Alt-country casts a wide net, pitches a large tent, or whatever personification you're fond of. Therein lies its beauty, or, for detractors, the rub. Those strong of leg and wallet can experience its breadth thanks to an alt-country weekend of sorts.
Trailer Bride kicks things off with Thursday's Local 506 show (see page 45). On Friday evening, Yep Roc artist Claire Holley (pictured) brings her vividly detailed, folk- and blues-leaning songs (not unlike those of fellow Mississippi native Steve Forbert) to the Bynum General Store. Saturday afternoon's ClydeFest in Chatham County near Pittsboro pairs folk art with music; among the bands on the bill are the Brown Mountain Lights and Glory Fountain, the latter earning their alt-country badge courtesy of gorgeous Townes Van Zandt covers.
After the fest, you can head to the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh for a show sponsored by No Depression, the magazine that put the term "alternative country" first on their cover and then on the musical map. The museum concert features a pair of local acts in Tift Merritt & the Carbines and, filling in for Alejandro Escovedo, Caitlin Cary. (Escovedo, the No Depression -anointed Artist of the Decade for the '90s, had to cancel due to illness.) Closing things out on Sunday at the Lincoln Theater is Slobberbone, with Raleigh-based guitar-anthem heroes Patty Hurst Shifter opening. The guys in Slobberbone have Texas 2003 on their driver's licenses and, occasionally, in their music, but Soul Asylum 1988 in their hearts. Brent Best writes smart rock songs that he and the band deliver with rugged aplomb and plenty of plum hooks. That alone makes them a satisfying "alt" to most music in this country.