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May 31, 2008

Bad concert karma?

I have a question, and I'd like an answer.

I saw tons of concerts in college. 

On the day of the show, my friends and I would never, ever play the music of the band we were going to see that night.

I'm not sure whether they thought if you played the band's music the day of the show then the show itself would be bad or if it was as toolish as wearing the band's T-shirt to the show.

But I'm curious. Have any of you ever heard of this before? 

(AP Photo)  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:55 AM | | Comments (31)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music, Random stuff
        

May 30, 2008

Fab Five Friday

And now, it's time for Fab Five Friday: Destination Dundalk.

Oh, yes indeed.

Using a mix of your recommendations and my own personal prowess, I have compiled the five best bars in Dundalk.

Let me preface this list by saying that no FFF is the end-all be-all of anything. So don't take this too seriously, folks.

But I'm always down for a good debate.

So here goes ...

1. Dicks Famous Dock Bar (pictured). 601 Wise Ave., Dundalk

Nestled down where a windy road meets the water, Dick's is undeniably my favorite Dundalk bar. Growing up, I worked at marinas and have always enjoyed crazy boaters. And what better place to study the Art of the Hawaiian Shirt than on a colorfully painted wooden dock bar with a live band playing?

2. Hops Inn, 7002 Railway Drive, Dundalk

Pitchers of Michelob Amberbock are only $6, most of the male patrons have facial hair, and black-and-white portraits of every president since George Washington hang on the wood-paneled walls. Awesome.

3. Howard's, 7312 Holabird Ave.

I don't like the new paint job, but Howard's continues to dominate Dundalk's nightlife scene -- and for good reason. The bartenders are quite pleasant and the patrons can party.

4. Pops Tavern, 4343 North Point Blvd.

Give me live country or give me death! 

5. Costa's Inn, 4100 North Point Blvd.

As TotalVicky says: They have karaoke + beer, which = retirees from Bethlehem Steele with hard-core Bawlmer accents reminscing about the Colts and singing frank Sinatra :-) For that reason alone ... if they qualify as a bar then they get my vote. And the crabs ain't too bad either, hon :-)

(Photo courtesy of Dicks)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:58 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

May 29, 2008

A folky, funky start to Non-Comm

The Non-Commvention in Philadelphia kicked off this morning with a performance by country folk act the Watson Twins (pictured).

The twins, Chandra and Leigh, toured and performed with Jenny Lewis in 2006. Their debut album on Vanguard drops June 24, and they played some tracks from it on the World Cafe Live stage.

The songs weren't bad, either. You couldn't ask for better harmonies, and the twins have a captivating stage presence. A cover of "Just Like Heaven" (also on the album) was an unexpected treat.

Phily Roy was up next, and delivered some tight acoustic funk from his new CD, as well as "Hope in a Hopeless World," a song Widespread Panic covers.

Jackie Greene and Wild Sweet Orange play later this afternoon, and I can't wait for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings tonight.

(Photo by Pamela Littky) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Non-Commvention
        

Hard Candy returns to Mosaic

Tonight, Mosaic in Power Plant Live will once again host Hard Candy, the new weekly gay night with DJ Ultra Nate.

I talked to a guy who went last week and had a smashing time.

The Cloud Nine set poured into Power Plant Live to flirt with the muscle-bound bartenders and soak in Mosaic's Miami vibe, he said.

His only complaints: The crowd got straighter and straighter as the night went on. 

And the event was not well-marked. They need to start hanging some rainbow flags outside Mosaic on Thursdays, he said.

Otherwise, he and his friends had fun.

(Photo of a Mosaic martini from Sun archives) 

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

I'm off to Non-Comm

For the next few days, I'll be live blogging from the Non-Commventon up in Philly.

What's Non-Comm, you say? Funny you should ask.

Every year, folks from triple-a radio stations like WTMD and WXPN get together with industry types to talk about emerging artists.

There are live showcases, interviews and meet and greets.

Here are some posts from last year's convention.

This year, I'll be seeing some performances from people like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Jakob Dylan (pictured), The Watson Twins and a dozen more.

Of course, I'll also keep doing normal nightlife stuff like Fab Five Friday.

Are you ready? I know I am. Bring it on!

(Photo by Getty Images) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:27 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Non-Commvention
        

May 28, 2008

Some Gin Mill news

Got this email from Gin Mill owner Luke Reeder (pictured on left) ...

Just wanted to let you know the Gin Mill is open again for business and looks just as good as it did in 97 when we first opened the doors after operating the Boston St Cafe from '90 to '96.

Hope you can make it in to try one of our Classic Cocktails offered on the menu and maybe try some of our newest culinary delights. We are open seven days and evenings again like in the past and the building has been renovated from top to bottom.

Also please check out our  extensive new wine list that suits all who enter. You may purchase bottles to go or order in and pick up later.

The bar is at 2300 Boston St. 

I'm out of town for the next few days, so if anyone goes before I do, let me know what you think of the renovations. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:52 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Baltimore Unsigned live from The 8x10

Baltimore Unsigned held its first live taping at The 8x10 Monday afternoon.

Fools and Horses were the guest, and about 200 people showed up to see the local rock band run through some songs from Pop Filter and their new album, tentatively titled I Am the Ghost.

A lot of good news has come out of the Fools and Horses camp lately.

They're playing Summerfest (the world's largest music festival, taking place for 11 days in Milwaukee) in late June. I've heard they were also voted onto an emerging artist compilation CD the festival is releasing.

(Photo by Courtney Block/Block Design & Photography)  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:01 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music
        

Forty Acres/Chosen Son signed

Forty Acres, the local rock band fronted by John Allen, changed its name to Chosen Son and signed to Eleven Seven Music last week.

Eleven Seven, a record label run by Nikki Sixx, currently represents Buckcherry and Drowning Pool, among others.

To celebrate, Chosen Son is throwing a party Friday at the Black Hole Rock Club (216 German Hill Road in Dundalk).

Congrats, John!

(Photo courtesy of John Allen) 

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:49 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music
        

May 27, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

Now that I've gotten a taste of Dundalk courtesy of JMGiordano, I'd like to make this week's Fab Five Friday the five best bars in Dundalk.

We went to five alone Saturday night. Of the five, two or three were hits, and the other couple were misses.

But I want to hear from you guys.

What are the best places to go drinking in Dundalk? 

(Photo by Lloyd Fox/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:57 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

Monday morning roll call

And now, ladies and gentlemen, it's time to share your weekend stories.

I'll start with my action-packed weekend ...

Friday, I drove up to Philly to see my favorite band from college, The New Deal (pictured).

