« October 2008 | Main | December 2008 »

November 29, 2008

Middle Distance Runner live at The 8x10

Here's a video from Baltimore Unsigned's most recent taping at The 8x10 with the Washington-based indie rock band Middle Distance Runner.

Two of the guys from the band reworked a few of their songs into an all-acoustic set. It was a first for them, and sounded great ... 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:14 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

November 28, 2008

The review: The Nest

Get ready for one of my best puns ever, gang.

It's in my review of The Nest, which came out in yesterday's paper.

Here it is ... 

The Nest doesn't look especially large (or twiggy) from the outside, but it definitely makes the most of the space it has. It's three stories, all told, including a martini floor and a rooftop deck. Both of those are new additions.


Oh yeah, I went there. The ultimate bird pun.

Thank you, thank you. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:51 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Turning back time at the Owl Bar

the Owl Bar in 1971Digging through our damp and musty archives, I came across an intriguing piece about the Owl Bar in the Belvedere (1 E. Chase St.) written by my esteemed colleague Fred Rasmussen.

I've always felt the Owl Bar has a timeless quality to it. And judging from this 37-year-old photo, it doesn't look like the place has changed much in several decades.

Fred's story explains how the Owl Bar came to be called the Owl Bar and gives an interesting look at the place through history. Here it is: 

The Belvedere has always been a sentimental favorite where the city's elite gathered in its bar to celebrate life over a well-mixed drink or cold draft beer.

John Dorsey, former Sun restaurant and art critic, once wrote that the Owl Bar is the kind of place that you could return to in 20 years and see the "same people sitting there." ...

The Belvedere has loomed with its distinctive mansard roof and great chimneys over Baltimore for more than 100 years. It has survived numerous ownership changes. It was, after its closing in 1971, briefly a college dorm, and managed to escape the wrecking ball when the late Baltimore businessman Victor Frenkil purchased it in 1976.

the owl bar in 1910 When what is now the Owl Bar opened in 1903, it was called the Bar Room and later the Falstaff Room, and what is remarkable is that so much of the original room with its Germanic overtones, leaded-glass windows, dark-stained carved wooden benches and herringbone brickwork, remains. Even the chandeliers sans their original plaster or papier mache elves still illuminate the room.

"Where else could one find chandeliers with little men sitting on them, thus creating the impression that one was even drunker than one was?" wrote the late R. H. Gardner, longtime Sun drama and movie critic.

In her 1986 book, The Belvedere And the Man Who Saved It, Kristin Helberg says no one knows when the two blinking owls -- named Sherry Belle and John Eager Howard -- made the bar their rookery. Through the years, they have vanished and returned several times.

Sherry Belle, who disappeared on Dec. 3, 1933, and was presumed to have been carried off by some reveler celebrating the end of Prohibition, mysteriously returned in the early 1950s, none the worse for wear.

Gardner, also a habitue of the Owl Bar, recalled bending "an elbow with some of the most notorious lushes in the Free State."

In a story at the time of the hotel's closing, Gardner wrote, "There is not a table in the lounge or a stool at the bar that I have not occupied. For, apart from the relaxed atmosphere and tasteful decor that made it one of the pleasanter pubs on the East Coast, the Belvedere offered the most bountiful martini in Baltimore. One was enough to brighten the gloomiest day, two was a sure ticket to insensibility."

(The Owl Bar in 1971, top, and in 1910, bottom. Photos from Sun archives)  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

November 27, 2008

You can have anything you want

at Alice's Restaurant.

Here's the whole version.

Gobble gobble!

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

November 26, 2008

Resurrection in bottles? Yes, on Dec. 16

brewer's artIt's about time!

At long last, we will be able to buy the delicious Resurrection Ale in bottles.

Tom Creegan of Brewer's Art (the brew restaurant that makes the scrumptious stuff) sent me an email last week confirming it.

It will be released in a 750 milliliter bottle on Dec. 16.

In other Brewer's Art news, the first tapping of the Saint Festivus holiday ale is tonight. It's ginger spiced brown ale.

Happy holidays! 

(Photo by Jed Kirschbaum/Sun photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:15 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Where is everyone drinking tonight?

how about a delicious pint of beer?Happy pre-Thanksgiving Day, faithful Midnight Sunners.

Today has a special place in our calendar. It's Drinky Day!

People imbibe more on the day before Thanksgiving than they do any other day of the year.

How delightful! Only if they drink responsibly, of course.

Why is this? Well, no one knows for sure*, but I believe it's because people want to cut loose before having to put up with their extended family and also make the most of the four-day weekend.

So now the question is, where will you go? Do tell. 

(Well look at that! A photo! Haven't seen one of these on Midnight Sun in days! This particular photo is by the AP.)

*Someone may know for sure. I just didn't bother to check.  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:03 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Aaaaand I'M BACK!

Oh man oh man oh man. It's good to be back.

For days, Sam Sessa was stricken with sickness. Unable to work, he found solace in delicious homemade potato soup and science fiction books loaned to him by Sun Food Tsaress Elizabeth Large. (Bet you didn't know she was a Sci-Fi fan, eh?).

Then, on the sixth day, Sessa made his triumphant return. 

Stay tuned, gang. I'm back in action. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:18 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Random stuff

November 25, 2008

Live, local and streaming

If Baltimore Unsigned was a local TV news station, that would be our slogan. Thanks to WTMD's web guru Frank, we now have a live music player with more than 30 live tracks taped on the show.

Dig it.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:17 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Local music

November 24, 2008

More info on police officers and moonlighting

More details have come to light regarding the police department's new policy which prohibits officers from working outside bars and clubs. Peter Hermann has the scoop.

As previously stated, I'm not feeling so hot today. So this will be my last post until manana.

Later, homies. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:19 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Is it really Monday already? Geez.

I laid remarkably low this weekend in order to crank out some keyboard reviews for JazzTimes magazine. I'm also under the weather, which makes going out much less appetizing.

Hey Jeff, how was Avocado Happy Hour? I like what I hear on their MySpace site. Patchen, I'm sorry, but seeing one pro football game doesn't make you a man. Rob, how was the Wham City show? 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:03 AM | | Comments (5)

November 22, 2008

I missed Vanilla Ice again

Last night, I found out that killer '90's rapper Vanilla Ice was appearing at MEX in Power Plant Live. But it was too late. I'd already made plans.

I already missed him when he dropped by MEX last year to dish out ice luge shots. I'm 0/2! Did anybody go? If so, I need a full report.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:14 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

November 21, 2008

Get your pet photo taken with Santa tomorrow!

pet santa photosThis has absolutely nothing to do with nightlife, but I don't care.

My buddy and former colleague John Woestendiek is going to be Santa Claus tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Riverside Park in South Baltimore.

It's only $5, and the photos will be uploaded to the Web after they're taken. Proceeds benefit Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter. More details here

See ya there, John!

