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-- Sarah Godfrey
After 10 years of unexpected success with a fictional character, the electrifying singer-songwriter known as Mary Prankster has called it quits. Friday night's performance at a sold-out Jammin' Java was one of just a small number of farewell shows the hilariously profane Prankster is to do before retiring from the stage. The Baltimore native recently relocated to New York to pursue other interests.
The verbally boisterous crowd let their heroine know she will be missed, as the words "We love you!" were shouted as often as requests for favorite songs. Alone on stage with an acoustic guitar, garbed in a festive red pantsuit with a dipping-to-the-navel neckline as daring as some of her lyrics, Prankster ripped through two sets of fast-strummed rock-and-roll that, like the constantly smiling performer, never got tired.
"Stars," "Lemonade," "Brave New Baby," "La Resistance," "Blue Skies Over Dundalk," "Student Loan" and "Irresponsible Woman" were typical of Prankster's sharp-edged, cynical and sarcastic songs about life and love that also were pointedly politically charged as well as humorously politically incorrect. The melodies were built around smoothly constructed, ridiculously mnemonic chord progressions that made the songs memorable despite the breathless pace at which she performed them.
Prankster saved the crowd-pleasers for last, including a few songs with titles we can't print, and rarely has there been a moment at Jammin' Java as transgressive as when what seemed to be the entire audience spontaneously sang along to the second set's closing song involving a part of female anatomy and whiskey.
The third encore was the rarely performed "Love You Better," a sweet -- no kidding -- love song she issued softly and heartfelt, like the last good-night kiss at the door. Like all good kisses, it only left one wanting more.
And with that, Mary Prankster was gone.
-- Buzz McClain