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November 30, 2007

Some awesomely bad Snoop

That's really the only way I can describe Snoop Dogg's new single "Sexual Eruption" off his forthcoming album Ego Trippin'.

Yes, the name of the song is indeed "Sexual Eruption."

Is he being overly cheesy a la R. Kelly?

I'm not sure. Maybe.

He actually sings into a vocorder on the track, which you can hear on his MySpace site.

(Getty Images)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:32 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff

Celebration & Baltimore Magazine

Spoke with Katrina Ford, the singer for Celebration (pictured), yesterday.

Ford recently did an interview with Baltimore Magazine, and we both chuckled over this one exchange she had with them:

Baltimore Magazine: How important is it for a band to have a strong Web presence these days?

Ford: I don't know. It's a given now. I think that question would have been relevant five years ago. Everyone is online now, even funeral homes for God's sake. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:11 AM | | Comments (2)

Fab Five Friday

We are indeed blessed when it comes to Baltimore bars.

Fells Point has some of the best watering holes on the East Coast. Federal Hill and Canton perfectly fit the bill for the post-college crowd.

But there are still things I wish this city had.

Here are my five wishes for the Baltimore nightlife scene:

1. Better service

I can't tell you how frustrated I get with Baltimore bartenders. If anything about this city's bars and restaurants really needs to change, it's the quality of service.

2. More dance clubs

There are not enough places to dance in Charm City. 

3. More locally brewed beers on tap

I wish more bars had Clipper City (like the one pictured), Brewer's Art and Oliver Ale suds on tap.

4. Better parking

No one wants more parking garages in their backyard, but Fells Point and Federal Hill get tied into a knot on some Friday and Saturday nights. That needs to change. 

5. More horseshoe bars

I know the layout of most rowhouses won't allow it, but I really like wraparound bars. They are the only thing I like about chains like Applebee's. J. Patrick's in Locust Point has one. Horse shoe-shaped bars give a place more of an intimate feeling. I like that.

(Linda Coan/Sun Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:02 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

November 29, 2007

The dirt on Ben's date

Because everyone is dying to know, here is the screed Bowling Ben sent me:

How was my bowling date?  In one word ... DISASTROUS!!!  (Although I should really expect nothing less from myself by this point!)
I was scheduled to pick her up at 7:30 Tuesday night. I show up almost 15 minutes late. She's a pretty laid-back girl, so that wasn't too big of a deal at all. I opened the car door for her, and we were on our way. 

She wasn't feeling too adventerous, so the Korean food was out. We opted to eat at the bowling alley instead. (Kitsch is cool, right JM?)  Hillendale Lanes was our choice, (er, hers actually)  'cause Mustang Alley's (pictured) had league night and couldn't guarantee a lane until after 10:30. ...

(Andre F. Chung/Sun Photographer - Note: Bowling Ben NOT pictured) 

So we left her apartment in Hampden, heading back to 83, when she announces that," since the place is on Taylor Ave, I can get us to Taylor from Cold Spring."
A wave of panic washed over me. See, I had never been to Hillendale before, and I only had the directions I got off the intra-nets. But how am I supposed to tell her that, "you know, I'm not 100% positive of your navigational skills, especially since neither of us have been there before?" 

So reluctantly, I made the turn onto Cold Spring, away from the safety of 83 and 695, into that grid of not-quite parallel roads and ghettos we all know and love...Baltimore. (Hey, I'm a county boy. Anything east of 83 is a mystery to me!)

And then she decides to tell me, "but i don't know which way we're supposed to turn onto Taylor Ave."


...  I continued to drive, getting less and less familiar with our surroundings as we travelled east. 

When I saw that we were approaching Loch Raven Blvd, i "assumed" that i could get us to the bowling alley from there. So i turned right onto Loch Raven Blvd. Ten minutes later, I realized that i should have turned left.


She's one of those people that tends to get a little "testy" when her blood sugar gets low. (God I hope she doesn't ever stumble upon this blog...she'd wanna kill me for airing our laundry!)  Maybe I shouldn't have chosen this time to let her know that the bowling alley closes at ten...90 minutes from then.


We argue for a few minutes as I turn the car around, heading back on loch raven.  She didn't want to bowl anymore, she just wanted to eat some dinner. 

After a few minutes of silence and tensely smoked cigarettes, i told her, "let's go to Rocket to Venus," since i knew she had never eaten, just drank there, and that we could smoke there after 9.

A few more minutes of silent driving and smoking passed, and as i turned back onto Cold Spring, i laughed out loud as i informed her, "you know, I don't REALLY know how to get to Rocket to Venus." (Now that's just plain ole funny!)

So she directed me over to R2V (which i can now get to VERY easily!) with such a *loving* tone in her voice.  Stupid people and their christmas lights, we had to park almost a mile away and hike it down the hill (someone didn't want to be dropped off at the door!)

The walk continued with the theme of silence, smoking, and sass, but we finally arrived at the restaurant minutes before 9.  The seal was broken, booze started flowing, meals were ordered (mmm...the brussel sprouts) and in due time, the sun started to poke it's head out from behind the clouds. 

As the end of (am amazing) dinner neared, we were having a down-right blast with each other, laughing, joking, (still) smoking...the evenings' earlier "incidents" went the way of LA Gear and Bo Jackson...forgotten.

