« May 2008 | Main | July 2008 »

June 30, 2008

Cross Street stink revisited

I'm particularly proud of this early MS post about the stench on Cross Street.

And since it's summertime, Saturday and Sunday mornings can be almost unbearable.

Have a look ... 

Federal Hill needs to hire one of the local fire departments to hose down both East and West Cross Streets by the market every Saturday and Sunday morning.

The sour stink from the night before is usually so strong that pinching your nose does nothing. Ever tried to walk to one of the boutiques there and been turned away by the smell?

Maybe if that section of Federal Hill wasn’t such a magnet for meatheads and immature drinkers, it wouldn’t have that problem. But every time I walk down those stretches of Cross Street on weekends, the smell persists. It gets even worse in the hot, sticky summer months.

It really shouldn’t be up to the fire department, but I can’t think of a more realistic solution. That crowd should be able to hold its beer and liquor, or not drink until they get sick in the street. But that’s like asking the sun to set in the east.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:25 AM | | Comments (23)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

June 27, 2008

Tour diaries

victoria voxI should really still do tour diaries.

I used to do them semi-regularly when MS was in its infancy. But it just seemed like nobody cared. So I stopped doing them.

Here's a link where you can read the dozen-odd ones on the blog. There are some pretty hilarious/gross/weird stories on there.

If I started doing them again, would you read them? Is it worth it? Or would my efforts go unappreciated?

(Stock photo of Victoria Vox

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:00 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Tour diaries

LP Docks also cuts back

The days might be numbered for LP Docks (1476 Reynolds St.).

The Locust Point corner bar sits in the middle of a rapidly changing neighborhood. When Silo Point goes online it probably won't be long before the place shuts down.

Heck, it's barely open now. Look at the hours posted on the door.

It's a shame, considering LP Docks has the certifiably smallest men's bathroom in all of Baltimore. You couldn't fit a coffin inside.

But change has to come sooner or later, I guess.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:41 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

June 26, 2008

Mojitos vs sangrias

Let's do a little poll.

What's better: An ice cold mojito or an ice cold sangria?

I've always thought of the mojito as the trendy upstart in the summer drink family. The punk kid, if you will. Sangria on the other hand is more of a classic drink -- at least in my mind.

Anybody know what came first?

Personally, I'd rather have a mojito. I love how crisp and refreshing they are. Sangrias are too sweet for my taste.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:00 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

I give you ... Boomer's

Ladies and gentlemen ... I'd like to introduce what may be the newest bar in South Baltimore:

Boomer's on the Hill, at 1749 Belt St.

Thank you, thank you.

Not sure when it opened. Haven't been inside either. Have you?

What's the deal?

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:02 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

June 25, 2008

Live Fools and Horses video

So our first Baltimore Unsigned taping in front of a live audience (at The 8x10 on Memorial Day afternoon) was a smashing success.

Didn't run into bouncer and MS commenter Bowling Ben though. Not sure what that kid is up to lately.

Are you still there Ben? We're worried about you buddy. 

Here's a video from it, of Fools and Horses doing their nbew song "Anna Was the Enemy." 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:42 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music

June 24, 2008

Beer pong or Beirut revisited

beer pongMidnight Sun has evolved a lot in the year since it started.

We've got a whole new squad of commenters since the early days. And I'd like to take another look at some posts from months past.  

Looking back through the archives, I hit upon one of the most popular topics on Midnight Sun: the ages-old discussion of whether to call the classic college drinking game beer pong or Beirut.

Here's a link to the original post.

What do you guys think?

Is it a regional thing?

A class thing?

(Photo by Kim Hairston/Sun Photographer) 



Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:00 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Karaoke at Aloha Tokyo?

Aloha Toyko, the Japanese restaurant/bar at 1120 E. Fort Ave., advertises its karaoke with big signs outside.

But is it really any good there?

I see this place as more of a restaurant than a karaoke spot.

Have any of you been there and sang karaoke? 

