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September 28, 2007

Tiny bathrooms?

Had a burger in Rafters on Fort Avenue last night.

At one point, I went to the bathroom, and as I was washing my hands, realized the ceiling was only a couple inches above my head -- and I'm not a tall guy. I'd say I'm between 5'8" and 5'9". Some people think that's short.

Made me wonder -- what happens when a dude who stands 6'5" walks in there?

Also got me thinking ... what are some of the smallest bar bathrooms in Baltimore? I've heard LP Docks further down on Fort Avenue has one no bigger than a coffin. You know of any more bathrooms that size?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:15 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Fab Five Friday

Here's my list of the city's best karaoke bars. Feel free to debate them.

1. Frazier's on The Avenue, 919 W. 36th St.

Yes, it's on everyone's top list, and for good reason. I gave the crowd here a taste of my soaring falsetto once, and they ate it up. 

2. Walt's Inn, 3201 O'Donnell St.

Only been here once, but it sticks out as one of the craziest karaoke bars I've been to. The corner bar was jammed, and the wait for a song was long. But we had a blast.

3. Nevin's Cross Street Station, 31 E. Cross St.

Drunken, crazy karaoke. I've seen some hilariously sloppy performances late night at Nevin's.

4. 1.7th Generation, 123 W. 27th St.

Singing karaoke from your seat? Why not?

5. Nick's Fish House, 2600 Insulator Drive

I've never been, but I've heard good things about this karaoke night. I'm sure the crowd is full of Polo shirts and gelled hair, but I'll bet they sing a mean "Livin' on a Prayer."

(Chiaki Kawajiri/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:32 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

September 27, 2007

Three Hot Weekend tips

1. Street Beat Festival in Federal Hill Sunday

Live music by Bill Iuso & the Restless Natives, the Eva Castillo Trio, Can't Hang, Old Man Brown, the Kelly Bell Band, Lafayette Gilchrest, Kustom Blend and a slew of other bands. The free festival starts at 11 a.m.  

2. MD Microbrewery Festival Saturday in Westminster 

About ten local microbreweries -- Clipper City, DuClaw, Ellicott Mills and more -- will be on hand at this day-long festival. There will also be seminars, food and live music. $12 for designated drivers and $18 for drinkers.

3. Savory James/Squaaks CD release party at the Talking Head tomorrow

Indie rockers the Squaaks were supposed to release their new CD Rock Control at the ill-fated Lo-Fi re-opening a few weeks ago. Second time's the charm. Savory James also has a new album out. Doors at 8:30 p.m. $7.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:10 PM | | Comments (0)

Vanilla Ice at Mex

Totally missed the boat on this one: early '90s superstar Vanilla Ice was at Mex in Power Plant Live last month. I'm so mad I wasn't there.

Luckily, someone shot this video. Here it is:


Ice (who is almost 40, by the way) was dumping shots of Jagermeister into an ice luge and rapping along to his hit single "Ice, Ice Baby." Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Or, in this case, melted.

Remember a few years back when he changed his performing name to V-Ice and put out that horrible rap/rock album? Or when Todd Bridges broke his face in Celebrity Boxing?

Now, Ice is on the club tour repping Jager. I have to say -- whoever came up with the idea of sending Vanilla Ice to city clubs with an ice luge gets serious Awesomely Bad points. If I were there, I'd probably do an ice luge shot from the Ice Man. Word to your mother.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:14 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

DeGroen's: false advertising?

Whenever I'm driving on President Street, I always notice the old DeGroen's building, with its big logo.

A couple days ago, I snapped the picture to the right from my car.

From this angle, it's hard to see, but the words "lunch + dinner" are written just to the left of the DeGroen's stamp.

DeGroen's was a restaurant and brewpub until it closed a couple of years ago.

I never got the chance to go to DeGroen's before it closed, but I've heard good things about it from local beer geeks.

I just wish someone would either paint over or remove the logo. I'm sure plenty of people have tried to find the place, only to discover it's been shuttered for some time. It's really misleading.

DeGroen's still brews beer, though out of state, now, I think. And I don't think there are any plans to bring back the brewpub. So, DeGroen's people, if you're reading, please remove the sign. 

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:48 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 26, 2007

Bar Scars retires

In today's City Paper, Bar Scars columnist Anna Ditkoff says she's ending the monthly nightlife feature's five year run.

The reason? 

"When I first thought about sitting at home watching movies and tinkering with my house it sounded boring, but when I gave it a try I realized how great it could be," Ditkoff writes.