(Photo by Algerina Perna/Sun photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:34 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Random stuff

So I had a beer at The Nest ...

the nestand all I got was this blurry photograph.

But seriously folks, Amie and I did indeed check out The Nest last night. It ain't half bad. I mean, it's nothing special.

But as far as sports bars go -- especially sports bars in and around Camden Yards -- it's nicer and newer than your other options.

I just wonder if the new owners will have much luck filling the place on non-game days.

I ordered a Samuel Adams Oktoberfest, which I was surprised to see on tap -- it's almost out of season at this point. It cost $5 and stayed surprisingly cold until the last sip.

The Nest is largely like its predecessor, but does have a few new bells and whistles ...

Most notably the new martini lounge on the third floor. It wasn't open when I was there last night, but I snuck up there and sniffed around anyway.

There are a few leather couches, as well as some small tables that glowed blue in the dark. Cool stuff.

One weird thing: When we asked the bartender for a food menu, he told us the kitchen was closed. But about 20 minutes later when we were snooping around, we saw a waitress passing out menus to a table full of dudes.


Either way, I liked the place. It's nothing special, but I hope it succeeds.

(Sloppy cell phone photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:58 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Today is Friday. Today is Friday. Say it with me.

Today, is Friday.

And lemme tell ya -- I can't wait to kick back this weekend. I went to The Nest last night (that's the new sports bar where DSX used to be). More on that later today. I'm also going to have at least one off-beat weekend suggestion coming up.

But right now, I'd like to know just what in the heck you're up to this weekend. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:33 AM | | Comments (8)

November 20, 2008

Mad River's 5th anniversary party is tonight

mad riverHappy birthday, Mad River!

From 9 p.m. until close today, the South Baltimore pillar of Miller Lite swilling and crazy partying celebrates its fifth anniversary.

When I heard about the occasion, I called the bar to ask what kind of specials they were doing.

The person I talked to said they weren't doing anything special, just hoping they'd get a lot of people out to help them celebrate.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? ...

I mean, shouldn't they be running some crazy specials to thank all the regulars for keeping them going for five years?

To be fair, the woman I spoke with said she wasn't entirely sure, and would take down my name and number and have the manager call me. That's bar speak for "get lost." 

This is one of the most aggravating parts of my job. Unless I already have a bar owner's cell phone, getting a hold of a manager or owner is almost impossible. They're almost never at the bars during the daytime (and sometimes only once or twice a week). And when I leave messages for the bar owner to call me back, they never do.

Most bar owners tell their employees not to speak to a member of the press. And then they tell their employees not to give a member of the press their cell phone numbers. How much sense does that make?


Sorry for the tangent. But this really gets my goat.

(This Sun archive photo of Mad River was taken in 2004)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:32 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Liquor + pickle juice = awesome?

picklejuice, picklejuice, picklejuice!Back in college, I knew a Russian native named Valentin.

Unsurprisingly, Valentin liked vodka. Surprisingly, Valentin liked to chase vodka with chopped pickles.

Did I just trigger your gag reflex? Well, hold on a second and hear me out on this.

Valentin would bring over a bottle of vodka and a jar of dill pickles. He'd chop the pickles into bite sized pieces, take a shot of vodka and pop one of the pickle pieces into his mouth. It's real big in Russia, I hear.

The way I understand it is, pickle juice is a base which counteracts the acid in the alcohol. Maybe it's the other way around. I've never claimed to be a chemist.

After some peer pressure, Valentin convinced us to try it, too. And, by God, it worked.

The pickle taste swept the vodka's sting right away. I was floored. The downside? It's kind of a trade-off: Pickle juice replaces the sharp vodka aftertaste. So if you hate pickles, you're not gonna like this.

I hadn't encountered this phenomenon in Baltimore until last night ...   

vodkaI dropped by the Idle Hour (201 E. Fort Ave.) for a nightcap and to catch up on some South Baltimore bar gossip. Brendan, one of the owners, told me about a recent trip to Pottsville, Penn. (to tour the Yuengling brewery) and then to New York City.

That got him talking about the Pickle Back. From what Brendan said, the Pickle Back was born in a New York City bar. And it's not too far removed from the pickle and vodkas we did back in college.

The pickle back is a shot of Jameson followed by a shot of pure pickle juice. Idle Hour serves them on a fairly regular basis. However, I believe they serve them with Jack Daniels, not Jameson. Brendan, if you read this correct me.

But the brand of liquor doesn't seem to matter. I tried one last night, and lemme tell ya -- pickle juice works like a charm. I can't say that I'd ever order one again, but I'm glad I did it once.

(Sun archive photo of pickles by Kim Hairston. AP photo of vodka bottles.) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:07 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The review: The Abbey Burger Bistro

burger yum yumYou've seen the sneak preview. Now, read the whole review.

You know, I debated over this review. Normally, I don't review a place until it has been open for a few weeks. That gives them the time to work out the kinks. But this place has generated a lot of interest, and I wanted to get the jump on everybody else.

I tried not to be too hard on the Abbey Burger Bistro, since I went there a week after it opened. Well, to be fair, I went there twice -- once on opening night and again a week later.

Also in today's paper, one of my fastest-written pieces ever ... 

my profile of comedian Carlos Mencia, which ran on the cover of the You and Your Weekend section. This was a classic case of deadline writing: I interviewed him Monday morning, transcribed the interview around lunchtime and finished the piece in late afternoon.

Whew. It's a pretty big article, too -- about 1,000 words or so. Monday was just one of those days.

And, last but not least, a Meet the Band piece on The Christmas Lights. Believe it or not, Cumberland and Frostburg have a blossoming arts and music scene, and the Christmas Lights are part of it. I had them in for a Baltimore Unsigned taping a couple weeks ago, and was pretty impressed.

Note to self: Remind the Web site people to start uploading photos with the Meet the Bands.

(Sun archive photo by Elizabeth Malby) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:04 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Where's a bar that ...

Do you have a question about where to go out? Maybe you're looking for a certain type of bar with a certain type of feel.

I can help.

Leave a comment with your question. Or, you can email it to me at

I'll round up all the questions and post my suggestions on Midnight Sun.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:49 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

November 19, 2008

DIY venues are off-limits for me

2640From time to time, people ask me to cover shows that happen in DIY venues.

DIY venues (DIY is short for do-it-yourself) are under-the-radar joints run out of a warehouse or somebody's apartment.

Usually, they don't have live entertainment licenses, which means they're illegal.

And there are tons of them around town. Some really cool shows go down in DIY spaces, and I'd love to write about them.

But very bad things could happen if I did write about them ...

You see, various members of the Powers That Be read Midnight Sun religiously, looking for potential liquor/live entertainment license infringements. I have been approached by at least one member of the Baltimore City Liquor Board, who said Midnight Sun is a great resource for keeping tabs on local bars and clubs.