(Photo by Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:00 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The next Fab Five Friday

Since I'm lounging on sandy beaches right now, I just can't be bothered to do a Fab Five Friday list this week.

Instead, I'm going to present the topic today and give you two weeks to list your suggestions.

We have already done a list of the best fake band names. Now, I want to do a list of the best fake bar names.

If you opened a bar, what would you name it? I already know JMGiordano would call his sports bar Fumbles. And bryanintimonium would be the proprietor of Ful. What about the rest of you? Ante up.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:06 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

June 23, 2008


We're doing something right!

I'm referring, of course, to the royal "We." Today, Midnight Sun has its first partially sponsored ad (look near the top of your screen). It's for Bedrock. Big deal, right? Actually, it kind of is.

That means enough people are reading this bloggy that the Advertising Gods sold (suckered) someone into paying money for little old Midnight Sun.

I'd pat myself on the back, but my shoulders are so swoll it's hard to reach. 

Now if only I could get Chipotle to endorse either this blog or my radio show. Come on Ad Gods! Shower me with steak burritos!

(Photo of me by me. My, what a lovely thumb I have.)  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:05 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Random stuff

June 20, 2008

Ta ta for now!

I think it's about time I hit the old dusty trail.

Exit, stage left.

My departure should look something like this ... 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:30 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff

Fab Five Friday

When I was coming up with my list of the five most ideal beers to have on tap, I kept closing my eyes like I was actually dreaming.

It was weird, but rewarding.

You guys had some great lists of your own, too.

I think the one you mentioned most often topped my own list. Coincidence? There are no coincidences, kids.

Either way, it wasn't easy drawing up a list of only five beers I'd love to have on tap at all times.

But by gosh I did it.

I tried to keep it a well-rounded list. But since I'm no big fan of porters or stouts, I gave ales and lagers first dibs.

Voila ... 


1. Brewer's Art Resurrection

Delicious. Delicious. Delicious. Delicious. Delicious.

2. Clipper City McHenry

Rumored to be made with the original Natty Boh Premium recipe, McHenry is a must-have in my dream bar. 

3. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

I have to check myself when this beer's on tap -- it's kind of addictive.

4. Sam Adams Oktoberfest

Nothing says fall like a cold Oktoberfest, and Sam Adams makes one of my personal favorites.  

5. Yuengling Lager

My standard fallback beer. Call me crazy, but I kinda like it better out of bottles. Still, having Yuengling on tap is like having fries with your burger. Yum.

(Photo by Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:37 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

June 19, 2008

The Montford

I had a beer at a recently renovated corner bar called The Montford last week.

At least, that's what the bartender said it was called. I've also seen it called The Montford Stag Bar, which I like better than just the plain old Montford. ...

There's not much to The Montford, actually.

It's a single story, narrow rowhouse bar with a pool table in back. The bar itself was redone as part of the renovations, although the bar back is the same, the bartender said.

A few decent beers were on tap. I had a Sierra Nevada, which was $4, give or take.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:02 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

June 18, 2008

Reduced hours at Nutty Pub

Walked by Nutty Pub (3520 Chestnut Ave. in Hampden) the other week and saw where they scaled back their hours.

Anybody know why?

I mean, I never saw many people in the place, even on a Friday or Saturday night. So that in itself might be the reason.

But if there's something else, I'd like to know.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:12 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

I'll be on vacation soon

Soon I must leave you, Midnight Sunnites.

Starting Friday, I will be on a glorious vacation. I won't get back until July 1.

And for once, I'm sure as heck not checking this blog on vacation. 

Not gonna happen. My wonderful editor Meredith will approve your comments in the meantime.

So I'm going to be posting less frequently for a little while. And I would love love love some topics from you guys. Maybe a good FFF idea? Maybe just a random thought?

Holler at me.

(AP Photo)  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:05 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Random stuff

June 17, 2008

Shrinking beers, growing prices

Consuming Interests blogger Liz Kay sent me an email with a link to this post.

