With the homespun vocal inflection of Emmylou Harris and the hearty lungs of a soul chanteuse, this Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter ought to be headlining her own shows by now. But we’ll take her any way we can get her—and in this case, it’s opening for Mary Chapin Carpenter in Wilmington, Del., and the Jayhawks in Glenside 13 days later. See You on the Moon, her latest CD, was recorded to 2-inch tape like the folk field recordings of old—not that it takes anything away from Merritt’s poetically honest, full-bodied folk rock. Visit thegrandwilmington.org and keswicktheatre.com. —Hobart Rowland
Boardwalk Empire devotees will find a lot to like about MLT contributor Jim Waltzer’s fourth book and second release in 12 months (his Battle of the Century made our Musts list in August 2011). Here, murder, bigotry and revenge collide in boozy, crime-ridden Atlantic City, circa 1929, after a swollen appendage belonging to a local gangster washes up on the beach. This fast-paced, nuanced thriller warrants a place on the nightstand. —H.R.
By its very name, the Main Line is an area rooted in railroad history. When Haverford’s George Harding moved into a local home that once housed employees of the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, he was intrigued. His intensive research led to this book, with its firsthand accounts of horse shows, skating on the Haverford College pond, the rise and fall of the original Bryn Mawr Hotel, and more, along with numerous photos and sketches. A must-have for local history buffs and railroad enthusiasts alike. —Emily Riley