Plus, if I write about something in The Sun, I have to at least publish the address of the venue. That's a sure-fire way for The Man to come shut the place down.

This threat doesn't seem to stop other city publications such as Metromix, b and City Paper from writing about DIY spaces. Heck, even Rolling Stone wrote about local DIY venue Floristree. (For the record, I talked to Jason Urick of Floristree too -- but only after the Stone piece.)

But I'm sticking to my guns on this one. I don't want anybody to be shut down on my behalf.

(Photo of 2640, a legitimate DIY space run by the Red Emma's collective, by Algerina Perna/Sun photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:11 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Local music

Patrick's of Pratt Street drastically scales back hours

Patrick's of Pratt StreetPatrick's of Pratt Street (934 W. Pratt St.), the country's oldest Irish pub, will only be open one day a week for the next couple months, according to owner Patrick Rowley.

The reason? Rowley and his wife Anne (pictured) opened a much larger sister location in Federick Oct. 15, and need to spend time getting it up and running.

"We had to move away from Baltimore and catch our breath," Rowley said.

"We've got so much to do up here, we just don't have the time to operate the Baltimore location on a full-time basis until we're really settled in Frederick." ...

Until then, Patrick's of Pratt Street will only be open Sundays at 2 p.m. Don't worry -- Rowley doesn't plan on selling the place.

"It's only been in my family for 161 years," he said.

The new Patrick's Irish Pub and Restaurant, is open at 11 a.m. seven days a week at 16-18 E. Patrick's St. It seats almost 200. Call 301-668-0668.

(Photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:09 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Way high up wine tasting

it's time ... for wine!Dig this: A wine tasting on the 19th floor of Silo Point -- that big new luxury condo complex in Locust Point, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 3 2.

Now you all know I'm not big on blabbering about events. I leave that to Metromix, Localist, 600 Block etc.

I only post about an event when I'm into it. And I'm into this one ...

The Wine Market is running the show, but the tasting is sponsored by STYLE Magazine. (I wonder -- since STYLE is in all caps, are you supposed to shout it?)

But the cool part is, you get to be one of the first people to check out the view from the tippy top of Silo Point.  

And and and -- some of the proceeds to go the Maryland SPCA. Ruff ruff.

Get your ticket(s) here.

I kinda wanna maybe go to this. I wonder if wine tastes different when you're way high up. Hmm.

(AP photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:02 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

"Large" beers at Aloha Tokyo

aloha tokyo A couple months ago, I dropped by the new(ish) Aloha Tokyo on North Charles Street in Mount Vernon.

I asked for a beer, and they asked me if I wanted a small or a large.

Being a manly man with a reputation to uphold, I ordered a large.

But a "large" was a pint glass. To me, that's not large. That's normal. That's the baseline for beer glasses. A pint glass is regular. It gets larger from there -- steins, boots, etc.

Or at least in my experience. Am I wrong here? 

(Photo of Aloha Tokyo's sister location on Fort Avenue by Chiaki Kawajiri/Sun photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:47 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

November 18, 2008

Find me on Twitter

hummingbirds twitter too!So, I finally caved and started a Twitter site.

Haven't heard of Twitter? It's a networking site. People create profiles so they can send messages to each other and post status updates that tell the whole universe exactly what they're doing exactly when and where.

I drug my feet for a while about joining Twitter. I don't care what people are doing exactly when and where, I told myself. And other people don't care either.

But now I'm not so sure. I think people want to know about Midnight Sun. I think people need to know about Midnight Sun.

Now, they don't have a choice.

They will know.  

Check it out. Or save it as a favorite (that rhymes!) --

(AP photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:47 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff

Stinkfest: Federal Hill vs. Adams Morgan

adams morganSome of the most diehard long-term Midnight Sunners will remember my post from waaay back about the Cross Street Stink.

In case you didn't read it (or are too lazy to click on the link), it's a gripe about the putrid mix of urine and vomit -- magnified by the summer sun.


Well, I wanna know something: Does Adams Morgan (pictured) generally smell better or worse than Cross Street?

I was in Adams Morgan on a recent Saturday night, and lemme tell ya -- it was naaaaasty.


This was a cold night, so the smell was not magnified by the summer sun. But there was a strong breeze blowing, which circulated the stink. Double eww.

I even saw what appeared to be the member of a bachelorette party siphoning her stomach into a sidewalk trash can. And it wasn't even that late! I think it was like midnight at that point. Maybe earlier. I was too nauseous to even think about Jumbo Slice.

Back when I was in college (about three or four years ago), I used to visit Adams Morgan more often to play music. And if it stunk that bad back then, I didn't notice it.

Has Adams Morgan gotten smellier? Or did I just go on a bad night?

(Baltimore Sun photo by Carla Correa)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:35 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

From the mind of Carlos Mencia

You may ask yourself: Didn't Sessa say something about interviewing Carlos Mencia yesterday?

And I may respond: Why, yes, indeed, he did.

You may ask yourself: I wonder what that pillar of comedy, the edgiest comic ever, the wittiest man alive had to say.

And I may respond: No no, I didn't talk to Darrell Bluett. I talked to Carlos Mencia. And now, I'm going to give you a top secret special classified sneak peak at part of our conversation ...

carlos mencia

Me: Was the success of Mind of Mencia frightening to you? Or did it excite you?

Mencia: I don't get excited or frightened very often. I’m a pretty even-keeled guy. I don't believe it when people say to me, 'My twin sister just died and I came to see you perform because I knew that you would make me happy.' I don't really believe that as much as I don't believe 'You suck and you’re the worst comedian in the history of the world.' I stay even-keeled with all that stuff. It keeps me honest and fresh.

Me: Comedians have always bickered and sniped at each other. But they normally do it among themselves or behind closed doors. It was different with you. People accused you of being a plagiarist on the record. Talk to me about that.

Mencia: What makes all of these accusations completely different from anything before is that it’s public domain. There's anonymity. Here’s the interesting part: I'm not being accused by [comedian] Joe Rogan of stealing Joe Rogan’s jokes. I'm being accused by Joe Rogan of plagiarizing somebody else’s stuff. I don't even know how to answer that.  

(AP photo) 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:55 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff

November 17, 2008

End of the line for Tiburzi's?

tiburzi'sGot this email today from a Midnight Sun reader: 

I live right around the corner from Tiburzi's the place was closed Saturday night and again yesterday. I assume they ran out of money due to the economy/lack of character the place had.

In there last week, and they only had 9 wings left when I ordered 10. And they still only accepted cash, no credit cards. Very sketchy.

Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if Tiburzi is closed.

If anyone knows more about this, fill us in. 

(Sun archive photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:44 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Our night at the Abbey Burger Bistro

Friday night, Amie, a couple friends and I went to the Abbey Burger Bistro for dinner and drinks.

We ended up getting dinner and drinks -- just not in that order.