They're a live instrumental house/electronica band from Toronto, and they played a sick  midnight show at the Theatre of the Living Arts on South Street.

Also, quite randomly, I ran into Evan Weinsten from Steez Promo (who I've never met before in person) at an after party. 

Saturday JMGiordano took me and Andy Shankman of Gutter Magazine on a Dundalk bar tour. More on that later.

Yesterday, I hosted Baltimore Unsigned's first live taping from The 8x10. I'll get to that in a bit.

Afterward, I went to a friend's bbq and randomly met MS poster Evan for the first time.

How was your weekend? Do anything crazy?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:44 AM | | Comments (11)
        

Some love from NY Mag

New York Magazine did a piece on discovering Baltimore, and Midnight Sun was one of the referred links at the end of it.

Check it out.

Thanks, NY Mag! 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Perfectly spherical ice

Dig this: A Japanese company called Taisin has developed a machine which makes perfectly round balls of ice, according to CScout Japan.

The idea is, since round ice has less surface space, it melts slower than regular square ice. 

I think it's awesomely ridiculous.

I mean, how can you make the perfect drink without perfectly round ice? 

Bam! I think my head just exploded.

This reminds me of the "hot ice" scene from Rookie of the Year. It's at the 1:55 minute mark on this video

(Photo from CScout Japan) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 6:57 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Random stuff
        

May 26, 2008

The all new Upper Deck

Has anyone been to the upstairs bar at the Upper Deck (34 S. Eutaw St.) recently?

I heard it was renovated but haven't been there in a year or two.  

About a year or two ago, I used to walk by there a fair amount, and there were always at least one or two homeless people lounging on the sidewalk outside.

You'd practically trip over them to get into the place. I hope that's changed since then. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:26 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

May 25, 2008

Stalking Horse = vodka bar?

Here's an odd aside: The Stalking Horse (36 E. Cross St.) is now advertising itself as a vodka bar.

I called manager Marc McFaul, who said they stock more than 50 different brands of vodka. 

He sees Stalking Horse as more of a martini bar than a scotch haven like Ropewalk, and thought having so many kinds of vodka would be a good conversation piece. 

"Vodka's very popular and I thought it fits more with the place," he said.

And, they invested in a cotton candy machine, which means they can make vodka-infused cotton candy.  

(Photo by Algerina Perna/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:57 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

May 24, 2008

Beheading at the Garden Lounge

Mutts blogger John Woestendiek brought me this true tale about a ghastly beheading at the Garden Lounge in the days of yore ...

Days of yore = 1962, before owner Judy Melton and her husband took over.

According to Melton, a fire truck was barreling south down Light Street and tried to turn left onto Fort Avenue.

The truck swung wide and ran into the Garden Lounge, busting through the front of the building. That wasn't too bad.

But then a second truck slammed into the first one, pushing it farther into the store.

One of the former owners, Rose, was standing at the cash register when all this happened, and the truck beheaded her.

I rummaged through Sun archives yesterday looking for any clips about the tragedy. And though I'm assuming we wrote about it, I couldn't find any to confirm Melton's story.

But Melton has a picture of the firetruck stuck in the building, which she showed to Woestendiek a couple days ago.

What a crazy story. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:28 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

May 23, 2008

Yesterday's nightlife column

My review of Mosaic ran in yesterday's LIVE section.

Here's a link.

Your thoughts? 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:53 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

New after hours club coming

A new after hours club called Lunar is set to open in South Baltimore later this month.

It occupies a warehouse at 1800 Worcester St., which was formerly used as an illegal gambling site, according to one of the co-owners.

Here's a link to the venue's MySpace site.

As you see on the flyer (pictured), Lunar will be open from midnight to 6 a.m.

It will not serve alcohol -- only sodas and energy drinks, said Rick, one of the co-owners. (He didn't want to give his last name.)

Lunar will have free parking for about 300 cars, and off-duty police officers will work outside to help keep things orderly, Rick said.

The club is about 9,000 square feet, which means the dance floor is roughly 10 times the size of Club 1722's dance floor.

"It's a very comfortable environment," he said. "We want to provide a fun, safe place for people."

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:52 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Fab Five Friday

In hindsight, I probably should have broken down this week's Fab Five Friday: Best Bars of the 'Burbs' into three or four FFFs by county.

But here at Midnight Sun, we've never played by the rules.

So, using your ideas, I compiled the five best suburban bars in Greater Baltimore. 

Ready?

Here goes ... 

1. Shark's Tooth Bar and Grill, 6-10 Crain Highway, Glen Burnie

From TotalVicky: They literally have a shark's head coming out of the front of the building. Much like its counterparts inside the city limits further north up route 2 (your neck of the woods) you will always find an eclectic crowd ranging from toothless old men to Towson State students. Its a funny spot to visit.

2. Della Rose's, 8153 Honeygo Blvd., White Marsh (pictured)

From David Sturgill: The best place to watch the ravens or terps (Tony Dellarose himself on the bar with his speeches).

3. Pub Dog, 8865 Stanford Blvd., Columbia

Yes, the Dog Pub in Federal Hill has been retired from FFF lists. But I can still rank its sister location in Columbia. Sneaky, huh? Besides, it's one of the only non-chain bars in Columbia.

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

Let's show Padonia some love. Greg S has the right idea: Huge menu, ridiculous number of tv's, "beer of the day" specials and live music on weekends ... I don't know specifics but they've been on a few "Best Sportsbar in America" lists. 

5. The Charred Rib, 12 W. Ridgley Road, Lutherville

According to Allan: If you're up towards Cockeysville/Timonium, then the Chared Rib is your best bet. ... Also, if it's a pay Friday, you might as well get sauced, sing karaoke and eat a rack of amazing ribs at the Chared Rib. You really can't beat it. 

(Photo by Algerina Perna/Sun Photographer) 
Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:04 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

May 22, 2008

Gay dance night at Mosaic tonight

Tonight, Mosaic (4 Market Place in Power Plant Live) kicks off a new Thursday night gay dance party called Hard Candy.

The slogan: "A weekly party for guys who like it sweet and hard."

Scandal!

Ultra Nate is performing, and Ryan Patrick, David Cole and Harry Alascio are hosting.

I could be wrong, but I think this will be Power Plant Live's first weekly gay party.

If you go, let me know how it is.

There's no time posted on the flyer, but I'm assuming it starts somewhere around 9 or 10 p.m.

 

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:07 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

So I tried a Southside ...

Memories were made last night.

As promised, I, Sam Sessa, downed my very first Southside -- just before the stroke of midnight.

Why so late?

It took me that long just to find the right liquor to put in George Lee's famous mix.

