact same street since the late 90s and I’d never gotten a ticket before. The parking meters used to stop at 6:00, but now they run until midnight. Those bastards running Newport are sneaky. I’ll be sure to feed the meters when I go back down for next month’s Old 97s show.