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Tift Merritt
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Tuesday 24th October 2017

St Barnabas Church, Hart St, Jericho, Oxford OX2 6BG

Doors 7.30 p.m.  
Tickets £16 in advance £18 on the night
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Due to sound check restriction the door time indicates the earliest opportunity we can give access to the venue. Live music will start 20-30 minutes after the door open time.
As 2015 began, I had somehow been on the road for the fastest, longest two years of my life. I had kicked the tires hard touring in support of my album ‘Traveling Alone’. I had recorded and toured with classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein. My friend Andrew Bird asked me to be in his old time band the Hands of Glory, so I pretended I was a member of the Carter family on guitar, and I watched him like a hawk to make sure he felt fully free; singing harmony with Andrew is not unlike flying. Suddenly, I was turning 40, getting divorced, and scared out of my mind. So I decided to take a year off the road to see what would happen to me if I just stopped touring... On a friend’s ranch in Marfa, Texas, in the middle of the high plains without a car headlight in sight, I did just that, and when I did, I started to do what I always do: the humble work of marking life by writing.
On the ranch, I wrote about the long straight roads in west Texas: the ones that make sense, that make you feel like what is behind you is indeed behind you and that good things are up ahead. 'Wait For Me' is a wish that life would run like that. Watching the ranch hands keep their daily routine, I wrote about keeping my own head down, pressing on, and the way that love persists and pushes forward no matter what happens, 'Love Soldiers On.’ I watched birds learning to fly and bathe in the driveway dust at dusk in the front yard and wrote ‘Icarus' about what they taught me. In my California cabin, I wrote every morning and hiked every afternoon, up the mountains to the East and along the rocky coast, farther than I had ever hiked, one exhausted foot after the other. 'Heartache is an Uphill Climb' began in the red mud on one particularly impossible incline. Once, having hiked farther than I realized, dark fell on me. The white lilies in a meadow began to glow like evening dresses as the moon rose in the changing light. 'Proclamation Bones' is a tribute to that unexpected beauty, to nature’s secret nightlife. On return to NYC with Raymond Carver’s All of Us: The Collected Poems in hand, his poem 'My Boat' leapt up like lightning; it wanted to be sung. In a hungover moment of joy coming out of a subway, 'Something Came Over Me' seeded itself. And the heavy sadness of memory washing over me as I looked out at the East River became 'Eastern Light'.
And life did continue. In Fall, my friend MC Taylor asked me to be a part of his new Hiss Golden Messenger album. About the same time, to my delight and surprise, I realized my boyfriend and I were expecting a child. I performed with HGM just as I began to show; MC and his band talked on and on about how North Carolina was a place you could actually raise a child AND be a musician. My roots and my friends pulled. In an airport, I bumped into my friend Sam Beam. He said I could send him my songs, and when I did and he said, "I can tell you’ve been working hard on your writing,” I was filled with the gratefulness, which comes from being heard. I couldn’t believe he wanted in on the record making party, along with my favourite musicians, for four days because that was what I could afford.
One long night before leaving for the studio, I stared at the ceiling of my NYC apartment. The leaves, the streetlights, and the sirens drew a shadow vine. I cried for dreams that were gone, and I gathered myself for those to come. I recorded in Los Angeles six months pregnant and then set off for home to figure out what a onesie was. I showed up back in my hometown knocked about a little by the world thinking maybe my life was a country song, but maybe it was a really good country song.