We were out of normal rum and club soda.

And we were out of amaretto, which is what Roommate Patchen usually puts in his.

So, as a last resort, I dug up a bottle of Bacardi 151 and added a shot of that, three or four shots of mix and ice.

Then I took a sip ...

It was awesome.

Deeeelicious.

It looked like muddy water and tasted like a cool breeze on a hot summer day.

Heh.

Seriously though, I was surprised at how complex it tasted.

There's a slightly sour, citrus tang from the lime, a rolling minty sweetness and a rum kicker. It really worked my palette (do tongues sweat?).

I'd buy more of the mix if it weren't a whopping $20 per quart.

Ouch!

But lemme tell ya, if Patchen brings more of the mix around, I'm going to shark some for myself.

(Photos by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:31 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Random stuff
        

"Bad Times" = bad song

Ever wonder what happened to the Presidents of the United States of America?

I didn't, until yesterday, when a friend sent me an mp3 of their new song "Bad Times."

You might remember the Pres. of the USA from their hit single "Peaches" ...

What have they been up to since then? Beats me.

In the appropriately named "Bad Times," the narrator wishes his significant other had had more bad times so he could have been there for him/her.

But I didn't exactly have a good time listening to the song. 

Here's a link to their MySpace site where you can hear it for yourself.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:50 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Meeting Jimi Hendrix

A while back, local jazz bassist Slim Manicotti sent out an email blast.

In it, he casually mentioned the time he met Jimi Hendrix.

Yesterday, I emailed him back and asked him to tell me the story.

Here it is ... 

From Slim: 

In May, 1969, I was first in line at the Hendrix concert at the Baltimore Civic Center.  I told my friend (Jeff Thorsell, the light guy for my band) that I was walking right on stage. I did, he followed.

I went backstage and Mitch Mitchell asked me to hold a flashlight while he fixed his bass drum pedal. Then, I went to one side of the stage, and my friend went to the other.

I was watching the opening band, Cactus, when I felt a nudge on my shoulder. It was Jimi Hendrix.  He mentioned that he thought the guitar player with Cactus was good. We stood side by side, watching Cactus for a while. Hendrix did most of the talking.

Then Cactus finished their set, and Hendrix came out. I watched the whole show from side, backstage.

Incredible.

I think it was around that point that I gave up guitar and took up the bass.

And the next week I went to Merriweather and saw Led Zeppelin open up for The Who.

I was on my way...

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:29 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Local music, Random stuff
        

May 21, 2008

It's Southside time

Sad fact: I've lived in Baltimore City for three years and not once in all that time have I had a Southside.

Ever heard of a Southside?

It used to be a country club drink, made with an icy blend of rum, club soda, mint and magic -- depending on who was behind the bar.

These days, you can buy the mix at various places around town and add your own liquor at home.

But in all my time and travels in Baltimore, I've yet to slurp down a Southside.

That's gonna change tonight folks, thanks to my roommate Patchen ... 

 

Patchen got his paws on two bottles of George Lee's Original Southside Mix.

Lee is the grand-pappy of Southside makers. Dude must be close to 90 by this point, if he's not dead yet.

And, if truth be told, he makes the best Southside mix money can buy.

Sells it out of his house, too, I hear.

So tonight, we're gonna have a taste or two of Mr. Lee's legacy.

Thing is, I'm not entirely sure what to add to it, in terms of liquor. Amaretto? Rum? And how much?

Tell me! Tell me! Help!

I'll report back manana.

(Fuzzy cell phone photo sloppily snapped by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:20 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Frou frou vs. old fashioned

With all of the new fruit-infused cocktails like Bacardi Mojito (pictured) and all of the fancy martinis you can get these days, you gotta wonder:

Does anyone still know how to make a classic drink like a bourbon old-fashioned?

I mean, at least one of Mosaic's bartenders couldn't even get an Absolut martini right.

That's not a good sign.

I assume a ritzy place like the Havana Club or the bar at the Prime Rib can make classic drinks like it's nobody's business.

But has the art of the simple classic drink been buried under an avalanche of fancy fruit-infused liquors? 

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:17 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Introducing the Hudson Street Stack House

A new bar called the Hudson Street Stack House will open in Canton in the next couple weeks.

Here are the details ...


The bar, at 2624 Hudson St., used to be called the Hudson Street Cafe.

But it's been closed for the past year or so while the DeSantis family renovated it.

The bar will have about a dozen beers on tap, exposed brick walls, a concrete floor, tin ceiling, and kitchen, Richard DeSantis said.

His son Dominic will run the place. 

Sculptor David Hess (pictured) who did several of the pieces outside the American Visionary Art Museum, has been helping renovate the bar, DeSantis said.

I'm excited to see the results. 

"It's going to be a great neighborhood place," DeSantis said.

(Photo by Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:18 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

May 20, 2008

Get 'em Mamis get four stars in Rolling Stone

The Get 'Em Mamis got some more recognition in the May 15 issue of Rolling Stone.

Stone gave their single "Cold Summer" four stars in its Downloads section.

Here's a bit of the review:

"These Baltimore ladies outshine their male counterparts with clipped double-time rhymes and a beat that belongs on boomboxes at barbeques across America."

I couldn't agree more.

Congrats, Mamis. 

(Photo by J.M. Giordano) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:18 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music
        

Dego Dames is temporarily closed

Looks like the owner of Dego Dames (1018 Eastern Ave.) forgot to renew the Little Italy pub's liquor license. That's why it's been closed for about a week.

I couldn't get a hold of Damion DeSantis, who owns the place.

So I called his pop Richard, who owns DeSantis Pizza (9638 Belair Road). 

Richard was none too pleased.

"I think he has got to renew his license," Richard said. "It's an oversight on his part."

I hope Damion gets things back up and running there soon. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:32 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

The next Fab Five Friday

I rarely review bars in the 'burbs.

So many bars have been renovated and reopened in Baltimore proper, it's hard enough for me to just cover the city -- let alone the suburbs.

I want to try and make amends this week.

What are the best all-around non-chain bars in the suburbs?

Since I don't know that many, I'm going to need plenty of input.

Fill me in.

(Photo of An Poitin Stil from Sun archives)  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:47 AM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

The week that was

Last week was pretty action-packed.

The Wind-Up Space had a soft opening, with none other than Mobtown Molly behind the bar. From now on, it's open Thursdays through Saturdays at 8-10 W. North Ave. It was Molly's first time serving drinks, I believe and left her worn and weary. Here's her full report.

The Talking Head Club reopened in Sonar's former lounge space. From City Paper's review, it sounds like renovations are still under way there. ...