It's about how some restaurants are charging more for beers served in smaller glasses.

Have any of you noticed this around town?  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:00 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The next Fab Five Friday

If you could walk into a bar and have five beers of your choice on tap, what would they be?

That's this week's Fab Five Friday.

Mmmm ... my mouth is watering at the sight of the cold, frothy cups in this photo.

Think about it: cinco cervesas (That's Spanish!).

I'll list mine in just a few days. 

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:42 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

Festivals, etc.

virgin festivalPlease allow me to apologize for the momentary lapse in posting yesterday afternoon.

I was under the gun to turn around a centerpiece for the Today section on large scale music festivals.


I talked to Seth Hurwitz, who booked Virgin Mobile Festival, MS poster ryan97ou and some industry folks for the piece.

Seth didn't think the new All Points West Music & Arts Festival will compete with the Virgin Mobile Festival. What do you think?

(Photo by Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:51 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music

June 16, 2008

Monday morning roll call


How was everyone's weekend? Do anything wild?

Saturday, I went to the The Quarry House Tavern in Silver Spring. Man oh man. Have any of you folks been there? ...

I had a blast. It's a really cool space -- made cooler by the fact that there are almost no other cool bars in Silver Spring.

The Quarry House was extra dark inside (which I love), with old school wood paneling, tons of delicious bottled and draft beer and a live rockabilly band. 

It also had one of the best jukeboxes I've ever seen -- everything from Iggy's Raw Power by Iggy Pop to a Bill Withers greatest hits CD (I put on "Use Me" but never heard it play).

Next time I'm out in Silver Spring, the Quarry House is definitely a destination. I gotta do a nightlife column on it.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:20 AM | | Comments (20)

What is Silks?

I drove by a place called Silks on Hudson Street the other day and wondered what it was.

It kind of looks like a sports bar.

But I tried to find it the other night when we were out and about and didn't see any lit signs.

That makes me think it's a sports apparel store that's not open late.

Anybody know?

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:05 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

June 14, 2008

Swoll, part two

Swoll isn't just limited to muscles.

Heads can get swoll too.


Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:46 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Random stuff

June 13, 2008

Ever heard of Hooper's?

Hung out at a little corner bar called Hooper's the other night.

It's right by Saute (2844 Hudson St.), but I can't find anything about it online -- which makes me like it even more ...

My buddy Fenton and I were the only ones there besides the bartender, who sat on a stool and watched The Perfect Storm on a big flat screen TV.

The TV, much like the beer prices, were way out of place. A bottle of Yuengling (none of the taps work) cost $3! But a game of pool was only 50 cents. Hmmm ...

I liked the wood paneling on the walls. Even though the smoking ban started months ago, the place still had a lingering odor of ciggys.

If the beer was cheaper I'd drop by the next time I'm in the area. But Saute is only a block over, and a draft of Clipper City McHenry was about $4 there. So I'll take a bigger selection of better beer for a buck more.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:00 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Fab Five Friday

Good morning kids.

It's time for the five best gay- or gay-friendly bars in Baltimore.

This was a tough list for me, because my list of MS reader suggestions was rather ... limited.

But, being the brave leader that I am, I have decided to go ahead with the list. Here it is ... 

grand central1. The Hippo, 1 W. Eager St.

Hippo knows how to party.  

2. Grand Central (pictured), 1001 N. Charles St.

Central is huge, and the service can be slow at times, but I like the atmosphere and decor.

3. The Rowan Tree, 1633 S. Charles St.

j wrote:  Long Live JOHNNY MAURO!!!! Queen is right in the respect that Rowan Tree deserves top honors with an asterik for Mr. Mauro.

4. Coconuts, 309 W. Madison St.

Lots of nearby parking, and a wild and crazy crowd. I'm down with Coconuts.

5. Crossroads, 3328 Foster Ave.

Read this story. Kupkake lives! 

