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December 31, 2008

Keep an eye out tonight

happy new year's eveI'm curious -- do you think the recession is going to hurt New Year's Eve parties at bars and clubs around town?

Do me a favor: If you're going to a bar tonight, see how packed it is and report back to me tomorrow.

I feel like less people are going out tonight and more (like Amie and me) are throwing dinner parties. 

(Sun archive photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:25 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Free taxis tonight

taxi!Here's the skinny, courtesy of Sun writer Brent Jones:

Yellow Cab is offering free rides home tonight to those who have too much to drink and live within the Baltimore area, according to co-sponsors AAA Mid-Atlantic and the Maryland Department of Transportation's State Highway Administration.

The Tipsy? Taxi! campaign is in its second year and provided more than 100 rides last New Year's Eve. Free taxi rides for up to $50 will be given from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. to those at least 21 years old who have been drinking at a restaurant or bar in Baltimore. Balances more than $50 are the passenger's responsibility.

Riders are to call 1-877-963-TAXI for the service. The program will also be available on St. Patrick's Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.

Thanks, Brent!

(Photo by Elizabeth Malby/Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:48 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Some New Year's Eve drink ideas

Is there really a special New Year's Eve drink (besides champagne, of course?)

The folks over at emailed me some intruiging drink ideas, and I thought I'd pass 'em along. If you've got a NYE specialty drink, feel free to share it, too. Here's three ...

North Pole Cocktail

1.0 dollop  Whipped Cream
1.0 each  White Eggs
1.0 oz.  Gin
0.5 oz.  Lemon juice
0.5 oz.  Maraschino

Shake all ingredients (except whipped cream) with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with whipped cream and serve.


1.0 oz  Cognac
1.0 oz  Cointreau
1.0 oz  Lemon juice
1.5 oz  Rum

Shake over ice and pour into cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel.

Steaming Hot Holiday Punch Recipe

3.0 cups  Apple Juice
1.5 teaspoons  ground Cinnamon
3  sticks Cinnamon
0.75 teaspoon  ground Cloves
6.0 cups  Cranberry juice
0.75 cup  Maple syrup
0.75 teaspoon  ground Nutmeg
3.0 cups  Orange juice
2.0 teaspoons  powdered Sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a very large heavy pan, except the cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil and turn to simmer for few minutes. You can put the ingredients in a crockpot after it has boiled and keep warm over low heat.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:33 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Drink-ology

December 30, 2008

Huckas goes up in smoke

huckasSorry for the pun, but I couldn't resist.

Midnight Sun spies report that Huckas, the three-year-old hybrid sports bar/hookah lounge on Boston Street, has closed.

The phone number has been disconnected, and passersby told me there is paper in the windows (the mark of death).

If I had to speculate on why it went under, I'd say the space was just too big and, just like the late Bedrock, it suffered from an identity crisis. Was it a sports bar? Or a hookah bar? It ended up being the worst of both worlds.

Not to mention the smoking ban, which threw co-owner Jay Sikander for a loop. I don't know if they ever really recovered from it.

But I do want to take a moment and tell you about the time we went a couple years ago ...

We walked to the back part of the downstairs, where a couple guys were smoking a hookah. Our conversation went something like this:

Them: Hey! Have you ever tried one of these bongs? They're crazy!

Us: Yes, actually, they're called hookahs --

Them: Dude. You gotta try one of these bongs. We'll get you one. Hey, can we get another bong? We want a bong for our friends here.

Us: Uhhh ... thanks.

(Photo by Christopher T. Assaf/Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:47 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 29, 2008

What's the deal with Lulu's Off Broadway?

I've heard that another bar is moving into the space on Aliceanna Street formerly occupied by Lulu's Off Broadway. Anybody know more about this?
Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:14 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Memories of the old Sonar

sonar baltimoreMidnight Sun reader Steven Dashiell sent me this short piece about the old Sonar. It hits upon some great points, and I wanted to share it with you:

About a week ago, one of my close friends was lamenting about Baltimore's sheer lack of bars for the "professional set." This doesn't mean a stodgy cigar bar or obnoxious frou-frou place where the average metrosexual sips an apple-tini.

No, he was talking about a bar where a 30-something could go and hang out, chill, and just be around like minded individuals and not be overrun by the hyper-energized 20 something set and the trolls that seem to leer after them. A place where good music doesn't always mean the newest pop sensation put to a dance beat. Where I can say the name "DJ Shadow" and the average person doesn't say "Who?"
When I first moved to Baltimore (and I wasn't in the professional set then, just some 20 something) there was a bar like this, and it was called Sonar. Not the Sonar of which exists downtown now. It was quietly situated in Canton Square.