Caleb Stine and the Brakemen pulled off a stellar CD release party, according to WTMD's blog -- despite the BGE-induced power outage.

Black Kids, Cut Copy and Ponytail raged Sonar's club stage. There's a review on Quarter Life Party.

And, of course, there was Preakness. And nobody covers Preakness like The Sun. Check it out.

(Photo of the Black Kids/Cut Copy/Ponytail show by Ryan Detter)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:25 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music
        

May 19, 2008

Mike McFadden video

Mike McFadden taped a Baltimore Unsigned session at WTMD recently.

His interview and live performance air at 8 tonight. 

Here's a video of the song "Standing Here":

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:08 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music
        

More Palma details

The owners of Palma, the new high-end club replacing Stadio at Calvert and Redwood streets, posted some details on Palma's site.

They pushed back the opening to next month and plan to keep the club open until 4 a.m.

Also looks like they're investing a boatload of money into Palma's audio/visual setup. 

Good luck, guys.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:28 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Monday morning roll call

This past weekend was a nice cool-down for me. I only went out Friday night.

Instead of going home for Mother's Day a couple weeks ago, I had mom over and took her out for a night on the town. ...

We had a late dinner at Thai Arroy (Amie's and my favorite Thai place) and then for drinks at Ixia.

Ixia was fairly full when we got there, and the bartender said he didn't have time to make us cocktails with the liquid nitrogen bar.

At least he gave us a bowl full of popcorn soaked in liquid nitrogen, which was cool.

I got the mint martini (which didn't have the traditional chocolate rim because they ran out, our bartender said).

Mom got a pomegranate martini (pictured) but it didn't have the usual sugar and pomegranate dusting around the rim. Our bartender didn't say why.

Either way, we both had a good time soaking in Ixia's elegant, eclectic atmosphere.

What did you do this weekend?

(Photo from Sun archives)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:41 AM | | Comments (10)
        

The bitter Baltimore Examiner

I mean, the free tabloid daily just dropped home delivery to two days a week and cut the number of papers printed on the other days by 80 percent.

Even so, I was surprised to see this sign hanging outside their Inner Harbor office.

Then I realized, it probably said "Thank You Baltimore!"

Either way, I almost cried I laughed so hard. 

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:23 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Meeting Kupkake

Last Tuesday night, my pal Crazy Joe and I set out for an adventure.

And when you set out for an adventure, this city almost never lets you down.

When my first idea for a nightlife column didn't pan out (I'll tell ya about it later), we decided to penetrate deep into the dive bars of Highlandtown and Canton.

That's where we found the Crossroads Bar and Restaurant.

And in it, a man called Kupkake ...

Crazy Joe and I grabbed two barstools with split cushions, sat down and ordered two Buds ($2.25 each).

We had only taken a sip or two when Kupkake sauntered over.

Kupkake was a short man. I'd put him at about 5'3". He was an older man, too -- probably in his late 50s or early 60s.

But he was a sweet man. No pun intended.

"I'm Sam," I said, and stuck out my hand. He shook it, and said,

"My name's Greg. But everybody calls me Kupcake. It's my screen name! Except, I spell it with three Ks. See?"

Then Kupkake took off his baseball hat and pointed to it. Sure enough, it had the word Kupkake written on it.

At this point, I'm thinking Kupkake might be some kind of white supremacist. After all, he did point out the three Ks in KupKaKe. 

But then, I felt his hand rest on my thigh, and I knew what kind of man Kupkake was.

Now that was a little awkward.

Then it got worse -- Kupkake liked to lean close and chat. And when he spoke, flecks of spittle flew from his lips and landed on my face.

So there I was, at the Crossroads, getting hit on by a tipsy gay senior citizen named Kupkake (it's his screen name) who kept spitting in my face.

Finally (!) he got the picture that I wasn't interested in him. Or maybe he thought I had some kind of nervous twitch because I had to keep wiping my face.

Either way, Kupkake took his short, sweet self back to his barstool for a little bit. But a few minutes later he was back on the prowl and accidentally knocked over a sign, which busted on the floor.

That was the cue for Crazy Joe and me to hit the road. 

(Photo by me.) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:03 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

May 18, 2008

Baltimore mix

Remember a few months back when we drug out dozens and dozens of songs based on Baltimore or with the word "Baltimore" in their title?

Well, the folks at Quarter Life Party put together a Baltimore Edition of their Mobtown Mix.

You can see it and download tracks here.

It's a pretty comprehensive list, from local favorites like Celebration and Caleb Stine (pictured) to national acts like Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks and Randy Newman.

(Photo by Chiaki Kawajiri/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:24 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music
        

May 17, 2008

What's cooking at Cobbers?

Looks like something's brewing at the North Charles Street building that used to house Cobbers.

Got this email today from Homer Simpson:

I know that cobbers shuttered its doors sometime last winter but I've been walking past it the past couple of weeks and noticed some work going on inside.  Do you know if and when it will reopen or other info about it.  Thanks. 

I don't know anything just yet, but let me see what I can dig up.

(Photo by Jed Kirschbuam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:29 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

May 16, 2008

Nobles: the review

Here is my review of Nobles Bar and Grill (on South Charles Street where Drifters Raw Bar used to be).

Nobles is still a work-in-progress.

But I like what owners Danny Pirog and Nick Marshall have done with the space so far. 

Have you guys been there yet? I know Bill has. What do you think of it? 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:42 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Is Dizzy Issie's closed?

It's a good question.

And I wish I knew the answer.

I've called that corner bar a couple times in the past two days. Each time I call, the phone just keeps ringing.

That's not a good sign.

The folks at Charm City Cakes said they knew it was closed but thought it was back open.

Anybody know for sure?

(Photo by Karl Merton Ferron/Sun Photographer) 

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:34 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Fab Five Friday

Picking the perfect last call song can be tricky.

Some bars play atrocious closing songs just to get people out.

Others aim for a slow, recognizable tune to ease people down.

Here's my list of the five best last call songs:

1. "Closing Time" by Semisonic (pictured)

The best closing song ever! It's about ... closing time! At a bar!

Just kidding.

Here's the real list ...


1. "Summer Wind" by Frank Sinatra

Not only is it a classic, but it it also eases you down from a high-energy night out. Not sure if it still does, but Claddagh Pub used to play this song at last call.

2. "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion (pictured)

Here's a last call song that will clear out just about any bar in Baltimore. 

3. "Time For Me To Fly" by REO Speedwagon

It's not as universal as Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer," so everybody in the bar is not going to put their arms around each other and sway back and forth to it. It's not too upbeat. And the message is clear: Peace out, homies.

