"This is Roberta," Willis Alan Ramsey said, referring to his shapely acoustic guitar. "I usually bring her sister, Rosalie, but she wasn't feeling too well." Rosalie turned out to be the only thing Ramsey left behind in Texas (except maybe his wife) when he came to town for his annual visit to the Cellar Door where he will also play tonight.

Somewhere in his suitcase, he found room for the soft, wry wit that speaks of Texas women with "cotton candy hair" and old dogs that run away in the night. In his back pocket, he packed several familiar songs which he brought out in a flourish of folksy trills and bluesy refrains. And he didn't forget his band of lyric sidekicks -- a saucy sandman and two mushy muskrats -- which are known to all his fans.

Most of all, he brought along Texas -- not the state, but the state of mind. Whether slowly drawling out a favorite story, or hanging his head back and moaning a soulful ballad, or singing a country song with his tongue so far back in his check that he was almost choking on it, Willis Alan Ramsey was like a warm Texas breeze in a cold Washington night.