So to wrap things up, we left the restaurant, went back to her place to hang out, watch a movie, smoke some more, and catch up.  Well, we stayed up pretty much all night long just talking to each other, getting closer than we ever were before, sharing feelings, stories, and emotions...and then she kissed me...and it was freakin fantastic!!!

Although our evening couldn't have started off any worse, I left the night 100% satisfied with everything that had happened.  Not only did i leave with a (make-up) bowling date for next week, but also with the feeling that I may end up back together with her a little bit earlier than i had imagined.

Thanks for your help/inquiries y'all!  It's nice to feel cyber-loved!

-(Bowling) Ben

(that's an AWFUL name, but i guss it fits!)

(Monica Lopossay/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:00 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Random stuff

That's an odd sponsor

It makes sense when companies like Budweiser and Guinness pay money to support a concert or a tour.

Now, I lose a little respect for bands that sign up for events like Kool Cigarettes Presents: the Roots, Live in Concert!

But I understand it.

Music and booze/cigarettes go hand in hand. 

This show at the 9:30 Club, however, I don't understand:

DC101 and Charlestown Alexander Diamond Importers present Elliot's Non-Denominational Xmas Show, featuring Silversun Pickups • Finger Eleven • Papa Roach, 8pm Doors. Listen to DC101 to win tickets!

Diamonds? Huh? What do diamonds have to do with live music?

I think sponsorship may have gone a little too far. 

(Bloomberg News photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:51 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff

Was Ben's date a bust?

Still haven't heard from MS reader Bowling Ben about his date the other night.

I'm assuming the worst.

Of course, if something went wrong, it was probably because Ben used one of JM Giordano's suggestions instead of mine.

Shame on you, JM. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:03 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Random stuff

Three Hot Weekend Tips

Here are three of your best options for going out this weekend:

1) M.I.A. (pictured) at Sonar's Taxlo tomorrow

This is going to be one hot party. M.I.A. is performing a full show, I'm told. $15 in advance, $17 at the door.

2) James Joyce Pub's 5th Anniversary Party tonight

They are giving away a free trip for two to Ireland. Also, live music and $3 Guinness drafts from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. 

3) Eric Hutchinson at Fletchers Bar tomorrow

With the right push, Hutchinson could be a big hit. $10, 8 p.m. doors.  

 (Photo by J. Beckman)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (3)

November 28, 2007

The best wine bars

In case you missed it yesterday, here are Queen Elizabeth's Top 10 wine bars around town.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:23 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Al's enemies

One of the pitfalls of being a local music critic is you inevitably give bad reviews.

That was the case when City Paper music writer Al Shipley (who also does the highly informative hip-hop/R&B blog Government Names) saw the Deep End play a few months ago.

He wrote: 

"Another quartet with several years under its belt, the Deep End refers to itself as "The best unsigned band in America" on its MySpace page. And while hype on a web site is rarely critic-proof, the Deep End invited the obvious jokes when it wasn’t even the best band on a two-band bill."


The Deep End fired back with a scathing, obscene comment on the top of their MySpace site, referencing Shipley by name. Warning: There is profanity on the site.

I e-mailed Shipley giving him the heads up.

He responded:

"hahaha! ... one for the scrapbook."
Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:34 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff

The next Fab Five Friday

Since people are putting together their holiday wish lists, I thought it would be nice to have one for Midnight Sun too.

So this week's Fab Five Friday topic is five things you wish for in Baltimore's nightlife scene.

More cigar bars?

More tequila bars?

More places to go dancing?

I'll give you mine in a couple days. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:25 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

November 27, 2007

Vice to replace Fletchers Bar

Some serious changes are in store for Fletchers Bar in Fells Point.

Ottobar co-owner Craig Boarman and partner Evan Tanner are buying the Fells Point pool hall and live music venue.

At the start of the new year, they plan to turn the downstairs into a sushi bar and Latin restaurant, while keeping the upstairs open as a club. They will rename it Vice.

"I wanted another outlet, and I always wanted to try food," Boarman said. ... 

Boarman also said they will keep promoter Paul Manna on until February and then reassess the booking situation.

Personally, I see no reason why Boarman wouldn't take over booking the club himself. He's done well with The Ottobar. 

The last hurrah for the downstairs of Fletchers is New Year's Eve.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:30 PM | | Comments (6)

Help Ben win back his ex!

MS reader Ben writes:

Tonight, I have a date with my ex. She lives in Hampden. She wants to get some dinner and go bowling.

Do you have any good (read: interesting) ideas? That Mustang place seems WAY to expensive (Bowling alleys should be seedy, smoke-filled and cheap) so I'm looking for a (preferably ten-pin) alternative.

Also, I'm trying to pick out a COOL place to get dinner (also that preferably allows smoking!)

Can you help, Sam? Perhaps any of your readers?  I'm in the process of trying to get my ex-girlfriend back, and any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated!

Got any ideas for him?

Here are my suggestions ... 

(Andre F. Chung/Sun Photographer) 

And by the way ... 10-pin bowling is against everything Baltimore stands for.

But between you and me, I like it better than duckpins.

Let's start with dinner. 

I talked to Sun food sorceress Elizabeth Large, who recommended Woodberry Kitchen. It's romantic, it's a little expensive, and there's no smoking. But that was her first and only recommendation. (She seems pretty set on it.).