4. "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong" by Against Me

I say if you're going to end the night with a fiery drinking song, it might as well be this one. Thanks for the tip, Allan.  

5. "Last Call" by Jolo

This awesomely bad '80s disco dance tune that (I think unknowingly) samples the theme to Star Trek.

(Stock photo of Semisonic from Sun archives. Photo of Celine Dion by Getty Images.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:13 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

May 15, 2008

Ms. Sara and the Help

Here's a local band to keep an eye on: Ms. Sara and the Help.

The group is currently recording its first full length album at the Millersville studio Waterford Digital Inc.

Waterford is owned and operated by Frank "Magic Ears" Marchand, who also ran sound for Ms. Sara and the Help at a recent 8x10 gig.

Ms. Sara has one heck of a voice. 

I like the song "Try." 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music
        

The next Fab Five Friday

There's no denying it -- we struck a nerve with last week's fake band name FFF.

So this week, I'm going to stick with a musical theme and ask you:

What's the best last call song?

If you're a bar owner, what do you play?

If you're a bar-goer, what would you like to hear at the end of the night? 

(AP file photo of a London pub taken close to closing time)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:52 AM | | Comments (31)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

Teavolve to expand into Harbor East

Teavolve, the popular Fells Point teahouse and lounge, will be opening a second location in Harbor East as early as June. ...

The new space, which will be open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, is at 1401 Aliceanna St., near Pazo.

It's larger than the current space at 1705 Eastern Ave, and will continue to host live music regularly.

"It will be a nice addition to the area," said future general manager Lloyd Morrison.

The location on Eastern Avenue will remain open on a more limited basis for special events, he said. 

My question: Does that little stretch of Aliceanna Street get that much foot traffic?

It doesn't look like it. 

Then again, Bluehouse seems to be doing well a block north on Fleet Street. 

Thanks to MS reader a for the tip. 

(Photo by Chiaki Kawajiri/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:45 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music
        

May 14, 2008

Tully's changes hands

Tully's Restaurant (7934 Belair Road in Fullerton) is temporarily closed while the owners are in negotiations to sell the place.

The bar could reopen as soon as this weekend under new ownership.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:46 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Anyone for Feely Meely?

Who's got plans Friday night?

Well, I'm having a jolly little get together, and I'd like to invite a few of you, my dear friends, to join me. ...

We'll share a few laughs, have a few cocktails and then settle down for a nice game of Feely Meely.

Yes, Feely Meely.

Haven't heard of it?

Well, let me tell you.

The innovative folks at Milton Bradley came up with this forward-thinking board game back in the day.

It's easy to play -- stick your hand in the box and guess what you're feeling ...

Who's down?

I got the photo and idea from MS poster JMGiordano's new blog I Want That Font. Read it here.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:02 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Dionysus gets loungier

The owners of Dionysus (8 E. Preston St.) have converted some of the upstairs dining room space near the front of the building to a lounge area with couches and chairs.

It makes sense -- more people come to Dionysus to chill in the downstairs bar and order food there than sit down for a dinner upstairs.

"We don't want it to be too fancy upstairs," said co-owner James Hafner. "That way when the bar is busy downstairs, people can come up there and sit."

Eventually, Hafner would like to build a bar upstairs too, he said.
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:38 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

May 13, 2008

Is Lava Lounge the new Club Malibu?

Remember the dumpy club Malibu way out on South Ponca Street?

No?

Don't worry -- you didn't miss anything.

I went there in the fall of 2006, shortly before a brutal two-week span in late October when 12 people were stabbed, cut or beaten in the club.

Well, it looks like someone has renamed the space and is trying to resurrect it as the Lava Lounge.

The address for Lava Lounge is 1130 S. Ponca St.

And the address for Malibu was 1301 S. Ponca St.

I could be wrong, but from the photos on the MySpace site, it looks like the same building to me.

Anybody know more about the Lava Lounge?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:17 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Mother's on the Alley

Before I went, I heard the new Mother's on the Alley expansion would be big.

But I wondered -- would it thin out the typically crammed Mother's bar?

It did, but just barely.

Mother's on the Alley is huge. The bar itself is more than 60 feet long.

And just past midnight last Friday night, lines for drinks were two to three people deep the whole length of the bar.  

Mother's on the Alley is most certainly Federal Hill's hottest new bar -- just like Ryleigh's Oyster was a year ago and Stalking Horse four months back.

Now the new place to be is Mother's on the Alley.

And I'm sure it will stay packed for some time to come.

(Photo courtesy of the bar)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:34 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

May 12, 2008

Death Set tonight

Punk outfit The Death Set is responsible for some of the freshest music coming out of Baltimore these days.

And tonight, the band is stopping by for a show at Sonar before resuming an international tour in support of its Counter Records debut titled Worldwide.

If you like punk and electronica, you'll probably like these guys.

Here's their MySpace site. 

(Photo by Josh Sisk) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:04 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music
        

My thoughts on Mosaic

Here's the new Mosaic in three words: What a letdown.

The recently renovated and expanded club in Power Plant Live was only a third full at 11:30 on a Friday night.

Keep in mind -- it's only open Fridays and Saturdays in the first place.

And yes, it had rained earlier in the evening.

But there was a line outside the Lodge Bar, MEX's deck was comfortably full, and Babalu Grill looked packed inside.

Speaking of IAFs, Mosaic's got plenty of them.

When I asked for an Absolut martini, I got some strange orange concoction with a slice of lime in a martini glass.

The glass that held Amie's well-made gin and tonic had a chipped rim. That's unacceptable.

The DJ and decor were the only high points.

I love the new mezzanine, with its plush, antique furniture and the upside-down lamps hanging from the ceiling.

And the DJ seamlessly jumped from Sade's "And I Miss You" to Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing."

But the question stands: Why would you spend time and money expanding a lounge you can't even fill twice a week?

(Photo by Colby Ware/Special to The Sun) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:51 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Monday morning roll call

So, kids, what'd you do this past weekend?

Anything exciting?

Friday, Amie and I went to Mosaic (at long last), then to the new Mother's on the Alley.

I'll tell you more about them in a bit.

Saturday, we had a delicious dinner with friends at the Annabel Lee Tavern, and later dropped by the Metropolitan Coffeehouse and Wine Bar for a nightcap.

Finally got the farmer's market Sunday, and then I went to see Iron Man.

It rocked. 

How was yours? 

(Photo by Andre F. Chung/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:27 AM | | Comments (20)
        

Charlotte's quiets down

Due to noise complaints, the folks at Charlotte's (1542 Light St.) are scaling back their live music lineup to only include acoustic music and jazz.