(Photo from Sun archives) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:55 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

Happy b-day Metro Gallery

metro galleryThree cheers to Sarah M. Williams for keeping the Metro Gallery up and running for a year.

She's celebrating at 7 p.m. tonight with an art show titled Moist Hierarchy featuring works by Seth Goodman and Greg McLemore -- the first two artists the gallery exhibited.

Congrats, Sarah. Many more to come. 

(Image courtesy of the Metro Gallery) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:21 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

June 12, 2008


As most faithful MS readers know, every once in a while I like to hit you with some knowledge.

Today I'm gonna share some hip slang all the kool young kids are slingin' around. Why? 'Cause I'm dope like that.

Anyway, the word of the day is "swoll." Check it ... 

Swoll is short for "swollen."

It's a term mostly used by bodybuilders to describe their muscle growth.

Example: Yo, bra, did you see all the weight Jimmy put on? Dude got swoll.

I'm not joking. Some people seriously drop swoll into casual conversation. 

Now you know.

And knowing is half the battle. 

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:15 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff

Stop the presses!

taps baltimoreTaps has taps!

And a new sign!

And it only took three months.

But co-owner Dave Holter is slowly and steadily making improvements to the building.

I just wish he would return my calls and lemme know how many taps Taps has.

But I can't say I blame him for ignoring me. They don't call me Sessa the Pest for nothing.

(Photo by me) 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:50 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

June 11, 2008

Brett Manning's five octave range

So I'm writing this story about local singer Caity Lynn Fisher, who landed a spot on the TV show Can You Duet, and I see that Brett Manning is one of the judges.

He's an acclaimed vocal coach with a reportedly ridiculous singing range.

So I plugged his name into YouTube and watched this video ...

Don't get me wrong -- this guy has helped train some top-notch singers. But watching this, I couldn't help but laugh. It's hilarious. And he's so serious, too.  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:32 PM | | Comments (34)
Categories: Random stuff

Hi, I'm Reds

todd conner'sHow important is a bartender's name?

Todd Conner's over in Fells Point is run by a guy named Reds (pictured, to the right).

As you can see, Reds has a handlebar mustache and -- get this -- red hair.

And none other than Biff Baker pours beer down at Charlotte's in South Baltimore.

I mean, when you go into an Irish pub and the bartender's name is Blarney MacJameson, don't you feel like you're getting the real deal? ...

Authenticity is key in such a situation, I say.

Now, I love names as much as the next person, but I'm probably not going to go to a bar just because the bartender has a name I like.

Or am I? 

On second thought ... I'd love to walk into Charlotte's and yell, "BIFF BAKER! HIT ME WITH AN ICE COLD BREWSKI!" If he was named Chet Raspberry, it wouldn't have the same punch.

And would you really want to drink at a blue collar bar manned by a fellow with a Nantucket nomenclature like Scooter P. Kennedy IV?

(Photo by Monica Lopossay/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:58 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff

Why it's called Mother's

Mother's Federal Hill Grille (which is the topic of this week's nightlife column, by the way), isn't an homage to owner Dave Rather's mom.

The bar/restaurant is actually named after him.

His nickname is Mother Dave.

Curious as to how he got it?

Allow me ...

Rather earned the nickname Mother Dave in college. Back then, he was always the one who would plan parties and group events.

He also had a side business called Mom's Social Club, which he used to organize trips to New Orleans and New Year's eve parties. There is also a Mom's Ball in New Orleans, Rather said.

"It takes a little bit of my nickname and a little bit of New Orleans flair, which is near and dear to our hearts," he said.

Rather is a nice guy. But he also likes a little mischief now and then. I had lunch with him once (at Mother's, and yes, I paid for my sandwich), and we sat by a window looking out on South Charles Street.

Halfway through lunch, we spotted a homeless man emerge from an alleyway across the street. The homeless man took off his shirt and his shorts (he wasn't wearing boxers) and proceeded to dance naked on the sidewalk.

Rather whipped out his cell phone camera and started snapping away.