It was a small place, with a dancefloor half the size of my living room, and a dim light setting. Plush couches and comfortable chairs were around with bowls filled with wasabi peas. The general sense was relaxed, and the music sounded more like club music that was inventive rather than replicative (I commonly mention XM Chill as the style of music that was played there) ...

sonar baltimoreI mention this place wistfully to my friend, who points out, hey, there's still a Sonar, so we should go there.

Yet, I knew from the warehouse setting that this was NOT the Sonar of my memory. This reminded me more of someone's attempt at Nation than a replication of that which was Sonar. Even the "comfy rooms" seemed out of place. 

It was like losing the love of your life, and staring at the zombie of that loved one as they amble through existence, sharing only the name of your lost love.
I do realize there are many that probably adore the "new" Sonar, but I am sadly not one. I, who don't have an entrepeneureal bone in my body, was seriously thinking of opening a bar that recreated the Sonar feel, just to have someplace the "professional set" can call home. But how long before even that place, a try to recreate Carthage, turns into something alien and unfamiliar? Not long, I suppose. Such would be true if I found another 30-something gem hidden somewhere; it couldn't last forever, and stay the same.
I will age, and join the 40-somethings and find myself content with home parties with wit and stories of days gone by, as my images of the old Sonar become more and more a distant memory. I hope that everyone finds a place like that, where it isn't about the beads of sweat on your brow, or the scribbled drunken numbers in your pocket, but the ability to sit somewhere and feel ... home.

(These two photos are the oldest ones I could find of Sonar. I'm not sure if this is of the old Sonar or not. They're from early 2004, and they were taken by Sun photographer Kenneth K. Lam)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:57 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

I'm back!

Back on top. Back in action. Back in the high life again.

How was everyone's weekend? Some friends and I went back to the Abbey Burger Bistro, which is much improved since my last visit. The service was great, the food came quickly and we had no complaints. This city really emptied out this past weekend, which was actually kind of nice.

Also, in case you missed it, I ranked my top seven New Year's Eve options in last Thursday's paper.

Here's a link.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:07 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 23, 2008

Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim

These two gents would be my guests on the opening night of Sessa's Supper Club. Imagine holding your date tight and gently swirling around the dance floor while Sinatra and Jobim serenaded you.


Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:26 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 22, 2008

My holiday nightlife wish

gardel'sWhat do Amie and I want for Christmas?

We want a supper club. We want a high-end restaurant where you can get dressed up, eat a meal and dance the night away while a live band plays.

I guess you would call something like that a supper club. They were from another time altogether -- namely the 1920s-50s.

I'm not sure why they fell out of favor. Maybe they were too expensive to operate. Or maybe they didn't change with the times.

The accompanying photo is of Gardel's Supper Club, which closed about a year ago, if memory serves. It was the closest you could get to one of those vintage establishments.

What do you wish Baltimore's nightlife scene had?

(Photo by Christopher T. Assaf/Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:01 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 21, 2008

A Sessa family tradition ...

For years and years (just about as far back as I can remember), my family gathers around the TV set at Christmas time and pops in this ancient video tape of A Garfield Christmas Special.

It used to come on TV every year, and at some point in the late '80s or early '90s, Dad video taped it. The commercials are hilarious! One of them is a brief infomercial about how you can't get AIDS from a toilet seat. Hee hee.

Anyhow, if you've never seen A Garfield Christmas Special, here it is ...

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:00 PM | | Comments (8)

December 20, 2008

Happy holidays from Amie, Fiona and me

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:07 AM | | Comments (3)

December 19, 2008

Blob's Park to reopen

blob's parkThis blurb about Blob's was today's paper. It was written by stellar Sun scribe Julie Scharper:

Blob's Park, a German beer garden in Jessup where generations gathered to dance the polka and enjoy traditional food and brews, will soon reopen under new management. The building's exterior and interior have been renovated, said new owner Max Eggrel, who hopes to open as soon as New Year's Eve.

The hall, which first opened in 1933, closed about a year ago after the owner, John Eggrel, Max Eggrel's older brother, decided to retire. About 1,000 condominiums and townhouses are planned for construction on the 268-acre parcel of land that surrounds Blob's Park in a partnership with the family and a developer.