The complaints put the bar's liquor license in jeopardy, according to bartender Biff Baker.

"We have a very good relationship with almost all of our neighbors," he said.

"It's pretty disappointing. We were really starting to get some great bands in there." 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:18 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

May 11, 2008

Blast from the past

Remember Junior Senior?

Warning: If you click on this video, you'll probably get the song stuck in your head all day.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:41 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff
        

May 10, 2008

Good times at Raleigh Times

If you're ever thirsty in Raleigh, N.C., stop by the Raleigh Times.

This bar/restaurant sits in the building that used to house the Raleigh Times newspaper.

Their beer's not bad, and their cheese fries are some of the best I've ever had.

Plus, they have old clippings from the Times framed on the walls, which is cool for news junkies like me.

Although, their clientele was questionable the night some friends and I were there.

This guy one table over started taking our pictures with his fancy camera.

When we asked why, one of the people in his group told us he was a professional photographer and was taking our photos for an upcoming exhibit.

That was not cool by us, so we told him to bugger off.

Then we made paper airplanes out of our menus and flew them at him. 

Put that in your exhibit, photo man! 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:35 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

May 9, 2008

Mothers expansion opens tonight

This just in: The renovations at Mothers Federal Hill Grille are complete, and the new space in the back of the building officially opens tonight.

If anybody goes, let me know what you think of it. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:46 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

My first cover shoot

Little known fact: The photo I ran in today's Fab Five Friday post is actually the first (and only) time I've appeared on the cover of LIVE.

The photo was taken to accompany a story I did about tribute bands.

It ran a couple years ago.

In case you're having a hard time picking me out of the crowd, I'm the one with the KISS mask on.

Heh.

I am actually wearing the Gene Simmons mask.

I believe the guy on the far left holding the inflatable guitar is Evan Haga, the managing editor of JazzTimes magazine. 

That shoot was a blast. 

(Photo by Doug Kapustin/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:55 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Anyone for WuChess?

Ever wonder what RZA from Wu Tang Clan is up to?

Well, lemme tell ya.

Right now, he's working on a website called WuChess, among other things.

Here it is.

The skinny: People who love chess and hip-hop can go to WuChess and play each other live online.

I think I speak for everyone when I say:

Huh?

Or, more suitably:

Wuh?

I mean, how many people see Kanye West on Saturday night and then spend all Sunday playing online chess?

Workitmakeitstrongerbetter ... knighttakesrookcheckmate. 

Personally, I'd rather play War Games.

But that's just me.

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:48 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Fab Five Friday

At first, I thought I'd list my favorite fake band names.

But you guys had so many awesome suggestions, I couldn't compete.

So I'm not even going to bother with my own.

I'm just going to rank yours. 

No. 1 gets a prize. 

Some of them were sick.

Some of them were hilarious.

Some of them were hilariously sick. 

Here they are, your five best fake band suggestions, in order ...

1. Naked Lady Mud Flaps

I took an informal poll among some other Sun staffers and this one, from Eutaw Street Historian, won by a long shot. Historian, email me and I'll award you your prize.

2. Sessa Fresh

Besides the fact that this band name incorporates my name (major bonus points), it just flows really well. Say it out loud. Sessa Fresh. Yeah. Good stuff, courtesy of Alf Fan.

3. Venomous Sac

What a sharp, vivid band name, dreamt up by Uncoolotta.

4. Drama Llama

It spits. It rhymes. It appeals ... to me. Thanks, Patchen. 

5. Voodoo Pork 

Well, he/she nominated him/herself, along with a long list of other fake band names. But I can actually see a band from the South calling itself Voodoo Pork. I like it. 

(Photo by Doug Kapustin/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 6:34 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

May 8, 2008

More on Baltimore the band

Now that you've listened to the Madrid-based indie rock band Baltimore, I'll bet you're wondering why a trio from Spain chose the name Baltimore.

I asked them that very question in a MySpace message.

Here's what they wrote back ...

hi sam!!!
how are you?
my english is not be good. sorry.
we never have been stay in baltimore but we would like. we saw a lot of photographs. i dont know why,but baltimore have something something special for us.

baltimore is a beautiful place and john waters was born in baltimore,and we love his movies and... we know babe ruth too!!!!
the last summer the guy who record us our demo goes to baltimore,and all people that we know that was in baltimore tell us the same thing:its a very very nice place!!!

we dont why,but... we love baltimore. we are baltimore...
baltimore its like our dream... we wish to go baltimore. maybe one day :)
you're so nice. thanks for your interesting.

we wish you the best,
baltimore. 
Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:54 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Random stuff
        

My night at the Light Street Station

Earlier, I promised a reprint of my Light Street Station review.

It's not so much of a review as it is a recount of my night there.

Here goes ...

I've never been to a bar quite like the Light Street Station.

The Station -- if that's really its name -- sits near the corner of Light and Gittings streets in Federal Hill. Walk by, and you might wonder if it's even a bar at all. There is no sign on the Formstone exterior - just a martini glass in a small window on the front of the building.

Stare through the window for a few seconds, and you think it could be someone's living room that just happens to have a bar, a pool table and an old upright piano.

A few weeks ago, a couple of friends and I went there. Now we're afraid to go back -- not because the Station scared us, but because we're not sure we could ever top our night there.We walked in about 9 p.m. and were slapped in the face by a wall of cigarette smoke. That place reeked.

The patrons, a weathered bunch in their 40s, 50s and 60s, glanced up from their cups or conversations to see who'd walked in, then went back to their business.

The Station was quiet, aside from a small TV playing the Orioles game and the patrons chatting. There was a jukebox on the wall, but nobody put any money in it. Why waste cash on music when it could go toward drinks?

The bartender asked us what we wanted; I saw there were no beers on tap and asked for three bottles of Bud. She offered us three Jell-O shots for four bucks. All you have to do is lick, slurp and suck, she said.

No thanks, we said. Are you sure, she asked? The old woman down at the end of the bar made them. We waved at the woman, a well-dressed senior citizen who resembled my grandmother. She waved back, and we said no thanks again.

Beers in hand, we went to the rear of the room and started shooting pool. After 15 minutes or so, the bartender brought us three Jell-O shots. Carl at the bar got these for you guys, she said. How nice of him, we thought.

So we went back up to the bar, thanked Carl, and licked, slurped and sucked down our Jell-O shots. I asked Carl what the place was called, and he came up with Light Street Station. That's what he thought it was, anyway, he said. We invited him to the back of the bar for a game of pool.

Around that time, a yuppie stepped into the bar, took one look at the place, turned around and stepped right back out again.