Ditkoff is 31 now, and says she thinks her heavy partying days are behind her. I'll miss the column, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

Bar Scars hadn't run for the past couple months, which made me curious about its future. I e-mailed Ditkoff last week about the column, but she never got back to me. Guess this explains

I hope City Paper reincarnates Bar Scars in some form or another in the coming months. And Anna, I hope there are still plenty of fun nights out in your future. Even if they don't last until 2 a.m.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:21 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

the Wig Man


Indie rocker Jason Dove is going bald. See how mopey he looks in this picture?

Luckily, Dove has a penchant for wigs. ... 

"I go and collect them, sometimes at thrift stores -- especially around Halloween time," Dove said. "I always try to get a bunch. If they look goofy, and if they can make somebody laugh -- if you can take a good photograph with one on, then you're successful."

Witness the transformation brought about by this black wig:


The moral? When wigs are worn, women worship. 

(Photos by John Fabrizio and Jim Lucio) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:14 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Local music

The next Fab Five Friday

Who doesn't like to rock the mike?

This week's Fab Five Friday is the best spots for karaoke around town.

Whatcha got for me?

Places that only have karaoke once a week or once a month still count.  

(Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:21 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

That funky Monkey

When people think of local music venues, the Brass Monkey Saloon usually doesn't pop into mind.

I think this Fells Point bar/live music venue doesn't get the credit it deserves.

The Monkey has been hosting several shows a week for years now on Eastern Avenue -- everybody from semi-unknown local and regional bands to totally obscure local bands.

I'm sure countless bands have played their first club gig at the Monkey.

Don't get me wrong -- the Monkey is nothing special. It's far from being the cleanest, newest club on the scene.

But the Monkey is someplace for a local band to get up and play. 

I played in bands in high school and college, and, as a musician, you always remember the one or two bars that will give you a shot to perform in front of somebody -- anybody. Sometimes even nobody.

And unlike some other clubs around town, the Monkey only charges a small production fee for bands. They don't make groups sell 100 tickets at $5 a pop to play there.

So thanks, Brass Monkey. Keep it up.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:05 AM | | Comments (0)

September 25, 2007

Alexander's Tavern

Walked by Alexander's Tavern in Fells Point (which replaced Gemini on Broadway) and saw people working on the place.

I talked to a woman through the glass who said Alexander's should be open for food next week.

It may already be open for drinks. I'm not sure. She said something about drinks, but I couldn't hear her well through the glass.

Hope that answers your question, Mags.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:17 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Wanna know why the Ravens won last Sunday?

My beer.

Normally, I toast the Ravens with a Baltimore brew -- usually something by Clipper City.

But last weekend, another brand caught my eye: Victory Lager (pictured). It's made by the Pennsylvania-based Victory Brewing Company, whose slogan is "Taste Victory."

What could be a better game time brew than Victory Lager? So I bought a six pack, and ended up drinking two or three bottles of the smooth and tasty suds Sunday afternoon.

Needless to say, the Ravens won. Barely. But still -- they won. They ... tasted victory. We both tasted victory.

You know what I call that? Karma, baby.

You're welcome, Brian Billick. 

(Photo courtesy of Victory Brewing Company) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:46 AM | | Comments (3)

Our brewery

Yes, in addition to this blog (and the arctic weather phenomenon), Midnight Sun is also a brewery in South Anchorage, Alaska. Their Web Site was down this morning, but I'll post a link when it gets back up again.

I e-mailed them today to see if they ship beer -- I'd love to see what liquid Midnight Sun tastes like. They have some pretty funny names for their brews, too: Old Whiskers, Sockeye Red, Kodiak Brown.

I'll let you know what I hear from them.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:20 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 24, 2007

Stalking Horse gutted

The Stalking Horse barely got out of the gate.

It was only open for a couple months before an electrical fire took the new restaurant/bar out of commission several weeks ago, and it doesn't look like it'll be coming back any time soon.

I peered into the place late last week, and it looks like the owners have gutted the interior.

I'm going to make a couple calls today or tomorrow to see if the owners have an estimate for the Horse's reopening. 

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:40 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Re: Free drinks

Got some interesting comments from Friday's post on free drinks.

I've never thought of it as stealing, but I guess it technically is -- unless the bartender is the owner, as Jason said.

You can also look at it as a marketing ploy, though. I think Bill was onto something.

If my friends and I get a free shot from a bartender after a night of decent tipping, we're more likely to head back to that place at a later date.

So it cuts both ways. I think the occasional shot or beer on the house cultivates clientele. But a bartender giving free drinks to his/her friends all night is a bit too much.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 21, 2007

Free drinks

It's always nice to have a buddy who's a bartender.