I say take her to Rocket to Venus (pictured). Cheaper, hipper, and you can smoke there (but not until after 9 p.m.). Plus, I hear they have some delicious takes on childhood grub like grilled cheese.

As for bowling, your only two options in town are Mustang Alley's and the Patterson Bowling Center. You and I both know the Mustang can get pretty pricey. On the other hand, it's the only one with 10-pin lanes.

Or, if you feel like making the 20-minute trip north, you could go to the AMF Towson Lanes, which I'm told has dozens of 10-pin lanes. They're open until 11 tonight. I've never been there, so I can't vouch for the place. But here is their Web site.

So Ben, if you go to Towson, lemme know how it is.

And good luck! 

(Monica Lopossay/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:38 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Random stuff

The Vine update

It may be a while yet until the city's best wine tastings resume.

The Vine (pictured), the city's least pretentious wine bar, has been closed for renovations since May.

Only ... the renovations haven't started yet.

Instead, they've just been planning. And replanning.

"It's been pretty slow so far," said co-owner Shane Mitchell.

At one point, they contemplated knocking the whole building down, Mitchell said. They decided to just rehab it, like they originally planned.

Renovations on the South Baltimore bar should start in the next three weeks, and should wrap up in the spring, Mitchell said. I'm not holding my breath. 

(Elizabeth Malby/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:20 AM | | Comments (0)

November 26, 2007

So-so start for new Three Kings

Went to the reopened Three Kings this past weekend.

The new owners added some American items to the menu.

They also rehired at least one of the former servers, which was a good move.

Three Kings always had the $5 minimum per person rule. But they never enforced it -- until now.

But the hookahs, coffee and tea are as good as ever.  

(Photo by Lori Shepler/Los Angeles Times) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 5:08 PM | | Comments (3)

Tang want food and beer

The liquor store I frequent has a pet cat.

If you ask me, it's more like the pet cat has a liquor store I frequent.

This cat is a barrel-chested ball of orange fluff that must weigh 30 pounds.

We call him Tang, because that seems like a fitting name for such a large, slow-moving feline.


I tried to pick up Tang once -- and barely got him off the ground.

Asked the guy behind the counter the other day -- his real name is Tony. So we weren't too far off.

I like Tang better. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:41 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff

November 23, 2007

Fab Five Friday

Here are the top five things I'm thankful for about Baltimore bars.

1. They're unpretentious.

In most city bars, no one has a chip on their shoulder. I love that.

2. No cover charges

You can count on one hand how many bars have covers outside of the Power Plant. Thank you, Baltimore.

3. Cheap Natty Boh

Sometimes you need to go on a tear. And if you want to go on a cheap tear, Boh is the beer to do it with. At Tyson's Tavern, they're $1, all the time.

4. The Fort Avenue bar crawl

A dozen bars -- some dives, some yuppie joints -- lined up in a mile-long stretch. Anyone thirsty? 

5. Baltimore Bars have soul

80 percent of the watering holes in town have histories -- they're not some plastic-y feeling spot. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

November 22, 2007

Three Hot Weekend Tips

1. Happy Thanksgiving!

2. Happy Thanksgiving!

3. Happy Thanksgiving!


Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:40 AM | | Comments (0)

November 21, 2007

9:30 Club wins big

This might not come as a surprise if you've seen a show there, but the 9:30 Club just won Billboard's 2007 Top Club award.

Great sound, great sight lines.

My only complaint with the club is the ferocious security staff.

Otherwise, I'll agree with Billboard 100 percent on this one.

(Karl Merton Ferron/Sun Photographer) 



Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:22 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Sooo sloooow

Sorry if you're having to put up with error messages or extremely slow-loading blog pages. 

It's been this way for a couple days now.

Stick with me. I'm hoping Tribune will have the problem fixed soon.


Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:00 PM | | Comments (3)

The next Fab Five Friday

In light of the holiday, this week's Fab Five Friday is going to be the top five things I'm thankful for about Baltimore bars.

No, good service will not be one of them.

Washington might have a lot of trendy lounges and clubs, but I think Baltimore is a better bar town. What are you thankful for? 

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

November 20, 2007


Anybody ever been thrown out of a show?

I was kicked out of (and then snuck back into) a New Deal show at the Bowery Ballroom in 2003.

It was one of the greatest coups of my concert-going life. I'll tell you more about that later.

But I think my favorite story of someone getting ejected from a show was when an audience member at a Ryan Adams show requested a Bryan Adams (pictured) song.

Ryan Adams had him thrown out!

Granted, I wasn't there, so it might be an urban legend, but that sounds a little extreme.

Doesn't surprise me, though.

Ryan Adams is one of the flakiest indie performers out there.

(Getty Images) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:13 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff

Guess I oughta be careful ...

Philly Mag is getting sued for calling an Irish pub a dive bar.

They took it a little further though, and apparently also said this place was a haven for "broken-down blackjack addicts" and "self-professed black sheep of the family."

Hee hee.

I went into our archives and found out in my 2+ years of writing the nightlife column, I've only called four places dives: Mum's, Turner's, BAR and LP Docks.

And I only said Turner's "looks kind of like a dive on the outside." 

On second thought, there was that list I did a few months back ... 