Max Eggrel, the great-nephew of founder Max Blob, has leased the beer garden property from a family trust and hopes to run the beer garden for at least three years until the land is developed. Blob's Park is one of four sites in Anne Arundel County that could eligible to be built as a slots parlor, but Eggrel said there are currently no plans for slots.

Do you know what this means, gang? It means ...

come on gang! let's polka at blobs!IT'S POLKA TIME!
















(Photos by Sun photographers Gene Sweeney Jr. and Doug Kapustin)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:52 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

I hate plastic plates

ropewalk tavernWell, let me be a little more specific: I hate it when bars and restaurants serve food on plastic plates. It's equally despicable when bars and restaurants serve drinks in plastic cups.

Plastic cups and plates are only OK when it's past midnight and the kitchen/bar has run out of regular dishware. That's understandable.

But when Amie and I were in Ropewalk Tavern (1209 S. Charles St.) for dinner a couple nights ago, our server brought us little black plastic plates with our order of nachos. Our burgers came out on plastic plates too.

We asked our server what the deal was, and she didn't know ...

It wasn't late at night. And it wasn't a weekend -- it was a weeknight. And and and there weren't that many people there. Heck, half of the tables in the dining room (pictured) were empty. Argh!

If memory serves, this happened to me at the short-lived super club Palma.

It makes me clench my teeth and "Grrr."

I mean, if I want to eat and drink off plastic stuff, I'll go to K-Mart, get plastic stuff and eat and drink off it. Give. me. a. break.

(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:51 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Let's call it the Midnight Sun Shindig

patchen chugs a Jesus PigJD was right -- soirees were very 2008. That was pre-recession, pre-Tribune declaring bankruptcy. Pre-NUCLEAR MELTDOWN! AAAAAAAAH!


The more I think about it, the more I want to do it on a Thursday, not a Friday. I'm planning on mailing out Best of the Best of the Best awards and inviting bar owners to the shindig.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but most bar owners have to work on Friday nights.

I'm putting out leads right now, sniffing out the best spot for a shindig. Sounds like most of you want to do it at Brewer's Art. That's cool by me.

Are most of you cool with doing it on a Thursday in early February? Maybe, Feb. 5? Something like that?

(This is by far my favorite photo from the soiree. In it, Roommate Patchen chugs a Jesus Pig, a name someone came up with for when you drop a shot of bacon vodka into a glass of Resurrection. Shiver. It was taken by the irrepressible Courtney Block.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:27 AM | | Comments (7)

December 18, 2008

Wanna write something for Midnight Sun?

who wants some prune juice?Hey suckers -- I mean -- Midnight Sunners: How would you like to be immortalized?

How would you like your name to go down in history?

How would you like to do my job for me?

Well well well ... It just so happens that I'm going on vacation all next week. And I don't wanna feed the blog.

I want you to write to me -- I want you to share your thoughts, your dreams, your hopes your prayers -- as long as they're bar-related.

If they're any good, I'll publish them on Midnight Sun next week. You might even get some swag from my desk.

Humor me! Tickle my fancy! My email is

(Photo by Karl Merton Ferron/Sun photographer. In case you're curious, here is the original caption: Lauren Goodrich, 11 of Ellicott City  chugs prune juice in the "Wheel of Misfortune" after her spin of the wheel at Grace Community Church's Warehouse, a place where youngsters can meet)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:14 PM | | Comments (5)

U Really Got a Hold on Me

So great. Thanks, Crazy Joe, for sending me the link. I wonder if kids back then had any idea how awesome this was when they saw it on TV. Sesame Street was so far ahead of the game.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:29 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff

How about another soiree?

let's fill these glassesIt's been a long time since the last soiree (which was incredibly awesome).

It's been ... too long.

How does everyone feel about doing another one on a Friday in early February? What date works best? What bar works best?

I'm planning on awarding Midnight Sun's Best of the Best of the Best awards.

And since our last soiree was in Federal Hill, the next one should be in Fells Point, Canton or Hampden.

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:37 AM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Random stuff

December 17, 2008

Here's how to get Caleb and Saleem's album

caleb and saleemA few of you read my piece about the Baltimore Music Project and wanted to buy Caleb and Saleem's album.

Or maybe you heard about it at the last Stoop Storytelling event at the Meyerhoff on Monday evening.

Here is a link where you can get the album, titled Outgrown These Walls.

If you're not familiar with the project, here is the backstory: 

In early 2008, I had an outlandish idea: Take two Baltimore musicians who had never heard of each other, pair them up and force them to write four original songs in six weeks.