When we got there around 7:30 p.m., the downstairs was packed. The only open seats were a couple barstools, which we claimed.

We waved down a bartender and ordered drinks: Amie had the house pinot noir, which was served in a stubby, stemless glass. I had a light, wheaty Reading Ale.

Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis at the Abbey, and the upstairs dining room wasn't ready for people yet the night we were there.

So we camped out at the bar, and waited for a table to open up. After about 20 minutes, one did.

But a couple who had arrived after us swooped in and sat down at the table before we could ...


When told the couple we were there first, they said the server sat them, and if we have a problem with that, talk to the server. We did have a problem with that, and when we confronted the server about it, he reluctantly made the couple move. We apologized for the confusion as he was seating us, and he mumbled something to the effect of, "Well, you're the ones doing the review, so ..."

Now, I don’t exactly keep my identity a secret. If you’ve seen the photo of me that accompanies this column, you already know that. But this was the first time I’ve been out for a nightlife column and a bar has not only spotted me but told me they know I’m there for a review. It was awkward and unnecessary.

Whether or not we were there to review the place, we still deserved that table. That server can mutter all he wants -- we waited our turn just like everybody else.

As the name suggests, the Abbey specializes in high-end burgers. But the kitchen is still getting up to speed – it took about 90 minutes for our four burgers to arrive. No biggie, though. When you’re in a bar with a big drink list, it’s easy to kill time.

(Photo by Doug Kapustin/Sun photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:38 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs



Not only is it Monday, but I had to get up extra early. Today I just might set a personal record for most stuff written in one day. Actually, I kind of have to -- otherwise Commander Meredith will have my head.

In a couple hours, I'm supposed to interview comedian Carlos Mencia (the host of Mind of Mencia on Comedy Central). Anything you want me to ask him? Oh, and what did you do this weekend? We had an interesting time at the Abbey Burger Bistro. I'll tell you more about it later today.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:34 AM | | Comments (5)

November 16, 2008

The best Randy Newman cover ever made?

"Oooooh ... Bal-tee-more" ... snicker snicker ...
Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:13 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Random stuff

November 15, 2008

Gutter Magazine goes daily

Extra! Extra! Gutter Magazine, the semi-renown online Charm City monthly alternative, has launched a new daily blog -- complete with photos, news, music and videos from Baltimore's underbelly.

See it here

Hey Gutter kids, you're making a big mistake here, you foolish knaves. Soon, you will realize just how easy blogs can suck you in. The first thing I do in the morning is get up and check Midnight Sun. It has ... consumed me. And now, it will consume you.


Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:05 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Random stuff

November 14, 2008

The city's best and worst Bloody Mary?

bloody mary

The Bloody Mary is a tricky drink.

Different people like it different ways, and different bars and restaurants love to toss in random ingredients.

I hear Rub in South Baltimore puts some kind of cajun barbecue mix in theirs. This may or may not be true. But you get my point.

Personally, I can't stand tomato juice. It activates my gag reflex and ties my tummy in a knot.

So I really can't tell you where to get the city's best Bloody Mary. Or the worst one. But I'm sure there are more than a few die hard Bloody Mary drinkers out there, and I'll bet they know.

So tell me -- who makes Baltimore's best and/or worst Bloody Mary, and why?

(I'm not exactly sure where this photo came from originally. I came upon it on this blog. Can you believe that no wire services or Sun photographers have taken photos of Bloody Marys in the past several years? Baffling, I say.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:19 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Go see The Oranges Band tonight

the oranges band

You don't get many chances to see The Oranges Band.

And since they're one of Baltimore's best indie rock groups, and tonight's gig at The Ottobar is a special pre-release of their new album, you should see them live. 

Here is my two-line review of their new album, Are Invisible:

"Blistering guitar work and pounding drums make for a fiery listen. Perpetually underdogs in the indie rock scene, The Oranges Band doesn't need your attention -- but they deserve it."

Metromix followed the boys around town for a day, and came up with a pretty funny feature. Dig it here.

(Photo of Oranges Band front man Roman Kuebler by Gene Sweeney Jr./Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:44 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music


middle distance runnerI'm heading out for a nightlife column tonight, the details of which are highly classified. At least until Monday morning, when I tell you what I did.

Tomorrow afternoon, I'm hosting a free Baltimore Unsigned live taping at The 8x10 with Middle Distance Runner (pictured). I've written about them before, and I'm looking forward to their performance.

You can listen to their music here. You will probably like it. 

If you want to reserve a seat for the show, click here. It starts at 1 p.m.

(Photo courtesy of Middle Distance Runner's MySpace site) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:35 AM | | Comments (3)

November 13, 2008

Juicy Lisa Lampanelli leftovers

lisa lampanelliAlso in today's paper, you will find a story about insult comic Lisa Lampanelli (pictured).

The Queen of Mean is coming to the Meyerhoff tomorrow for a stand up show.

Lampanelli's a fast talker with a sharp wit. I only talked to her for 15 minutes, but I still got way more material than I needed for the piece. 

We spent some time chewing the fat about Don Rickles, the only human insult comic more famous than her (Triumph the Insult Comic Dog probably pulls rank on Lampanelli, but he's just a puppet).

But Lampanelli and I had some pretty funny exchanges which I couldn't use for the article. She accused me of being a racist, she poked fun at the paper I work for, etc.

Here are some of the leftovers ... 


lisa lampanelliMe: You’re doing a book deal, too, finally bringing together comedy and journalism.
Lampanelli: Yeah , I know. Finally, journalism that doesn’t pay $12,000 year. Dude, how do you do it? I don’t know.

Don’t ask.
I know. You have to be like a man-whore on the side. But yeah, I was writing part of it today about my first relapse after rehab. I’d gone to rehab for codependency a year and a half ago. I was like, writing my part about where I relapsed and banged my first guy after rehab.

You’re not supposed to bang anyone for a year. That’s really difficult when you’re me and you’re a big celebrity. The offers just come flying in. I was writing that part and I was going ‘Ugh, I can’t believe I wasted it on that guy, a freaking short Italian from Las Vegas.’ It was awful. Ugh.

I know. My life – thank God it’s gotten better since then.
Is there stuff in your new autobiography that people have no clue about?
Oh yeah, because I’m really honest. I talk about going to fat camp and rehab and banging awful guys and being codependent and weight gain and weight loss and all that [expletive]. But there’s some stuff nobody ever asked me about. I guess all that will be in the book. All my childhood stuff, all my teen years. They’ll be stuff nobody knows, but not because I didn’t want to tell them or was afraid to tell them, but it just didn’t come up yet.

Bring up one thing with me.
Oh geez. I just told you about Johnny Vegas, you [expletive]. Geez. What do you think – I’m going to waste it on The Baltimore Sun?

At least it’s The Baltimore Sun. At least it’s one of the top papers in the country. But you’re still not worth it.

