2005_04_artsmarylou.jpgSweet-voiced singer/songwriter and longtime Boston-based busker Mary Lou Lord has been playing music for over a decade, but has never lost her ability to break songs down into their simplest form. Since getting her start in the subways of London, where she played for coins to keep her warm in the early 90's, she's gone on to record the video for "Lights Are Changing" overnight in a New York City subway station, and seems most comfortable converting whatever stage she's on into her own personal request corner.

Whether covering The Magnetic Fields's "I Don't Want To Get Over You," Richard Thompson's "1952 Vincent Black Lightnight," her friend Elliott Smith's "I Figured You Out," or anyone from Bruce Springsteen to Lucinda Williams to Shawn Colvin, she makes these works her own, imbuing them with a purity of spirit, enthusiasm and passion you'd be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Boston dwellers can still see her performing in Park Street station (where her 2002 release Live City Sounds was recorded) or in the summers in Harvard Square, occasionally accompanied by her daughter Annabelle. Now signed with local indie label Rubric Records, which released her 2004 country- and rock-tinged Baby Blue album, Lord continues in the same vein that's brought her a devoted following. Tonight she brings her guitar and vast collection of covers to Pianos, along with a local band she's helping to manage, Emergency Music.

Let's get this out of the way, is "Mary Lou Lord" your real name?
Mary Lou Lord is my real name....

What is your first conscious memory of New York?
My first memory of NY. was in 1984 when I decided to visit the city with my trombone playing boyfriend Philip at the time. He practiced 8 hours a day every day, so we thought that we could (he could ) do some busking out of it while he practiced. We chose to set up shop just down a little from the Blue Note near the basketball courts in the village. His playing was fabulous (he was one of the best in the world at the time.) That night the Paris Reunion Band were at the blue Note. All the guys on their way to the show stopped to hear Philip play.Also, Art Blakey pulled up in a cab, rolled the window down, and listened for about half an hour. Slide Hampton was on his knees looking up at Philip in amazement. He gave us tickets to the show he was doing at the Blue Note and told us to come. But the craziest and coolest part of the night was when this dude (who looked like a bum) with a crappy guitar came up and asked Philip (demanded philip) play "Green Dolphin Street." Philip obliged and the dude was keeping the changes on the crappy Stella. A huge crowd gathered at this point, and It occurred to me that the dude was indeed Jaco Pastorius. They played a while together, then we all played basketball till 3 am when we decided to go to the Blue Note to hang out with our new friend (the best living Trombone player in the world at the time, Slide Hampton). The rest of the story is just as unbelievable, and too long . . . so, I will end it here. A New York tale indeed!!!!

What is your favorite/least favorite memory involving New York?
My least favorite memory of New York was when I had a fight with my husband Kevin and somehow managed to set the rug on fire at the Gramercy Park Hotel.

How do the Boston and New York music scenes differ?
Boston and New York audiences can differ because there are a whole lot more "industry" people in New York which can mean that their agendas of being AT the show are different. I think this mainly goes for bands that are new or just getting "worked" there can be a whole publicity team or label that it's their JOB to come out to the shows, where maybe if it weren’t something that they HAD to do, they wouldn't be there. So it can get a bit fake sometimes and a bit competitive with either the label people trying to out do each other to get the band to sign with their label or whatever. In Boston, we just don't have that industry thing going on, so the people who are at the shows, really want to be there.

Now its time for some fill-in-the-blank action:

You know you've made it when...
You sell 2 million records on YOUR OWN label.

It'll be time to pack up the gear for good when...
You stop enjoying it.

I'll never forget the first time I...
I'll never forget the first time I heard Elliott Smith.

And finally, let’s have some fun with word association. Give me your immediate feelings on the following (if you’ve got no discernable feelings, make something up that wont embarrass you in the morning):

Yankees
"Who's your daddy?"

Mets
How’s Pedro doin’?

Britney
Is she really pregnant?

Bridge & Tunnel
Ted Williams.

The Darkness
I do believe in a thing called love.

Times Square
10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1.

Bloomberg/Smoking Ban/Noise Laws
Smoking ban: Good for people who don’t like to wash their clothes all the time.
Noise laws: The people who were their first should make the decisions.

Questions inspired by movies...

If you will, a brief justification of the ontological necessity of modern man's existential dilemma (in less than 10 words). (Reality Bites)
This question is over my head.

What came first, the music or the misery? (High Fidelity)
Misery, obviously.

A few quickies on the music tip:

Who would be in your ultimate music supergroup, your all-star Olympic team of rock?
My all star music group would be Bill Bruford, Russ Kunkell, Jim Keltner, Dave Grohl, and Levon Helm on Drums, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Richard Thompson, Kurt Cobain, George Harrison, Elliott Smith, on guitars and vocals. John Paul Jones, Rick Danko on bass, Sandy Denny, Shawn Colvin, Eva Cassidy, and Donny Hathaway on lead and backup vocals.

What was the first/last album you bought on the day it was released?
Jethro Tull's "Heavy Horses" record.

What special songs or covers can we expect to hear you play tonight?
The covers I will play are many. Some of the new favorites are "By The Time My Head Gets To Phoenix" by Peter Bruntnell, and "Wonderful Lie" by Paul Westerberg.