And the musicians I picked, Caleb Stine and Saleem Heggins, couldn't have come from more different backgrounds. Caleb was an Americana singer/songwriter; Saleem an MC who liked vintage hip-hop. But the friendship they forged and the songs they wrote in a matter of months are astounding.

The first time Caleb and Saleem performed this music live, audience members teared up. Together they have far exceeded the original challenge and created something truly compelling.

I can't recommend this album highly enough -- especially as a holiday gift. You can order it online or just drop by Atomic Books (3620 Falls Road, 410-662-4444) and pick one up. 

Support local music. Get a copy of Outgrown These Walls. 

(Photo by Michael Patrick O'Leary)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:13 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

Awesome is on the house

muggsy's mug houseWalked by the incredibly redundantly named Muggsy's Mug House the other day and couldn't help but notice this chalkboard out front.

Due to the crappy nature of cell phone photos, it's hard to read, but in the top right corner, it says "Tonight only, awesome is on the house."


Nice, guys.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:43 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

So I bought a bottle of Resurrection ...

resurrection bottleAnd then I drank it!

I picked mine up at Wells Liquors on York Road. It cost $10.99, which is a little steep considering it's a 750 milliliter bottle (two or three glasses worth, give or take). 

If you have a growler, it's cheaper to get that filled with Resurrection. 

But if you don't have a growler, this is your best bet. And it makes a great holiday present.

Oh, yes -- and it tastes divine.


(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:48 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 16, 2008

Why Bedrock closed

bedrock baltimoreAs suggested in yesterday's post, Bedrock did close from an identity crisis.

I spoke with manager Sam Chaney today, who said he butted heads with Bedrock's owners over the club's mission.

It started as a billiards hall. Then when that didn't catch, they opened it up to live music. But it's hard to be a live music club and keep a regular bar business at the same time.

When Chaney first took over running Bedrock, he tried to bring in students from the nearby medical and law schools, as well as local business employees. 

But you can't build up a post-work base if you're occasionally throwing concerts and charging a $10 cover ...

Bedrock was a little of both, which didn't work, Chaney said.

"If you're going to be a venue, commit to being a venue," Chaney said. "If you're going to be a bar, be a bar."

Chaney didn't think Bedrock would be open six months from now. But he didn't think the owners would pull the plug a week before Christmas.

"I've known in the back of my mind it was coming," he said. "I just didn't think it was coming yet."

Chaney's not sure what his next step will be, either.

"We'll see," he said. "The reality of being jobless with a mortgage is starting to set in."

(Photo by Elizabeth Malby/Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:17 PM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Pazo's new $5 happy hour drink menu

pazoThank you, recession!

Well, I'm not entirely sure that's the reason behind Pazo's new happy hour, but that's my guess.

Here's the deal: It's called Pazo Cinco (heh) and runs from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays -- starting Jan. 2.

During Pazo Cinco, a handful (pun!) of tapas dishes and martinis are only $5 each.

Five. Five dollar. Five dollar foot longs! Oh wait, that's another deal altogether.

I'll let Elizabeth Large write about the food menu. Here's the $5 drink list ...

Kaffir Lime & Thai Chili Martini: Kaffir Lime Vodka, Coconut Water, Chili & Lemongrass & Peanut infusion, Massenez Gingembre

Cava Royale: Cava, Peach Nectar, Fresh Lime Peel

White Chocolate & Macadamia Nut Martini: White Chocolate Liqueur, Macadamia Nut Liqueur, Biscotti Liqueur

Mondello Mojito: Rum, Fresh Lemon & Lime Juices, Crushed Fresh Spearmint

Gingerbread Martini: Massenez Gingembre, Voyant Liqueur, Patron XO Café

FYI -- Pazo is at 1425 Aliceanna St. Call 410-534-7296.

(Photo by Jed Kirschbaum/Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:10 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Michael Phelps to start "action" video game series

I gotta link to this piece I wrote for today's paper. It's about Michael Phelps' plans to start a video game franchise (kinda like Madden and Tony Hawk).The first installment is set for 2010.

Problem is, swimming games don't sell. The company that's working with Phelps on the deal, 505 Games, said there will be water in the game, but it will be a "pure action game." Uhh ... ok?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:16 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff

December 15, 2008

I need more information!

boomer's on the hillSometimes you just need to know a little more.

I felt that way about this banner, which was hung outside Boomer's on the Hill in South Baltimore.

