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December 21, 2007

Stalking Horse update

The Stalking Horse will re-open on or about Jan. 10, according to manager Marc McFaul.

The bar and restaurant at 26 E. Cross St. has been closed for months after a fire. During renovations, they moved the bar from the right side to the left side, which makes the small space seem roomier, McFaul said.

They also added some more TVs.

I don't know how that's possible, though. Before, it seemed like every inch of wall space was covered with a flat screen.

Either way, welcome back, Stalking Horse.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:41 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Fab Five Friday

This was one of the toughest Fab Five Fridays I've ever put together -- because a ton of good music came out this year.

Some of these albums stayed in my car stereo for weeks at a time.

Even with two honorable mentions, I still spent a long time figuring out this list.

So here it is, the best Baltimore albums of 2007: 

1. Hamsterdam 2: Stash to the Strip by Darkroom Productions Inc.

When Darkroom makes the beats, local MCs step up their game. 

2. Spiderman of the Rings by Dan Deacon

Deacon makes music for the five-year-olds in all of us.

3. Hail Megaboys by J-Roddy Walston and the Business

Everybody knows Baltimore is a rock town, but nobody put out a better rock album this year than J-Roddy. 

4. If Children by Wye Oak (formerly Monarch)

A morbid but brilliant debut album. 

5. The Collective Now by the Seldon Plan

Their catchiest, most cohesive album yet. 

Honorable mentions: Come Back Home by Caleb Stine and the Brakemen and The King of Roq by Blaqstarr

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:34 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

December 20, 2007

Goof on roof

Looks like Canton Station (1028 S. Conkling St.) has started a drink special in honor of their special guest upstairs.

Ron Stack made it his personal mission to stay on the roof of the bar until the Ravens win.

I walked by today, clapped and wished him well.

"Thanks, buddy," he said.

He sounded pretty demoralized.

If I had to camp out in the cold for another few weeks after last weekend's devastating loss to the Dolphins, I probably would be, too.

$2 Heinekens isn't a bad deal, though. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:59 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff


Well, R.I.P., Clayton's Tavern.

I went there more than a few times, but usually for dinner -- not drinks.

Their food was a notch or two above pub grub, and their service was decent, but the beverages were a few bucks more than other neighborhood pubs.

Still, I'll miss Clayton's.

Wonder what's going to replace it.

(Photo by me) 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:47 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 19, 2007

Playbook up for auction

Want to buy a sports bar?

Head over to Dundalk, where, at 3 p.m. today, Playbook Sports Bar will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

The manager who answered the phone when I called this morning couldn't give me an explanation as to why it's being sold.

But, according to, there was a "partnership dissolution."

Hope the new owners keep the place open -- it was supposed to be a big step in the neighborhood's revitalization, I'm told. 

And I liked the place. Lots of TVs. 

(Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:48 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The next Fab Five Friday

Some of you (JM especially) are going to hate me for this, but I'm going to do it anyway.

This week's Fab Five Friday is on the five best albums released by Baltimore musicians this year.

Got any suggestions?

I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't. Nobody but me seems to care much about local music around here.

Maybe that's why Baltimore's scene gets such little national attention.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:46 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

I'm back!


After being stricken with sickness for a couple days, I'm ready to start blogging again.

Stay tuned for updates on McFaul's, Looney's, Playbook Sports Bar and more. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:06 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff

December 14, 2007

Fab Five Friday

We were blessed with a bunch of new watering holes in 2007.

Sure, a few bars closed -- especially in Fells Point -- but a number sprung up to take their place.

Here are the best new bars and clubs of 2007:

1. The Lo-Fi Social Club (pictured)

Owner Neil Freebairn didn't fit into any of the city's music scenes, so, with the Lo-Fi, he made a club where everyone feels welcome.  

2. Mosaic Lounge

General manager LG Concannon and the rest of Mosaic's planners turned a hot seasonal lounge into one of the city's best year-round dance clubs.

3. McCracken's on Key

A lot of new bars are semi-expensive. Not so at McCracken's. Here, you can play pool and shoot darts for free, and domestic bottles are $1.75.