Hope none of them will sue me for it. 

(Photo of Mum's jukebox by Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Local High Rise review preview

Want to know what the Local High Rise, East Baltimore's new music venue, is like?

The full review comes out in Thursday's LIVE section.

But I'll give you a two-word preview: big and cold. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:35 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

November 19, 2007

Broken Social Scene @ 9:30 Club

Sun writer Brad Schleicher was at the 9:30 Club yesterday to see Broken Social Scene (pictured). He writes:

Broken Social Scene managed to deliver a satisfying performance last night despite numerous technical difficulties and time constraints. 

At 7 p.m., regardless of the long line of fans waiting to enter the club via Will Call entrance, BSS took the stage, launching into "Lucky Ones" off their newest release Spirit If. 

Their second song, "Cause=Time" off their first full length LP You Forgot it in People, was cut short when the left side of the stage lost power. ...

(Stock photo) 

The band's bassist Brendan Canning offered up an explanation, saying that the club was saving power for Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killa, who was set to perform later that night.

After about 30 seconds, power was restored. BSS's frontman Kevin Drew took a vote from the audience to see where the band would restart the song. Deciding on the first chorus, the band started up again -- never missing a beat.  

Regardless of the 15 minute delay and technical issues, BSS managed to put on a 2-hour nonstop show, performing songs from Spirit If,  You Forgot It In People, their 2005 self-titled album and two covers -- a Pavement number and "Feel The Pain" by Dinosaur Jr.

The show ended with a singalong with Drew and the rest of the band. All in all it was rushed, but enjoyable.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:58 PM | | Comments (1)

Fallon, Johansson and more

If you need another celebrity fix, read my short piece in today's paper about more movie star sightings around town this weekend.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Celebrity sightings

Cue Bar

I don't like drinking in Washington.

In college, I used to go there a ton to see and play shows.

But Baltimore's cheap beer and unpretentiousness has spoiled me.

Now, I rarely feel like driving 45 minutes unless it's somebody's birthday.

That's how I found Cue Bar on U Street.

Surprisingly, the place wasn't stuffed -- even though we got there at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night.

Drinks weren't too pricey, either. Draft Yuenglings were $3.50 and Skyy Vodkas were $4.

All of the pool tables were taken, but the wait list wasn't long.

Cue Bar also had a ping-pong table, but it was $10 an hour(!) -- a buck or two less than renting a pool table.

For a Washington watering hole, Cue Bar was pretty big, too. The VJ kept me entertained by playing vintage music videos ("Sweet Dreams" by the Eurythmics, "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" by MJ).

If you're looking for a laid-back night out in Washington, hit up Cue Bar.

(Stock photo by Jed Kirschbaum/Sun Photographer) 

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

November 18, 2007

Wendel Patrick vid

Did a story on classical/jazz pianist Kevin Gift last weekend.

He has a side project as Wendel Patrick, a trip-hop/acid jazz composer.

Here is a pretty sick video from his recent performance at the Turntable Club in East Baltimore with Salim:

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

November 17, 2007

Ottobar hair metal preview

In anticipation of tonight's hair metal show at The Ottobar, I called former Kix front man Steve Whiteman (second from right).

Whiteman now teaches voice lessons and plays with Funny Money.

But even though he will be performing some vintage Kix songs tomorrow night, Whiteman said he rarely looks back.

"I'm a man who lives in the present," he said.

"I'm not a collector. I don't have any memorabilia from those times."

And though he's well into middle age, Whiteman said he can still hit all the notes most of the time.

"For a 50-year-old guy, I've still got my chops," he said.

(Photo from Sun archives) 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

November 16, 2007

Jimmy Fallon at Ale Mary's

Actor Jimmy Fallon (pictured) and his fiance, producer Nancy Juvonen, dropped by two Fells Point restaurants for appetizers and dinner last night.

(Juvonen is in town working on He's Just Not That Into You.) 

First, the couple noshed on crab dip and pigs in a blanket at Ale Mary's on Fleet Street around 5:30 p.m.

Their drinks? A Tanqueray and tonic and a seven and seven.

Then the pair headed to Peter's Inn for dinner.

"A very laid-back couple -- very cool," said Mary Rivers, the namesake of Ale Mary's. "They left a good impression."

Rivers had her picture taken with them. I'll see if I can post it later. 

(AP photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:46 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Celebrity sightings

Scarlett Johansson watch

If you're out and about tonight and tomorrow night, keep your eyes peeled for Scarlett Johansson (pictured).

She's in town the next couple days shooting the movie He's Just Not That Into You.

If you see her or Jennifer Connelly, let me know asap.

(AP photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:06 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Celebrity sightings

Fab Five Friday

I am by no means the expert on where the 30+ set hangs out in this city.

And I didn't get too many suggestions the other day.

But here it is: my list of the five best places for the 30+ set in Baltimore.

1. Paul's, 701 E. Fort Ave.

Totally unpretentious Federal Hill hangout for the 30 and 40+ set. 

2. Mosaic, 4 Market Place, Power Plant Live

Mosaic can get flooded with 30-somethings on Friday and Saturday nights. 

3. Waterfront Hotel, 1710 Thames St.

See a live band downstairs, and if you meet someone, head upstairs to the best lounge in Fells Point for some conversation. 