You get automatically bumped to the front of the line. You get the best service in the room. And, you get your drinks either for free or for a fraction of the price.

But does that actually save you money?

I've been to bars with friends who knew the bartender. A few of us would drink liquor all night and get a bill for only $20 total.

But then we'd feel the need to compensate our friend for giving us such a big discount. So we'd each chip in $10 or $15 bucks.

At the end of the night, I was never really sure if I saved money or not.

Maybe, I tipped too much. But I always figured the service (and the extra-strong drinks) were worth it.

What do you think?

(Chris Goodney/Bloomberg News)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:21 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Fab Five Friday

This is by far one of the trickiest lists I've come up with. Thanks for some great suggestions.

Here you go: the five best places for blind dates.

1. Tapas Teatro, 1711 N. Charles St. (pictured)

From Maryann James, Sun dating columnist/blogger: You can have a drink, and if it goes well, you can bond over the so-played out tapas concept, and if it's even better, check out a movie at the Charles. also, since it's tapas, if the date falls flat midway through your meal, it's not like it's a long, drawn-out dinner to wade through. 

2. One World Cafe, 100 W. University Parkway

Here's a fun, fairly low-key locale where you can have a coffee or something stronger, and then, if everything goes well, move on to dinner (and more drinks). It's not too far north of the Charles or too far south of the Rotunda if you want to see a movie.

3. Ale Mary's, 1939 Fleet St.

This cozy corner bar is clean and rarely crowded around dinnertime, which means you can talk at a normal volume. The food is good and decently priced. Plus, the place's religious-themed decor gives you something to talk about if the conversation runs dry. 

4. Sobo Cafe, 6 W. Cross St.

Probably the most expensive spot on the list, Sobo is a cute little restaurant with a small bar. It's intimate and romantic, but not over the top. 

5. Red Brick Station, White Marsh

I nominate this spot based on its success rate. From commenter Andrew: "About five years ago I went on a blind date at Red Brick Station in White Marsh. We're getting married in two weeks. So yeah, that turned out pretty well ..."

(Michelle Gienow/The Sun) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:12 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

September 20, 2007

Three Hot Weekend Tips

1. Bukowski in Baltimore at Flux Studios Saturday

Local actor Wayne Willinger portrays the infamous writer/alcoholic in this roughly hour-long recreation of one of Bukowski's poetry readings. This is going to be great. 9 p.m. $6.

2. Mouth Curved Moonlike at Lo-Fi Social Club Saturday, 1825 N. Charles St.

Yes, the Lo-Fi is back open. And this time for good (fingers crossed). Local progressive rockers Mouth Curved Moonlike is the featured act. 

3. The last Interpretations Sundays, 1 Azar Court, 3rd Floor 

I've heard good things about the open mike event Interpretations Sundays, and I'm sad to find out this Sunday will be their last one. Poetry for the People member Temple will be celebrating the release of her new CD this Sunday. 7 p.m.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 5:23 PM | | Comments (0)

Come on, people

I need Fab Five Friday suggestions. The topic is best places to take a blind date.

If you wanna see a good list, you gotta do your part and post a comment. Come on, now. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:27 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

UFC in Baltimore?

So is UFC the new hot sport for frat guys to watch?

And if so, where do you go around town to watch it? I was at Club X Ultra Lounge on Calvert Street (before it became Xanadu) about a year or so ago, and they had UFC on.

I have no problem with UFC (it is, after all, my generation's boxing), but I don't think high-end lounges should be showing it. The last thing I want to see is two dudes kicking the crap out of each other when I'm spending tons of money to hang out in a trendy club.

I know Fletchers in Fells Point advertises their UFC. But are there bars that specialize in it, and advertise themselves as UFC go-to spots? 

(AP Photo/John Locher) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:10 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 19, 2007

Grace Potter at Soundgarden today

If you can get out of work a little early today, head to Soundgarden in Fells Point.

Americana/blues band Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (pictured) are putting on a free show there at 5 p.m., followed by the Avett Brothers at 6 p.m.

It's all part of the ongoing Noise in the Basement free and ticketed festivities, which run through Saturday at various locations around town. Here's the site with more info.

(Photo by Taylor Crothers) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

The next Fab Five Friday

For this week's Fab Five Friday, I'm going to enlist the help of Sun dating columnist/blogger Maryann James.

The topic: Best places to go for drinks on a blind date.

Last week, some of you complained that my lists were too repetitive. Hogwash, I say. I've repeated two bars twice in two months. Still, I've retired the Brewer's Art and also promise not to include the Dog Pub for a long time to come.