"Only in Baltimore baby!," he said.

(Photo by Gene Sweeney, Jr./Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:44 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

June 10, 2008

Inside a World Cafe Live taping

Ever wonder what a World Cafe Live taping is like?

(Never heard of World Cafe? It's a syndicated public radio show hosted by David Dye with live performances and interviews with bands.)

Usually, they record the show in the studios of WXPN in Philadelphia.

But sometimes, they record them live in the adjacent music venue called World Cafe Live.

Dye perches on a stool at stage left, leaning into a microphone to introduce the band and ask questions between songs.

While the band plays, he stays on the stool, his knees bobbing in time with the music. You almost expect him to start singing along.

Sometimes he puts on a pair of reading glasses to skim notes placed on the metal music stand in front of him.

The whole thing takes less than a half hour.

And the club sounds fantastic.

(Photo from Sun archives) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:59 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Non-Commvention, Random stuff

The next Fab Five Friday

Yesterday's fire at Grand Central (and a timely suggestion by MS commenter a) got me thinking.

How about a Fab Five Friday list of the best gay- and lesbian-friendly bars in Greater Baltimore?

I say Greater Baltimore because there aren't too many in Baltimore proper.

I'm going to be relying pretty heavily on your suggestions. So hit me with them.

(Photo of the Hippo from Sun archives) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:35 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

Smoking allowed at Havana Club

havana clubYou can fire up a big ole stoagie once again inside the Havana Club.

The club proved it has lost at least 15 percent of its business since the smoking ban took effect, and has been granted an exemption until 2011, the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

I wonder what other bars and clubs will also be given an exemption. I remember reading that when certain bars in Washington got exemptions, they were swamped with smokers.

Since the Havana Club was a cigar bar first and foremost, I don't think it would have been able to survive as a smoke-free club.

(Photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun Photographer)  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

June 9, 2008

Monday afternoon roll call

Why, hello there!

Rub those sleepies out of your eyes, friends, and share some weekend stories with me.

I know we usually do this in the morning, but the whole Grand Central fire thing took a big bite out of my day.

Let me tell ya's what I did this weekend. ...

Friday I went to a wine "tasting" at a friend's house. Saturday drug the Rhodes to a friend's house in Silver Spring for an afternoon jam session and went to Tabrizi's at night. Food was good but the place wasn't full.

Sunday, Amie and I canceled all our plans and made an Ocean City run.

And now, here I sit, slightly tanner but still Sessa.

How was your weekend?

(Photo from Sun archives) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:25 PM | | Comments (16)

Sweet special at Mick O'Shea's

mick o'shea'sMick O'Shea's (328 N. Charles St.) runs a pretty sweet special on Monday nights.

For $6.99, you get a burger, beer-battered fries and a draft of your choice.

When Amie and I went last week, I ordered a Resurrection -- a beer which would have cost $4 by itself at a normal pub -- with my burger.

The burger was delicious and the service was good too.

And, unsurprisingly, the place was pretty full for a weeknight. 

(Photo by Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer)  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:43 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Grand Central fire extinguished

The fire's out at Grand Central.

I got there at about 10:10 a.m., and by then, firefighters had put out the roof fire atop the bar's north building at 1003 N. Charles St.

When I arrived, firefighters were perched on top the smoldering roof, tearing up chunks of burnt wood with axes and tossing them down to the sidewalk below.

Grand Central's General Manager Steve Ledlow, who spotted the fire on his way to work this morning, said the flames were about three- to four-feet high.

Workers had just finished repairing the roof after it was damaged in a storm last week, he said.

The main part of the bar, at 1001 North Charles St., did not appear to be damaged, and Ledlow said he might open it tonight. 

"It's just a headache," he said. 

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:58 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Grand Central is on fire

Grand Central, the gay bar on 1001 N. Charles St., is on fire.

At 9:45 a.m. today, flames shot out of the building near the Sappho's lounge, a MS reader reported.

