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March 31, 2008

What I look like

As most of you know, I try to keep a low profile.

I can count on one hand how many Baltimore bar owners know what I look like.

They are: 

Ron Furman of Max's Taphouse, Jim Quigley of Quigley's Half-Irish Pub, Dave Holter of Taps, Kurt Kragunier of the Annabel Lee Tavern and Volker Stewart of The Brewer's Art. and maybe one or two more I can't remember off hand.

That's not bad, considering I'm in my third year as the nightlife columnist.

So if you really want to know what I look like, go ask one of them.

(Photo by Jed Kirschbaum/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:22 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Random stuff

Soul Cannon live @ WTMD

A couple weeks ago, Soul Cannon gave one of the most energetic performances I've seen on Baltimore Unsigned.

The segment airs at 8 p.m. tonight. 

This is "Still Something to Give" from the new album Kaboom

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:49 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Gin mill reopens

The Gin Mill (2300 Boston St.) has reopened under new ownership.

There is a sign out front advertising renovations, but when I walked by last week, I didn't notice anything drastically different.

I'll get a photo up as soon as I can.

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

Happy hour buffets

Don't know if you saw it or not, but here is a link to a piece I wrote about free/cheap happy hour buffets in and around the city.

It ran in yesterday's paper. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:28 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 30, 2008

Eva Castillo's CD release

Baltimore's soulful songstress Eva Castillo (pictured) plays the 13th Floor in The Belvedere Hotel (1 E. Chase St.) tonight to mark the release of her sophomore CD, 3 Hours Later.

Acoustic pop singer/songwriter Tony Lucca will also perform.

The music starts at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $5 and the show is 21+.


Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:28 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

On stage at Vice

I think when Craig Boarman and Evan Tanner finally finish Vice, they should book these guys for the grand opening party.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

March 29, 2008

Victoria Vox's CD release

Victoria Vox's new album Chameleon is finally out.

To celebrate, she's throwing a CD release party tonight at Bedrock Billiards at 8 p.m. tonight.

Chameleon is a really strong album all around.

It should be a great show.

Word on the street is that her producer is flying out from Los Angeles to play melodica and bang on pots and pans.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Boo for wimpy hand dryers

One of the few things I can't stand about the Dog Pub (20 E. Cross St.) in Federal Hill is the hand dryers in their bathrooms.

There are no hand towels -- just these wimpy automatic hand dryers.

How I hate them.

My hands would dry faster if I held them over the bar while the bartender blew on them through a silly straw.

As frequent MS readers well know by now, I'm a man who needs thick paper hand towels or one of the nuclear-powered XLerator hand driers in Ropewalk Tavern or Stalking Horse.

XLerator hand dryers blow the water off your hands and onto the floor. The water doesn't have time to evaporate.

I looooove them. 

Everything else falls short.

To the owners of the Dog Pub: Before you open another branch in the 'burbs, toss a little money toward the Baltimore bar to upgrade those terrible horrible no good very bad hand dryers.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 28, 2008

Baja throwback at Club One

From 8 to 11 tonight (march30), the former staff of Baja Beach Club is bringing their (in)famous $.25 bottles special to Club One (pictured, 300 E. Saratoga St).

There is no cover tonight, but there will be a cover in coming weeks.

"It seems like a good fit so far," said Baja's owner Tony Di Fatta.  

Di Fatta said he's still hunting for a new home for Baja.

(Photo by Elizabeth Malby/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

I'm impressed

I hit up Muggsy's Mug House (1236 Light St.) last weekend for a round with some friends.

Ryan Cooper was behind the bar again.

And not only did he remember my name -- he also remembered what beer I ordered when I was there a couple weeks ago.

That's pretty impressive, especially considering the place was comfortably full, upstairs and downstairs.

I never saw it that full when it was Clayton's Tavern, either.

So hopefully good things are in store for Muggsy's. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:00 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Fab Five Friday

For the record, this is Fab Five Friday: College Throwback Edition.

I seriously haven't played some of these games since college.

I don't miss some of them. But I still play a couple.

1. [Expletive]-hole

A perennial favorite. I love how you constantly have to be on edge -- the game can change in a moment.  

2. Beer pong

Who knew tossing a Ping-Pong ball into a plastic cup could be this awesome?

3. Kings/Circle of Death

It's worth it just to see the face of the person who has to drink the cup. Unless that person is you.

4. Never Have I Ever

Discover all kinds of hilarious dirt on your friends while drinking? I'm in.

5. Quarters

I'm not a huge fan, but I can't deny the popularity of quarters -- especially with the New Jersey crowd. That should say something about the game. Zing! 

(Photo by Kim Hairston/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:32 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

March 27, 2008

When does it become a gimmick?

Last year when indie rock duo Wye Oak (then known as Monarch) came to record a Baltimore Unsigned session, drummer Andy Stack was leery of me talking about his talents.

Since singer/guitarist Jenn Wasner is Wye Oak's only other member, Stack pulls double duty live.

He covers the drums with one hand and two feet while playing bass on a small keyboard to his left.

Stack didn't want me discussing this on air because he thought it took away from their music.

He thought it felt too gimmicky.

I disagree. I think someone like Stack can be recognized for his talents without it becoming a gimmick.

But it raises a good point. Where do you draw the line?

Here's a video of Stack playing the drum/bass parts to the song "Warning."

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:30 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Local music


I keep forgetting to mention that last month I went to Suite, the fairly new nightclub in the basement of The Belvedere in Mount Vernon (1 E. Chase St.)

You get there by taking the lobby elevator down one floor. 

On Wednesdays, Charm City Improv hosts an R&B open mike night.

Most of the performers were OK, but one or two -- such as Kia Calloway -- were really impressive.  

And I loved how the live band could pick out pretty much any song the performer wanted to sing off the cuff -- no matter what key it was in. 

I just thought the $10 cover was too much for an open mike night on a weekday.

Here's a link to the venue's incredibly annoying MySpace site

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:04 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

Garden Lounge update

Sale negotiations are moving along for The Garden Restaurant and Lounge in South Baltimore, according to owner Judy Melton.

The interested party and Melton go to the liquor board April 8. Then comes the settlement, she said. 

Melton, who has run the place for 40 years, said the prospective new owners plan to keep it the same for the time being, but they may change it in the months to come.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:32 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 26, 2008

Mother's Grille update

The expansion of Mothers Federal Hill Grille (1113 S. Charles St.) is almost complete, owner Dave Rather reports.

The restaurant/bar will double in size when the new back sections open in mid- or late April.

The new space features new bathrooms (thank God) a 60 foot six inch bar (the distance from the pitcher's mound to home plate), a roll-down garage door, a bigger kitchen, curbside carryout and about 20 new flat screen plasma TVs.

Its nickname will be Mothers in the Alley. The goal is to better separate the dining area from the bar space, Rather said.

"It's a big deal," he said. "We've been working on it for many years."

(Photo by Andre F. Chung/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:52 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Dodging meatheads

A week or two ago, Bowing Ben asked for a reprint of my very first nightlife column, about how to dodge meatheads in Federal Hill.

I re-read it a couple days ago and chuckled at some of the stuff I wrote in it.

I had just moved to Baltimore a couple months before, and was still getting to know the city.

Keep in mind: This was before Ryleigh's became the now uber-popular Ryleigh's Oyster.  

Here's the piece ... 

A bar night in Federal Hill can sometimes turn into a claustrophobic shovefest, with you versus a bumbling pack of loud, drunken meatheads.

To avoid this, you have to turn your night into a slow-moving game of tag: You hide in one bar until the zombies flood it and you scamper to another bar a couple of blocks over.

If you play well, your eyes won't water with smoke trails from a thousand cigarettes.

You won't have to cup your hand to your mouth and scream:WHAT'S YOUR NAME!?!?!



Here's one man's guide to a (mostly) fathead-free night out in Federal Hill.

Start early at a popular joint before it gets packed. We went to Mother's Federal Hill Grille (pictured, top) for some food about 9:30 p.m. one Saturday, in that nice little post-dinner crowd/pre-bar crowd window.

All-American fare was in order: a few of Brother Don's Big Phat Old Bay Hot Wings and a Big Buh Burger, washed down with a couple Mother's Brews. A medium-bodied beer with good flavor, draft Mother's Brews cost the same ($4.50) as draft Yeunglings and taste better.

After about an hour, the music started getting louder, and the bar area started filling up. We didn't have to deal with this up close (we were in the dining area), but hearing some dumb mid-'90s pop song (Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It") finally broke us.

This might be how we do it, but it's not Friday night, and we're not in middle school anymore. Time for us to move on.

We hunkered down, formed a line behind RJ (the big guy of the group), and elbowed our way through the sea of flesh and smoke.

We walked up East Cross Street looking for another half-full hangout when Robert Plant's high-pitched scream stopped us cold. It was Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love Medley" from BBC Sessions, blasting from No Way Jose Cafe's jukebox, and we were hooked.

While Jose's downstairs area is a little narrow, if you're there before it fills up, it's actually quite cozy. We snagged a few stools near the jukebox and started feeding it.

We ordered a few cool ones, and I looked for some salsa tunes on the jukebox to match the decor. After five minutes, I gave up and settled for the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar," because it reminds me of the South, which is as close as I could get to Mexico, musically.

Next came Ryleigh's (pictured, lower right), a clean and classy pub with lots of stained wood and exposed brick. An empty table on the upstairs balcony called to us.

It was well past midnight at this point, and while people still hung out downstairs, the upstairs area where we sat was nearly empty.

We were at a table, so we thought we should wait for a server to take our drink orders. We kept glancing over at the bartender and she kept glancing back at us. Stalemate.

Finally we broke down and ambled over to the bar.

The longer we sat and talked, the more people slowly sifted out the door, making it easier by the moment for us to hear ourselves. By 1 a.m., we couldn't believe our luck - we were almost alone upstairs. I chuckled at the thought of the sardines down the street stuffed into MaGerk's. Not us!

Tonight, at least, I would walk home with my vocal cords and my sanity intact. All in all, I was pleased with the way we dodged the goonies, and dubbed the night a success.

(Photo of Mother's from Sun archives; photo of Ryleigh's by Elizabeth Malby/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:09 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Max's Tobacco Company opens

Ron Furman, the owner of Max's Taphouse in Fells Point, has reopened Max's Tobacco Company in the building next to the South Broadway bar.

Furman said he closed it years ago because he was stretched thin running Max's at Camden Yards.

When Max's at Camden Yards closed in the fall of 2005, that freed up some of Furman's time.

And the tobacco company has one extra perk for Furman, who loves his stogies:

"It gives me a place to smoke," he said.

(Photo by me)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 25, 2008

I'm leaving ...

No, not for good.

But I'm taking a brief respite* for a trip down to the dirty south.

Well, technically just North Carolina.

So maybe it's more like the scruffy South.

Anyhow, my fantastic editor Sarah Kelber (the voice and face of Reality Check) will be posting your comments in my stead.

Don't worry -- I have plenty of posts prepared in advance.

And I'll be back in two shakes of a lamb's tail, aka Saturday.

*Note to self: Careful with those big words, Sessa.

(Photo by Bloomberg News) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:04 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff

The next Fab Five Friday

Chug! Chug! Chug!

This week, let's rank the five most awesome drinking games.

It can be trickier than you think.

Example: Which is better -- beer pong, flip cup, quarters, Edward 40-hands or beer scavenger hunts?

I'm sure there are more that aren't coming to mind right away either.

Hit me! 

(Photo by Kim Hairston/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:00 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

A side effect of the smoking ban

When the smoking ban started Feb. 1, some local bar owners bought big ornate ashtrays like this one.

Since all the smokers are forced to stand on the sidewalk for their fix, these ashtrays are filling up faster than ever.

Bar owners in Fells Point actually have a nickname for them: bum buffets.


Because on Saturday and Sunday mornings, a bunch of homeless people pick through the ashtrays for half-smoked cigarettes.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:25 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Abby Mott live at WTMD

Baltimore-based singer/songwriter Abby Mott taped a live session on Baltimore Unsigned a few months ago.

I made Mott the guinea pig for my first Sun/WTMD video.

Side note: You can listen to the audio session here.

Here's the vid:

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:35 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

March 24, 2008

Barack Obama look alike?

Columbia-based hip-hop producer SoulStice sent out an email this morning about how people keep telling him he looks like presidential candidate Barack Obama.

I kind of see it.

What do you think?


Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:42 PM | | Comments (24)
Categories: Local music, Random stuff

'Disturbia' question

Did anybody see the movie Disturbia?

It came out last year, kind of a spin-off of Rear Window: Kid (Shia LaBasdasdff) is on house arrest for three months and starts spying on his neighbors -- with scary results!!

Anyhow, I noticed this poster in his bedroom.

Problem: It's cut off, so I couldn't read the whole thing.

All I got is "Charm City Dr----"

What could that be?

(Photo courtesy of DreamWorks) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:26 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Random stuff

The Bridge update

This month, local funk rock band The Bridge has been in the studio recording its sophomore studio album.

It's still untitled, but should be released on Hyena Records in the fall.

In the meantime, the band is launching a 20-date tour at Santa Fe Cafe in College Park April 1, followed by a three-night stand at the 8x10 April 3-5.

(Press photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

March 23, 2008

In studio with The Oranges Band

Last week I had lunch with Roman Kuebler (pictured) of The Oranges Band to talk about the group's new album.

Primary recording at Lord Baltimore Recording should have wrapped up this past week.

The songs were recorded live in studio with new band mate Doug Gillard, formerly of the band Guided by Voices.

Here is a piece I wrote, which ran in today's paper.

(Photo by Monica Lopossay/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Homer is frying alive!

At last, an email update on Homer (which I realized was somehow caught in my junk mail folder):

OK, wize dudes. So's u wanna call the cops, eh?

Youse wanna put a bounty on are hed? We wuz good to Homer.

And I daresay our ransom request was quite reasonable. Your callous failure to act makes us question your commitment to Homer. Word.

So we are upping the ante. Now we want a lot more Doh! to get him back.

If you want to see him in one piece again, if you want to make sure we don't make stew out of him, pay up.

Ten bucks, in small unmarked bills, smart guy. Leave it with the babe at the koffee joint across the street from youse.

Here's a little picture of what we're doin to Homer now.

You mite say we're turnin' up the heet.

Yours turly,

I'm thinking of leaving Monopoly money.

Sound like a good idea?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:49 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: The Homer Saga

March 22, 2008

Update on Vice

Vice is still a few months away.

The new Latin/sushi restaurant and upstairs club coming where Fletchers currently sits will probably open in mid-summer, according to co-owner Craig Boarman, who also co-owns The Ottobar.

For now, it's still Fletchers and still hosting live music regularly.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:52 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Where I've been

Sorry for the sporadic posts the past couple of days.

I've been on the fence beat.

Did you hear about the seven-foot fence erected around Mount Vernon Place this week?

I wrote about it here, and then with Mutts blogger John Woestendiek here and here

(Photo by Jed Kirschbaum/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:48 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff

March 21, 2008

Charity rock

Still looking for something to do tonight?

The Hard Rock Cafe in the Inner Harbor is hosting some live music for a good cause.

The Cheaters (pictured), a great rock band from Annapolis, are headlining the show.

Victims of Experience and Everyone But Pete will also perform.

Proceeds will benefit Musicians on Call, an organization which helps bring live and recorded music to hospital patients.

The music starts at 9 p.m. A $5 donation is suggested. The show is ages 18+. 

(Photo by Glen Miller)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

Georgie James @ The Ottobar

georgie jamesWashington-based band Georgie James (pictured) cranked out a high-energy set of indie rock at The Ottobar Wednesday night.

The duo of John Davis and Laura Burhenn backed by a bassist and drummer filled their set with punchy songs from their debut album Places and a few covers.

Georgie James belongs to the special breed of indie rock bands with an exciting stage presence.

Instead of pretending like they were too good for everyone there, they really got into their music.

I loved watching Burhenn quietly mouth the lyrics to certain songs while Davis sang them on the other side of the stage.

Georgie James is the most exciting new rock band to come out of the area in the past couple years.

Anyone in the crowd Wednesday night could see why. ...

Baltimore-based indie rock band The Courtesy Line played first.

Singer Mark Baldwin's voice was surprisingly clear and crisp, especially considering the setting.

Keep an eye on the Courtesy Line. Their music is marked with memorable melodies and tight, thick instrumentation.

Gary B and the Notions (pictured) took the stage second, delivering some solid guitar rock.

The best songs in their set were the upbeat ones -- like their new single "Three Horse Carousel."

With his button-down shirt, loosened tie and mop of  dark, combed-back hair, front man Gary Barrett Jr. looked a lot like song and dance man Andy Kaufman.

If "The Exercise Song," with its interlocking guitars, is any indication, the band is headed in the right direction.

(Photo of Georgie James by Shervin Lainez) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:51 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Fab Five Friday

Here it is, my list of the best ladies night specials around town. 

1. The Crease, 523 York Road, Towson

Heh. Every college student at Towson knows about this special: Ladies drink for $5 every Wednesday night.

2. Dick's Halfway Inn, 8013 Philadelphia Road

Dick's can be a party zone -- especially after 8 p.m. Thursdays, when ladies pay $6 for all they can drink.  

3. Don't Know Tavern, 1453 Light St.

Here, ladies can drink all the wine they want on Fridays until 8 p.m. for $5. 

4. Castaway's, 2206 Boston St.

Every Wednesday, ladies drink free beer after 9 p.m.

5. Night of the Cookers (pictured), 885 N. Howard St. 

Every Thursday from 7 p.m.-10 p.m., when ladies order a cocktail, they get an entree for free.

(Photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:37 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

March 20, 2008

The Spill Canvas @ The Recher

MS Special Correspondent Ron Fritz was at last night's The Spill Canvas (pictured) and Yellowcard show at the Recher Theater.

Here's his report:

Treaty of Paris, PlayRadioPlay!, Secondhand Serenade, The Spill Canvas and an acoustic Yellowcard rocked a sold-out Recher Theatre in Towson Wednesday night.

No stiffs among the bands and the first four played about 30 minutes each before Yellowcard, complete with a cello and violin, hit the stage for its acoustic show.

The Spill Canvas, which appeared on MTV's Total Request Live on Tuesday before heading to Towson, was the fourth band to take the stage and kicked the evening up a notch.

Playing a tight half-hour set, lead singer Nick Thomas led the band from Sioux Falls, S.D., through songs off their latest CD, No Really, I'm Fine. They closed with an absolutely smokin' version of "All Over You," the song and video that landed the band on MTV Tuesday.

The Spill Canvas (full disclosure here, the drummer is a family friend) has become a favorite at the Recher, having performed there just a few months ago as the headliner with a longer set.

Didn't make it all the way through the Yellowcard set, which was way past my bedtime, but I heard five songs and really liked that they are doing acoustic versions of the songs. The cello, and especially violin, made for an interesting, fun sound.

Although I missed Treaty of Paris' set, the bands seemed to complement one another and each seemed to have their own fans in the audience.

The Recher is a terrific venue for this type of show and the whole night was tailor-made for the college-age, MTV crowd -- and even for a few old folks, too.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:10 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

Today's column

is a review of Muggsy's Mug House.

In hindsight, I almost feel as though I went too soon to review it.

The owners said they wanted to put more local beers on tap, but didn't have more than a couple when I went.

I like the ideas they have for the place. I just hope they follow through.

You can read my review here

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:23 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 19, 2008

Renovations at The Hippo

The Hippo's big dance room is getting a substantial makeover today.

They are replacing the smoky-smelling carpet on the floor and walls and shortening the main bar by Charles Street, according to chief lighting technician Norm Hillenburg.

In the next week or so, they also plan to add a couple 50-inch plasma TVs, he said.  

"Once you walk in the room it's going to look a lot different," he said.

"It looks a lot more open now."

Still no word on whether or not they're going to stop spinning "Promiscuous Girl" 18 times a night. 

(Photo from Sun archives)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:46 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Starscape lineup announced

Jam band the Disco Biscuits, hip-hop pioneer Slick Rick (pictured), Johnny Rabb's Biodiesel, Future Rock and others will headline this year's Starscape Music Festival, organizers announced today.
The festival -- which turns 10 this year -- takes place June 7 in Fort Armistead Park, and features roughly 30 bands and DJs in five performance areas.
"This is the biggest we've ever gone with the lineup," said Evan Weinstein of Steez Promo, which books the festival.
Last year's Starscape drew about 7,000 people to the park. This year, Weinstein expects more. 
Slick Rick will be backed by an eight-piece live band.

Early bird tickets start at $39.50 and go on sale March 25.

For a full lineup and more information, check out the festival's MySpace page

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:29 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music

Ed Schrader doubles up

Ed Schrader, host of (you guessed it) The Ed Schrader Show, plans to do two of his surreal talk shows a month at the Metro Gallery.

The reason?

Popular demand. 

Currently, Schrader is only hosting one show per month.

"It's working really well and people really like it," Schrader said.

"David Letterman and those guys do it every night. I figure I can do it twice a month."

The next date hasn't been set yet.

(Photo by Christopher T. Assaf/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

The hot ticket

georgie jamesThis week's show to see is tonight at The Ottobar.

The lineup: Georgie James (pictured), Gary B and the Notions and The Courtesy Line.

Georgie James, an indie rock duo from Washington, is blowing up right now.

They were just on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, and are signed to Saddle Creek Records.

Gary B has a new album coming out, and the Courtesy line just released a great acoustic EP called The Basement Sessions.

(Photo by Shervin Lainez)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:15 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music

March 18, 2008

Harp folds

Say goodbye to Harp magazine.

The monthly indie music publication ended its seven-year run with the current March/April issue (pictured).

"Unfortunately, Harp's critical acclaim never translated into sustaining commercial success," said Glenn Sabin, CEO of Harp's parent company Guthrie Inc.

"Harp's lifecycle was ill-timed with the precipitous decline of the music software industry, coupled with the consolidation of the consumer magazine newsstand business and rising paper and postage costs."

Still, it's sad to see another well-regarded print publication go under.


Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:27 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff

Hard times for Chris Sligh?

Chris Sligh (pictured), a finalist in last year’s American Idol competition, performed at the Open Door Cafe in Bel Air this past Saturday.

About 75 people paid $5 each to see Sligh sing and play guitar for about an hour, along with a backup percussionist.

Sligh got a cut of the money made at the door.

Afterward, he signed autographs, said cafe manager Rich Corbin.

“They loved him,” he said. “Everybody had fun.”

You could say one of two things about this ...


1) Sligh was just stopping by to play a gig for fun.


2) This is the part of Behind the Music: Chris Sligh where he rides the gravy train until he goes broke and spirals into a five-year heroin binge.

Your thoughts? 

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:53 AM | | Comments (82)
Categories: Celebrity sightings, Local music, Random stuff

Drunk history

Have you seen Drunk History on YouTube?

It's hilarious.

The video's producers have someone tell a historic tale (like Ben Franklin flying the kite) while inebriated and film it.

Then they have name brand actors like Jack Black act out the narration.

They made three videos: this one, this one and this one.

Definitely check them out. 

Warning -- there is some profanity in the videos. 

(The photo -- the only one I could find of Ben Franklin with the kite -- is a hand-carved figurine made by John and Gloria Broniak of Carnegie, PA)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:11 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Random stuff

The next Fab Five Friday

In light of yesterday's post about the potential banning of ladies nights, I think it's time to do a Fab Five Friday on Baltimore's best ladies nights.

A respected bar owner once told me something like this:

"There are so many ladies specials in Baltimore.

"On any given night, at any given bar, a girl can drink for almost nothing in this city." 

So, what are the best ladies deals around town? 

(Photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:51 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

March 17, 2008

Kent County style

Anybody read Saturday's piece on Kent County?

Great stuff. 

That's where I'm from.

Before becoming a full time writer, I was a dock hand and something of a spinach farmer.

And though Kent County doesn't have much in the way of nightlife, it does have the Bluebird Tavern.

During happy hour at the Bluebird, you can get a cold glass mug of draft Yuengling for $1.50.

They're regularly $2. 

(Photo by Lloyd Fox/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:11 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff

Are ladies nights illegal?

Is it illegal for a club to throw events aimed at attracting women?
In Colorado, a man is campaigning against ladies nights held by bars, clubs and even the Colorado Rockies.
Steve Homer claims there is gender discrimination in ladies nights, and wants to see them ended. 
According to the article, ladies nights have been banned in New York, California and other states.  
Personally, I think it's a ridiculous.
There are dozens of more important societal issues that need to be dealt with. 
This guy needs to get a life.
What do you think? 
(Photo of Ladies Night at Camden Yards by Karl Merton Ferron/Sun Photographer) 
Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:12 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I didn't mean to sound like a sourpuss the other day.

It's just that blowout binging in Canton/Fells Point/Federal Hill is not my thing.

If that's your thing, I hope this past weekend was awesome. Today too.

Saturday seemed to be the big ticket day for St. Paddy's swilling.

I went out for a walk at one point Saturday, and this dude drove by with his window down.

Not only was he drinking a large bottle of Miller Lite while driving, but he felt the need to show it to me.

"Happy St. Patrick's Day," I said.

It was a scary reminder of how toolish drinkers can blow the holiday out of proportion and put others at risk.

(Photo by Bloomberg News) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:46 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Mosaic's grand reopening

is scheduled for March 28.

Not sure if it's open to the public or invitation-only. I'll post more details as they come in. 

For now, here is the club's MySpace site. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:14 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

Lucy's Irish Pub logo

Looks like the folks behind Lucy's Irish Pub and Restaurant (the sucessor to Maggie Moore's on Eutaw Street) have come up with a logo (pictured).

What do you think?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:14 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 16, 2008

Release date set for Death Set

Counter Records, an imprint of Ninja Tune, will release the album Worldwide by local electro-punk duo The Death Set on April 22.

Right now, the band is on a brutal tour that won't bring it back for a show in Baltimore until March 27 at the Lo-Fi Social Club.

I like the album cover (pictured), but the font used for the track listing on the back of the jewel case is really hard to read.

Worldwide has 18 tracks and is still only 25 minutes long.

As a member of the ADD generation, I appreciate that.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:59 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music

Claddagh Pub may open county branch

The owners of Claddagh Pub are considering expanding into Baltimore County, but no definite plans have been made.

"It's in negotiations," said owner Vivian Clarke. "We're looking into it. We're not sure what or where."

Looney's Pub, Sean Bolan's and MaGerk's are all doing well in Bel Air.

I think a Claddagh Pub in Baltimore County would be a great business move.

(Photo by Amy Davis/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 15, 2008

Absinthe lollipops

Maybe I oughta start a semi-regular feature series about weird alcohol-related products.

Or a list.

Fab Five Friday: The oddest solidified alcoholic snacks? Hmmm ...

A friend turned me onto this site where you can get absinthe lollipops -- made with the real stuff. 

You can also get them bacon-flavored.

I'm not a huge candy fan, but I'm willing to order a batch of these and taste test them.

(Photo courtesy of Lollyphile) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:06 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff

Sonar ... LIVE?

We already have Power Plant Live.

And Rams Head Live.

And The Sun's LIVE section

And BMore Live.

Soon, we could be getting Bourbon Street Live.

So I called Neal Page, Sonar's promotions manager, and asked him if he was thinking of renaming Sonar to Sonar ... LIVE!

"We have no plans at present," he said. "But if it helps ticket sales, anything's possible."

(Photo by Algerina Perna/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

March 14, 2008

St. Patty's in Canton

A week or two ago, Jessie emailed me about St. Patrick's Day activities in Canton.

Here's the deal:

The blowout is always next door to Claddagh Pub.

It's called Meet in the Street, and this year, it's Sunday and Monday.

Mr. Greengenes and Kristin and the Noise are playing live.

Both days, activities start in the early afternoon.

Get there early, too, because it's going to be slammed. 


So get ready. 

Questions? The address is 2918 O'Donnell St., and the phone number is 410-522-4220.

(Photo by Amy Davis/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:56 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Anti-St. Patty's activities

I'm probably going to get some heat for this.

But honestly, I'm not a huge St. Patrick's Day fanatic.

And I'll bet some of you aren't either.

So, if you're looking for non-St. Patrick's Day stuff to do, I have a couple suggestions. ...

Tonight, hit up Reaction! at The Sidebar. Local Latin/jazz group The Swingin' Swamis (pictured) are playing, and they put on a great show.

Saturday, see Carl Filipiak at The 8x10. One of the best re-creations of classic rock you'll hear on the local scene. 

And Sunday, head to Fish Head Cantina in Arbutus for the benefit show for local bluesman Memphis Gold. More than 10 local bands are playing.

If you are a hard-core St. Patty's Day partyer and you haven't picked your pub crawl yet, Metromix has a pretty comprehensive guide. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:05 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Homer's in trouble!

Those thieving thieves sent me this photo of Homer in danger!

Here's the letter:

Now homer is seeing the saw ... Stop being so pickey and argamentive with us...just do what we say ... remember unmarked billz ... where we said. Any more of you're sarcazam and we turn on the sawblade and yule begetting homer back in two peezes yours turly, badguyz 

Hey Badguys, I still don't know where you want me to put the money! 

(If you're new to the whole Homer saga, read this, this and this.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:08 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: The Homer Saga

The Oranges Band checks in

For the past few weeks, The Oranges Band has been working on a new album at Lord Baltimore Recording with former Guided by Voices guitarist Doug Gillard.

Singer/guitarist Roman Kuebler (pictured) said the new stuff is more guitar-based, influenced by bands like Sonic Youth.

All of the instruments were recorded live in studio, he said.

"It's a real rock record," he said. "It sounds great."


(Photo by Colby Ware/Special to The Sun)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:40 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

Fab Five Friday

Sometimes I gripe about how hard it is to come up with these lists.

This one wrote itself.

Heck, my first nightlife column for The Sun was how to dodge meatheads in Federal Hill.

So here it is: The five biggest meathead hangouts in all of Baltimore. 

1. Magerk's Pub and Grill, 1061 S. Charles St.

Yo, bartender, lemme get a round of Miller Lites and some shots of Cuervo for the ladies.

2. Mad River Bar and Grille, 1110 S. Charles St. (pictured)

As the bartender told Casper's friend, "This is Mad River, bro." ...

3. The Bay Cafe, 2809 Boston St. #439

Because who needs Ocean City when the beaches and babes are right here in Bmore? 

4. The Greene Turtle, 722 S. Broadway

Meathead 1: "Dude, you totally just spilled Miller Lite all over my pink button-down Geoffrey Beane shirt."
Meathead 2: "Sorry, bra." 

5. Angels Rock Bar, 34 Market Place, Power Plant Live

Where meatheads go to pretend they're tough. 

Honorable Mention goes to the late, great Baja Beach Club.

(Photo by Andre F. Chung/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:27 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

March 13, 2008

The Pogues @ Rams Head Live

MS commenter/correspondent Mike Williams saw Irish punk rockers the Pogues at Rams Head Live last night.

Here is his report ...

At last night’s show, the Pogues’ songs about whiskey, rum, and spirited characters seemed like a perfect fit for Baltimore’s hard-drinking blue collar heritage.

After a lively — if not largely ignored — opening set by ska veterans The Pietasters, lead singer Shane MacGowan and his band mates played for almost two hours.

MacGowan’s gravely, sometimes slurry vocals showed the effects of decades of heavy smoking and alcohol use, but the combination of great instrumental work the tin whistle and banjo made up for it.  

Even the state law prohibiting smoking indoors wasn't enough of a detriment, as MacGowan frequently lit up on stage — or had a glass out of reach.

For diehard Pogues fan or the casual Irish folk music listener, band staples such as "Broad Majestic Shannon" and "Dirty Old Town" proved to once again quench the appetite Baltimore has for energetic Irish music — especially so near to St. Patrick's Day.

(Cell phone photo courtesy of Bridget Williams)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:47 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Local music

Bourbon Street Live to replace Hammerjacks?

Lorraine Mirabella had an article in today's paper about a new club called Bourbon Street Live potentially coming to the old Hammerjacks space on Guilford Avenue.

Bourbon Street Live would take up both floors and feature a New Orleans theme with live music.

Here's a link to the whole story. 

I call dibs on the Hammerjacks sign.

It would be a perfect fit in my Electric Room.

(Photo by Monica Lopossay/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:48 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

More on Muggsy's

Dropped by Muggsy's Mug House (1236 Light St.) last night for a quick 16-ounce mug of Sam Adams White Ale, which cost $4.

I think all beer should be drunk out of big glass mugs, or even better -- giant wooden horns.

So in that sense, I'm all for Muggsy's.

Bartender/co-owner Ryan Cooper told me they're planning on ordering some mini-mugs to use as shot glasses too.

Cooper and the other co-owners haven't changed the interior much from when it was Clayton's Tavern.

But of the dozen or so beers on tap, only a couple were local brews.

The reason?

According to Cooper, they're gearing up for St. Patrick's Day.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:39 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Evan's car

And I thought Stinger was something.

Evan sent me a photo of his car ...

In the email, he wrote: 

pink slips at midnight, san martin drive for a drifting competition.

(the rear quarter panel had the largest logo but i couldn't get it in frame from my car. it USED to say just XBOX on the rear spoiler but i guess broseph had to get with the times finally)

Evan, there's only one way to settle this.


Anyone else care to join us?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:43 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Random stuff

Jason Dove's cell phone

Local indie rocker Jason Dove has a series of hilarious short videos he semi-regularly uploads on YouTube.

This is my favorite. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:25 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

March 12, 2008

David Simon skips 'The Wire' finale

Apparently David Simon decided to forgo the season finale of his TV show The Wire in favor of a Pogues show.

Can't say I blame him.

I mean, he already knew how the show ended.

(AP Photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:19 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff

The next Fab Five Friday

Remember a while back when we did the best hipster bars?

Well, I think it's time we flipped that.

Yes, it's time for a list of Baltimore's best meathead bars.

Don't know what a meathead is?

You probably are one.


Personally, I think this will be one of the easiest lists I've ever done.

It's ... frat-tastic! 

Give me your suggestions for the places with the highest concentration of gelled hair, popped collars and the word "bro."


(Photo by Chicago Tribune) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:29 PM | | Comments (33)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

Update on Homer

This email showed up this morning at 8:51 (the photo was attached):

Like i says before, we got your homer, and we be treeting him fine.
Here's some pitchers attashed to this emails what show he's ok -- cep for maybe drinking too mcuh beers.
If you want him to stay OK, do what we tol you to do. No POLICE! Jess keep your mouth shut and put the money where we said.
If we don'ts get the money soon homer won't be so ok.
Know what I'm sayin?
Yours Turly,

Thing is, I don't remember them telling me where to put the money!

I don't think they ever mentioned a drop-off point.

(Photo by badguyz) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:51 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: The Homer Saga

New wine cabinets

In the next couple months, Patrick Russell, who runs Kooper's Tavern, Woody's Rum Bar and Slainte (pictured), is overseeing the installation of temperature-controlled wine cabinets in all three Fells Point bars.

Russell is applying for a package goods license for Slainte, which would allow him to sell high-end wines.

He's also thinking about making Slainte's second floor more wine-oriented. 

The cabinets should be in place in six to eight weeks. 


(Photo by Monica Lopossay/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:17 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 11, 2008

Charlotte's wine tasting tonight

Just a gentle reminder:

Tonight is the weekly five wines for $5 special at Charlotte's (1542 Light St.).

I heard it technically starts around 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m., but I went there a month or two ago closer to 9 p.m. and there was still plenty of wine to be had.

If you go, lemme know what you think.

I had fun the last time I went.

It's definitely the city's best wine deal.

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:57 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Darkroom Productions catches fire?

Maybe it was the story in VIBE.

Or Fader.

Or the tracks on The Wire soundtrack. 

Or all the mentions in Government Names, City Paper and here at The Sun and MS. Or maybe just word of mouth.

Whatever the reason, it looks like Darkroom Productions (pictured, with rapper Diablo) is finally starting to get some mainstream attention.

I checked out their MySpace site today, and unless there's some sort of glitch, they had gotten almost 6,000 plays -- just today.

Compare that with Dan Deacon's 300 plays today.

Congrats, fellas. It's about time.

(Photo by J.M. Giordano) 

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

My line of swimwear

Apparently, I do have a line of swimwear available for purchase, as the dude from Flipside Footwear pointed out.

Here is the link to Sessa Swimwear.

What's your favorite bathing suit?

I'm partial to the Sessa Bistro Floral Empire X-Back Tank.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:10 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff

March 10, 2008

International Day of Awesomeness

It's today, you know.

International Day of Awesomeness (IDA) is also Chuck Norris' birthday -- and for good reason.

No one is more awesome than Norris.

Not even Ed Norris.

By the way, can you believe Chuck Norris is almost 70? He certainly doesn't look it.

Probably because, while most people receive injections of Botox as they age, he drains the vital essence out of Muppets and drinks it, a la The Dark Crystal

You can celebrate IDA by performing a random act of awesomeness -- alone or with friends.

I'm going to peel out for exactly 33 seconds in my car, then head back to 1955 for a malt milkshake.

(I have a straw that reaches across the room). 

What will you do?

(AP Photo) 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:34 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Random stuff

The writing on the wall

Saturday night, Amie and I dropped by Dionysus for drinks with friends, and I ended up putting some graffiti on the wall.

There's a basket of chalk in the bathroom, and if you want, you can scribble your heart out.

I haven't seen another bar in town do this, and being a natural exhibitionist, I really like it.

I wrote "OMG!"

I told my friends about the chalk, and it got us asking the age-old question about bathroom graffiti:

Who just randomly has a Sharpie in their pocket and suddenly decides to tag a wall with it?

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:41 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

My car

Dear MS commenters,

Some of you have been Internet friends with me for almost a year now.

That means a lot to me.

So I thought I'd share a little bit of my personal life with you: My car ...

Here it is, in all its glory!

I call it ... Stinger.

As you'll notice, I made a few modifications to the original car to increase power and performance. 

First, I put on the TURBO CHARGER, which instantly doubled my horsepower to nearly 1,000.

Goodness. My heart is beating faster just looking at this photo of Stinger.

That's not just any yellow stripe down the middle of Stinger, either.

It's high-velocity wind/speed paint, which allows for premium G-force torque on windy days.

You'll also see the MS-2470 Spoiler just above the trunk.

See, Stinger has so much raw muscle, the car would snap in half if the spoiler wasn't there to hold it in place.

The spoiler also strikes fear in the hearts of my enemies.

But the coolest part: If I burn rubber for exactly 33 seconds and then turn Stinger loose, I can travel back in time.


Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Michael J. Fox.

(Photos of some random car -- wait, I mean Stinger -- by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:13 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Random stuff

B-ball at Kolpers

MS reader Greg S wanted to know more about Kolpers Restaurant & Lounge in Hampden.

He writes:

A few of my friends and I enjoy going out each year for a big chunk of the opening weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament and try to change up where we go from year to year. 

I stumbled across Kolper's Restaurant & Lounge on the web and was wondering if you've ever been or heard anything about it. 

I live in Hampden and have asked around, but have yet to find anyone who has even heard of it, let alone been there.

Unfortunately, I haven't been there.

But Epicurious L.I.Z. reviewed it last fall.

Here's a link to her review.

(Photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun Photographer) 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:26 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 9, 2008

Wine on tap

I don't know what to think of the wine on tap Dave Holter plans to install at Taps Baltimore.

I've talked to a few people about the idea -- wine dispensed through taps with a nitrogen-powered system -- and they're split on it.

Some people think it would be cool. Others say they'll never order wine on tap because it sounds cheap and dirty.

Not so, says Patrick Russell, owner of Kooper's Tavern and Slainte in Fells Point. ...

He tried it in California and said it's an awesome idea.

Bars that serve wine by the glass sometimes keep pouring from the same bottle for days at a time, he said.

That means when you get to the bottom of the bottle, the wine tastes horrible and looks like sludge.

With wine on tap, it's never a problem, because it's always kept fresh -- no oxygen hits the wine. Only nitrogen.

And, you can get an exact pour of one ounce or two ounces, he said. That's perfect for wine tastings.

"It's a great concept," Russell said. "He'll do well with it."

(Photo by Bloomberg News)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:57 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Bacon vodka

Oh yes.

Bacon vodka.

Believe it, daddy-o.

Somebody please make this and report back to me.

But I already know it will be awesome.

Bacon makes everything better. 

Also, thank you Patchen for the link. 

(Photo by Todd Sumlin/Charlotte Observer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:17 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Random stuff

March 8, 2008

Homer is gone!

Terrible news: My magnetic Homer has been kidnapped!

Some evil sneak swiped him Thursday morning.

A note was left at the scene.

It read: "Sam, If u ever want Homer back, please get $5 in small bills ready for his ransom. We will let u know where to meet us. Don't contact the police ... Or else!"

It was signed "Bad guys." 

I cried for hours yesterday.

Here is a short video of my reaction. 

After a careful scent analysis of the note, I determined the person who wrote it does not use fragrant hand lotion. 

That leads me to believe the culprit has chapped, flaky skin.

The caper may also have something to do with the Whoopee cushion I placed under Dan Thanh Dang's seat cover a couple days ago. 

What should I do? Where should I turn?


(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:14 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: The Homer Saga

Metro Gallery gets liquor license

The city just approved Metro Gallery's liquor license, according to owner Sarah M. Williams.

I asked her how she plans to celebrate.

Her response:

"I was thinking of filling a swimming pool with gin and doing some laps!"

The bar should be up and running by April. 

(Photo by Emily Hunter) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 7, 2008

All Time Low on Jimmy Kimmel tonight

Local pop punk foursome All Time Low will appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live! tonight.

The group hails from the Lutherville/Timonium area and has built a pretty serious resume in the past couple of  years.

The band recently co-wrote a new song with Mark Hoppus (bassist/singer for Blink-182).

Its debut album, So Wrong, It's Right has sold about 70,000 copies since last summer. 


(Photo by Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 5:10 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

'The Wire' finale party?

Quick question: Are you or one of your friends throwing a Wire watching party on Sunday?

We're looking to do a story on reactions to the final episode.

E-mail me asap: 

(Photo by Algerina Perna/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff

And the winner is ...

Bowling Ben!

He ensured his victory with a five-comment binge.

Ben, contact me at to name and claim your prize!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:25 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff

Approaching 2,000 comments

Hey now!

Another milestone for Midnight Sun is at hand.

That means more free swag for the person who posts the 2,000th comment.

With a little luck (and a few comments) we should hit the mark today. 

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:30 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Random stuff

Fab Five Friday

Voila*: My list of the five best bar namesakes:

1. Larry Gross (pictured) of Captain Larry's, 601 E. Fort Ave.

Dude is an ex-cop who used to pierce people's ears in the bar (after sterilizing them in a shot of vodka, of course). There are bullet holes in the ceiling. Enough said.

2. Kooper of Kooper's Tavern, 1702 Thames St.

Kooper was bar owner Patrick Russell's yellow lab who used to hang out in the bar. Kooper is rumored to have saved at least one life in his day. He passed away last May. 

3. Liam Flynn of Liam's Pint-Sized Pub, 911 N. Charles St.

Flynn has an apartment just across Charles Street, but he lives at the bar. That's one of the reasons why I love the place. But Liam's has been popping up on too many of these lists. So I'm retiring him after this one.

4. Roland Muir, Muir's Tavern, 36 E. Fort Ave.

It's all in the family at Muir's, and I like that. Old man Muir opened his bar back in 1944. His son, Roland Jr., still runs the place.

5. Bertha E. Bartholomew of Bertha's, 734 S. Broadway

Back in the day, Bertha's owner Tony Norris found a stained glass window dedicated to the memory of Bartholomew. No one knows who she was, but Norris named the place after her and hung the window above the bar.

(Photo by Nanine Hartzenbusch/Sun Photogapher)

*Voila is French for 'There it is.' 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:26 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

March 6, 2008

Wye Oak on Stereogum

The local indie rock duo Wye Oak is featured on the music blog Stereogum.

Check it out.

P.S.: This photo really freaks me out.