4. Maggie Moore's (pictured), 21 N. Eutaw St.

Perfect hangout pre- or post-Hippodrome show. It's elegant but also semi-informal. 

5. Grand Cru, Belvedere Square, 500 E. Belvedere Ave.

A little expensive, but it comfortably straddles the line between informal and business casual.

Honorable mention: James Joyce Pub, 616 S. President St. 

(Algerina Perna/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:47 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

November 15, 2007

'Bongs' at Huckas

If you've ever been to Huckas on Boston Street, you know why sports bars and hookah bars don't mix.

We went there once, and a couple guys were smoking hookahs in the back by some comfy leather couches.

We claimed the couches and were about to look at the hookah list when one of the guys said something like:

"You guys gotta try one of these BONGS, man."

He went on about how they had bongs in different flavors, and even bought us one.

I think that was before he realized the girls in our group had boyfriends.

The rest of Huckas just feels out of place. It's huge, and feels cavernous.

And the service is unreasonably slow -- even for Baltimore.

So my advice: If you want to go to a sports bar, go to a sports bar. If you want to go to a hookah bar, go to a hookah bar.

Just don't go to Huckas. It's the worst of both worlds. 

(Christopher T. Assaf/Sun Photographer) 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:58 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Three Hot Weekend Tips

1. The Hair Ball at The Ottobar 9 p.m. Saturday

Two former Kix (pictured) members, Steve Whitman (now with Funny Money) and Jimmy Chalfant lead this rock dance party. It's going to be smoking.

2. All Mighty Senators, Jah Works and the Kelly Bell Band at Recher Theatre Saturday

The shared 30th Anniversary for the City Paper and Record and Tape Traders should be one huge party. 

3. Dan Deacon and Video Hippos battle at Lo-Fi Social Club tonight

Not sure exactly what is going to be happening at this joint show, but I'm sure it will be awesome. Deacon is selling out shows in Europe now.

(Photo from Sun archives) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:37 AM | | Comments (1)

Toothbeef! Toothbeef!

By far one of the funniest things to come out of the Wham City experimental arts scene is this video by Jimmy Joe Roche.

Roche captures the essence of Baltimore -- awesome tackiness -- and combines it with absolute absurdity.

I laughed so hard I cried the first time I watched this. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:38 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

November 14, 2007

The new Counting Crows

Want a sneak peek of the new Counting Crows album Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings?

It was supposed to be out by now but they pushed it back to next year.

Here is a MySpace site with "Cowboys," one of the songs on the album.

It might even be the first single.


(Scott Wintro/Getty Images) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:47 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff

The next Fab Five Friday

In light of Stan's request, I'm going to make this week's Fab Five Friday the best places for the 30+ and 40+ set.

Your responses to my earlier request were funny but unhelpful.

Anybody got some real suggestions?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:29 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

Tour diary: All Mighty Senators

In fall 2005, Baltimore funk rock group All Mighty Senators scored an opening spot on Busta Rhymes' (pictured) six-week tour.

From guitarist/singer Warren Boes: 

We were in Atlanta. I was in another room at this point, but [the rest of the band] was in a dressing room and they saw him coming down the hall.

Craig, our trombone player said, "Hey Busta, come over here, we're All Mighty Senators. We're the opening band."

He said, "Congratulations," and then went into his dressing room.

That was the only contact we had with him for five weeks. That was the extent of that. It was very strange. It was a weird tour, for sure.

(AP photo by Gary He)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music, Tour diaries

November 12, 2007

Give Stan a hand

Got a phone call from Stan a couple days ago.

He wants to know some bars and clubs where the 40+ set hangs out.

Off hand, the Whistling Oyster in Fells and J. Paul's in Federal Hill come to mind. Muir's (pictured) is kind of a locals-focused place, and so is the Southside Saloon.

You guys have any suggestions for him?

(Elizabeth Malby/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:28 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Sia concert review

Baltamour blogger Maryann James was at Sia's show at the 9:30 Club.

She reports:

From the stuffed animals on stage to her non-choreographed, impromptu dances on stage, it is apparent that Sia is the antithesis of the sterile, manufactured super-pop machine.

Bathed in darkness and dressed in outfits that made Sia and her bandmates look like a child's fluorescent drawings come to life, they kicked off the show with "Buttons," a single off her new album, "Some People Have Real Problems."

Though the album has been pushed for release in the U.S. in January or February, she says ("Just google it when you get home and you can download it now") -- songs from that record dominated the show, with bits from Zero 7  and her previous album sprinkled about.

In between songs, Sia joked about adult diapers and the best times during the show to take a bathroom break. She was a burst of fun and energy, jumping around and dancing during breaks in songs and sometimes even getting her stuffed blue mic monkey a chance to sing. Though there were a few problems with audio feedback (get it together 9:30), her amazingly soulful voice shone through.

Highlights: Any chance she got to show off her fabulous voice, such as in "Lentil," "You Have Been Loved," and the song she's probably most known for, "Breathe Me."
Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:36 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Concert reviews, Local music

November 9, 2007

Fab Five Friday

Well, here it is: my list of the five best Irish pubs around town.

This is a subject I was a little leery of touching, because people are pretty opinionated about it.