Now you gotta hold up your end of this. Every week I ask for your suggestions. So if you want to see new names on my lists, you need to post your offerings. So let's hear 'em.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:07 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

September 18, 2007

Last night's Midnight Sun protest

The protest at the Sly Fox Pub over some comments I made a while back went well last night, according to organizer Dennis E. Robinson.

About 25 protesters rolled into the Redskins bar wearing Ravens jerseys and cheering for the Eagles during the game, Robinson wrote in an e-mail this morning.

"We acted with sincerity in trying to prove that we're not trash, we're not rowdy, and that we just want to be recognized as valued members of the community, not some subclass of people who aren't worthy to enter the bar," he wrote. 

According to Robinson, the staff was friendly and inviting, but the Redskins fans were just the opposite.

"It went beyond the colorful profanities they yelled, beyond the loud cheers directed at us, sometimes a couple inches from our faces, when the Redskins scored," he wrote. "No, Sam, this was much more."

Click on the link below for more ...

According to Robinson, one of the protesters had beer poured down her back, another was pushed toward the door, and some rather nasty things were said.

If that's true, than it sounds like the patrons acted unacceptably immature. Either way, Robinson felt he benefited from the whole ordeal.

"I guess I should thank you," he wrote. "I learned a lot here. I'm motivated, and I think I'm learning how to positively motivate people. You contributed to that, though you did so adversely. So thanks."

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:11 AM | | Comments (26)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Game time at Mad River

Amie and I went out in Federal Hill Sunday searching for buffalo wings and mozzarella sticks.

First, we went to Rafters on Fort Avenue. But it was packed, and it looked like there was only one bartender/server on duty. Then we went to Capt. Larry's across the street. They don't serve mozz sticks.

We walked back across Fort Avenue and thought about getting some from Hilltop Carryout. No wings. No dice.

So we kept walking, down to Don't Know Tavern, which didn't have the sticks, and finally settled on Mad River (pictured).

I was shocked -- we got a table right away. Timing is everything. It was the fourth quarter of the Ravens/Jets game, and Mad River was out of fries, buffalo wings and something else I can't remember.

Amie got her mozz sticks, and I settled for boneless buffalo wings (chicken tenders dipped in buffalo sauce) which were actually really good. I ordered a $2 Bud Light draft (hey, it's two bucks) and we stayed for the rest of the game.

I wish we would have snagged a booth, because it looked like all the booths at the bar had their own flat screen TV. The only other place I've seen that is the Greene Turtle in Columbia

(Andre F. Chung/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:41 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 17, 2007

Midnight Sun/Sly Fox protest

A number of people are heading to the new Sly Fox Pub tonight to protest some comments I made a couple weeks ago.

The Sly Fox is a Redskins bar, and the Eagles are playing the 'Skins tonight. The protesters are going to be wearing Ravens jerseys and cheering for the Eagles.

"If you think you can sling around terms like 'trashy,' whether it's in South Baltimore or East Baltimore, you're mistaken," wrote protest organizer Dennis E. Robinson in an e-mail. "I'm trying to prove that."

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:08 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Saturday night my friend Kaiser and I were walking out of Power Plant Live around 1:15 a.m. looking for a taxi.

We saw about a dozen cabs lined up waiting, and I was about to get into the first one when Kaiser said:

"Take the second cab! Take the second cab!" 

I'm not sure why he wanted to take the second cab. Maybe it was just to see what the first cab driver would do.


So we got into the second cab. And oh man, that first cabbie was mad. He jumped out of the car, waved his hand at us and hollered something I couldn't make out.

It was hilarious. Dude was hopping mad. Our cabbie, meanwhile, had dub reggae tunes turned up to ear piercing levels. So we sunk down in our seats as we passed the first cab in line and soaked in the music until we were out of sight.

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:37 AM | | Comments (0)

Tommy Lee bails

Hung out at the new Angels Rock Bar in Power Plant Live Saturday night, waiting for musician Tommy Lee to show up.

The line was super long, which meant we got there around midnight but didn't get in until 12:30 a.m. And (big surprise) Lee was MIA. Around 1 a.m., the DJ tried to explain Lee's absence by saying something to the effect of:

"Tommy Lee was seen making out with a man in Las Vegas. That man was magician Criss Angel." 

Though Lee did smooch Angel at the MTV Music Awards (as pictured), I doubt that's what he was doing Saturday night. 

(AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:11 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Avec: Cool vid

You don't see too many music videos by local bands.

Usually if a local band makes a music video, it's a compilation of live performance shots set to the studio track. Dan Deacon is, of course, one exception.

