Posts Tagged With: Tift Merritt

Chris Stamey ties it all together

StameyLSBChris Stamey has always been one of those six-degrees-of-separation types in North Carolina, where it seems like he’s produced, mixed, worked and/or played with just about everyone in the state over the past 30-plus years. He made his initial reputation in the early ’80s with the dB’s (a band that has always had Beatles-like stature in my personal college-radio cosmos) before going on to a long and well-respected career in some of the artier circles of New York new-wave art-pop.

Then he came back home to North Carolina in the early ’90s, setting up shop in Chapel Hill as a studio guru and working with notable area acts including Tift Merritt, Megafaun and, yes, Whiskeytown. Stamey produced numerous Whiskeytown recordings back in the day, including the “lost” album Forever Valentine. He also worked on the sonic overhaul of the 1998 reissue of Faithless Street and produced Caitlin Cary’s post-Whiskeytown solo albums.

Stamey has spent a lot more time producing other folks’ albums than putting out his own music for the last decade, although he did find time for the first original-lineup dB’s album in 30 years last year. But he just released his first solo album since 2005, the very fine Lovesick Blues. For more on that, go here for links to a new interview and a 2004-vintage feature about Stamey’s doings.

And just to tie all this together, this poster was done by Caitlin Cary’s husband.

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More from Ryan Adams’ Triangle peer group: Tift Merritt

Continuing our examination of the musical ecosystem from whence Ryan Adams came, we have Tift Merrittone of the more prominent artists to emerge from the Triangle’s alternative-country universe in Whiskeytown’s wake. I first started seeing Tift on local stages in 1998, with her band The Carbines, and as with Ryan it was obvious that she was something special. Ryan thought so, too. After she opened some shows for him in 2000, Ryan rhapsodized about her in an online posting that began, “Tift Merritt makes me want to get right with God.”

Tift has had a fine career despite never quite breaking through commercially, although she’s come tantalizingly close a couple of times (most notably a best-country-album Grammy nomination in 2004, still her mainstream high-water mark). And she’s always doing interesting work and cool projects, which is one reason I’ve probably had more memorable interview experiences with her than anyone else. Over the years, I’ve interviewed Tift:

— On a TWA flight bound for the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
— At the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, while standing in front of a painting by Cy Twombly.
— In a cafe in New York City’s West Village.
— In a coffeehouse in Boulder, Colo., during a radio convention.

And over the phone, too, of course. Alas, that’s what I had to settle for this go-round. Tift has a new album coming out in Rocktober and she’s playing in Carrboro tonight. You’ll find a new interview from Friday’s paper as well as some back verbiage here. And speaking of stuff from my back pages, here’s a No Depression magazine feature I did on her way back in 2000, plus a review of her last album.

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