It's the nightlife equivalent of Elizabeth Large's Top Ten Tuesday on crab cakes

1. Liam's Pint-Size Pub, below Kumari, 911 N. Charles St. (pictured)

The best pub in Mount Vernon, hands down. Most nights, Liam himself is there at the bar -- drinking, not serving.

2. Patrick's of Pratt Street, 934 W. Pratt St.

Take your hat of to a legend, son.

3. J. Patrick's Irish Pub, 1371 Andre St.

From MS contributor Rob Hiaasen: The people are friendly, the beer is cold and reasonably priced ... and no TV competes against the music or conversation.

4. Mick O'Shea's, 328 N. Charles St. 

Every bar should be welcoming, and the unassuming Mick O'Shea's is just that. 

5. Slainte, 1700 Thames St.

Slainte is a Saturday morning go-to for European football.

Honorable mention: Mike McGovern's, 1129 S. Clinton St.

Love how low key this place is. It would have made the list, but it's only open three days a week.  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:36 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

November 8, 2007

More on "Irish" pubs

You know what, MB?

You're right.

I have never been to a pub in Ireland.

But I'll bet they don't have big wooden signs that say 'Irish Pub' inside them.

Or flags covering the walls.

Or Irish knick-knacks everywhere.

Do American bars here have American flags and murals of Uncle Sam and apple pie and baseball everywhere?

Of course not.

(Well, maybe in Texas.) 

And, as for what makes me the authority on Irish pubs ... I'm the nightlife columnist.


(Photo of Galway Bay Irish Pub by Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:56 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Fab Five Fridays

Fab Five Friday sneak peek

I'll tell you right now which two "Irish" bars aren't going to be on tomorrow's list of the best Irish pubs.

An Poitin Stil in Timonium (pictured)

Yes, I'm leaving the Stil off my list. Why? Because an authentic Irish pub doesn't have to say it's an authentic Irish pub.

And I doubt very seriously if any pubs in Ireland have so many Irish posters, artifacts and tchotches all over the place. The Stil is out.

The James Joyce Pub on President Street in Harbor East.

Plastic, plastic, plastic. James Joyce needs a few more years of 'wipe, don't scrub' to make this list.

(John Makely/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:40 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

Three Hot Weekend Tips

1. Show Me What You Got MC Battle at Sonar tomorrow

Dirt Platoon, Agent Orange A-Class and other MCs are going head to head for a grand prize of $1,000 and an opening spot for a national headliner. $8. 

2. Shocked and Amazed at the Lo-Fi Social Club

All kinds of craziness (sword swallowing, fire breathing, etc.) is coming to the Lo-Fi tomorrow. Husband and wife team "Thrill Kill" Jill Fleet and Tyler "Fyre" (pictured) are among the performers in the event. $10.

3. MT6 Fest III at the Sidebar Tavern

This mini-festival, which starts at 2:30 p.m., has pretty sweet lineup: Mongolodian Glow, Heroin UK, Eric Crapton, Down With Gender and more. 

(Photo by John Ulaszek) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:53 AM | | Comments (0)

November 7, 2007

Station North impressions?

What's your impression of the Station North Arts & Entertainment District?

For those of you that haven't heard of it, the main area is Charles Street by the Charles Theatre, up to North Avenue and east and west of there.

Personally, I think there are some really interesting art exhibitions, live shows and experimental events.

But outside of Joe Squared, the Metro Gallery, Flux Studios and the Charles Theater, the rest of the area is an eyesore. ...

It has a long, long way to go before it's a destination for most Baltimoreans.

And if you didn't know what went on there, you would never just stumble upon it. Everything but those two blocks of Charles Street can get pretty dodgy after dark.

Local artists are doing what they can to help spruce up the area, but there's only so much they can do. MICA students and artists Jason Hughes and Matthew Paulson, pictured in 2003, collected trash from an adjacent lot and used it to fill the bags they then attached to this rowhouse.

(Amy Davis/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:48 PM | | Comments (9)

Three Kings re-opens

Three Kings of Egypt, the hookah bar at 1027 Light St. in Federal Hill, has reopened under new ownership.

Denise Anderson and her son Kenneth recently purchased the place and have set a grand opening for 5 p.m. this Friday.

The Andersons run the New Eastern Taxi Cab company in Essex, but this will be their first hookah bar. They have added some American fare, such as hamburgers, to the menu and lowered the prices, Denise Anderson said.

Hookahs are $9, and refills are $5. It is no longer BYOB, and alcohol will not be served on the premises. The new hours are 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 4 p.m.-4 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m.-midnight Sundays.

"It's a new experience for me," Anderson said. "But I've spent so much time in Three Kings for the past year, I think we're going to be really successful at it."

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Cheers for Cheers

A couple weeks ago when I asked if anybody had been to Cheers, no one responded.

Maybe no one goes there.

Maybe that's why Cheers is offering open bar parties on Friday nights.

For $20, you get unlimited bottles or drafts and mixed drinks (no top shelf stuff though) from 9 p.m. to close.

And, on Saturdays, ladies get the same deal for only $10. There is a $5 cover for dudes on Saturdays.

I haven't been there, but that's not a bad deal. 

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:32 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The next Fab Five Friday

Baltimore has no shortage of Irish pubs.

But a bunch of them are plastic-y impersonators of real Irish establishments.

So on Friday, I'm going to reveal the five best pubs in Baltimore.