I was also surprised with this Avec video for their song "While You're Down There," which I stumbled across recently:

Knowing little to nothing about photography, I'm not sure how they got this effect. But I like it, and the song, too.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:57 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

September 15, 2007

Tommy Lee tonight

Barring a catastrophe, I'm heading to the new Angels Rock Bar to see what special guest Tommy Lee is going to do tonight.

I really hope he doesn't just sit in the VIP section like a lump the whole time.

I'll post about Mr. Pin Cushion and the new club tomorrow. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:39 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 14, 2007

This weekend's Lo-Fi shows cancelled

The Lo-Fi Social Club is one building inspection short of reopening (hopefully for good).

I just spoke with Lo-Fi founder Neil Freebairn via IM, who said the inspector was supposed to come no later than yesterday. Now, the city is saying it'll send somebody Monday or Tuesday.

"In the mean time i have to keep on losing shows and money and looking like a jerk," Freebairn wrote. "It's frustrating, but there is nothing more that I can do right now except wait for this guy to drive down and approve the building."

Freebairn is 95 percent sure the venue will be open by next weekend, and 100 percent sure of the weekend after that.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Whistling Oyster's new upstairs?

A few months back at BAR, I ran into a guy who worked at the Whistling Oyster in Fells Point. He said the bar planned to renovate and open its upstairs sometime in the summer or early fall.

I tried calling today, but the bar's number has been disconnected. Has anyone been there recently who knows whether the new floor is open yet?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:51 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Fab Five Friday

You know a great bar when you're there all night and never notice its lack of flat-screen action.

Here is my list of the city's best TV-less bars:

1. Dog Pub, 20 E. Cross St.

With a classic, clean pub feel and plenty of cheap good microbrews, this TV-free spot is a personal favorite. 

2. Club Charles, 1724 N. Charles St.

A classic come-and-be-shocked Baltimore bar. The walls are blood red, and the jukebox has a fantastic selection. The only drawback -- they don't round off their drink prices, so you leave the place with a pocket full of pennies, nickels and dimes.

3. Rocket to Venus, 3360 Chestnut Ave. (pictured)

This sleek new hipster magnet in Hampden has a surprisingly large beer selection and is thankfully smoke-free during dinner hours. It was an easy pick for the list.

4. Dionysus, 8 E. Preston St.

For this one, I'll defer to Midnight Sun reader/Dionysus expert J.M. Giordano:

"On their third anniversary, the Preston Street hipster hang out Dionysus has managed to remain TV -free. Like bars of old, the comfortable downstairs lounge/bar relies on conversation about the arts and politics instead of Ravens games and American Idol."

5. Idle Hour, 201 E. Fort Ave.

Even though they whip out a flat screen for Ravens games, I'm still going to count Idle Hour as a non-TV spot. Seriously talented DJs spin vinyl there several times a week, too. 

(Monica Lopossay/Sun Photographer)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

September 13, 2007

Three Hot Weekend Tips

1. The Ottobar's 10-year anniversary Friday and Saturday

Has it really been 10 years? The Ottobar's getting old ... At least they still know how to throw down. The Glenmont Popes, Fishnet Stalkers, Headwounds, Needles and Blondsai play Friday night, and Man Man, the Oranges Band, Double Dagger, Frenemies play Saturday. Both events start at 8 p.m.

2. Dan Deacon (pictured), Girl Talk and White Williams at 2640 Space at 2640 St. Paul St. on Tuesday

Dan Deacon has helped make Baltimore cool in the eyes of New Yorkers, which is an incredible achievement. You can see why 7 p.m. Tuesday. Yes, it's in the middle of next week. But Deacon makes it feel like a weekend.

3. Ready-to-Wear fashion show at Red Maple Saturday

Finish off the first annual Baltimore Fashion Week in style at 8 p.m. The after party costs $5 and starts at 10 p.m. I'm sure the place is going to fill up. 

(Photo courtesy of Stefani Levin) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:12 PM | | Comments (0)

Photos! Photos!

Finally figured out how to upload pics from Sun photogs and news wire services today.

Sun food empress Elizabeth Large showed me how to do it.

I know, I know, it's about time. There was way too much text on Midnight Sun.

Who actually reads all those words anyway? I was elected to lead, not to read ...

Anyway, I'm gonna be adding photos to previous posts over the next couple days. Some are already done.

From now on, I'm gonna run pictures (like this one of Mr. Boh) with blog posts whenever possible.


(Gene Sweeney Jr./Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:20 PM | | Comments (1)

Tommy Lee = lame

On Saturday, Tommy Lee (ex-Motley Crue drummer and ex-Pamela Anderson spouse) is coming to Baltimore to help christen the new Angels Rock Bar in Power Plant Live.

Originally, he was supposed to either spin rock music or play the drums -- something rock-related.

But Lee has recently decided that he no longer wants to be known as Rock DJ Tommy Lee. Now, he wants to be House DJ Tommy Lee, who only spins club music (techno, etc.).


Apparently, Lee tried to back out of the gig on Saturday because House DJ Tommy Lee doesn't want to appear in rock clubs anymore.

So a deal was struck where Lee would spin for an hour at the neighboring Mosaic Lounge and then walk over to Angels Rock Bar and chill there for an hour.

Basically, Lee is going to be playing the oh-so-lame Paris Hilton card: Stroll into club, wave to fans, hang out for an hour or two, drink for free, collect appearance fee and bounce.

You can catch House DJ Tommy Lee's set around 11 p.m. Saturday at Mosaic. He should be at Angels around midnight. 

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images) 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:28 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Redwood Trust re-opens

The Redwood Trust on Calvert and Redwood Streets, is hosting shows again.

When it closed in 2004, the owner claimed its 2 a.m. closing time did the club in. But Trust's image also took a hit year earlier after two of its promoters were killed in a shooting in Fells Point.

I don't have much information about the new owners yet, but I got an e-mail about a "closing party" happening there this Saturday night.

According to the e-mail and this site, the club will re-open Sept. 22 as Stadio (no, that's not a typo). Looks like the new owners are planning to bring in big name DJs from around the country to spin there.

I'm trying to get a hold of the new owners today. I'll post an update as soon as I hear more. 

(Amy Davis/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:58 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

For hardcore partiers

After getting crazy all night, this might be the last thing on your mind.

But if you're still going strong (or you've just gotten up and are ready to bust a move), Mount Vernon's Grand Central hosts an early, early Sunday morning dance party. This thing starts at freaking 6 a.m. and goes until 11 a.m. DJ Leni Kay mans the turn tables.

Who goes to this? Not me. I'm still curled up in bed at 6 a.m. on a Sunday. I called the bar to ask someone, but no one answered.  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:51 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 12, 2007

Retire Brewer's Art?

The Brewer's Art came up again as a suggestion for this week's Fab Five Friday list of the best bars without TVs. But I'm a little reluctant to include it.

See, the Brewer's Art has been on two Fab Five Friday lists already -- the places to take your snobby hipster friend post and the best places to lounge post. I think putting it on three lists in a month would be overkill. Your thoughts?

Besides, if Brewer's Art made my list again, people might start asking questions about all the cases of delicious Resurrection ale they've been shipping me ... hiccup.

(Monica Lopossay/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Baltimore Fashion Week update

We're halfway through the inaugural Baltimore Fashion Week, and things are picking up steam.

Last night, Red Maple was comfortably full for the local boutique showcase, said organizer Pam Haner (pictured left, with fellow organizer April Camlin). 

"A lot of people came out," Haner said. "Everything went smoothly. Everything looked awesome."

Haner said they've decided to do two Fashion Weeks a year, starting next spring. There are several more events scheduled through Saturday. For more details, click on the link below ...

(photo courtesy of J.M. Giordano)
  • Tonight, Sept. 12, 8 p.m., Lingerie and Jewelry show at Flux Studios
  • Tomorrow, Sept. 13, 8 p.m., Sustainable Fashion show at St John's Church, 2640 St. Paul St.
  • Friday, Sept. 14, 8 p.m., Couture show outdoors on Lanvale Street between Charles and Maryland
  • Saturday, Sept. 15, 8 p.m., Ready-to-Wear show at Red Maple; Closing ceremonies and after party 10 p.m., at Red Maple ($5)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:40 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Worth every penny

Jeremy and I stepped outside for some fresh air last weekend at the Lo-Fi Social Club's reopening party, and this middle-aged guy with a cane walked up to us.

"Are you from Pennsylvania?" he asked me.

"Nah, I'm from Maryland," I said.

Then this guy launched into a his life history, including how he had moved to Scranton and married a fat Italian woman, who made dinner for him.

"She would slice a big loaf of Italian bread, butter it up, and then cut up some cucumbers and ask me, 'Am I gaining weight,'" he said. "AM I GAINING WEIGHT?!?!?!?!"

I figured sooner or later he would ask me for something, and sure enough, after the Italian wife story, he asked for five dollars. I gave him a buck and told him that's all I was going to give him.

"Is that a five?" he asked. "Could you make that a ten?"

"That's a single," I said.

"Oh. One dollar. That might buy me a Snickers bar. I might be diabetic. How about a five?"

I laughed, told him no and thanked him for the story. It was definitely worth a dollar.

Later that night, I walked outside again and he was out there strumming his cane like a guitar and singing Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze." Only in Baltimore.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:38 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

The next Fab Five Friday

I'd like to make the next Fab Friday about the best bars without TVs, but I'm worried I might not find enough. What do you think?

The picture is of the Idle Hour on Fort Avenue, which has a flat screen, but only breaks it out for Ravens games. 

Oh, and by the way, I went to Stalking Horse last night, and yes, it's still closed. Thanks for all your help, guys ... Mather, I thought you lived in Federal Hill. Where's the love?

(Elizabeth Malby/Sun Photographer) 



Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:03 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Fab Five Fridays

Tracy's Comedy Club now Magooby's

Baltimore needs more comedy clubs in the worst way.

Right now, the only serious comedy club in this city is the Comedy Factory downtown. Last week, I heard about a new club called Magooby's Joke House taking over where Tracy's Comedy Club used to be.

Thursday's LIVE section has a story about Magooby's, which opens this weekend. But in the meantime, news columnist Dan Rodricks has the details.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:16 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 11, 2007

Stalking Horse open?

I've tried calling the Stalking Horse a couple of times to see if it's back open after that nasty fire from last week. No luck -- the number's been busy today and yesterday.

Anybody been by there? Is it open again? 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:47 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 10, 2007

One final Mustang Alley's note

In hindsight, I feel like I sold Mustang Alley's short in this previous post about their reduced September rates.

It's a sign of good business when a bar (or bowling alley, in this case) hears customers' criticisms and lowers its prices in response. $55 an hour was too much. Until the end of this month, it's only $40. I wish more bars would listen to their clientele like this.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:17 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Lo-Fi opening night

Well, the Lo-Fi Social Club's re-opening was a little ... anti-climactic.

Since the club doesn't have a liquor license yet, founder Neil Freebairn decided to not charge for beer or admission.

Tons of people rolled into the new space, which occupies the first floors of two adjacent row houses on North Charles Street. Three of the six scheduled bands played. Then the cops showed up.

Turns out, the Lo-Fi was (unsurprisingly) waaaay over its roughly 200 capacity. The police gave Freebairn two options: shut down, or they would bring in the fire marshals to count heads and see exactly how many people were inside.

Freebairn closed the club for the night.

Still, Friday night's festivities were a chance for a ton of people to see the inside of the new Lo-Fi. You can read more about it Thursday in my review in LIVE.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

Trend-setting Sidebar?

Talked to Sidebar Tavern owner Richard Ashburn a couple days ago about the place going smoke free.

Ashburn said -- and I think he's right -- they're the first local music club to go smoke free. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't know of any other smoke free clubs around town.

"I'm being very brave here," Ashburn said. "The positive feedback has been more than the negative."

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:44 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 7, 2007

Fab Five Friday

Here is my list of the best five places to watch the Ravens play.

1. Mother's Federal Hill Grille, 1113 S. Charles St.

Mother's goes insane on Ravens games. They set up a big tent in the parking lot next door called the Purple Patio, and inside the place gets jam packed. If you want to get riled up before the game, Mother's is the place to do it. 

2. McCracken's on Key

I'll bet you've seen this place a dozen times but never been inside. It's right across Key Highway from Little Havana. They've got a few big screen TVs, excellent service and $1.75 domestics. I went for the first time last night and I'm sold. 

3. Looney's Pub, Canton Square (pictured)

At Looney's, a lot of the fans know each other and have no qualms about shouting, whooping and swilling extra loud.

4. Padonia Station, 63 E. Padonia Road, Timonium

The Station is big enough where you can usually get a table or a barstool in time for the game. At game time there's a mix of old-school regulars and early 20-somethings. Plus, they (purposefully?) call their happy hour the Grande Happy Hour, which sounds old-timey and inviting.

5. Bedrock Billiards, 401 W. Baltimore St.

Here, you can shoot pool upstairs while watching one of the numerous TVs or head downstairs to the more relaxed lounge. Bedrock is in a classic building with super high ceilings, and they've decorated the place well.

(Algerina Perna/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:53 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

Smoke-free Sidebar

Can't say I saw this coming.

The Sidebar Tavern, the scruffy little punk bar and live music venue on Lexington Street, is now smoke-free. It's the last local music venue I'd expect to go smoke-free. Its crowds are usually smokers and drinkers. Guess they'll be going outside to fire up from now on.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 6:11 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 6, 2007

Sneak peek inside the new Lo-Fi

As promised, here is a look inside the new Lo-Fi Social Club, which officially reopens tomorrow night on North Charles Street.


