FolkWorld #73 11/2020

Mean Mary

A Live Performance With No Applause

Mean Mary

Artist Video Mean Mary @ FROG

Alone is quite literally Mean Mary alone. The ten original songs, recorded in her home studio in Nashville, are stripped down to a minimal production of just her voice and an instrument. Leaving her other instruments aside, Mary opts for a lone guitar, a banjo, or a banjitar (a combination of the two). Her straightforward yet dramatic arrangements highlight the personal songwriting and natural depth of her voice. Since Mary often tours as a solo artist, she describes this album as “a live performance with no applause … just silence and the next song.”

I’m just a traveling musician 
And life on the road can be cruel 
I don’t make enough money to be anything but poor     
But it’s enough to pay for my fuel ...

Songs about life on the road - ‘Come Along’ and ‘Big Tour Bus’ - gently meld into songs from Mary’s childhood in the rural parts of Florida - ‘Another Barefoot Day’ and ‘We Never Hear the Song’. There are songs of trial and triumph - I Can Be Brave’, ‘Sparrow Alone’ and ‘What About Today? - and she gleefully presents her fun side while taking liberties with traditional tunes. She turns the well-known bluegrass song, ‘Nine Pound Hammer’, into an original blues song titled ‘Nine Pound Banjo’ and makes the old folk song, ‘Cindy’, her own with flirty new lyrics and a jazzy romp of a tune. In her Bonnie and Clyde inspired story-song, ‘Breathless’, Mary unapologetically sings about the darker side of life and completes the album’s roller-coaster of raw and real emotions.

An award-winning musician/writer and fan favourite (over 15 million views on her YouTube channel), Mean Mary (Mary James), a Florida native now based in Nashville, began life as a musical prodigy - she could read music before she could read words and co-wrote songs at age five. By age seven she was proficient on the guitar, banjo, & violin, and entertained audiences across the US with her vocal and instrumental skills. Her life has been one long road show interspersed with TV, radio, and film.

Now a seasoned performer and headliner of over 4000 festivals and concerts, Deering Banjo’s named her their Goodtime Ambassador, and Janet Deering describes her banjo playing as giving her “chills”. Equally versatile on guitar, fiddle, and 8 other instruments, Mary has recorded 17 albums to date, with her previous 2019 album Cold winning an Independent Music Award and three further nominations.

Mean Mary: Alone

Lyric Videos: "Come Along", "Little Cindy", "Big Tour Bus"

Mean Mary "Alone" (CD, Woodrock Records, 2020)

Mary is known internationally for her lightning-fast fingers, haunting vocals, and intricate story songs. As a high-energy performer that thrives on variety and as a songwriter that chooses unusual subject matters, anything from ghost pirates to demon guitars could romp through a Mean Mary show.

     Christmas countdown ...
     November 27th I release a lyric video for my Christmas song, Ding Dong Day. (Here's the link to the original music video.)
     December 5th The Mean Mary and Frank Christmas Special on YouTube.
     December 7th I will be GIVING away banjo tablature for "Blazing" to ALL my newsletter subscribers!!!
     December 11th I will be releasing my version of the beautiful, classic song "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" along with a music video.
     December 12th I will be GIVING the recording of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" (via download) to ALL my newsletter subscribers!!!
     AFTER THAT - I'll be taking a long nap on the couch until Christmas!! :-) Love, Mary

Photo Credits: (1ff) Mean Mary (unknown/website).

FolkWorld Homepage German Content English Content Editorial & Commentary News & Gossip Letters to the Editors CD & DVD Reviews Book Reviews Folk for Kidz Folk & Roots Online Guide - Archives & External Links Search FolkWorld About Contact Privacy Policy

FolkWorld - Home of European Music
FolkWorld Homepage
Layout & Idea of FolkWorld © The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld