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April 30, 2008

GEM in Us weekly

According to Juan Donovan Bell from Darkroom Productions, the Get 'Em Mamis will be in US Weekly this Friday.

I have to say, this is the first time I've heard of any Baltimore rap group in a gossip mag since Sisqo.

After hearing "Cold Summer" and "Joc'n," it's clear any attention they get is long overdue.

I also hear Darkroom is thinking of taking GEM to Alaska to shoot the video for "Cold Summer" because it's actually cold in the summer up there.

(Photo by J.M. Giordano)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:56 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music
        

The scoop on bacon vodka

I did it.

I drank ... drum roll please ... bacon vodka. At Capt. Larry's.

Oh yes.

You: So, stop stalling and tell us how it tasted, Sessa! 

Me: OK.

Do you know those dog treats Beggin Strips? That's what it reminded me of.

Not to say I've eaten Beggin Strips. But I've smelled them.

And, oddly enough, they were the first thing to come to mind when I did the shot.

If I were reviewing bacon vodka for the New York Times, I would describe it thusly:

"The drink had a robust, meaty aroma that pleased the palette, grounded by a sharp undercurrent of liquor. It will surely stimulate the senses of breakfast aficionados." 

(Photo of a Capt. Larry's pre-smoking ban by Kenneth K. Lam) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:30 PM | | Comments (35)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Some snarky overheards

I was skimming Mobtown Shank yesterday and started thinking.

What if I could make up an Overheard that would sum up a neighborhood?

So I came up with faux, snarky Overheards for a few Baltimore neighborhoods.

If you have any you'd like to contribute, please feel free. 

Here are mine ...

In Hampden, where even short people look down on you:

"Have you heard the new Steve and Estelle?"

In Fells Point, where bums outnumber bars:

"Hey bud, you got a dollar?"

In Federal Hill, where two brain cells is too many:

"Here, bra, lemme pop that collar for ya."

In Canton, where 30 is the new 20:

"Are seven pairs of flip flops too many for one dude?"

In the Inner Harbor, where chain stores and restaurants are the only option:

"OMG! The dolphin totally just splashed me! LOL!"

In Harbor East, where Whole Foods is the place to see and be seen:

"I totally can't tell you had work done."

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:52 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Random stuff
        

April 29, 2008

Floristree is blushing

It's been a big month for Floristree.

The DIY art space was name-checked in Rolling Stone and Blender for contributing to the awesomeness of Baltimore's scene.

So I called Floristree member Jason Urick, who also plays in WZT Hearts, to find out what he thought of the props.

"It definitely caught us off guard a bit," he said. "I think it's more humorous to us than anything else at this point."

Urick hopes both pieces will help people associate Baltimore with positives like arts and music as opposed to drugs, crime and the Inner Harbor.

"I glad people think we've contributed something. we've definitely tried to contribute something to the scene. In the end, we're just doing what we're doing. The last thing we're after is attention."

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:03 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Local music
        

Curse you, Magic Hat

When I was a freshman in college, I drank a lot of Magic Hat #9.

Expensive tastes for a broke college kid, right?

Well, my buddy Scotty had money and he usually got good beer for all of us.

Last Saturday I went down to James Madison University to visit one of my little sisters.

For some reason, I thought it would be fun to get a six-pack of Magic Hat -- just like back in the day.

When I used to drink Magic Hat (back in the day), you needed a bottle opener to pop the top.

But when I started drinking this six-pack, I realized the beers were screw-off.

I was 83 percent right. It turns out, only five out of the six bottles had screw-off caps ...

The last one didn't.

I didn't realize it until after I'd cut my finger struggling to twist the cap off.

Then things got interesting. See, I was sitting at a table with two other dudes.

And according to Dude Code, when a man can't twist the top off a bottle of anything, every other dude in the room has to try it for themselves.

Dude Code is unavoidable. Even though I said it wasn't a twist-off cap.

One of the dudes cut his hand worse than mine.

The other tried to open it by twisting the bottle on his forearm, and wound up with a cap-sized bruise.

But the question stands: What kind of sick joke was Magic Hat trying to play on us?

Five out of six beers with screw-off caps and one you need a bottle opener for?

Painfully ridiculous!

And I'll bet somewhere up in New England where this stuff is bottled, some crazy looking dude like the one in this photo is laughing his butt off at my expense.

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:58 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff
        

The next Fab Five Friday

Last week's warm weather FFF got me thinking about mojitos.

I wrote about mojitos once before on MS, but I've never ranked them.

They're minty. They're sweet. They're cold. They're a treat.

It's time for FFF: Mojitos.

Who do you think has Baltimore's best mojito?

(Photograph of a mojito from Little Havana from Sun archives)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:32 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

Smoking tags at Leadbetter's

Evan emailed me this image this morning, with this caption:

I just had remembered commenter Don saying how Leadbetter's had been carrying the 'out for a smoke' cards for a while...

I was over there Saturday and theirs even has a little punchout so you can put the card around the neck of your bottle of beer! (although I usually order from their selection of drafts)

Pretty great idea.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:17 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 28, 2008

The Freeloader's Guide to Drinking

As someone who stands for anything free and also anything funny, I endorse this video.

Be warned though, there is some profanity and violence.

But there are also some lessons to be learned.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:17 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

High prices at Hard Rock Cafe

This weekend, a friend and coworker decided to head to the Hard Rock Cafe in the Inner Harbor for what he thought would be a fairly cheap meal with his fiancee.

Now, I think it's a little naive to expect cheap or even reasonably priced food and drink in the city's biggest tourist zone.

But I didn't think one Heineken served in a commemorative Hard Rock Cafe glass and one refill would cost almost $20.

You can go out all night in South Baltimore and not spend $20.

That's six carbombs at Crazy Lil's.

Or 20 glasses of wine at Charlotte's on Wednesdays.

Wow.

(Photo by Christopher T. Assaf/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:49 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Weekend recap?

I'm toying with the idea of doing a weekly feature where everybody talks about their weekends on Monday mornings.

What do you guys think of it?

Lame? Potentially interesting?

More than anything else, I love to see a good conversation going on MS.

And I usually talk to friends and coworkers about their weekends on Monday mornings anyway.

So, why not talk to you guys about it too?

Let's try it. What did you guys do this weekend?

(AP Photo)

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:43 AM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Bars vs. local music

From the start, Midnight Sun has been all about balancing local music coverage with news and discussions about bars and clubs.

It's more of a struggle than I thought it would be. ...

See, MS readers care waaaay more about bars than local music.

So I know that if I do a post on Jumbo Slice, it's going to get tons more hits and comments than a post about All Time Low.

I've had people outright tell me, "Nobody cares about local music." 

But I still think local music is incredibly important, and want to write about it.

One of my editors at the college paper always used to use the broccoli vs. ice cream comparison, and I think it fits here.

Local bands are the broccoli -- the stuff people don't want to digest but should.

And ice cream is what everybody wants.

With MS, it's a little bit of broccoli and a lot of ice cream.

(Photo of local beatboxer Shodekeh by Christopher T. Assaf/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:39 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music
        

The Virgin Mobile Festival lineup

This year, it's less top-heavy, with A-list acts spread out over both days.

Here's 95 percent of the lineup ...

Main Stage acts on Saturday, Aug. 9 are, in alphabetical order:

Bloc Party, Cat Power, Chuck Berry and The Silver Beats, Citizen Cope,
Duffy, Foo Fighters, Gogol Bordello, Jack Johnson, KT Tunstall, Lupe
Fiasco, The Offspring, Paramore, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Sharon Jones and
the Dap Kings, The Swell Season and Wilco.

On Sunday, Aug. 10, the Main Stage acts will include:

The Black Keys, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Bob Dylan, The Go! Team, Iggy & The Stooges, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Nine Inch Nails, She and Him, Stone Temple Pilots and Taking
Back Sunday.

Dance Tent acts on Saturday, Aug. 9 include, in alphabetic order, DJ
Dan & Donald Glaude Erol Alkan, Ferry Corsten, Soul Wax, Steve Lawler
and Underworld.

On Sunday, Aug. 10, the Dance Tent will feature Armin
van Buuren, Chromeo, Deadmau5, Pendulum, Moby (DJ Set) and Richie
Hawtin.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 6:07 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival
        

April 27, 2008

Wye Oak working on music video

Local indie rock duo Wye Oak recently shot a music video for their song "Please Concrete."

Americana musician Caleb Stine shot the video, which, as you can see, features at least one shot involving a toddler walking on a sidewalk.

I like it!

I'll post the video when it's finished. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:53 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music
        

April 26, 2008

Why Baltimore won Best Scene

I've had a couple of people ask me why, all of the sudden, Baltimore is getting props in Rolling Stone and Blender.

Well, there's more than one reason.

But I think the best way I can explain it is to break it into chunks and then tie the chunks together.

Here goes ... 

A few years ago, most of the arts and music students behind Wham City moved down here from Suny Purchase College because Baltimore was cheap, unpretentious and weird.

At the same time, the Darkroom Productions duo was making the first Hamsterdam album, which would spawn two more and a soundtrack to The Wire.

Meanwhile, the rock group Cinder Road, pop rockers All Time Low and the jam band The Bridge were (separately) recording and touring their butts off across the country.

And, Beach House and Wye Oak were making moody, hypnotic music that local artists and hipsters latched onto.

Each of these musical groups made one important decision:

Instead of moving to other cities where they might find better connections and bigger audiences, they opted to stay here in Baltimore.

They bet that they were good enough to bring attention here instead of looking for attention by leaving Baltimore.

And, just as importantly, venues like Floristree, the Lo-Fi Social Club, The 8x10, The Talking Head, G-Spot and Metro Gallery were there to help introduce these groups to larger audiences.

Their gamble paid off.

Baltimore artists from a bunch of different genres are getting recognition for the music they're making.

If you don't live here and just picked up a copy of Rolling Stone, it looks like all of the sudden, Baltimore has a scene.

But if live here, you know we've had one growing for a while now and it's finally starting to blossom.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:26 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music
        

Back on the Homer trail

Homer! Can you hear me?

I haven't forgotten about you, buddy.

I'm going to be back on the trail as soon as possible.

Where were we?

Oh, right, I'm supposed to drop off $10 in small unmarked bills at the coffee joint across the street.

Well, Bad Guyz, if you're reading, the money will be there tomorrow.

Signed,

Trembling Sam Sessa 

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:30 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: The Homer Saga
        

April 25, 2008

Virgin Mobile Festival news

Hey gang,

Stay tuned for an advance of this year's Virgin Fest lineup first thing Monday morning.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:43 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music
        

Introducing the Wind-Up Space

The Windup Space, a new bar/live music venue, is coming to Station North next month.

Owner Russell deOcampo (also a member of the band Yeveto) is shooting for a soft opening two weeks from now.

Here's the skinny ... 

The Windup Space is going to have live music regularly, as well as screenings of movies by local filmmakers.

"Basically, I want to have all the different arts under one roof with a large bar," deOcampo said.

Sounds good to me.

At about 3,000 square feet, The Wind-Up won't be cramped, either.

The address is 10-12 W. North Ave. -- near the intersection of North Charles Street and North Avenue. The building was previously a Muslim clothing store.

I'll let you know when the space opens. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:34 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music
        

City Paper calls out MySpace

Every once in a while, MySpace does these "secret" shows where MySpace members get first dibs on seeing a band play for free.

Tokyo Police Club is playing one Sunday at the Talking Head (203 Davis St.). 

First off, it's not exactly a "secret" if you send out a press release about it and let the venue put it on their Web site.

So City Paper's music editor Michael Byrne put it on their blog.

Check it out.

I love it!

Somebody needed to call out MySpace about how silly this whole concept is, and I'm glad he did.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:28 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music
        

Fab Five Friday

With warmer weather finally here, we can take advantage of all the bars with ouside seating.

Here are my five favorite places for outdoor swilling.

1. Woody's Rum Bar and Island Grill, 821 S. Broadway

It can be tricky to find this third-story deck the first time, but once you do, you won't want to leave. It has the best view of the Fells Point waterfront and $2 Coronas from 5 p.m. 'till close Thursdays. 

2. Little Havana, 1325 Key Highway

With or without the steel ship, and as Greg S said, the fenced in back patio has a "prison-by-the-harbor feel." But the mojitos are some of the city's best, and there is no better summer drink than an ice cold, minty mojito.

3. Nick's Fish House, 2600 Insulator Drive 

Yes, the crowd here can get a little frat-tastic on Friday and Saturday nights, but the live music is usually good and the wooden deck is pretty big. It's usually one big throwdown, and I like that.

4. MEX, Power Plant Live

MEX has the biggest wooden deck downtown, and some pretty solid drink specials too.

5. Bay Cafe, 2809 Boston St.

A taste of Ocean City right here in Baltimore! Seriously though, the Cafe is a mecca for the college and post-college crowd. And it does have one of the best outdoor drinking/carousing areas in town, as well as decent deals on rum drinks.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:26 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

April 24, 2008

Broadening my horizons

Earlier today, MS reader j posted this comment under the Don't Know Tavern entry:

Heavy sigh. Get out of your comfort Zone and find a new place to review. And I want pictures! No more Mosaic. No more I don't know tavern. Broaden your horizon's Mr. Sessa!


J, did you read today's nightlife column?

It's on Schaefer's, an under-the-radar corner bar in South Baltimore.

I'd say I get out to a new bar once every week or so. And MS covers a pretty wide range of Baltimore bars.

Like everybody else, there are some bars I like I go to more than others.

With my job, the line between blogging and my personal life is really blurry.

If I go out just for fun and spot something interesting, I'm probably going to blog about it.

So that's why you see a fair number of random blogs about Federal Hill bars -- that's where I live and where I go out the most.

But when it comes to reviewing bars for The Sun or MS, I'm pretty good at broadening my horizons.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:25 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

All Time Low on 'TRL'

All Time Low, the pop punk band from Baltimore County, will be interviewed on TRL at 3:30 p.m. today.

Apparently they have some sort of promotion going with MTV, and a few 15-foot promotional posters are hanging in Times Square for a week.

And, they have more than 14 million plays on MySpace.

Wow.

Congrats, guys.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:49 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Local music
        

And the winner is ...

JD!

His comment "And where is Homer?" was No. 3,000! 

He didn't put an email address in, though. So, JD, I'm gonna need a way to get a hold of you.

Email me: sam.sessa@baltsun.com

As long as you're not a close friend or family member, you win! 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:58 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff
        

We're on fire!

In case you haven't noticed, Midnight Sun has been exploding this week.

Tons of comments. Loving comments. Hateful comments.

Hilarious comments.

I love them all.

Ergo, I love you all.

Keep them coming. 

You have no idea how close we are to 3,000.

You know why?

Because we spit hot fiya.

(AP Photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:37 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Drifters reopens with big changes

Drifters Raw Bar in Federal Hill (1024 S. Charles St.) will reopen tonight after being closed for two weeks of renovations.

I haven't been able to reach anyone at the bar for comment, but MS reader Trouble has the scoop.

The changes include a revamped sound system, new dance floor and extended bars.

I'm hoping they keep the pirate mannequins and that infamous all-you-can-drink $10 special, though.

We shall see.

Thanks for the tip, Trouble. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:27 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Speaking of Little Havana

They have a new Web site.

Check it out.

What do you think? 

Thanks to eCommerce Consultant for the tip. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:01 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 23, 2008

Approaching 3,000 comments

A while back I predicted we'd hit 3,000 comments this month.

Looks like we're right on track.

And you know what that means.

Whoever posts the 3,000th comment gets to have one of the many toys on my desk.

Or a small stack of CDs.

Or both.

That's one hoot-nanny of a deal.

We should hit the mark in the next day or two. 

As the late Rick James would say, "It's a celebration!"

(Stock photo)


 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:32 PM | | Comments (40)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Good service at Don't Know Tavern

I want to balance Monday's post about bad service with a positive post from another local pub.

This past weekend, a bunch of friends and I were about to roll out of Don't Know Tavern (1453 Light St.) and head to Maria D's.

One of them asked for his credit card, but the bartender couldn't find it. ...

My buddy stood there for a while waiting and was afraid the staff had lost it.

Finally, the bartender came back with his card, apologized for having misplaced it and comped my friend his tab.

This was near closing time on a Saturday night, when the bar was comfortably full and everybody was starting to head out. 

Instead of freaking out, the bartender acknowledged his mistake and more than made up for it.

That's the right way to handle the situation.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:05 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Ed Schrader rages NYC

Baltimore's best experimental talk show host Ed Schrader hit the road last week for a special Brooklyn session featuring interviews with Michael Showalter and Dan Deacon, among others.

Hundreds of people rolled into the Masonic Temple where Schrader set up camp. ...

Most of them came to see Deacon perform, Schrader said. But they quickly fell under Schrader's spell.  

"They were all really restless when they got there, but they really got into it," Schrader said. "I was able to tame them and get them into it."

Schrader's show was only supposed to be 45 minutes long, but ended up lasting a whopping 90 minutes. They ran into some technical problems with mikes, but everything worked out in the end.

"It was a beast!" he said.

Clips will be up on YouTube soon.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:33 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music
        

April 22, 2008

Baltimore in Blender

Looks like we're suddenly the flavor of the month. 

Blender Magazine has this travel piece on where to go and what to do in Baltimore.

The piece is an odd, short mash-up of food, music and shopping.

It name-checks The Dox, Floristree, baltimorecrime.blogspot.com, True Vine, and ... Faidley Seafood.

Are you scratching your head? I am. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:46 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music
        

Kelly Ann Collins

While we're on the topic of going out in Washington, I'd like to give a shout out to D.C.'s elite socialite Kelly Ann Collins.

Few people keep up with the crazy whirlwind of Washington nightlife like Collins.

She updates her blog with some of the city's best parties and random observations about pop culture and politics. 

Not only is she a sharp reporter, she's also a pretty talented writer.

I laughed so hard I teared up when I read this random post about her cat's diary. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:45 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

The next Fab Five Friday

A couple of people asked to do a list of the best bars with outdoor seating.

Now, Epicurious L.I.Z. did a Top Ten Tuesday topic on this last year, but she focused on restaurants.

Here at Midnight Sun, we don't worry about food.

Except the epic Jumbo Slice.

And bacon vodka. Is that technically food though?

Anyhow, I'm not going to repeat any of the restaurants on L.I.Z.'s list.

Come Friday, I'm gonna give ya the five best spots to sit and sip outside.

But first, I need to hear your favorite suggestions for sunny day swilling.

Hit me!

(Photo of Little Havana from Sun archives) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:45 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

Hilarious Dan Deacon interview

Wow.

This is one of the weirdest interviews I've ever seen. ...

It's for a site called Public Access, which has a few other interviews with bands like The Teenagers and MSTRKRFT.

I've only seen this one, with local musician/hero Dan Deacon.

I'm not sure if the interviewer knows how ridiculous she looks, but I think she's serious about her outfit.

She only has one mike, too, which makes things extra awkward.

Her arm must have been tired after holding the mike up to Deacon's face for so long.

Most of the interview is quasi-boring, with a few funny quotes here and there.

Fast forward to the 6:50 mark, where Deacon thanks you for watching the whole interview and apologizes for it being quasi-boring.

Then he goes on this hilarious diatribe about buying cars on eBay motors.

Check it out.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:14 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music
        

My take on bottle service

Baltimore's not big on bottle service.

Go out to one of the city's high-end clubs and you're not going to see tons of patrons sitting at tables drinking $200 bottles of Skyy vodka.

Baltimore is not Washington or New York or Philly or Miami, and a lot of club owners just don't get that. ...

This doesn't mean Baltimore couldn't be a bottle service town.

But the concept of bottle service has to be gradually introduced here, and prices need to be kept lower than in larger cities.

MS reader Mark Twain made some great points in his comments under my most recent Mosaic post:

"Baltimore is a C-market ... and prices for bottles, when they reach their max should not near the price that is sought in A and B markets. ... You don't sell high when demand is low; it's not a winning formula."

He's dead-on.

When I first talked to Mosaic's new manager Vincent Martinez, he said he planned to cut back on the number of the club's bottle service-only tables.

Of course, I haven't been inside since it opened because of this and this. But I'd like to see if he went through with his plans.

(Photo by Bloomberg News)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:33 AM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 21, 2008

Win a Russian bride

From what I understand, this is from an ad campaign by Stil Vodka.

Thoughts?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:24 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Going out in D.C.?

Jumbo Slice got me thinking: Every once in a while, I'll get asked about good places to go out in Washington.

Honestly, I don't know that many.

With all the new bars, clubs and cafes opening up around here, it's tough just to keep on top Baltimore -- let alone Washington. ...

Thankfully, the Washington Post's Going Out Gurus are experts when it comes to Washington nightlife and activities.

They have a regularly updated blog and a weekly Q&A at 1 p.m. Thursdays.

I actually worked at The Diamondback at the University of Maryland College Park with David Malitz, who is one of the GOG bloggers. They're all good reporters and writers.

Usually, the alternative publications (City Paper, etc.) cover a major metropolitan city's arts and entertainment scene better than the big paper.

Not so in Washington. Nobody covers D.C. like the GOGs.

So check em out the next time you're planning on partying in our nation's capitol.

(Photo by TMC)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:37 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Federal Hill needs Jumbo Slice

Why won't someone open a pizza joint that serves cheap massive slices 'til late at night in Federal Hill?

I was at Maria D's on Light Street this past Saturday around 2:30 a.m. eating some of their pepperoni pizza and wishing it was Jumbo Slice.

Maria D's just doesn't cut it for me.

I need, love and long for Jumbo Slice.

If you've ever been out in Adams Morgan, you know what I'm talking about.

So big. So delicious.

I mean, you only get four Jumbo Slices out of a large pizza. You need two paper plates just to hold one.

The cheese, sauce and crust don't have to be top-notch, either.  

D.C. has a bunch of spots where you can get Jumbo Slice quick and cheap.

Federal Hill is under-served.

Somebody please start serving Jumbo Slice. You'll make millions.

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:50 AM | | Comments (46)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Horrible service at Holy Frijoles

Went to Holy Frijoles (908 W. 36th St.) for a happy hour a couple days ago and had some of the worst service I've ever seen.

The bar was swamped and there was only one bartender.

I could see that ...

But all he had to do was look at people waiting for beers and say, 'Hold on a minute guys, I'm swamped.'

Instead, he just blew by bar patrons, completely ignoring them.

He asked me twice what I wanted in the 10 minutes I stood there waiting for a beer.

The total came to $4. I paid with a five dollar bill.

He held the single in front of me and I snatched it from him and said 'Thanks!'

I was hopping mad, and when I'm hopping mad (which is not often), I don't tip.

Was I justified?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:35 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 20, 2008

New managers at Bedrock

Two former managers of Power Plant Live properties have teamed up as new managing partners of Bedrock Baltimore (Baltimore and Eutaw streets).

Together, Sam Chaney and Mike Beyer plan to make some changes to the pool hall turned live music venue.

They want to add a VIP section, bring in more mainstream DJs and bands and focus more on lunch and happy hours -- not just the live music.

Chaney ran Mex and Beyer helped run Mosaic, and want to bring some of Power Plant's party vibe to Bedrock. 

"If you take Mex, Rock Bar and Mosaic and jammed them into one club, that's what we're going to be," Chaney said.

(The photo is an old one, before the pool tables upstairs were removed and the stage was built).

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:37 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music
        

April 19, 2008

Kicking it old school

I've mentioned Schaefer's (121 W. Randall St.) before, but I also wanted to point out the awesomely decorated front door.

It's kind of hard to see in this photo, but it's purple, with a raven and upright painted in the middle.

That's what I call Ravens spirit.

Apparently back in the day, Schaefer's used to have two old wooden swinging doors like saloons in the wild, wild West. 

I could be wrong, but I don't think any Baltimore bars still have saloon doors like that anymore.

Know of any that I'm missing? 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:41 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Flipside Footwear

Flipside Footwear, the successor to Vineyard Wine and Spirits, is open on South Charles and West streets in Federal Hill.

I went in the other day looking for these straw flip-flops my girlfriend loves.

But the closest thing they had were hemp flip-flops.

I was like, "See you on the flip side!" and walked out.

Not really.

But that would have been kind of funny.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:21 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff
        

April 18, 2008

Monotonix tonight

If you're still short on plans for tonight, head to the Talking Head (203 Davis St.) to see Monotonix.

I hear their live show is insane, as evidenced by this video.

Warning: There is some profanity on the video. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 6:51 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music
        

Pwned.

Baltimore turned its back on me last night.

Twice.

First, Patchen and I went to Mosaic in Power Plant Live to (finally) review the place.

Last week they politely turned my buddy Mike and me away for wearing bowling shoes and All Stars.

Silly me for thinking Mosaic would be open on a Thursday night.

Instead, the lights were out and the doors were locked.

Wonderful!

So on a whim, we went to Club One (300 E. Saratoga St.) for mojitos.

It was lesbian night.

And the woman at the door wouldn't give us a discounted cover charge. They wanted $10 each!

Que horrible!

We ended up drowning our sorrows in Resurrection Ale and seven and sevens at Mahaffey's (2706 Dillon St.). 

So thanks Volker and the rest of the Brewer's Art gang for being there for me when half the high-end clubs in this city weren't.

(Photo snapped by a frustrated Sam Sessa last night) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:23 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

The Rowan Tree's smoking section

It's interesting to see how some bars and clubs around town have handled the smoking ban.

The Rowan Tree in South Baltimore built a wooden extension on the side of the bar to give their smoking clientele a sheltered spot to stand while they get their fix.

Folks who live nearby aren't too pleased about the noise, though.

(I'm particularly proud of this photo. Possibly one of my best yet?)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:45 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Fab Five Friday

What a delicious topic, eh FMEB-bers?

A free one too, I might add.

Here we are -- the five best free bar snacks in Baltimore.

Thanks for your suggestions, too.

1. Personal pizzas at Birds of a Feather, 1712 Aliceanna St.

This one wins by a long shot. On Friday evenings, owner Alicia Horn brings out homemade personal pizzas for her customers. They're fantastic.

2. Old Bay cheese balls/doodles (pictured) at Quigley's Half-Irish Pub, 633 Portland St.

Jim Quigley claims to have invented these addictive snacks, and I'm not one to doubt him. Either way, I can't get enough of them.

3. UTZ hard pretzels at Duda's Tavern, 1600 Thames St.

Crunchy and salty enough to keep you reaching for the big plastic jar on the bar all night.

4. Peanuts at the Midtown Yacht Club, 15 E. Centre St.

On my way in, I always stop by the giant barrel of peanuts and scoop up a generous handful. Then I worry about getting a drink.

5. Garlic knots at Pasticcio Kitchen, 2400 Boston St.

Here's a happy hour snack that can easily replace dinner before a night out in Canton. Mmmm ... garlic knots.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:49 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

April 17, 2008

FMEB-ho!

 

Yes!

Neal Shaffer comes through in the clutch!

I'm meeting with Editors immediately to request additional resources to further FMEB.

It's a rallying cry our founding fathers would have been fond of.

"Free Makes Everything Better!"

I don't think the website www.fear-sam-sessa.org has been taken yet either.

But I smell a brand ... 

Shaffer is a forward thinker, and MS is all about thinking forward.

So thank you, Neil, for making my day. 

 

 

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:58 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Happy birthday, Chris Sligh

American Idol singer Chris Sligh had a birthday a couple days ago.

Some of you (GDA, etc.) were offended by my previous Sligh post.

Some of you might think I'm some snarky dweeb willing to poke fun at anyone, anytime.

That's only half true.

I'd like to take a moment and wish Sligh a happy belated birthday.

He turned 30 April 13.

Happy birthday, Chris!

Many happy returns. 

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:46 PM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Rolling Stone gives Baltimore props

Rolling Stone awarded Baltimore Best Scene in their new 2008 Best of Rock issue. 

Dan Deacon, Darkroom Productions, Golden West Cafe, Beach House, Sound Garden and others get nods. 

I was hoping Rolling Stone would give Baltimore a bigger spread than this, but we'll take what we can get.

Here's a link.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:18 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music
        

Re: Free makes everything better

Consider it Midnight Sun's official slogan.

I Googled "Free Makes Everything Better" and MS was the first site that popped up.

You know what that means?

It's mine.

The only downside: The acronym FMEB is hard to pronounce.

Still, I'd like to have T-Shirts made.

Or better yet -- business cards with the slogan on them, kinda like what Neal Shaffer is doing.

Instead of paying my bar tab, I could just leave one of the cards with the bill.

Free Makes Everything Better. 

Hey bartender: You've been FMEBed!

Thoughts?

(Photo by Sacramento Bee) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:38 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Today's column

There is a special place in my heart for bars with improv jams and regular open-mike nights.

This week, I reviewed the Red House Tavern's weekly acoustic open mike night.

It wasn't half bad. 

Here's a link.

Back in college, I played organ in an instrumental jazz fusion trio.

We played open mikes at the 8x10 when it was the Funk Box, Leadbetter's (you should have seen the look on the guy's face when we dragged a drum set into that place for an open-mike night) and the Full Moon Saloon.

I'll share some Full Moon memories sometime soon. That was a weird night. 

The point is, open-mike nights might not always be that fun to sit through, but they can be really important in cultivating the local music scene.

And I'm glad to see that alive and well at the Red House. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:42 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 16, 2008

Carousel Rogues @ WTMD

Here's a clip from a recent Baltimore Unsigned session with the Frederick-based indie rock band Carousel Rogues.

They don't have an album out yet -- just some demos.

This song is called "Brand New Place." You can download it for free on their MySpace site.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:22 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music
        

Bye bye Vine

This is all that's left of The Vine.

The city's most unpretentious wine bar had a short but sweet stint at the corner of Fort Avenue and South Hanover Street.

The famous Five Wines for $5 special lives on at nearby Charlotte's, but The Vine will always hold a special place in my heart (and liver). 

Cheers!

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:37 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Pub Dog doing well

Looks like Pub Dog in Columbia is having a better go of it than its predecessor, Hard Times Cafe.

Hard Times had a hard time drawing people on weeknights.

You could say it fell on some ...

Right.

Last night I had a beer at Pub Dog, the Howard County expansion of the flourishing South Baltimore Dog Pub (pictured).

There were only one or two empty seats at the bar, and a bunch of the tables were occupied too.

Not bad for 9:30 on a Tuesday night. 

My biggest complaint when I reviewed it last fall was finding the place.

They've since added a lit sign to the building's exterior, which solved that problem.

I'm always happy to see a locally owned restaurant or bar succeed in Columbia, aka chain restaurant & retail heaven.

(Photo by Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:56 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Taps Baltimore will have taps

Give Taps Baltimore some time.

Co-owner David Holter made it clear from the start: There will be plenty of beers on tap there soon.

Yes, the place has been open since late February.

And yes, that's a while to go without having draft beer when your bar is called Taps Baltimore.

But Holter is moving forward with his plans for the place.

This weekend, 17 taps should be installed -- though Holter said they'll probably still be working out the kinks in the system.

He has also started renovating the second floor, which has a live entertainment license.

Starting May 1, he plans to bring in acoustic music up there on a regular basis. 

"There are a lot of things involved in running a brand new tap system," Holter said.

I'm waiting to review the place until the taps go in and the live music starts. 

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:31 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

OH SNAP!

Remember the post about local DJ Mickey Fortune's "I'm Too Fat To Be A Hipster" from a couple of months ago?

Tonight Fortune is throwing a birthday bash for himself at the 13th Floor.

He's doing a live DJ set, and DJ Doc Rok and E-603 will also perform.

Not sure how old you are, but happy birthday, Fortune.

It starts at 10 p.m. and costs $5. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:18 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music
        

April 15, 2008

Noble Lake's 'jewel case'

Have you ever seen a CD case quite like this one?

The Baltimore-based Americana group Noble Lake recently released their new album Heyday on Creative Capitalism.

The 'jewel case' is actually one big piece of thick, folded paper.

And the CD is folded inside.

As you unfold it ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You get a lyric sheet:

   

and, when fully unfolded, a poster:

   

It's a really great idea.

I mean, what do you do with jewel cases these days?

I throw most of mine out, and keep the CDs in leather CD cases.

I have many leather-bound books, and my apartment smells of rich mahogany. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:36 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music
        

G-Spot: What a name

There is no better-named venue in Baltimore than G-Spot.

The Falls Road art/performance space is indeed pretty hard to find and rewarding once you find it.

But the hilarious part is, you can't stop and ask random people on the streets how to get to it.

They'd just laugh at you.

I love it. 

The photo is from our archives -- it was taken back in 1999.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:40 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music
        

'Get Down Moses!'

Check out the new music video from Baltimorean Brendan Harris Walker.

He's the guy who did the YouTube smash "Chinese Food on Christmas."

This video is a little slow in the beginning but picks up once the song starts.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:24 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music
        

The next Fab Five Friday

After last week's discussion, this was an easy choice.

I've decided to make this week's FFF topic the top five best free bar snacks.

The caveat is, they have to be something the bar sets out for free.

Like the free Old Bay cheese balls at Quigleys, which just might be on my list.

The hard Utz pretzels Duda's in Fells Point also might be on the list. 

What else can you think of? 

(Photo by KRT) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:29 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

April 14, 2008

Spoon @ Sonar

Concertgoers couldn't have asked for a better show from Spoon (pictured) Friday night at Sonar.

The Texas four-piece brought a punchy, high-energy performance to the steaming-hot East Saratoga Street warehouse.

It felt like half the fans were Spoon followers for years, and the other half discovered the band when Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga came out last year. 

And since it was an all-ages show, there were tons of high-school kids in attendance.

I hope I wasn't annoying like them in high school, but I probably was. 

White Rabbits started things off with some tight, heavy indie rock. At times they had three people playing drums -- a thunderous way to kick off the lineup.

The Walkmen went next, and also put on a decent show. Singer Hamilton Leithauser has an incredible range.

Even though the Walkmen are a more established band than White Rabbits, I thought the Walkmen should have gone on first.

White Rabbits set a driving momentum which drug during the Walkmen's set and picked up again when Spoon hit the stage. But overall, it was one of the best indie rock shows I've seen in a while.

(Photo by Autumn Dewilde)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:07 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Local music
        

Out for a smoke

MS reader Neal Shaffer is a genius.

He designed and printed little laminated cards smokers can use to mark their territory while they go outside for their fix.

Think about it, smokers.

No one will ever steal your seat again. Amazing!

Here's his site, where you can order them.

You can get 12 cards for only $5 (plus $2 shipping/handling).

I call that a deal. 

I'm thinking about getting some myself.

In New York, smokers mark their drinks by putting napkins or coasters over their beers.

Shaffer's cards are much classier.

"Everybody chuckles and says, 'Man, that's a great idea,'" Shaffer told me last week.

If you ask me, Shaffer is sitting on a gold mine.

These small rectangular cards could be his ticket to retirement. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:22 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Shoes thwart Mosaic visit

Wondering when I'll get around to reviewing the recently revamped Mosaic in Power Plant Live?

Me too. 

I swung by there Friday night after the Spoon show at Sonar (side note: I'll post the review of that later today) but wasn't allowed inside.

I was wearing white bowling shoes with black stripes, and my buddy Mike had a pair of All Stars on.

The bouncer apologized but said he couldn't let us in.

No sneakers allowed.

Well, no All Stars allowed. The bouncer said my bowling shoes would have been OK. 

Still, it was silly of me not to think Mosaic would have a dress code -- and would actually enforce it.

I remember when I reviewed Kamp, they let me in wearing Birkenstocks.

Oh, well.

Maybe next weekend. 

If one of you has been there and wants to tell the rest of us how it is, go for it.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:17 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Waking up with Ellen Cherry

Do you have a morning song?

All through college, mine was "Colours" by Donovan.

I still think it's the best morning song ever written.

Probably because of this scene from Rules of Attraction.

But recently, I've been listening to "Something Insanely Clever" by Baltimore singer/songwriter Ellen Cherry a lot over coffee.

It's from her new album Heart Like a Lion.

Check it out. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:14 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music
        

April 13, 2008

All Time Low covers Rihanna

Here's something I never thought I'd hear: Maryland-based pop punk band All Time Low covering Rihanna's smash hit "Umbrella."

Their song appears on a new compilation album called Punk Goes Crunk (heh).

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:02 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music
        

April 12, 2008

White Gold

Saw this on Quarter Life Party and had to pass it along.

White Gold!

From mustache ads in magazines to Ben Stiller wielding a guitar filled with two percent, Milk continues to make me laugh.

A music video for milk? Why not? 

It's a shame my parents make me drink a giant glass of it every night with dinner.

Otherwise I'd probably still enjoy the stuff.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Random stuff
        

The pip-squeak of media

Everybody knows you can comment on my blog posts.

But did you also know you can comment on my stories?

Reason I bring this up is, I received a particularly vicious comment on yesterday's nightlife column, and wanted to share it with you all.

First, the setup:

I had called Shiner Bock "possibly the best thing to come out of Texas."

Then a commenter who I guess missed the sarcasm wrote:

"If you think Shiner Bock is a good beer, then you suck, Sam. Why is the Sun even paying you for this babble while laying off real journalists? Go open a club or start a fanzine or anything but this. Large and Kasper make you look like a pip-squeak of media."

How hilarious is that?

The pip-squeak of media! I love it! 

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:32 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff
        

April 11, 2008

Sam Sessa = mad scientist?

Since my previous attempt at sampling the mystical, mythical bacon vodka failed miserably, I have taken it upon myself to concoct the mixture in my home laboratory.

I, Sam Sessa, will make bacon vodka.

Some of you have dared doubt it.

Some of you said it tastes like trash.

I will prove you wrong.

I will make the best batch of bacon vodka the world has ever seen ...

And then test it.

On myself.

Or possibly my roommate Patchen.

Either way, the world will never be the same.

(Photo by Andre F. Chung/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:36 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Why do bars close?

MS reader Jason alerted me to Epicurious L.I.Z.'s post about why restaurants close.

I've talked to a few bar owners about this. And I'd like to hear from more people too.

If you own a bar or used to own a bar, tell me if I'm right or wrong.

Here's my understanding of it.

One big reason bars close is the interest.

Liquor licenses cost a boatload of money, which is usually covered by a loan.

If the buyer also wants to own the building, that costs even more.

So they borrow more money.

Paying it back is the hard part. 

While bars make a decent amount of dough on alcohol, food sales generally don't turn huge profits.

This is also part of the reason why, at some bars, Miller Lites cost $3.50.

So unless the bar is a hit in its first year or two open, it could easily go under.

(Photo of the now-closed Admiral's Cup in Fells Point by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:03 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Fab Five Friday

 

In retrospect, this Fab Five idea sounded better than it actually was.

Some of you might compare it to bacon vodka.

Either way, the list of the most un-Baltimore spots stands: 

1. Pur Lounge, 2322 Boston St.

An easy choice. Nowhere else charges a $20 cover. Viva Miami! 

2. Ixia, 518 N. Charles St.

This lounge is un-Baltimore in a good way, methinks. It has a nitro bar. A nitro bar. That's too forward-thinking for Charm City.

3. Stadio/Palma/Redwood Trust, Redwood and Calvert streets (pictured)

This massive club has changed hands so many times I'm not sure what to call it. Either way, it never really fit in here. 

4. Xanadu, 10 S. Calvert St.

Formerly Club X Ultra Lounge, this high-end club has little character -- and Baltimore is all about character. 

5. The Den, 3327 St. Paul St.

I feel like I'm in another city when I go here.  

(Photo by Amy Davis/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:05 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

April 10, 2008

Wye Oak in the back seat

Just a gentle reminder: Wye Oak's CD release show is tonight at G-Spot.

MS reader Courtney sent me this link to a great video of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack performing "I Don't Feel Young" in the back seat of a Yaris at South by Southwest.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:16 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local music
        

Dolla dolla bill

I left my mark at Schaefer's in South Baltimore (121 W. Randall St.) the other night.

There were already several dozen dollar bills taped to the mirror on the wall behind the old wooden bar.

Each one had a word or two written on it in black magic marker.

My favorite: "Fatboy."

A couple friends and I decided to add our own to the Mirror of Fame.

We didn't realize how hard it would be.

I mean, what do you write?

Your name? Nah. Too generic.

Mutts blogger John Woestendiek wrote Rumspringa on his -- a genius idea.

I ended up writing "EBSS" on mine. The initials, pronounced "eee-biss," stand for "Eccentric Billionaire Sam Sessa," which is a career goal of mine.

(Photo by Bloomberg News)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Cinder Road wins contest

Baltimore-based rock outfit Cinder Road won a contest sponsored by emerging artist website FameCast.

Fans voted Cinder Road the FameCast Fenom, which netted the band $10,000 in prize money and some more mainstream exposure.

Cinder Road is one of the hardest-working bands from the area, and they definitely deserve the attention. 

Congrats, guys.

(Photo by Kevin Estrada) 

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:15 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music
        

Freedom Enterprise @ WTMD

The Baltimore-based band Freedom Enterprise was our guest on Monday's Baltimore Unsigned.

Here's a video of them performing live in studio. 

Oh, and check out the show's new website too. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 6:54 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music
        

April 9, 2008

D I V A happy hour tonight

Calling all thirsty Sex and the City fans: Houlihan's in the Inner Harbor is hosting D I V A, a new weekly happy hour 6 p.m.-8 p.m. every Wednesday through June 11.

The first one is tonight. 

Four Sex and the City martinis named after characters from the show and made with Skyy Vodka are only $5 all day.

The first 100 people at tonight's happy hour get 10 percent off coupons for the Best Buy across Pratt Street.

You can also enter drawings to win prizes from Ma Petite Shoe and some other pretty cool stuff.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:00 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Shattered dreams @ Capt. Larry's

Last night I learned a valuable lesson: Never get your hopes up when it comes to bacon vodka.

I'd heard it through the grapevine that Capt. Larry's (601 E. Fort Ave.) had a jar of mystical bacon vodka.

This stuff can cure cancer (and tastes great too!).

It's best chased with a scrambled egg-tini, I'm told.

But alas, they had run out.

So I had a double espresso vodka shot instead, and cried inside.

(Photo by Elizabeth Malby/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:27 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff
        

Cheese balls at Quigley's

My new favorite bar food are the cheese balls served in bowls and put on the bar at Quigley's Half-Irish Pub in Ridgley's Delight.

They come sprinkled with Old Bay, which (as any true Marylander will know) makes them awesome.

Hmmm ... this could very well be a delicious (pun!) Fab Five Friday topic.

Next week, perhaps?

Side note: Owner Jim Quigley said he reads the blog.

If that's true, than I'm curious to know: Where did you get the idea for the Old Bay cheese balls? 

Leave a comment and let me know. 

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:59 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

The next Fab Five Friday

Ever been out to a bar and immediately thought, "That doesn't belong in Baltimore"?

This week, I want to list the most un-Baltimore bars around town.

I'm not talking about chain bars that are un-Baltimore in a generic sense, but bars that stick out like a sore thumb and make you wonder how they're still in business in Charm City.

Give me some suggestions. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:09 AM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

April 8, 2008

Butt Stomach

The hot ticket for tonight is Butt Stomach, Daniel Francis Doyle and Smart Growth at the Talking Head Club (203 Davis St.).

Butt Stomach is Dan Deacon and Kevin Omera of Video Hippos and Smart Growth is Denny from Double Dagger performing the music of Phil Collins on drums and keys.

Talk about $7 well-spent.

Doors open at 9 p.m. Butt Stomach (the headliner) will go on around midnight.

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:54 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music
        

Connolly's Seafood Restaurant

Dear Evan,

Here it is: Connolly's Seafood Restaurant, in all its glory.

The caption to this photo from 1991 is a sad one though:

"William Owens, A  Connolly's Seafood Restaurant employee, arrived for work Wed. afternoon, only to discover the "closed" sign." 

Digging even deeper in our archives, I found this gem from 1980 ...  

That's right folks -- Willie Don himself!

With fish, of course.

(Top photo by Amy Davis/Sun Photographer. Second photo from Sun archives) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:11 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Lo-Fi Social Club goes quiet

I'm a little worried about the future of the Lo-Fi Social Club (1825 N. Charles St.).

Founder Neil Freebairn hasn't returned multiple phone calls in the past few days, and there is only one show scheduled for all of April.

I hope nothing's wrong, but this can't be good for the club.

(Photo by me) 

 

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:08 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music
        

Drifters expanding?

Got a tip this morning that Drifters in Federal Hill may be undergoing renovations.

I'll post more later today. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:36 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 7, 2008

G-Spot upgrades stage

G-Spot, the DIY art/live music space on Falls Road, is building a taller, wider stage in time for Wye Oak's CD release show there April 10.

The old stage wasn't too high off the ground, and when the place was full, it could be difficult to see the performers. 

The new stage will be about three and a half feet tall.

"It's going to be a lot better for people," said G-Spot co-owner Jill Sell. "We try and do our best to make it comfortable for people."

I'd also like to apologize for my rather snide remarks about the Beach House show there a couple months ago.

I can be tongue-in-cheek sometimes, but I was mean in my review, and that was too much.

Sell and her husband Reuban Kroiz work hard to bring in good shows on a regular basis, and they're doing the best with what they have.

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:09 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music
        

Free makes everything better

I was sitting at end of the upstairs bar at Looney's Pub in Canton last week finishing off a Shiner Bock when three girls in matching outfits walked up next to me.

At first I was confused.

Then I realized they were Miller Lite reps gearing up for a night of free beer giveaways.

My inner monologue: "Score!"

They ordered a bunch of Miller Lite Brewers Collection six packs, then all turned to me at once.

"Want to try a free beer?" one of them said.

"Why ... yes!" I replied.

It was a Miller Lite Amber and tasted all right. Nothing special.

But free makes everything better.

Maybe that should be Midnight Sun's slogan.

I mean, you don't pay for it. It's free!

Midnight Sun: Free makes everything better. 

On second thought, that kind of implies that MS is only good because it's free.

Hmm .... 

(Photo I've used several times before because it's the only one of Looney's in our archives by Algerina Perna/Sun Photographer)  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:56 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

'You're My Star'

Trolling through YouTube, I came across this video of "You're My Star" by the Jennifers.

The song is from their 1994 album Nine Days Wonder.

You can download it for free at the band's website.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:59 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music
        

April 6, 2008

Meeting Jim Quigley

The other day I said I'd post the story about my first run-in with Jim Quigley, the owner of Quigley's Half-Irish Pub in Ridgely's Delight.

Here it is ...

 

Normally, I visit a bar, hang out for a bit, then call it the next day and talk to the owner over the phone (so I can stay semi-anonymous).
 
I went to Quigley's once or twice and had a good time.
 
Since Quigley's was brand new at the time, I couldn't find the phone number anywhere. 
 
So I walked in wearing my Sun ID with a notepad in my back pocket.
 
Quigley was behind the bar.
 
He saw me coming, raised his arm, pointed at me and yelled "REPORTER!"
 
I stopped and said: "Yes ..." 
 
He told me he wouldn't talk to me about the bar because the kitchen wasn't up and running.
 
I told him I was writing a review of the bar, not the kitchen, and the review was going to run whether or not I quoted him in it.
 
Eventually, he agreed to talk to me.  
 
But it was by far the most awkward introduction I've ever had. 
 
(Photo by Lloyd Fox/Sun Photographer) 
 
Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:39 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff
        

April 5, 2008

Egg Babies tonight

If you're still plan-less for tonight and like songs from '80s movies, here's an idea:

The Egg Babies Orchestra, a group of Baltimore musicians, gets together once every couple months to put on an all-covers show.

This time, they're only going to play songs from movie soundtracks (especially '80s movies) and show video clips from the movies on a screen behind them as they perform.

Here's an article I wrote on them.

It came out a couple days ago.

(Photo by Natasha Tylea)

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music
        

Whatcha having, Sam?

I stopped by Red House Tavern (2239 Essex St.) for a beer this past Tuesday and was pleasantly surprised at the service there.

When I ordered a Yuengling ($4), the bartender carded me, read my license, handed it back to me and said, "Here you go, Sam."

Then about a half hour later when I walked out, he said "Goodbye, Sam."

That doesn't happen much at the bars I normally review. But it definitely makes me want to go back.

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:08 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 4, 2008

Funny beer commercial

Mutts blogger John Woestendiek sent me the link to this video, which he posted on his blog.


Guide Dog - video powered by Metacafe
Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:39 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Water School breaks up

Local indie rock group Water School (pictured) has decided to call it quits, said singer/guitarist Chris Myers.

Bassist Eric Hopkins is getting married and is ready to settle down, and Myers was growing tired of the day-to-day duties of being in the band, he said.

Their third album, titled Third Album, may not be released. But you can hear a song or two from it at their MySpace site.

They also posted a cover of the Gary B and the Notions song "Three Horse Carousel."

"We have a bit of a rivalry going on between us," Myers said.

It's not much of a rivalry if your band just broke up, I said.

"Well, it was for a second there," he said.

(Photo by Natasha Tylea) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:35 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local music
        

Local High Rise closes

I'm late on this one, but I don't think anyone else has reported it yet, so here goes.

The Local High Rise, the warehouse venue in East Baltimore, closed last month.

The owners had struggled to pay rent on the place, and couldn't consistently draw crowds big enough to comfortably fill it.

"Tight now, the 18 hour days, 7 days a week is a little to much to be bringing home the negative-$2,000 paycheck every other week," said booking agent and owner Louis Lee Hoxter Jr.

I hope Hoxter sticks with the idea.

I think they could turn a profit if they found a smaller venue to work with.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:50 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music
        

Fab Five Friday

When it comes to free live music, we don't have it that bad in Baltimore.

There are a bunch of bars around town with consistently high-quality live music.

Ready to rank them? I sure am.

Here goes!

1. Cat's Eye Pub, 1730 Thames St.

From Carl Filipiak to Naked Blue, I have seen some sick shows in this Fells Point pub. They have live music seven days a week -- most nights it's either free or there's a small cover.

2. Bertha's, 734 S. Broadway (pictured)

Bertha's sounds really good -- especially considering how long and narrow it is. 

3. Bedrock Baltimore, 401 W. Baltimore St.

Much, much better now that the stage is no long 10 feet off the ground. The high ceilings make for solid acoustics.

4. Brass Monkey Saloon, 1601 Eastern Ave.

When beginner bands need a place to play, the Monkey is there for them. Gotta give it props for helping local groups find their footing. 

5. Red House Tavern, 2239 Essex St.

This bar's weekly open jams and regular live performances are worth checking out.

(Photo by Kim Hairston/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:49 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

April 3, 2008

Interviewing Carrie Underwood

Monday, I talked to pop country star and American Idol winner Carrie Underwood for a piece that ran in today's LIVE section.

(She's performing at the 1st Mariner Arena with Keith Urban next week.) 

I had 10 minutes on the phone with her, but she answered all my questions in seven.

To get ready for the interview, I watched videos of previous interviews with her and read as many stories about her as I could.

Underwood is pretty savvy about speaking to the press.

When I talked to her, she was sweet but also straight and to the point.

Here's a link to the article.

(Photo by Andrew Eccles)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:48 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Today's column

Here is this week's nightlife column, about the Kitty Kat Bar in Remington.

I went back to the bar a week after I reviewed it to talk to the owner, a guy named Jeff.

Jeff wasn't there, and the bartender told me he didn't want to talk to me and he didn't want me to review the bar because he didn't want any yuppies to show up.

I really liked the quirky neighborhood bar, and hope that you check it out.

Especially if you're a yuppie. 

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:09 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

To clarify

Don't think I made this clear enough with yesterday's Fab Five post.

I'm looking for bars with consistent live music.

Preferably free live music. 

So clubs like the 8x10 or the Ottobar don't count.

But bars like the Red House Tavern do.

So give me more stuff like that. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:15 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

Palma to replace Stadio

Speaking of revolving doors -- people just keep throwing money at that giant club on Redwood and Calvert streets.

It used to be the Redwood Trust (pictured).

Then it was Stadio.

On May 22, it will become Palma.

One of the guys behind Palma also runs Ibizia Night Club in Washington, and I'm told, plans to open Palma a few nights a week.

Stadio was open more sporadically for special events.

We'll see what happens with Palma, but I'm not holding my breath.

Even at its peak, house music never caught on in Baltimore like it did in Philly and New York City.

(Photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:35 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 2, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

We've never listed the best bars with live music around town -- and there are a bunch of 'em.

The bars I want for this week's Fab Five list have to be places that consistently host live music.

I'm thinking about places like the Red House Tavern, the Cat's Eye Pub, Leadbetter's (pictured) and Bedrock Baltimore.

Got some suggestions for moi?

(Photo by Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:33 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

I want one

Or all five. Shame I don't have a birthday coming up.

I would put them on my desk and call them my ERs (short for Editor Repellents).

Thing is, they're actually kind of wimpy. Mine would have more oomph.

Load cannon! Fire cannon! 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:56 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Will Virgin Mobile Festival draw?

Now that we know the headliners to this year's Virgin Mobile Festival, the next debate is: Will more people go this year than in previous years?

I think Kanye West is the hottest act on the bill, and will probably bring out more people than any of the other headliners.

Jack Johnson is also a big draw among the high school and college crowd.

Both Nine Inch Nails and the Foo Fighters were huge in the '90s. But neither band has had many hits in the past few years. So it's hard for me to guess how many people would come see them.

How much interest is there in a reunited Stone Temple Pilots tour? And do you think the band will actually stay together long enough to make it to the festival?

(Photo by Getty Images) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:04 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival
        

Is Boston Street cursed?

In the few years I've been covering Baltimore nightlife, so many bars and clubs have come and gone on that one little stretch of Boston Street.

Flirt gave way to Kamp, which closed last year.

Pur (which I've never seen packed) replaced the GoodLove Bar (pictured).

And the Gin Mill has closed and reopened a few times.

What is it about that section of Boston Street?

Is it cursed?

(Photo from Sun archives)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:25 AM | | Comments (39)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

April 1, 2008

Baltimore Chop is staying put

Pay no attention to the "For Sale" sign on the bookstore/live music cafe Baltimore Chop (Washington Boulevard and Emory Street).

The building may be getting some new owners, but the business isn't going anywhere, said Baltimore Chop owner Andy Rubin.

"I have a lease, as far as my place goes," he said.

Rubin's lease runs until December, when he plans to exercise his option to stay for another couple years, he said. 

In case you're interested, the building is up for about $1.6 million, Rubin said.

(Photo by Lloyd Fox/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music
        

Virgin Mobile Festival lineup announced

Rapper Kanye West, singer/songwriter Jack Johnson industrial rock outfit Nine Inch Nails and alternative rockers the Foo Fighters and Stone Temple Pilots will headline this year's Virgin Mobile Festival, organizers announced today.

The two-day festival, now in its third year, comes to Pimlico Race Course August 9-10. 

About 74,000 people turned out for last year's festival, which featured the Police, Smashing Pumpkins, the Beastie Boys and nearly 40 other acts at Pimlico Race Course. 

More to come.

(Photo by Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:12 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival
        

Virgin Mobile Festival lineup announcement

Stay tuned -- they're announcing this year's Virgin Mobile Festival lineup today.

I'm speaking with Virgin CEO Richard Branson around 1 p.m.

I'll post the lineup as soon as I get word. 

(Photo by Kenneth K. Lam) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:04 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Local music
        

Darkroom Productions news

Darkroom Productions will officially release Hamsterdam June 24 on Koch Records, Juan Donovan Bell reports.

Bell and co-producer Jamal Roberts will also be featured in this week's Rolling Stone.

And the Get 'Em Mamis, who have worked with Darkroom for a while now, will are featured in the new Fader Magazine.

I'll say it right now: the Mamis' new single "Cold Summer" is going to be one of the best tracks to come out of Baltimore this year.

(Photo by J.M. Giordano) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:31 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music
        
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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at erik.maza@baltsun.com. 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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