I read that insult comedians are really just flashes in the pan. Is this true?

Well look at Rickles. He’s 84 and still doing it ... I think I could last as long as that dirty heap.

Don Rickles has a heart of gold though right?
That’s what I said. Me ... him.

You’ve got a heart of gold?
You have to to do this. You try going up and saying the N-word like I do. You can’t because you’re really a racist because you’re around blacks a lot.

Are you accusing me of this?
Yes, I’m sure you’re a huge racist. No, I mean, put it this way. I know how pure I am of heart and that I have absolutely no prejudice in my body so I know I can say whatever I want and the right people will get it for the right reasons. I say whatever I want to say and people let me get away with it. You can only do that if you don’t mean it.

You only hurt the ones you love. That’s why I don’t make fun of French people and Europeans because they smell and I hate them. They do. Try smelling one. I have. Horrible. It’s just not right, sir.

(Top, stock photo. Bottom, photo by Karen Moskowitz) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:49 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Random stuff

Ticketmaster won't charge extra fees for Eagles tickets

eaglesI hate Ticketmaster.

Ticketmaster is right up there with Comcast in my book -- they're both bloated, incompetent corporations. See, they can be as inefficient as they want, because they pretty much have monopolies on their markets.

This week, Ticketmaster announced that it won't charge any extra fees for tickets to Eagles concerts. OMG -- how, like, totally generous of them!

If you're unfamiliar with Ticketmaster's tricky ways, know this: When you buy a concert ticket from them, they slap you with a series of fees. A $49.99 ticket to see Wayne Newton at the Lyric Opera House ends up costing something like $69.99 by the time Ticketmaster's through with you.

Here's the kicker: They call these fees "convenience charges."


What in God's name is so convenient about ordering tickets online or over the phone that gives Ticketmaster the right to charge so much extra? Paying more money isn't convenient at all ...

empty pocketsI think they just call them "convenience charges" to spite us. They know it's not convenient. You just don't have any other choice. You have to pay it. So they rub it in your face by calling them "convenience charges."

But this time -- just this once -- they're going to waive these convenience fees for Eagles fans.

But why? I mean, the Eagles charge out the whazoo for their concerts. It baffles me, because live, the Eagles sound exactly the same as they do in the studio. You can go to one of their shows, close your eyes and never know you're at a concert. Except for the inevitable drunk dude in a flannel shirt screaming "Freebird!"

I hate that dude.

My point is, Eagles fans are willing to pay $75.99 for nosebleed seats. So why not stick 'em with an extra $19.99 in convenience fees? They won't mind.

Instead, Ticketmaster should stop charging convenience fees for smaller acts (like Shwayze or Jenny Lewis or Dan Deacon). I know Dan Deacon fans are strapped for cash. Hey Ticketmaster, give the discount to people who really need it!

This recession is hitting us all. I opened my wallet the other day and a cartoon moth flew out. I can't afford these "convenience charges" anymore, Ticketmaster. But fat cat Eagles fans sure can. So give the discount to the lower-middle class -- folks like me.

We're the ones that need the bailout.

(AP photos) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:55 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music, Random stuff

The review: Hookah wars

You've read the sneak preview. Now, read the real deal. I went to two hookah bars who are right across the street from each other on the same night.

Here is a link to my official Baltimore Sun newspaper review. I wonder if I'll hear from one of the owners on this one. Drama!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:09 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Happy birthday, James Joyce Pub

james joyce pubIs there an Irish equivalent to "Happy Birthday"? If there is, and if I knew it, I'd sing it for the James Joyce Pub (616 S. President St.).

The Harbor East bar and restaurant has been open for six years and is celebrating today. And oh, what a celebration it will be.

Patrons can enter to win a free trip for two to Ireland, drink $3 Guinness drafts all day and listen to live music by Sanford.


If you have any further questions, their number is 410-727-5107.

(Photo from Sun archives) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:58 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

November 12, 2008

Justin Timberlake spotted at Power Plant Live

Justin TimberlakeJustin Timberlake was in town Monday for a tour of Power Plant Live, sources tell me.

Not much is open at Power Plant Live on Mondays, which makes me wonder why he dropped by.

Maybe he's thinking about making an investment in the entertainment district, or doing a free show there. Maybe he will bring sexy back to Power Plant Live. I'm not sure.

I'm also not sure how long he stayed or what time of day he was there. I just know he was there.

"He liked what he saw," one source told me.

Sorry to be so vague. But celebrity sightings -- especially pop royalty like Timberlake -- are a rare thing in Baltimore.

If anybody knows anything else about this, please dish.

(AP photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:14 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Celebrity sightings

Jersey City councilman Steven Lipski allegedly urinates on 9:30 Club crowd

steve lipskiWhen you gotta go, you gotta go, right?

Not if you're standing on the balcony of a nightclub during a concert. Jersey City councilman Steve Lipski (pictured) learned that lesson the hard way last Saturday at the 9:30 Club in Washington, according to the NY Daily News.  

Several news outlets are reporting that during a show by the Grateful Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra, Lipski relieved himself onto the crowd below him. He was arrested and charged with simple assault, Newsday reports.

Wow. I'll say that again: Wow.

I mean, how inebriated do you have to be when you say to yourself, 'Now would be a good time and place to relieve myself.'

Lipski won't elaborate on the incident, but has sworn to stop drinking. I sent an email to Seth Hurwitz asking him is this really happened, but he didn't email me back.  

David Malitz over at Post Rock makes a good point ...

Can you imagine being the victim? Having a few drops of beer or sweat dripped down on you is one thing. And granted, the crowd at a Grateful Dead tribute concert is probably not going to riot over something like this. But oh man if I were the victim, I would have turned into a tornado of teeth and nails.

Malitz, who sees a lot of shows at the club, is questioning where he stands when he goes there. I mean, from now on, I'm going to make sure I'm a few feet out of range from anyone standing on the balcony.

Thanks to MS reader Sarah for the tip.

(Photo from the official Jersey City Web site)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:59 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music, Random stuff

The Christmas Lights live on Baltimore Unsigned

Here is a video of the Frostburg-based group The Christmas Lights performing "Walk Like a Human," the title track to their new album, on Baltimore Unsigned...
Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:09 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Harder better faster stronger?

The wonderful wizards of Tribune Interactive have cooked us up some snazzy new blog servers, gang. What exactly does that mean? Funny you ask.

It means things should move a little quicker than they used to. And through a brief, un-scientific trial, I have found this to be mostly true. It still takes about 15-20 seconds for a comment to go through, which totally peeves me out. But everything else loads harderbetterfasterstronger.  

So thanks, wonderful wizards of Tribune Interactive!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:24 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff

Why I don't accept some friend requests

sam sessaI wanna take a quick minute and lay something out for everybody. 

More than a few Midnight Sun readers have sent me friend requests on Facebook. That's cool.