P.P.S.: Stereogum spelled guitarist/singer Jenn Wasner's name wrong.  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 5:20 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music

Bars of 'The Wire' story

I profiled two bars prominently featured in The Wire in today's nightlife column.

You can read it here.

Thanks for all the feedback, by the way. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:39 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

How surreal is this?

I never thought I'd ever see a video clip of Isaac Hanson (from the band of the same name) giving away his shoes to a homeless man in Baltimore.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:21 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Celebrity sightings

Looney's update

Looney's (2900 O'Donnell St.) recently finished installing a new bar in the back of the first floor.

After St. Patrick's Day, it plans to update the front part of downstairs, I'm told.

I'm going to have to check it out when they're finished.

I've always liked Looney's, but it needed some renovations. It was getting a little worn out.

(Photo by Algerina Perna/Sun Photographer) 

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

March 5, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

I'd like this week's list to be about the city's best bar namesakes.

Liam's, Kooper's, Max's,  etc. all apply.

What do you guys think?

Any suggestions? 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:58 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

Hilarious James Brown interview

If I ever get famous as a singer, I'm giving an interview like this.

The reporter asks James Brown about his arrest and divorce proceedings and all he does is sing lines from his hits.

It's fantastic!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:11 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff

My thoughts on absinthe

Absinthe has an undeniable mystique.

We couldn't get it legally in the U.S. for almost a century.

So when I got my hands on some back in college, I felt like a 14-year-old sneaking a cigarette or a six-pack of Milwaukee's Best.

My roommate Sammy brought a few bottles back from Israel junior year.

I'm not sure whether it was real or fake. I remember drinking a ton of it but not feeling drunk, though.

I felt surprisingly aware, considering it had a ridiculously high alcohol content.

The thing I can't stand about it is the taste.

I don't like licorice. And each sip of absinthe is like an intense explosion of licorice in your mouth.

I've had absinthe a few times since college, but I'm not its biggest fan.

Any absinthe stories you'd care to share?

(Photo by Getty Images) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:27 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff

March 4, 2008

Top 10 Baltimore song list

Nothing stirs up readers like a list.

Remember last week when I asked for your suggestions of songs with the word "Baltimore" in the title? 

That post got something like 50 comments.

The story ran in today's paper. You can read it here.

And you can read 20 more comments about songs I missed here.

I even got a phone call from an 83-year-old retired Episcopalian priest who sang the anthem of Baltimore to me.

(AP Photo of Gram Parsons)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 6:00 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music, Random stuff

Van Halen postpones

Why am I not surprised to hear this?

Yesterday, Van Halen postponed its shows in Baltimore, Dallas, Cincinnati and Raleigh.

The reason?

Eddie Van Halen (pictured) is suffering from an undisclosed condition.

According to the release sent out, he is "undergoing a battery of comprehensive medical tests to determine a defined diagnosis and recommended medical procedures."


Your thoughts? 

(AP Photo)


Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:14 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local music

Absinthe! Absinthe!

Got a press release yesterday with this subject line:


My initial response:

"It's been legal for months! I had some last week at the Kitty Kat Bar!"

I read it a little more, and realized the release is technically pumping Kubler, "the first authentic Swiss Absinthe to the United States market in nearly 100 years."

Fancy fancy.

Truth be told, the American stuff will do just fine for me. It has wormwood and thujone.

But if you still want to have a taste of the Swiss stuff, Ixia is having a tasting of Kubler 7 p.m.-10 p.m. this coming Monday.

**Just got word: This event is a private, invite-only event. I'm checking to see if Ixia will stock this brand of absinthe permanently in the future.** 

(Photo by Sacramento Bee)  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:13 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Spotted these outside of a downtown store yesterday.

I had to laugh when I saw the word pillow in quotation marks.


I'm no grammar whiz, but it sounds too me like these are slick imitation pillows.

If there is such a thing.

No, I didn't buy one.

What, you think I have $5 to spend on a slick imitation pillow?

(Photo by you know who) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:40 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Random stuff

March 3, 2008

Ask and ye shall receive

A few days ago, MS commenter eCommerce Consultant asked for a few bars featured in The Wire.

In this week's nightlife column, I'll profile two or three of the bars prominently featured in the show.

I'll post a link when it runs. 

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:34 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Some new Eva Castillo

Local R&B singer/songwriter Eva Castillo posted some tracks from her new album Three Hours Later on her MySpace site.

Check them out.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:41 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Want a mug?

No, I'm not offering you one.

But I have a question for you.

Saturday night Amie and I went to Luca's Cafe in Locust Point, and I ordered a beer.

The bartender asked me if I wanted it in a chilled mug.

"What kind of man turns down a chilled mug?" I asked.

He reached under the bar and came up with a tall, thin glass like the one in the middle of this photo.

My question: is that really a mug? 

I thought a mug had handles. But maybe I'm just old school like that.

(Photo by Bloomberg News) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:34 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

'The Wire' vs. the real thing

"So, how true is The Wire? Is The Sun's newsroom really like that? 

I've had a bunch of friends, strangers and MS commenters ask me that question in the past couple months.

I'm not going to get into stuff like morale or buyouts, etc.

What I will say is, the show does a really good job of re-creating the way the newsroom looks. 

I had Sun photographer Christopher T. Assaf sneakily snap this shot a couple days ago, and as you can see, the resemblance to the TV show set is pretty striking. 

And yes, there are a few writers and editors kind of like Gus Haynes.

But I think most of us are pretty dweeby.

Certainly not as dweeby as Washington Post writers.

But still dweeby. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:59 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Random stuff

March 2, 2008

'Raining in Baltimore'

Since so many of you commented on my post about songs with the word Baltimore in their title the other day, I thought I'd treat you to this lovely live clip of Adam Duritz performing "Raining in Baltimore" on piano in 1997.

Can you believe that was more than 10 years ago?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:04 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Random stuff

March 1, 2008

Muggsy's Mug House

Here is Muggsy's Mug House, in all its glory.

In case you missed Wednesday's post, Muggsy's is the new bar where Clayton's Tavern and Sean Bolan's used to sit.

Looks like the owners have a small sign up.

I'll try to get there sometime this weekend, check the place out and post more on Monday.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:51 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

A-list musicians from Baltimore

Yesterday, Brad asked for a list of musicians who were born in or lived in Baltimore.

Here's a link to a article with a pretty extensive list of people.

It features Tori Amos (pictured), David Byrne, Tupac Shakur, Mama Cass, Frank Zappa, Cab Calloway and a bunch of others.

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:41 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music, 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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