About three firetrucks were on the scene and more were arriving. I'll post updates when I know more.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:50 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

My favorite Muppet

Nobody bakes like the Swedish Chef.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:51 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff

June 8, 2008

"Hold it in:" the English version

You all know of my affection for the Washington band Jukebox the Ghost.

Here's a clip of pianist Ben Thornewill and his friend Seth Kallen playing the lounge version of "Hold it In." Enjoy!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

June 7, 2008

What makes a "punk?"

mohawkRustling through the archives this morning, I came across a clip from 1986 about the punk movement.

It reads like the informational clip they show on dope fiends in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Check it out:

(Photo by Sun Photographer Kim Hairston -- no pun intended) 

"They look a little menacing to the adult passerby, with their Mad Max hair styles, their paramilitary feet all that leather, and most of all the message you can't ignore: I don't want to be anything like you!

But then, when you stop and talk to them, they're not all that different from any other group of teen-agers: Some are articulate and mannerly, some are troubled and full of defensive braggadocio, some are shy and hesitant, and almost all are filled with the sometimes attractive and sometimes scary intensity of adolescence. This intensity is more evident than among, say, a bunch of preppies, but there's no surprise in that: Preps are trying to find their identity within the mainstream society, while punks are -- or were -- determined to show they're outside it."


That's a mouthful.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:10 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Random stuff

June 6, 2008

The Lodge Bar closes

The Lodge Bar in Power Plant Live has closed.

"As Power Plant Live! has matured so has its audience and this decision is reflective of that statement," said Reed Cordish, a vice president of The Cordish Co.

"Lodge Bar will be replaced with an exciting use that will be announced shortly," he said.

I was there for a nightlife column on their '80s dance night six months ago, and the bar drew a decent crowd but wasn't packed. Wonder what will replace it.

(Photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:26 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Fab Five Friday

Stink, stank, stunk.

Are you ready for the smelliest Baltimore bars?

Here's a link with the back story, if you're new to the topic.  

And now, it's time for the list ... 

1. Bill's Cafe, 6701 Holabird Ave., Dundalk

Read this. Enough said.

2. JR's Bar, 1229 Hull St. 

The Beav said it all: Stopped in J.R.'s on Hull Street a few days ago to grab a burger. The place smelled like a full ashtray that had been dropped in a bucket of sweat. No music on, no sound on the O's game. Just me and the person I went with, one lonely guy at the bar, and two employees playing pool. Needless to say...I got my burger to go.

3. Sonar, 407 E. Saratoga St.

If Sonar has central air, I've never felt it. That means when the club is pumping with people, body odors combine their powers like the kids from Captain Planet to create the villainous Mega Stench.

4. Smash Daddy's, 9654 Belair Road, Perry Hall

From TRA: Nothing like stale beer, mixers, and rot-gut booze to create the signature odor. Add in the lingering odor of stale and smoky air, resulting from an incredibly poor ventilation over the last 20 years. ... Last time I went, my wife made me leave my clothes in the garage and take a shower before I could come into the bedroom. 

5. The Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St.

A couple years ago, I wrote this, and I think it's still true -- even after the smoking ban: You can smell The Ottobar's cocktail of sweat, smoke and beer down the block. 

(Photo by Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:49 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

June 5, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

In light of our rousing discussion about body odor and ciggy smoke, I'd like to make this week's FFF a list of the five stinkiest Baltimore bars and clubs.

You may tee hee, but I'm at least halfway serious here folks.

It's time we noted the bars and clubs that need to clean up their act so we can take the clothespins off our schnozes.

So give me your suggestions for stinky stinky Baltimore bars.

Hurry -- we don't have much time!

(Photo by Chicago Tribune) 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:03 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays

Ingrid Michaelson hits the big time

 ingrid michaelson

One of the biggest stars at this year's Non-Commvention was New York City singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson.

As an independent artist, she has sold more than 200,000 copies (!) of her most recent album, had a song in an Old Navy sweater commercial and I hear she's in talks to get a spot on Good Morning America's opening credits.

She played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on a four-string guitar at this year's Non-Comm, which was one of the highlights of the weekend.

Last year, I interviewed 12 or 13 emerging artists in two or three days in Louisville for the 2007 Non-Comm.

After doing so many, I was exhausted and turned down the chance to talk to her. I've kicked myself ever since.
(Photo by Deborah Lopez)  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:02 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Non-Commvention

"Senior" discount

Spotted on The Ottobar's site:

Performed by the WHODUNNIT PLAYERS
$5 admission/ HALF-PRICE for seniors (over 40) and $5 for dinner 

Hee hee. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:20 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

June 4, 2008

Keep an eye on Newton Faulkner

newton faulknerOne of the standouts from this year's Non-Comm emerging artist festival was singer/songwriter Newton Faulkner.

Faulkner's got a No. 1 record in Britain but hasn't broken mainstream in the United States yet.

Live, he slaps the guitar and finger picks like a classical guitarist (similar to Andy McKee). But Faulkner also sings and has some pretty solid hooks.

I could see his song "Dream Catch Me" catching on here. You can hear it at his MySpace site.

Faulkner's also got a great sense of humor. At one point in his set, he picked up a small toy guitar, and before starting to play it, he said, "Oh, in case anyone went to the toilet and came back, I'm not massive. This guitar is just really small."

(Photo courtesy of the band)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:47 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Non-Commvention

What's worse: stink or smoke?

cigarette smokeSince the smoking ban started a few months ago, I've noticed something in bars and clubs I never noticed before.

It's the smell. ...

I feel ... saturated by moldy stale beer and body odor.

Some places in this city stink. Especially when people inside are dancing.

And like it or not, cigarette smoke covered up the odor. Personally, I'd rather smell cigarette smoke than B.O.

There are places I won't go now (and I'm not naming names) because I know it stinks in there.

Gutter blogger Andy Shankman wrote about this in his review of TaxLo's sixth anniversary blowout at Sonar.

No, I don't like getting smoke blown in my face, and I don't want to get in all the politics behind the smoking ban (we've been there), but I'm curious to know if any of you have noticed this and, if so, what you think about it. 

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:45 AM | | Comments (25)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

A look at Lucy's

Snapped this photo of Lucy's Irish Pub (formerly Maggie Moore's, 21 N. Eutaw St.) ...

lucy's irish pubI like the new sign -- especially the little shamrocks cut out of the metal.

But I don't think I'll review the place unless they've radically changed something about it.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:31 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Dirty hands

inky handI didn't shake hands with World Cafe host David Dye this past weekend for two reasons.

1) He didn't wash his after using the bathroom (yuck).

2) My furious scribbling made my pen explode, covering my right hand with black ink (pictured).

It took days for the ink to come off.

In the meantime, I was known as Inky.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:07 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Non-Commvention, Random stuff

June 3, 2008

Live newspaper reading at Charlotte's

Mutts blogger John Woestendiek is so relevant right now.

Tonight at Charlotte's (Light and Randall Streets), he's going to read an article he wrote on feral cats with some kind of musical accompaniment.

The details of the event (and how this event came to be in the first place) are hazy. But it will be awesome. More awesome than Ryu's Hadoken. Be there at 8 p.m. sharp.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:21 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Chipped teeth and The Hold Steady

the hold steadyLast week I sat down to talk to rockers The Hold Steady about their new album Stay Positive.

In passing, lead singer and guitarist Craig Finn said he always puts foam wind guards over his microphone.

I asked why and shuddered at his answer. ...

(Photo by Getty Images) 

Turns out, Finn has chipped three teeth from accidentally biting into mikes at gigs. Three. Yeesh.

When I saw them live later that night, it made sense. They were the most animated band I saw all weekend.

Finn hopped around the stage and sang until his face turned red. Guitarist Tad Kubler swigged from a bottle of Jim Beam and unloaded some sizzling riffs on the audience.