But if you're in a local band, or you're a local promoter or bar owner, I'm not going to accept your friend request.

Why not, you ask? Well, because we have professional relationships. I could review your club, or interview you as a source. And if you're listed as a friend on Facebook, that might  make people think I'm giving you special treatment.

I know, I know -- this might seem a little drastic. But I'm very serious about keeping my writing and reporting free from potential conflicts of interest.

That means no free drinks, no favors and for people I cover, no Facebooking. I appreciate you thinking about me, but I just can't do it. 

(Photo illustration by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (26)
Categories: Random stuff

November 11, 2008

Thrill Jockey Records signs Double Dagger

double daggerThe Baltimore punk trio Double Dagger just signed to Chicago-based indie label Thrill Jockey Records.

Double Dagger is currently recording a new album, which Thrill Jockey could release next year, according to the label's press agent, David Halstead.  

"We're super excited to have them with us," Halstead said. "I think we've signed half of Baltimore now."

Halstead isn't too far from the truth -- Daniel Higgs, Arbouretum, Thank You and a number of other Charm City acts are currently on Thrill Jockey.

Congrats, fellas! You can see Double Dagger live when the Baltimore Round Robin Tour comes to Sonar Dec. 19.  

(Photo by Scott Russell)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:16 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

City police to stop moonlighting

In a couple weeks, Baltimore city clubs will no longer be able to hire city police officers to work security outside their establishments.

You ever walked up to a bar or club -- say, Power Plant Live or Nobles -- and seen uniformed police officers standing watch outside? That's what I'm talking about.

The way it works is, bar/club owners pay overtime rates to have police officers stand guard outside. They say it deters violent crime -- especially when rowdy patrons spill out onto the streets at closing time.

But the police department said the program raises too many liabilities and conflicts of interest, and decided to end it. Cops reporter Justin Fenton and I teamed up to write a story about this issue. The piece ran on the front page of Saturday's paper. Here is a link.

As you can imagine, the bar owners are none-too-pleased with the police department's decision ...

Neither is the police union. Turns out, city police officers make a good chunk of change by working overtime outside clubs. And since the city is currently cracking down on overtime pay, they're going to be making significantly less money.

Since I helped write a non-biased news piece about this issue, it's not right for me to take sides. Thankfully, Sun crime writer Peter Hermann weighed in on this topic on his blog, Baltimore Crime Beat. He thinks ending the program is a necessary and prudent move, and he has some interesting insights.

Head over to his blog and weigh in on what you think is the right move.

(Photo by Monica Lopossay/Sun photographer)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:47 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Drama at Zeeba Lounge

$10 minimum

As I mentioned before, Amie, a couple friends and I hit up Zeeba Lounge and the new Arabian Nights for a nightlife column Friday.

We found ourselves in quite the pickle at Zeeba Lounge.

After waiting 30 minutes to get in (!), we ordered a hookah with double apple-flavored shisha, which cost $12 and came quickly.

We smoked it for a while, then asked for our check. That’s when the trouble started.

Our server told us the check would be $40, not $12.

Turns out, Zeeba has a $10 minimum per person policy ...


Our server showed us the notice on the menu, and said it was also posted outside the front door. She was right – there are 12 signs on the front of Zeeba Lounge, and two of them state this policy. We missed them both, and that was our fault.

However, if you’re going to make people pay at least $10 just to sit down inside your lounge, you owe them the courtesy of telling them this before they order anything.

Right when we sat down, our server should have said, “just so you know, there is a $10 charge per person, so keep that in mind when you order.” Or, they could do away with this impudent fee and make patrons pay a cover charge instead.

We were outraged.

Our server flagged down a manager, who wrangled with us for a few minutes. Finally, to get us off his hands, he agreed to only charge us for the hookah. We left $12 on the table and walked out.

We got about a block before the bouncer chased us down, bill in hand. Turns out, we forgot to pay the 72-cent tax on our hookah. They sent a bouncer after us for 72 cents!


(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (32)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

November 10, 2008

The Abbey Burger Bistro is lookin' good

duvelFriday night a few friends and I dropped by the new Abbey Burger Bistro for a drinky-poo, and were pleasantly surprised with owner Russell Miller's changes.

The exposed brick walls really open up the space, and Miller's decision to put the bathrooms along the far back wall was a good one.

I had a delicious bottle of Duvel, and my friend Greg had a micro-brew with a funky name I can't remember offhand. Our tab came to $13, which is acceptable for two fancy beers.

The bartender didn't know much about the beers they had, but that's OK, considering the bar wasn't even fully stocked yet. I'll give it a little time to find its footing before going back for an official review. 

(Photo by Monica Lopossay/Sun photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:32 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Funny or over the line?

dress codeEditor Tim (of Swift Picks fame) spotted this sign outside of Red Square (1023 N. Charles St.), the Russian restaurant and bar in The Belvedere.

I'm not sure how long it's been there. I didn't see it when I reviewed the place a couple years ago.

I've seen plenty of signs about rules and dress codes -- most memorably the laundry list of Dos and Do Nots outside the now-closed Xanadu on Calvert St.

But does putting a drawing with the signs go to far? Could that be potentially offensive? Is it even necessary?

Personally, I don't think it's over the line. But I'll bet some people do.

(Photo courtesy of Tim Swift) 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:27 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


zeeba loungeYawn.

I don't like Monday mornings. I'd much rather sleep until late afternoon, then relax and smoke a hookah, like this gentleman here. He happens to be a co-owner of Zeeba Lounge* (916 Light St.), where some friends and I went Friday night for a review.

We also went to Arabian Nights, the new hookah lounge right across the street. We liked Arabian Nights better.

We had some semi-major problems at Zeeba Lounge, but I'll post about that in a little bit.

Unfortunately, I missed yesterday's football game, in which our beloved Baltimore Ravens trounced the most redundantly-named football team in the country.

How did your weekend play out?

(Photo by Kenneth K. Lam/Sun photographer) 

*This gentleman was a co-owner in 2004, when this photo was taken. Not sure if he still works here. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:34 AM | | Comments (4)

I love Jenny Lewis

jenny lewisMy friend Pat Gavin really, really likes the singer and songwriter Jenny Lewis.

Ever heard of her? If you listen to indie rock, you probably have. 

If not, all you need to know is, she's a child actor turned singer. She fronts a band called Rilo Kiley, and released two solo albums in the past couple years.

I've heard people praise her. I've heard people tear her down.

Today my dear friend Pat wants to share his love of Ms. Lewis with all of us.

This time next week, I'm going to take up the anti-Jenny Lewis stance. But for now, here's what he thinks ...

jenny lewisIn the interest of full journalistic disclosure, I will now admit a few things. I like Jenny Lewis ... a lot.