Carl ran after him. "Hey! Come back! The beer's cold in here too, man," he yelled. I honestly believe Carl wanted another drinking buddy.

As Carl was chasing after the yuppie, the old lady who made the Jell-O shots sauntered over to us looking for him.

"Where's Carl?" she asked. "Wasn't he back here shootin' pool wit' yas?"

We said we thought he was outside.

"Hey, I got a joke for yas," she said.

Oh, goodie, we thought.

And she busted out something I can't repeat here, followed by this piercing cackle.

All we could do was laugh at the sheer craziness of the situation. Here was this well-put-together senior citizen telling us the dirtiest of dirty jokes and turning loose this high-pitched cackle that could have shattered glass. Finally, she quieted down and made her way back to her barstool.

Later on, I decided it was time for me to really have at that piano. I sat down and started banging out some old roadhouse tunes like the "Deep Ellum Blues."

A few of the regulars walked back and tried to sing along, even though they didn't know the words. They were clapping and stomping and cheering.

All you can ask out of a bar is that it be inviting. The folks at the Station didn't look down on us for being yuppies. They welcomed us into their bar, bought us drinks, told us jokes and played pool with us. It was one of my best nights out in this city.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:52 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Scary doors

I was in the bathroom at Regi's American Bistro on Light Street when I thought about that post from a couple of weeks ago on old-school doors.

Regi's has one of the smallest bathrooms in the area (I think the award goes to LP Docks).

But Regi's also has one of the oldest, scariest set of doors.

They must be from the 1800s.

And, to make the room even smaller, they open inward

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Baltimore the band

I probably spend an hour a day looking for story ideas and listening to local music on MySpace.

Last week, I came across the band Baltimore.

They're an indie rock trio from Madrid, Spain.

They're not half bad, either. If Baltimore were from Baltimore, I'd probably play its song "The Food Hall" on Baltimore Unsigned.

You can listen to four tracks (all in English) from the EP Here You Are!!! on their MySpace site.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:07 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff
        

May 7, 2008

Bobby's Jazz Club & Cigar Bar

Have any of you guys been to Bobby's Jazz Club & Cigar Bar?

Being a fan of both jazz and cigars, I'm gonna check this place out soon. It's at 1140 S. Paca St.

The club's website says you can smoke cigars on the second floor and outer deck because the business is technically a tobacco retailer.

Hmm.

It must have opened fairly recently, because there was construction there until a few months ago.

I'll let you know how it is when I go.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:20 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music
        

Hot chicks vs. good service

I was talking to an experienced bar manager recently about Angels Rock Bar in Power Plant Live.

This manager seconded a point made by a few friends of mine who have been to Angels: It has a reputation for incredibly attractive female servers (IAFS).

Judging by its MySpace site, this seems to be one of the venue's selling points.

I hear the servers get up an dance on the bar a few times a night, too.

However, hiring a staff of mostly IAFS can have its downsides, this manager said.

From his experience, beautiful women may make for good eye candy but few of them are actually good at serving drinks.

So he avoids hiring IAFS in favor of servers with experience behind the bar.

I'm sure there is a middle ground, and I definitely don't want to make broad generalizations.

When I went to Angels, the service was fine. 

And Hooters has built a reputation on IAFS. 

But I'm curious: Would you go to a bar for IAFS even if you knew the service would be horrible?

Do you care? Or would you rather go to a bar with average-looking servers knowing the service would be stellar?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:25 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Light Street Station sold, gutted

Say goodbye to the Light Street Station (pictured).

The Federal Hill neighborhood bar near the intersection of Light and Ostend streets has been sold.

The new owners plan to open a bar/restaurant there called the Rowhouse Grill.

This news makes me sad and gleeful at the same time.

See, I only went there once. It was a wild, hilarious trip -- one of my most favorite nights out in Baltimore.

I never went back, because I knew if I did, it could never compare to the awesomeness of my first time there.

So I'm sad the Station closed. But I'm kind of glad that I got to it before it did.

I'll dig back through the archives today and post my review of the Station. I think it's one of my crazier nightlife columns.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:29 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Behind the scenes at Lo-Fi

Some of the story behind why the Lo-Fi Social Club closed went dark is starting to emerge.

Peter Goode, who booked the club for about six months, sent me an email statement Monday with his side of the story. ...

According to Goode, owner Neil Freebairn never paid him for booking the club, despite repeated promises to do so.

"I have wasted half a year of my life because of Neil's promises to me and beyond not fulfilling those, he is not paying me money that he owes me and is illegally using my copyrighted images on his website which he refuses to take down," Goode wrote. "I implore you to not support this club in any way shape or form."

Freebairn has not returned any of my calls for comment on why the club is no longer hosting shows.

Goode plans to pursue legal action against Freebairn.

"I don't think anybody should have to endure anything like what happened to me or bands that were left standing outside of a shut down club or traveling bands that have shown up to find out that Neil booked another show instead and never showed the decency to call and notify the bands," he wrote.

"This club owner is a dishonest crook that should not be worked with. I intensely regret ever having any involvement with him and his establishment."

More to come ... 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:22 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music
        

May 6, 2008

Talking Head Club moves into Sonar

Saw this on the City Paper's blog last night, and confirmed it with promoter Adam Savage this morning. 

Effective immediately, the Talking Head Club is moving into Sonar's lounge space. ...

Savage is keeping the old name, staff and some of the old decor and building a new stage at Sonar. 

In the near future, he also hopes to build a separate entrance through the alley next to Sonar.

There are a few reasons Savage decided to move. Most of them involve the Talking Head Club's run down digs.

"We can't really deal with that building any more," Savage said.

But the move to the new space will be bittersweet for Savage, and a lot of local music fans. The old  address, 203 Davis St., has been home to live music for 20 or 25 years.

"That room was one of the first places I went when I moved to Baltimore when I was 17. I've been going there for 10 years. It's a great room for music and everybody loves it. But at the same time, theres a lot of advantages to the new place that I'm looking forward to."
Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:30 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music
        

The next Fab Five Friday

Oh man, I've got a good FFF this week.

If you had a band, what would you call it?

I'm looking for the five best fake band names.

I'll rank yours and give you mine at the end of the week.

Go! 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:43 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

Metro Gallery update

Dropped by the Metro Gallery (1700 N. Charles St., pictured) Saturday to check out Videopolis and chat with gallery owner Sarah M. Williams.

In the coming weeks, she plans to install a new bar and stage. I'll keep you posted as things progress.

Little known fact: Over the years, Williams has developed a case of slight claustrophobia. She hates being wedged between concertgoers at clubs around town.

Instead, she brings bands she wants to see to the Metro Gallery.

