- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 29, 2004

Troubadour Todd Snider has long been known among “Todd-heads” as having one of the best live shows in folk music today.

His laid-back rough style has a way of drawing a crowd into one long, hilarious inside joke, and Thursday night’s performance at the Birchmere was no exception.

The singer-songwriter opened his set with the self-deprecating “Age Like Wine,” the first track from his latest album, “East Nashville Skyline,” a genre-bending amalgamation of blues, country and punk. He followed it with “Sunshine,” a darkly hopeful tune about someone who “tries to kill himself and blows it.” After slipping immediately into the optimistic “I Can’t Complain,” he sang “Play a Train Song,” the growly, dirty, mournful paean to deceased drinking buddy Kenneth Francis “Skip” Litz.

Mr. Snider is given to sly sermonizing. But even when he’s preaching the oxymoronic gospel of “whatever,” as he does with “The Ballad of the Kingsmen,” one can be forgiven for buying into his infectious non-judgmentalism.

He followed the “Kingsmen” ballad with “Broke,” (No, not the Australian version), and “D.B. Cooper,” a tribute to the legendary Pacific Northwest thief who parachuted into the night near Portland, Ore. (Mr. Snider’s hometown), never to be caught.

Ever the storyteller, Mr. Snider called his “Tillamook County Jail,” a lighthearted jailhouse reflection apparently based on a recent real-life experience, a “fun vacation song.”

The night was vintage Todd Snider: back-slapping, rowdy country and bawdy storytelling.

Mary Prankster opened the show with her girls-gone-wild-with-guitars style of naughty-rock.

Decked out in a red dress with a side split, she cheerfully belted out such favorites as “Irresponsible Woman,” the dark “Darlin’,” “Roulette Girl” and the crowd favorite with its semi-printable name, “Mercy____.”

One might expect the kind of warm, seductive smile the singer wore during that last little number on the face of the teenage daughter who brings home Marilyn Manson.

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