4. Don't Know Tavern

I love sinking into the plush leather sofa and chairs near the front of Don't Know. Sometimes I head to the back of the bar for some air hockey, shuffleboard and pool, too. 

5. Illusions Magic Bar

This super swanky lounge has classic decor and nightly magic shows.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:21 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

December 13, 2007

Three Hot Weekend Tips

1. The Ed Schrader Show, 9 p.m. tonight at the Metro Gallery, 1700 N. Charles St.

Schrader (pictured) hosts monthly showcases of some of the city's most interesting artists and musicians. Tonight, his guests are band Rosemary Krust, comic book artist Hazard Vaupem and poet Ryan Coffman. $5.

2. Come Together Saturday at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place in Power Plant Live

Local bands such as the Kelly Bell Band, David Tieff, and the Cheaters cover Beatles songs for charity. Doors open at 7 p.m. $10.

3. Dangerously Delicious Pies Rock-N-Roll Holiday Extravaganza Saturday at The Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St.

This night of musical and edible decadence features the Expotentials, 40 Acres, Agents of the Sun and more. Eat pie. Rock out. Repeat. $10.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:41 PM | | Comments (0)

Open on Christmas

If you're in town and thirsty Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, duck into Liam's Pint-Size Pub, which will be open 5 p.m.-2 a.m. both days.

I was there for a little while last night, listening some live music from an electric guitarist/singer.

Or, if you're hungry, check out E. Large's Top Ten Tuesday about restaurants open on Christmas day.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:18 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Some Fab Five suggestions

It occurred to me last night that you guys might not remember a lot of the new bars and clubs that opened this year.

Here are a few: Mosaic Lounge (pictured) and Angels Rock Bar in Power Plant Live, the Lo-Fi Social Club, Don't Know Tavern, the Local High Rise, Tyson's Tavern, McCracken's on Key, Mustang Alley's, the Stalking Horse, Quigley's Half-Irish Pub and Illusions Magic Bar.

Rank them as you wish.

(Colby Ware/Special to The Sun)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:31 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

Vanguard Video

Meet Wayne Cromwell, the upbeat owner of Mount Vernon's newest video store: Vanguard Video.

Cromwell, a self-confessed cinephile, lives in a building owned by the folks who own Minato.

One day, one of Minato's owners saw Crowmwell's collection of 2000+ DVDs, and asked him if he wanted to start a video store.

She wasn't kidding and offered to rent him a small basement space at 1015-B N. Charles St. He opened last Monday.

A good chunk of Cromwell's DVDs are documentaries and foreign flicks.

If you're in the area, check him out. The dude knows his stuff. And soon, he plans to start showing movies on a flat-screen TV for patrons.

Hours are 3 p.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 1 p.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays. Call 410-539-2221.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:13 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff

December 12, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

This week's Fab Five Friday is the best new bars/clubs of 2007.

We've been pretty lucky when it comes to bar openings this year.

Got any nominations for me?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:10 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

Half-price cornucopias!*

I love this ad Della Rose's Tavern took out in the City Paper the other week.

Who wouldn't want a half-price cornucopia?

But when you look closer, you see the truth is ... 














Della Rose's doesn't have any cornucopias. You've been fooled!

Sneaky, huh?

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:38 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff

December 11, 2007

Chinese Food on Christmas

This song and video, by Baltimore-based musician Brandon Harris Walker, is hilarious.

It has racked up more than 500,000 views on YouTube, too. A new holiday classic? I think so.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:27 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff

Chris Brown sighting

Visiting celebrities love to go to ESPN Zone.

Got this note yesterday:

R&B artist Chris Brown came into ESPN Zone in Baltimore on Sunday afternoon with a group of about 30 friends and family to celebrate the birthday of his young backup dancer, Lil Scooter. 

Two bodyguards stood watch outside the Bristol Suite (the private room where the party took place) while the group ate and watched football. 

They brought two birthday cakes including one cake in the shape of an actual miniature scooter. 

They stayed for about two and half hours and left when the football games wrapped up.

(AP Photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:06 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Celebrity sightings

Al Capone is watching

It's a little unnerving when you go into a bathroom and there is a giant framed poster of Al Capone hanging right above the toilet.

That's the scene in Ale Mary's men's restroom.

The whole time you're in there, Capone's fat face stares you down.

(Cell phone photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:01 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Help Neal

Got this email from Midnight Sun reader Neal: 

When I was out in LA a few months back I absolutely fell in love with authentic tiki-style drinks. Since I got back I've been looking around for something similar here and have come up with zeroes across the board.

Any ideas where someone can go in the area for an authentic tiki drink? I'm not necessarily looking for the full-on kitsch experience, more for the quality of the drinks. A good zombie or scorpion (etc) is all I'm after, and if it comes with the decor and the music that's 
just a bonus.


I don't know of any authentic tiki bars around here.

Anybody got some suggestions for him?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:04 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Random stuff

December 10, 2007

Too much change

One of my pet peeves with Baltimore bars is some of them don't round off their drink prices.

Club Charles is notorious for this.

Get a beer there, and it might come to something like $3.31.

Pay with a $5 and the bartender hands you a single and a fistful of coins.

And since you don't want to be the guy that tips the bartender in coins, you give him the single.

That means by the end of the night, you walk out of the place with pockets full of change.

And, if you're like me, when you pull your keys out of your pockets, change spills all over the sidewalk.

(Doug Kapustin/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:07 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff

We are OPEN!

Saturday night, I made a triumphant return to the Idle Hour following my debacle there last weekend.

The same bartender was working, and one of two things happened:

1) He didn't recognize me


2) He did notice me but let me stay anyway this time around.

Either way, it was a good move, because I rolled deep Saturday night.

Me and about a dozen friends (it was my birthday party) strolled into the place, automatically doubling the size of the crowd.

If the bartender jumped the bar at me again, we could have taken him.

(Elizabeth Malby/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:39 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Sour grapes

You can't please everybody all the time.
Got this e-mail last week from a Midnight Sun reader.
It's about my Fab Five Friday on wine tastings.
Hi Sam,
If you're going to give out information about wine events I'd like to see something more definitive than "I believe." Nobody cares what you believe. Just put down the facts. Other than that your information sucks.
Ed Y
S Baltimore


Your thoughts? 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:14 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

December 7, 2007

Why Admiral's Cup closed

The long version of the story involves an estate and LLCs, so I'll spare you the details. 

In short: The owners of the building, which sits at the corner of Broadway and Thames Street, decided to sell the place.

The lease was up, and that was that.

I'll let you know what the plans are for the space when it's sold.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:54 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

"With or Without You"

In honor of U2's recently remastered and re-released Joshua Tree, here is a chilling cover of "With Or Without You," done by Scala and Kolacny Bros, a Belgian girls choir.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:09 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Random stuff

Happy anniversary Rodos

Can you believe Rodos in Fells Point is 30 years old?

After all these years, it still fills up on Friday and Saturday nights.

A lot of bikers (not of the Harley variety) go to Rodos and neighboring Moby's.

I've looked but never been inside.

Usually, the music is loud enough to give me a headache if I stand there on the sidewalk for too long -- let alone drink at the place. 

But it takes a lot of hard work to keep a bar open for 30 years.

So congratulations, guys. 

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:22 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Fab Five Friday

I'm not a huge wine fan, but I'm always down for wine tastings -- provided they don't cost too much, and the servings are generous.

And yes, while there are a few fancy, expensive wine tastings on this week's Fab Five Friday list, they're not totally exorbitant.

With that in mind, here's the skinny: 

1. Five wines for $5 at Charlotte's, 1542 Light St.

With The Vine out of commission for the next few months, Charlotte's has stepped up as its temporary successor. Head there Tuesday evenings for the most unpretentious tastings in town.  

2. Metropolitan Coffeehouse and Wine Bar, 902 S. Charles St.

Five generous pours for $15 on Tuesday nights is the second best deal you'll get around town. 

3. Chesapeake Wine Company, 2400 Boston St.

Here, you get roughly eight wines for $25 at 7 p.m. Tuesday nights.

4. Bin 604 Wine Sellers, 604 S. Exeter St.

Monthly tastings aren't cheap -- $29 to be exact -- but the folks at Bin 604 really know what they're doing. Their next one is Dec. 27, I believe.

5. The Wine Market, 921 E. Fort Ave.

The Wine Market's tastings are more sporadic, and usually cost around $20-$25. 

If you have any suggestions for the list, I'd love to hear them. 

(Photo by Los Angeles Times) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:09 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

December 6, 2007

Three Hot Weekend Tips

Looking for something to do this weekend? Here are some ideas:

1. Punk rock karaoke at The Ottobar 10 p.m. tomorrow

Landis Expandis of the All Mighty Senators hosts this night of live karaoke. The Bootblacks play your requests while you sing. That sounds so much better than any plain old karaoke night.

2. Celebration (pictured) at 2640 Space 7 p.m. Saturday

Their new album Modern Tribe is one of the best this year from a Baltimore-based band, and this trio led by singer Katrina Ford can get down live. $10.

3. Shattered Wig Night at the 14 Karat Cabaret tomorrow

Local saxophonist extrodinare John Dierker has a new group, which will play live at this party celebrating the new issue of Shattered Wig Review. Washington-area poets Rod Smith and Mel Nichols will also perform. $6.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:10 PM | | Comments (0)

The Lo-Fi's new sign

Here is a picture I took of the Lo-Fi Social Club's exterior.

I like the new sign -- it's fitting, considering the club's DIY attitude. 

Looking good, Neil!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music, Random stuff

The warm side of winter

The only thing I look forward to about winter in Baltimore: hot buttered rum at Bertha's in Fells Point.

They started serving it later than usual this year because it stayed warm well into October.

Well, it's finally freezing cold outside.

And that means it's finally hot buttered rum time. 


(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

What are you doing tonight?

The eternal question.

If you're like me, you try to come up with something new and interesting pretty often.

Here's a new Web site that can help. It's called Localist, and has a huge database of Baltimore and Washington events, listed by day and neighborhood.

You can sign up to be a user, and rate the events and meet other people in different social networks.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:38 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff

December 5, 2007

LOVE and Shodekeh

Speaking of slam poetry, here is a live performance video by LOVE the Poet backed by local beatboxer Shodekeh.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:09 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff

Slam poetry at Slainte

Has anyone been to poetry night at Slainte Pub?

Seems like an odd place for a slam poetry reading.

Aren't they usually held in coffeehouses?

Still, I'd much rather have a beer than a cup of coffee.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:05 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Is Club Orpheus still open?

I wonder about this place every time I drive by.

Club Orpheus used to be the two-level Goth club on the outskirts of Little Italy that bit its thumb at the neighborhood residents who wanted it closed.

Eventually, I thought the residents got their way and the club was shuttered. 

Maybe I was wrong.  

I recently saw a listing online advertising Orpheus' New Years Eve 2007 party.

Anybody know anything about this? 

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:20 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Pure is coming ...

Recently drove by Pure, the new Canton nightclub coming where GoodLove used to be.

From the looks of it, Pure still has a long way to go before it's ready to open.

When I was there, workers were still revamping the place.

Construction dust was everywhere inside. At least the space is getting totally renovated.

I think a new look would be good for it.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:19 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 4, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

Well, I was going to do the five best wine bars, but Sun uber-foodie Elizabeth Large struck first with the Top Ten wine bars around town last week.

So instead, this week's Fab Five Friday will be the best wine tastings.

Got any suggestions? 

(Photo by Los Angeles Times) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:20 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

Pix of the departed

The end of the year is coming fast, and I found myself reflecting on some of the bars we've lost this year.

Fells Point has seen more bars close than most other neighborhoods.


Lulu's Off Broadway

After four years on Aliceanna Street, Lulu's closed this past weekend.

It will be sorely missed by neighborhood locals and tourists looking for the real Baltimore drinking
experience. ...








The Admiral's Cup

This bar on the corner of South Broadway and Thames Street could get really rowdy on Friday and Saturday nights.

It was not the cleanest of watering holes, but the outside seating was a great place to sit and people watch.







Fells Point Station

I never went inside the station, which sat at 600 S. Broadway, but it always advertised some decent crab specials.

Looked kind of dumpy, though.

It was usually empty, too.

So I wasn't surprised when it closed.







This chameleon-like corner bar went through four coats of paint in its year-long lifespan.

(Photos by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:05 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

I'll pay what I want to pay

Expensive tastes and cheap attitudes don't mix.

An unnamed Fells Point bar owner told me about a rather nasty patron from a few nights back.

This customer spent all night drinking imports and microbrews in the bar.

His check came to almost $80.

Only, he didn't feel like the beer was worth $80.

So this customer scratched out the prices he'd been charged on the check and wrote in what he felt he should pay.

The bartender was none too pleased, but the patron refused to pay the full price.

The bartender threatened to call the cops.

The patron thumbed his nose at him.

So the bartender did call the cops. ...

(Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

When the cops got there, the patron, angry (and probably drunk) threw his beer on the bartender!

The cops asked the bartender what he wanted to do. Arrest the guy? Take him downtown?

But the bartender, eager to wash his hands (and face) of the situation, just said throw him out.

What would you have done if you were the bartender? 

I'm not sure I would have been that nice to the customer at that point. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:50 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff

New dartboards at Mums?

Was at Mum's in Federal Hill for a few games of pool this past weekend, and saw two or three new dartboards by the back.

Please excuse the blurry cell phone photo. 

I haven't been to Mum's in a while, so I'm not sure how long they've been there.

Surprisingly, even though it was Saturday, there was no band playing.

Didn't recognize the bartender either.  

But it was great to see Sinclair again.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:38 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 3, 2007

Closed, closed, closed.

A few quick updates:

Clayton's Tavern is indeed closed for the near future at least. I'm not sure why.

I'm also not sure why Lulu's Off Broadway is closed, but it looks like it's done for good.

Sun food wizardess Elizabeth Large had a deep thought: "You have a closed theme today."

I do. It's depressing. Anybody have some good news for me? It would be much appreciated.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:55 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Lulu's closed too?

MS reader Fells Point Don posted this comment earlier today:

"Lulu's in Fells Point (pictured) abruptly closed its doors Friday night. Another great bar down the tube..."

I called Lulu's but no one picked up.

Don, do you have any contacts there?

Or, does anyone know what's going on? 

(Gene Sweeney Jr./Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:09 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Clayton's Tavern closed?

Walked by Clayton's Tavern the other night, and saw a sign on the door which read:

"Closed until further notice."

Anybody know anything about this? 

(Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:27 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

We are CLOSED!

Saturday night, a couple friends and I went on a Federal Hill bar tour.

We finished at the Idle Hour (pictured), where we bought a six-pack and started to head home.

My friend Kaiser decided to run back inside for a minute, and dashed in through the side door. We tried to follow, but the bartender stopped us and told us the bar was closed.

But there are still people in there, and we just want to get our buddy, we said.

He said that wasn't an option, and closed the door.

So we waited a minute or two, and tried going in the front door. ...

The bartender saw us, jumped the bar(!!!) and slammed the door in our faces.

I've never seen a bartender jump a bar before, let alone to slam the door in the face of longtime customers. 

And I like the Idle Hour a lot.

But I'm pretty miffed at that.

(Elizabeth Malby/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:05 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 1, 2007

Hello Belgium, er, Baltimore

If you've never been there before, guess what the URL for the Brewer's Art's Web site is.


But the Mount Vernon brewery also lays claim to

Both addresses go to the same site.

Sometimes I wonder how beer geeks in Belgium feel about the fact that an American brewery owns

(Monica Lopossay/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:19 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff
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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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