The stage will go below these stained glass windows at the front of the building.

I've posted more photos at the link below ... 

During construction, they found a Tommy Gun cemented into this wall.


This is the green room at the back of the building where the bands will hang out.


This is the first room when you walk into the club. It's where the merch display cases will be. Thirsty? A couple of soda machines came with the building.


This is the club's  main entrance, as of late last week. I'm sure it will be cleaned up some for tomorrow's opening celebration. See you there!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Three Hot Weekend Tips

1. Lo-Fi Social Club's re-opening party tomorrow night

Counting the Talking Head, that makes two re-opened local music clubs in the past two weeks. The Lo-Fi, the brainchild of Neil Freebairn, reopens on North Charles Street at 8 p.m. tomorrow. $8. It's the CD release party for indie rockers Squaaks. 2 If By Sea, Thrushes and Durden will also perform. Welcome back, Lo-Fi. Hope the new digs work out well for you.

2. Comedian Neil Hamburger at The Ottobar tonight

With his come-over, suits and glass of scotch, Neil Hamburger is one of the oddest touring experimental comedians. If you like weird jokes and a routine purposefully full of awkward moments, head to the Ottobar tonight. The show is 11 p.m. in the upstairs lounge. $10.

3. RBR Fest at Sidebar Tavern Saturday

The newly smoke-free Sidebar Tavern has been throwing a lot of one-day mini-festivals lately. The next one is Saturday, and features Blondsai!, Thee Lexington Arrows, the Mishaps, the Points and plenty of other bands. It's a pretty solid lineup. Check it out. Doors open at 2 p.m.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:05 PM | | Comments (0)

New prices at Mustang Alley's

For the month of September, Mustang Alley's is lowering its prices.

During happy hour, which runs 4:30 p.m.-7 p.m. daily, an hour of bowling costs $30. All other times, bowling is a reasonable $40 per hour. That's down from $55 an hour last month.

I might be able to afford another night there after all.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:18 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Bert's replaces Rocky Run

Bert's Eats and Drinks (410-235-2501) recently replaced Rocky Run Tap and Grill at 3105 St. Paul St. in Charles Village.

Anybody been to the place since it's become Bert's? I hear they have 30 HD flat screen TVs.

I was in Rocky Run about six months ago picking up some sweet potato fries. There was a cluster of 20-somethings drinking beer at the bar, and an old man sitting in a nearby booth with a half-filled shot glass.

"Cut the Cake" by the Average White Band came on the box, and one of the 20-somethings turned to the old man and said "'Cut the Cake!' Drink, old man!"

The old guy cackled, yelled "A.W.B.!" and slammed back the rest of his shot. Then the 20-something turned back to his friends and continued their conversation.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:54 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 5, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday topic

It's football time, baby!

Since the season starts in less than a week, I'll list my five favorite city bars to watch the Ravens on Friday.

But first, I'm going to need some suggestions. Where do you go out to watch the game? 

Also do any Baltimoreans actually go to ESPN Zone to watch football, or is that crowd strictly tourists?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:03 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

Slammer's update

Slammer's in Fell's Point may be no more, but a new restaurant/bar is in the works, according to the building's owner.

The landlord, who would only identify himself as Howard when I called, said look for "a new, fresh restaurant with outdoor seating and a clean, fresh presentation" in the coming months. He would say no more.

So keep an eye out, and I'll pass along more info when I get it.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

September 4, 2007

Lo-Fi re-opening this weekend

Got a sneak peak at the new Lo-Fi Social Club late last week.

It's smaller than the old warehouse location (even though it occupies the first floor of two adjacent buildings).

Founder Neil Freebairn (pictured upper right) and the rest of the crew adopted a small tabby cat (also pictured upper right) that started hanging around.

They named the feline LoFi (pronounced Loaf-ee) after the club (pronounced Low-Fi). 

I'm going to post some video and more pictures of the place later this week. 

While renovating the club-to-be, Freebairn and crew found a few bones in one wall. They're pretty sure the bones were from an animal, not a human. Either way, that's a chilling discovery.

Cooler still: They also came across a Tommy Gun in another wall.

The weapon was cemented into a brick wall, which made it regretfully inoperable. Freebairn gave it
away to the owner, an antiques collector.

Bones (of any kind) + Tommy Gun = a hair-raising background to a club with a hopefully long, successful future. Freebairn plans to have a mini-record store complete with merch display cases on one side and the stage area on the other. The capacity should be somewhere around 200.

The club's re-opening party is Friday. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music
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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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