Do you have any suggestions for me? 

The picture is of Maggie Moore's, by the way. It may or may not make the list.

(Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:09 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

November 6, 2007

Kix fix

Dear Kix,

We can't believe it's been almost 20 years since Blow My Fuse came out.

Screw Poison. You guys rock.



Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:49 PM | | Comments (1)

Halloween horse manure

And now, the dirty dirty.

It took me a while, but I finally got some video of the Fells Point Halloween horse manure episode.

Here is the YouTube link.

Warning: There is some profanity and excrement involved.

The back story:

Cops on horses patrolled the Fells Point Square Halloween night.

At some point, the horses left two big piles of No. 2 where Thames Street and Broadway intersect.

Hundreds of tipsy revelers looking for fun stood by the piles of manure for hours and watched as unsuspecting partiers walked right through the stuff.

When they did, everyone would shout "OHHHHHH! YOU JUST STEPPED IN [HORSE MANURE]!!!" 

Fun, huh? 

(AP Photo of mounted police) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:16 PM | | Comments (1)

The Woo Woo Tini = meh

Snagged a copy of Cazbar's drink list yesterday.

A couple weeks ago when I put the call out for cool martini bars, a few people talked about Cazbar's exotic mixed drinks.

After looking at their drink menu, I don't know what's so exotic about the Mediterranean martini or the Woo Woo Tini except their names.

The Mediterranean uses pomegranate juice, but that's nothing new.

If I had my pick, I'd try the Yeni Raki, a Turkish brandy made from raisins, grapes and anise. 

(Colby Ware/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:52 AM | | Comments (1)

Inside the Local High Rise

Here's a look at the interior of the Local High Rise, a new warehouse venue coming to East Baltimore.

It's a huge space -- something like 10,000 square feet.

The opening is scheduled for Nov. 16.

A lot of pop rock bands from the burbs are on the schedule through mid-December.

Co-owner Rebecca Lancaster said the place will probably never have a liquor license, but the audience they're catering to is too young to drink anyway. 

(Photo courtesy of the Local High Rise) 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:47 AM | | Comments (0)

November 5, 2007

Smoking on the West Coast

In light of Baltimore's up-coming smoking ban, I thought we should look to the West Coast, where smoking in bars is already illegal in some states.

A friend who recently moved to Baltimore told me some bars out west ignore the ban, or take measures to deal with it.

Officials in Seattle are pretty strict, he said. But less so in California. 

One California spot turned its old cigarette display case into a money jar, where they collected a buck or two from patrons. When they got busted for smoking, they used the cash from the case to pay the fee.

Another gave out empty Altoids mint tins for ashtrays, so they can hide the evidence if the inspectors show up.

Wonder if Baltimore joints are going to try and get around the new law. 

(Monica Lopossay/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:56 PM | | Comments (8)

Gitcha Caww Out

First saw this in Government Names, and had to share it with you.

This local hip-hop artist ASG (A Son of God) has a song called "Gitcha Caww Out," which is played at Ravens games. 

Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking -- a Christian hip-hop artist, how good could he be?

But the beats are legitimate. Check out his MySpace


Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:37 PM | | Comments (0)

Smooooooth jazz

Local smoooooooth jazz artist Slim Manicotti shared some great news with me this morning:

He's been nominated for International Vocalist of the Year by the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards!

With an angelic suit like this one, I don't see how he could lose.  

(Photo courtesy of 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:13 AM | | Comments (2)

Mr. T in Brooklyn?

I pity the fool that challenges Mr. T to a karaoke match.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:37 AM | | Comments (2)

November 2, 2007

Your Halloween photos

Thanks for e-mailing in your Halloween photos.

Here are two of my favorites ...


Jackie sent this one, she is the Queen of Cracked Hearts and the dude is Samurai Boo-Yah.
Pretty elaborate stuff. 
And, my overall favorite: MS reader Andrew and his buddies went as the Beastie Boys album cover for Sabotage
Awesome, guys. 
Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:14 PM | | Comments (1)

Pool halls in the 'burbs?

Got an e-mail from MS reader Phil this morning:

I just saw your top 5 list of places to shoot pool.  What places could your recommend which are in Baltimore County or Howard County? 

I live in Howard, so the ones there or on the west side of Baltimore County would hold the most interest for me.

Problem is, I don't get out to the counties much.

So while I've heard of All Star Billiards in Frederick (pictured), I haven't been there and can't recommend it.

You guys have any suggestions for Phil?

(Colby Ware/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:30 PM | | Comments (9)

Halloween photos part 2

OK, so, here are the rest of my favorite photos from the other night.

As you'll notice in this batch and the one from yesterday, most of the people in them are dudes.

That's because on Halloween, most chicks just wear skimpy outfits a la Mean Girls:

"I'm a mouse, DUH!"

Most chicks wouldn't dress up as a human whoopie cushion like the dude to the right, who wins the award for BEST GAG COSTUME.

To see more photos, click on the link below ... 










"I've got a fever and the only prescription is MORE COWBELL!"


Extra points for the real beard. 

By the way, I saw a bunch of people dressed up as the dudes from the SNL skit 'my [ahem] in a box.'













A traffic cop?!?!?


You see traffic cops every day.

That's so overplayed.













Remember Malibu from American Gladiators?