That lovely picture Sam put next to the article -- that's my computer desktop. I like her more than I like my iPhone. But what's not to like? She writes, sings and performs the crap out of her songs. And her fiery red hair smells like cinnamon (I just assume).

Jenny has forever been a fantastic storyteller. As one Amazon reviewer puts it, the tri-perspective "A Man/Me/Then Jim" from More Adventurous is the sort of song that "makes you stop whatever you're doing and just listen." Her skills as a raconteur are in full effect on the new solo joint Acid Tongue, in full-on rock medleys "The Next Messiah" and "Jack Killed Mom."

Jenny's talents have been evident since her Saddle Creek days: An angelic voice working in perfect synergy with lyrics that are endearing one second ("it's your little red wagon and you've got to pull it") and breezy the next ("My momma is an atheist / If I stay out late she don't get pissed") ...

With "Acid Tongue," she still plays to these strengths, but without a radio-friendly pop single in sight, she isn't likely to become American's sweetheart just yet. In other words, it's still not to late to adore her, cannibalize and co-opt her identity and music into part of your pathetic indier-than-thou personality and then get tired of it all and spit her out all before your friends with only a casual interest in music discover her. I mean, you know, if that's your thing.

jenny lewisMaybe you didn't like "Moneymaker" from the last Rilo Kiley album, Under the Blacklight. One year and twenty two new Rilo/Jenny songs later, it's time to get over it.

Personally I liked that tune (especially the acoustic version the crafty Googler can find on the net). Sure it was virtually verse-free, but hell, a bunch of Dylan songs didn't even have refrains. If "Moneymaker," Jenny's "gone electric" song of sorts, wasn't your cup 'o tea because you thought it was a major label compromise, OK, I can see that. But to date, it's been her only compromise in nine years and seven consistently excellent albums.

For the artist with a work rate that makes Lil' Wayne look like a slouch -- contributing vocals and verses to Elvis Costello, the Postal Service and others while churning out an album a year -- the joy is in seeing what Jenny will do next.

(AP photos) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:26 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff

November 8, 2008


Somebody has a little too much time and talent on their hands. Although, as a fan of John Williams, I can't help but dig it.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:02 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff

November 7, 2008

The Abbey Burger Bistro replaces Sky Lounge

a burger and a beerLooks like the long, troubled Sky Lounge saga has finally come to a close.

Starting tonight, that space will be The Abbey Burger Bistro, an upscale burger joint run by former Ryleigh's Oyster manager Russell Miller.

The bar will have a scaled back, drinks-only soft opening tonight, and should start serving lunch and dinner Monday Nov. 17.

Miller spearheaded a pretty thorough renovation of the place, which included tearing out all the drywall to reveal the exposed brick walls, opening up a couple bricked-in windows, and installing a wood floor and bar upstairs.

"It turned out nice," Miller said. "It's got an older feel, with a little more character."

Miller has big plans for the drink list ...

It will eventually include six to eight beers on tap and 60 or 70 bottles. He wants the bottled selection to focus primarily on Belgian beers and others such as Merry Monks' Ale. Oh, and let's not forget Federal Hill favorites Miller Lite, Coors and Budweiser. Yum.

The Abbey will also stock about 30 wines, ranging from $6 a glass to $40-$50 a bottle.

Sun Food Empress Elizabeth Large will post all the details about The Abbey's burger selection on her blog, Dining@Large.

The Abbey is at 1041 Marshall St. The main number is 443-453-9698, but that will change in the next few days. I'll post the new number and the Web site, when they go into effect.

(Since The Abbey opens tonight, the best I could do for a photo was this one, of a burger and beer from Red Robin in Columbia. It's by Baltimore Sun photographer Elizabeth Malby.)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:23 PM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


We all know what AC is up to. How about the rest of ya?

I'm going out for a nightlife column tonight. Since I haven't done a nightlife column focusing on a Federal Hill establishment in more than a month, I think it's about time. Lookout Federal Hill, here I come!

Saturday is still up in the air.  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:09 AM | | Comments (8)

The scoop on Teavolve's special events

teavolve sunniAfter reading today's review of Teavolve's new location (1401 Aliceanna St.), co-owner Sunni Gilliam (pictured) sent me a nice e-mail with more information about the showcase series the cafe hosts.

Here's what she wrote: 

I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed the new space, we definitely poured a lot of love into it.  I'm also glad you had a chance to come out while we were having one of our special events.  
The event you attended was a listening party called "Ear Candy" (that's why there was candy on the table :). On an average we have a couple a month.

We have partnered with couple of event promoters Media Minds and Gyspy Soul to give underground artists a voice.  The performer Yahzarah went solo after being on tour with Erykah Badu as a back-up singer and is on tour promoting her second CD. ...

yahzarahWhen the artists are in the Baltimore area the promoters book them at Teavolve to do a CD listening party.

The event is from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. and their music plays during that time afterwhich, the performer does about two to three songs (a teaser in Yahzarah's case, she was wonderful, wasn't she?).
Gypsy Soul books the artists, provides the candy & the prizes that are given away & the promoters "Media Minds" conduct the interviews and provides the sound.

In her e-mail, Sunni also said to keep an eye out for an RSVP-only event tentatively scheduled for Nov. 17. She said she'd send me more information when it was confirmed.

Thanks for the info, Sunni.

(Baltimore Sun photo of Sunni by Amy Davis; photo of Yazarah by from her MySpace site.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

November 6, 2008

And the winner is ...

queen elizabeth IIQueen Colleen, who posted the 7,000th comment on Midnight Sun.

Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the queen herself. But I was able to find a photo of one of her close relatives, Queen Elizabeth II. For now, that will have to do.

QC, congratulations from all of us here at MS. Your constant, colorful comments have brightened our days.

In case anyone was wondering, QC's winning comment was: Yeah A.C. Will you still post as AC after the wedding? Congrats to you guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

QC was, of course, referring to MS commenter AC's marriage announcement. Here's a link. Congrats, AC!

As per standard contest procedure, QC, please e-mail me your mailing address. My email is

Thanks everyone for playing!

(AP photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:51 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff

The review: Teavolve 2

teavolveSeveral years months ago, the owners of the funky Fells Point tea shop Teavolve opened a second location in Harbor East.

I went there last week to try one of their special-tea-nis (Zink!) and see one of their free live shows. 

Has anybody been to the new Teavolve? It looks like co-owner Sunni Gilliam poured a lot of time, money and effort into the space, and her work paid off.

Here is a link to my review, which ran in today's You and Your Weekend section.  

(Photo by Amy Davis/Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:49 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

My favorite J-Roddy Walston video

I've heard stories about Baltimore rock band J-Roddy Walston and the Business covering "Fat Bottom Girls" by Queen. But until I came upon this video, I'd never seen it for myself.

When all the instruments come in, they overpower the camera, and everything gets distorted. But the first minute or so is pretty sweet. Check it out:

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Local music

November 5, 2008

Instant vintage

ropewalk tavernCan you believe Ropewalk Tavern (1209 S. Charles St.) is 13 years old?