Then, when the place is packed with patrons, she either hides behind the soundboard mixing levels or serves drinks from behind the bar.

"I can’t handle it," she said. "I have to corner myself off."

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:17 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music
        

May 5, 2008

Cinco de Mayo: Like Preakness

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

For millions of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, today is a celebration of Mexico's history stemming from a 1862 military victory over France.

For Americans, today is a reason to drink tequila, South American beer and frozen drinks.

I'll bet most Americans don't even know (or care about) the holiday's history.

It's like Preakness.

Walk around the infield and ask people to name the horses in the race.

Heh.

After a few hours, most people don't even know there is a race.

But either way ... It's a celebration! 

(Photo by Chiaki Kawajiri/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:56 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Monday morning roll call

I think that's what I'm calling this new weekly "what did you do last weekend" feature.

I mean, we're all friends here, right? And friends talk about their weekends on Mondays.

I'll start.

Friday was low-key, but Saturday was action-packed.

The Kinetic Sculpture Race (pictured) rolled down the road I live on around 10:30 Saturday morning, so I cracked the blinds and watched it pass.

I spent all day Saturday covering the Maryland Film Festival. I blogged and worked on two stories (this one and this one).

Saturday night some friends and I went to Metropolitan Coffeehouse and Wine Bar for beer and cappuccino martinis.

Metro makes one heck of a cappuccino martini (or is it espresso martini? I can never remember).

And their beer list is one of the neighborhood's best. I had a Loose Cannon IPA.

What'd you do this weekend?

(Photo by Kim Hairston / Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:14 AM | | Comments (16)
        

J-Roddy let himself go

Goodness!

J-Roddy Walston's gone hair-crazy!

With that massive mustache, those long frizzy locks and that evil stare, he looks like David Crosby after a meth binge.

I wonder if it's just tour growth or a permanent thing.

Anybody know? 

I mean, it's his Business, not mine.

But I'm still kinda curious. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:28 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music
        

Hooked on soul

I love the soul revival that's sweeping through music right now.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings are amazing. I bought that album, and I rarely buy albums these days.

Eric Lindell's (pictured) new CD is by far his best yet. My favorite track is "Tried and True."

And I've got "Another Day" by Jamie Lidell on repeat at work right now.

I mean, if you don't like soul, do you have a soul?

Probably not.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:16 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff
        

May 4, 2008

Crossword tournament today

I'm all about the crossword puzzle. I still haven't bought into the whole Sudoku thing.

I'm old school like that.

So this caught my eye: The Maryland Science Center is hosting a crossword puzzle contest at 1 p.m. today. Anybody can walk in and sign up for it. It costs $24.

None of the puzzles have been published anywhere yet, and they're all from Will Shortz of the New York Times. Which means they're probably hard.

Here's the website where you register. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:25 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Random stuff
        

May 3, 2008

Today is free comic book day

So get em while they're hot.

Participating stores include Atomic Books, Geppi's Entertainment Museum, Comics Kingdom and more.

Here's a locator.

Wondering what Free Comic Book Day is? I mean, it's kind of self-explanatory.

Well, here's the skinny. And here's an interesting story we ran that mentions it.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:22 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff
        

May 2, 2008

Drink with Jeff the Drunk

Jeff the Drunk (of Howard Stern fame) will be at No Idea (1649 S. Hanover St.) 8 p.m.-1 a.m. tomorrow and 3 p.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.

There will also be complimentary drinks and food 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:14 PM | | Comments (43)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

My lunch break

Here's a video of my Friday lunchtime routine.

It gets my blood pumping. 

The trip back (on a full stomach) takes a little while longer.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:15 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Fab Five Friday

More than any other cocktail, the mojito is the quintessential summer drink, methinks.

When made well, the icy mix of sugar, lime, mint, rum and soda water tickles my fancy.

And Baltimore has a few bars and clubs that make really good mojitos.

Here they are ...


1. Little Havana, 1325 Key Highway

So good. Like Sturmy said, it's far and way the best in town. No contest. 

2. Holy Frijoles, 908 W. 36th St.

Bad service or not, Holy Frijoles has one heck of a mojito. I like how they top it off with ginger beer -- that way it's never too sweet.

3. Club One, 300 E. Saratoga St.

I'll admit, I've never had one here. But I've heard so many great recommendations from trusted friends that it has to make the list.

4. Mama's on the Half Shell, 2901 O'Donnell St.

The limes are fresh-pressed at Mama's. But the bartenders do tend to make their mojitos a tad sweet. Just be ready. 

5. Babalu Grill, Power Plant Live

Bablu has a couple different decent mojitos to choose from. Just don't expect to get the most well-made drinks when the place is packed on a Friday or Saturday night.

(Photo from Sun archives) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:35 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

May 1, 2008

FMEB: 1st Thursdays

What if you could see one of the nation's best unsigned piano rock bands play live for free in a beautiful park?

I'll bet you know where this is going.

Yes indeed, it's time for WTMD's 1st Thursday Concerts in the Park.

Tonight, Jukebox the Ghost (from nearby Washington) and The XYZ Affair are playing in Mount Vernon Park.

The music starts at 5:30 p.m.

Don't know Jukebox? Here's their interview and live performance on Baltimore Unsigned.

(Photo by Shervin Lainez) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:25 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music
        

More on Nobles

Went to Nobles the other night to see what kind of changes came with the new name.

Turns out, quite a lot. ...

Bill was right -- the pirates are gone.

In fact, the whole place looks a lot more open.

The bars are freshly varnished, and the walls have a new coat of paint.

I went around midnight on Tuesday, when domestic bottles (Bud, Bud Light, Miller) were $2.

Yuengling was on tap but cost $4.

All in all, I think I'll miss the pirates. They gave Drifters some character. 

But I think getting rid of them and opening the place up was a better move business-wise.

It used to get packed in there late nights. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:26 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

My thoughts on Virgin Mobile Festival

kt%20tunstall.jpgI'm really looking forward to covering this fall's Virgin Mobile Festival.

Promoter Seth Hurwitz, who booked the bands for the two-day extravaganza at Pimlico, took a different approach with the lineup this year.

He's betting that two full days of engaging acts like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, KT Tunstall (pictured) and Gogol Bordello will bring more people than one or two big headliners.

I think it's a good strategy.

Pimlico holds 60,000 people, give or take.

Last year, the Police -- one of the hottest touring acts out there -- couldn't fill the place.

All of these smaller (but still formidable) bands just might.

(Photo by Laura Hanifin) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:40 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival
        

Sad but true

Or, at least it will be by this time next year if prices keep rising.

(Unsure of the source of this photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: 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 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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