This dude nailed it. He even quoted from Malibu's infamous post-injury speech

"The next thing I knew, I was on the beach, taking in some cosmic rays, getting healed by mother nature. Taking a little brewski, holding onto a beautiful babe, and I'm fine today."

He's a child of mother nature, what do you expect? 











Flavor of Love starring Flavor Flav beats out just about any other reality show on MTV.

Even though this dude looks kinda like a deer in headlights, anyone who reps the Flav gets mad props. 














Have you seen this woman's dog?
















Oh, wait ... there it is -- wedged in her massive stuffed rump! 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:22 AM | | Comments (0)

Fab Five Friday

As promised, here are my top five spots for shooting pool.

Feel free to offer some of your own favorite pool joints. 

This photo is from Dave & Buster's in Hanover.

1. Bedrock Billiards, 401 W. Baltimore St.

The big space upstairs can feel empty, but the service is snappy and the draft list long.  

2. Sports 2000, 2401 North Point Blvd., Dundalk

This place has something like three dozen pool tables. It's a go-to for billiard's lovers. 

3. Fletchers Bar, 701 S. Bond St.

Pool is only 50 cents at Fletchers. And if you want, you can stroll upstairs and see a rock band. It's always nice to have that option.

4. Edgar's Billiards Club, 1 E. Pratt St.

Edgar's has 16 tables, but it's in the Inner Harbor, which means you might have to put up with some obnoxious tourists. 

5. McCracken's on Key, 1400 Key Highway

Free pool. All the time. 

(Doug Kapustin/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:21 AM | | Comments (1)

November 1, 2007

More Halloween stuff tomorrow

I'm going to post more Halloween photos tomorrow.

I'll give out awards for best representation of an SNL skit character, best gag costume, best MTV reality show character and more. 

By the way, if you have any funny ones you want to send me, I'll see if I can post them, too.

E-mail them to

Also, I took video of people stepping in horse manure last night.

I'm trying to get that up on YouTube tomorrow too.

I'll let you know if I can make it work. 

For now, enjoy the photo of Borat in Fells Point. 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 6:23 PM | | Comments (0)

Three Hot Weekend Tips

Here are some guaranteed good times on the town this weekend:

1. Dimitri From Paris (pictured) at Mosaic Lounge Saturday

I've said it before, but I'll say it again -- Mosaic consistently brings in some of the best touring house DJs in the world. If you like house music or disco, this is a must-see. 

2. The Oranges Band and the Jennifers at The 8x10 Saturday

Both these bands are mainstays on the Baltimore indie rock scene, which should make this a really solid show.

3. North Stock at Station North Arts & Entertainment District tomorrow

This mini-festival starts at 7 p.m. and features 10 bands play at three locations. WestNorth Studio, Load of Fun and Joe Squared Pizza and Bar will host performances by Furious Love Kids, Thrushes, Stalking Horses, Hefter and Friends, Junestar and a bunch of other bands. Tickets are only $15 each and include a beer at each location. 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 5:25 PM | | Comments (2)

The next Fab Five Friday topic

What's the best place in town to shoot pool?

I'll give you my suggestions tomorrow.

I'm not just going to list pool halls, either.

If you have a favorite place to go to play, let me know. 

(Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:39 PM | | Comments (0)

Halloween photos part 1

I've got something like 15 photos to post from last night's Halloween madness in Fells Point.

But the bartender from the Idle Hour in Federal Hill had my personal favorite costume: the board game Operation.

Over the course of the night, he gave patrons metal tongs and had them extract his funny bone, charley horse, etc.

He even had the haircut and the red nose. Fantastic!

Click on the link below to see more photos ... 











This dude dressed as Ronald McDonald is pretty creepy.

Hamburger, anyone?

Royale with cheese, perhaps? 















Oh yeah!

All I could think of was the Family Guy clip where they're in the courtroom and the judge sentences Peter to 24 months in prison and everyone's like "OH NO! OH NO! OH NO!"

Then the Kool-Aid man busts through the wall and is like "OH YEAH!"













Without a doubt, this award goes to the two-piece bathroom set.

People were actually checking their makeup in the sink guy's mirror.

And you can't beat that belly.

Jiggle, jiggle. 













You don't get mullets like this from a store.

This kind of dark, lightly greased, cascading mullet can only be homegrown.

The leather jacket? A brilliant touch.

And we all know what kind of message it sends:

"Step back, bro. Your girlfriend is my girlfriend now."










I've got plenty more where these came from. I'll post them later ...

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:59 PM | | Comments (2)

Stream of Feist's Rams Head Live show

Today at 2 p.m., MSN is streaming a Feist concert that was recorded at Rams Head Live.

Here's the link where you can watch it. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:35 PM | | Comments (1)

Halloween madness in Fells

Fells Point was a mob scene last night.

All the bars were packed. Lines for Max's Taphouse and the Greene Turtle went all the way down the block, and barely moved in 15 minutes. I'll bet some of those people waited all night to get inside.

My favorite tipsy conversation:

Dude on cell phone: I'm in Federal Hill!!!!

Me: Nah, man, you're in Fells Point.

Dude on cell phone: Oh, wait, I'm in Fells Point! Fells Point!

Check back later today for some crazy stories (one involving two piles of horse manure) and best costume awards.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:38 AM | | Comments (4)
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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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