It's true. The South Baltimore Republican-themed hangout is about to turn Lucky 13, and they're celebrating this birthday tomorrow. Most drinks are $2 and Miller Lites (the staple of any Baltimore liquid diet) are only a buck.

I asked that question because to me, Ropewalk seems much older than that.

Granted, sticking around for more than a dozen years in a neighborhood with such a high turnover rate is no small feat. But because of the turn-of-the-century decor and vintage atmosphere, Ropewalk feels like a classic pub with a few modern flourishes (namely flat screen TVs).

I'll bet if you stop a neighborhood resident on the street and ask them how long Ropewalk Tavern has been there, they'll say it's been open more than 13 years. 

This reminds me of one of my first nightlife columns ... 

crabby dick'sBack in January 2006, I wrote a piece about Crabby Dick's, which was slated to close later that month. Here's how the story started: 

Soon after Crabby Dick's opened on South Broadway in 2000, co-owner John Buchheit started catching one of the best compliments a restaurateur ever gets.

"I would sit on the bench out front and hear people say, `Oh yeah, Crabby Dick's -- they've been there forever,'" Buchheit said. "That's what you want to hear."

In a couple of years, Buchheit and business partner Dale Slotter built a Fells Point tourist staple.

After covering Baltimore bars and clubs for more than three years, this still rings true. If a bar or restaurant owner can become a neighborhood fixture, they have a much better chance of succeeding in the long run.

I'm trying to think of other bars and restaurants like Ropewalk and Crabby Dick's that have this same appeal, but none come to mind right away. You got any?

(Photo of Ropewalk Tavern by Sun photographer Gene Sweeney Jr. Photo of Crabby Dick's by Sun photographer Kim Hairston) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:32 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Approaching 7,000 comments

sam sessa's deskAnd a good morning to all of you, friends.

It is my pleasure -- my utmost delight -- to announce the impending arrival of the 7,000th comment on Midnight Sun.

Comment No. 7,000 will come soon, but I'm not saying exactly when.

But we should be far enough out that a stream of seven silly comments by one poster (Drew From Greektown, JTK, BA -- I'm thinking of you guys) will not win the prize.

Oh, the prize! I almost forgot. He whom-so-ever posteth the 7,000th comment shall receive one piece of flibbity-jibbity from the exalted desk of Sam Sessa.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:28 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Random stuff

Red Fish reopens

red fishSince there was some lively discussion earlier about this restaurant's closure*, I thought I would convey the news: Red Fish (845 S. Montford Ave.) has reopened.

That's all I know. If you've heard anything else, share it.

Oh, and, this is a photo of the old Red Fish. Not sure how many changes took place, but this is all I could rustle up.

*I'd love to link to this discussion, but to my knowledge (and frustration) you can't search comments on Midnight Sun. If anyone can find it, please dish. No pun intended.

(Photo by Monica Lopossay/Sun photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:40 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

November 4, 2008

Post-vote imbibations

election day drinkingMy dear friend and coworker Anica Butler has compiled a list of local bars and restaurants offering Election Day specials for people who have cast their vote.

We're talking places like The Ottobar, The Windup Space, Teavolve and Morton's The Steakhouse.

Dig it here.

(Photo by Doug Kapustin/Sun photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:24 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Drunken Orson Welles

My eyes are still watering from laughing so hard at this clip of what appears to be an extremely wasted Orson Welles.

He's trying to make a commercial selling Paul Masson champagne and failing miserably. I love the way he taps the bottle with his fingertips. But the funniest part of this video has got to be at 50 seconds when he starts with "Maah haa the French ..."


Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:15 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Random stuff

I post the picture, you write the caption

tony the cat
Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:53 AM | | Comments (25)
Categories: Random stuff

Ingrid Michaelson, reassessed

ingrid michaelsonFrom Sun writer Lindsey Citron:

Ingrid Michaelson is just "OK"

The New York City-based singer/songwriter is probably best known for her singles: "The Way I Am" provided catchy walking music on an Old Navy fall sweater commercial, "Little Romance" debuted on the Sex and the City movie soundtrack, and "Keep Breathing" was featured on the tear-jerking season finale of Grey’s Anatomy.

Originally, I posed the question of whether or not Ingrid was pushing to move forward in the music industry by challenging her newest release, Be OK.

I shortly thereafter realized that single "Be OK" was recorded for the "Stand Up to Cancer" association, and the album was inteded to be a continuation of the benefit project with a portion of proceeds going to "SU2C." ...

ingrid michaelsonWhile I of course applaud the generous efforts of Ingrid to give back to the community, I stand by my statement that Be OK is sloppy. Even Midnight Sun commenters were arguing about the logistics of albums versus projects.

A CD, in my opinion, should either be an album of new releases or a project of retouched covers and acoustics. Trying to pull off both by meshing the two together is risky, and just makes for a messy and disjointed compilation.

About the project: the single, "Be OK," hit iTunes on Sept. 2, and the album followed on Oct. 14. Just over half of the 11 tracks are new or unreleased, and the other five are a random assortment of covers and acoustic versions of her older songs (like "The Way I Am").

"The Way I Am" was compelling when it debuted, and even the second time on the Old Navy jingle. But the fact that she’s recycling her old hits on a new album makes me skeptical.

Even more disappointingly, the track "Be OK" was one of the weaker songs on the album. It lacks her vivid imagery, and the lyrics are nothing new. The rest of the new tracks only added to the trainwreck; "Lady in Spain" and "Oh What a Day," for example, were painfully boring and cliché.

You can’t build a song around a line, and you can’t force an album out of a single.

(Photos by Deborah Lopez) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Random stuff

November 3, 2008

Ryan Leslie makes "Addiction"

This is a semi-old video, but it still fascinates me. In it, a song is born from the mind of a prodigy R&B/hip-hop producer.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:34 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff

K-Swift's posthumous record release

k-swiftLooks as if the music of the late DJ K-Swift (pictured) will hit shelves next month, according to the local hip-hop blog Government Names.

Koch Entertainment, the country's largest independent record label, will release the Baltimore Club Queen's final mix CD Dec. 12, according to writer/blogger Al Shipley.

If you recall, K-Swift and the local record label Unruly Records was negotiating a deal with Koch at the time of her accidental death last July.

It's good to hear that K-Swift's work will get some national push.

I'm just sad she didn't live to see it.

(Handout photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:20 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music


Hello and good morning gang.

How is everyone feeling this morning, after our awesome Ravens brutally assaulted the Browns? I, for one, feel great. I was out of town this weekend, which means I don't have much to report here, unfortunately. But I hope you have some delightful Halloween tales to share. Any nominations for best costume?

Also, what is everybody doing tomorrow post-voting?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:32 AM | | Comments (8)
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