And the keyboardist Franz Nicolay (with his mustache, beret driver's cap and necktie) looked like a mashup video game character Mario and a Frenchman. He bit off the cork from a bottle of red wine and took big pulls between songs.

We couldn't have asked for a more high-energy show.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:07 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Non-Commvention

Half a beer at Bill's Cafe

Since JMGiordano rather sarcastically nominated Bills Cafe (6701 Holabird Ave., Dundalk) under last week's FFF suggestions, I'd like to tell you about our ... experience ... there.

The first thing we noticed when we walked into the Dundalk corner bar: It was bright. Too bright.

The second thing: It stunk. Bill's Cafe was rather rank. It gets better ...

Our bartender, a pleasant woman in her 50s, had big hair and an overbite.

Budweiser drafts (there is no other option for real men in Bill's Cafe) were a buck each, which we loved.

But we didn't even stay to finish our beers, because of the smell and an escalating argument between a man and woman across the bar. He started it by leaning in and laying a big fat kiss on her, which she didn't like, and then she had to keep pushing him away.

We cringed at each other, claimed we were "going out for a smoke" and peaced.

Don't think I'll be back to Bill's any time soon. 



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

Smokey Joe's

smokey joe'sThe first night in Philly, a few friends and I stopped by Smokey Joe's for a few rounds post-Non-Comm and pre-bed.

Joe's is a Philly institution, catering primarily to kids from the nearby colleges. 

The decor is old school, with lots of wood and pictures of star athletes from days past. 

We sat by the bar and ordered pitchers of Yuengling until they finally kicked us out for closing time.

(Photo courtesy of the bar) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:43 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Last week's nightlife column

In all the flurry of the Philly trip, I forgot to post about last week's nightlife column.

It was on Bobby's Jazz Club and Cigar Bar (1140 S. Paca St.), the fairly new corner joint in South Baltimore.

Roommate Patchen and I got better service there than we normally do at most clubs in this city, which was refreshing. Here's a link to the column.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:12 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

June 2, 2008

South Street vs. Fells Point

The more time I spend in Philly, the more I think South Street resembles Fells Point (pictured).

Both neighborhoods have thrift stores, cool restaurant/bars and lots of live music. And neither are brand new or squeaky clean -- which I like.

Of course, South Street is kind of a long, thin strip and Fells Point is more clustered around the square.

But still, I think the two have a lot in common.

(Photo by Glenn Fawcett/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:06 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Monday morning roll call

Is it possible to overdose on music?

After sitting through something like 30 bands in three days at the Non-Commvention in Philly, it's a good question.

That's where I was for most of my weekend. Got back Saturday evening and spent Sunday morning walking around/shopping at the farmer's market and at Fells Point.

What were you guys up to this past weekend?

Fill me in. 

Also, did anybody check out the newly renovated Gin Mill?

(Photo of Paddy Casey by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:26 AM | | Comments (9)

My ears are still ringing

Hey folks! I made it back from Non-Comm in tact. I'll start posting about it in a few hours.

Until then, enjoy this video of the Band jamming out "King Harvest Has Surely Come." 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Non-Commvention

June 1, 2008

Fixated on Fleet Foxes

The past couple of days, I've been at a conference where dozens of bands are playing live showcases and conducting interviews.

But when I get the chance, I'm listening to a group that's not even here.

They're called Fleet Foxes, and they're from Washington (the state, not the city). It seems like each song is built around this wall of four- or five-part harmonies drenched in reverb. Here's their MySpace site.

I love throwback bands like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Amy Winehouse. But most of them are just re-creating the sound and feel of a different era -- not really pushing the music forward.

Fleet Foxes brings the Beach Boys and Motown to mind with a fresh perspective.

(Photo courtesy of the band)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:33 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff
Keep reading
Recent entries
About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

Most Recent Comments
Recent tweets
Sign up for FREE nightlife alerts*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Photo galleries
Stay connected