It tells me what time the happy hour is, and what beers are featured. But it doesn't tell me anything about the special(s).

How much is a beer at happy hour at Boomer's? That's what I wanna know. Granted, not putting the price on the banner means the bar isn't locked into one set amount.

But that dollar figure is what's going to bring people in.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:23 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Bedrock is closed

bedrock baltimoreBedrock, the massive bar and lounge at 401 W. Baltimore St., is closed.

They're tearing the place apart today, I'm told.

Not sure why, though. I called manager Sam Chaney but haven't heard back from him.

Bedrock opened in mid-2006 as a billiards hall, then morphed into a live music club. If I had to guess, I'd say it tried to be too many things at once and never caught on with one particular crowd.

(Photo by Jed Kirschbaum/Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:15 PM | | Comments (29)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


dionysusDo people drink more when it's cold or hot outside?

I think I tend to drink more when it's cold and I'm hunkered down inside a warm bar. I had a couple Abita Turbo Dogs at Dionysus (pictured) Friday night (great stuff, but it sneaks up on you) and hosted two free live tapings at The 8x10 Saturday afternoon. Both went swimmingly.

I'll post more about them when the episodes air and some video is up.

Had a couple McHenrys at Ropewalk Saturday evening with the WTMD crew (we had the dining room almost to ourselves, which was nice).

What was everyone else up to?

(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:46 AM | | Comments (2)

Is the Whistling Oyster back open?

I have it on good authority that the Whistling Oyster in Fells Point is back open.

If you recall, this old school bar on South Broadway closed this past summer. If they are indeed open again, they've got a new number. I called the old one, and a woman said "You've got the wrong number, baby."

Hee hee.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:46 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 14, 2008

Wham City

Here's a link to an article I wrote for today's paper.

It centers on Wham City, a local arts and music collective who have helped put Baltimore's music scene on the map. But their efforts to boost the scene seem in limbo unless they can find a large-scale performance space to call their own.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:24 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music

December 12, 2008

A brief introduction

A couple posts ago, MS commenter Amy came up with a great idea: An introductory post for someone who has never read Midnight Sun before. Here goes ...

martini time!Hola, hi, hello, howdy!

My name's Sam Sessa, and if you're stumbling onto this blog for the very first time, count your lucky stars. You've just found your home for juicy Baltimore nightlife news, local music updates and totally random (but funny) stuff.

I started this blog waaaay back in mid-2007. I've been writing about music, nightlife and food for The Sun since the spring of 2005.

Before that, I was a starving college student, and before that, I was an Eastern Shore boy who farmed spinach, cut grass and docked boats. Fun!

As you can tell from the photo, my arms are crossed, which makes it hard to type. I'm actually giving myself a hug. I deserve it.

If you stick around long enough, you'll notice that I update Midnight Sun three or four times a day (less on the weekends, because, well, geez). So there's usually something new and at least semi-exciting to see.

Dig around a bit and you just might find something worth savoring. Also, be sure to make use of the search bar at the very bottom of the sidebar to the right. 


(Photo: Los Angeles Times)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:00 PM | | Comments (5)

Darkroom Productions goes to Hollywood

darkroom productionsDarkroom Productions (pictured), the acclaimed local hip-hop duo, are getting into the movie business.

In February, they will open a Los Angeles office, which will house DP's film department. Once there, they will begin filming a movie called Cult, which stars Giovanni Ribisi and Liana Mendoza. DP and Darin Roche will produce the film, which will be directed by Charles F. Kaufman.

According to its Web site, Cult is about a mother who takes revenge on a group of religious fanatics who killed her son. Heavy stuff, man.

In other DP news, be on the lookout for Teravolve, the new full-length from the Get 'Em Mamis in the next few months.

DP also scored the documentary Poet Pride, which centers on the ups and downs of Dunbar High basketball teams. You can watch the trailer here.

(Photo by J.M. Giordano)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:08 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music


At last ... Friday!

What's everybody up to this weekend?

Tomorrow I'm hosting two free concerts at The 8x10 -- Junestar and The Cheaters. The double-header starts at 1 p.m. You can sign up here.

In fact, you can make a day out of free live shows, and go to Metromix's Playlist Live at Sonar. They've got Gary B and the Notions, Steve Hefter and Friends and Friends of Friends, Squaaks, Soul Cannon and Junkrod Joe and the Cadillac Hearse.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:28 AM | | Comments (6)

December 11, 2008

I.M.P. to exclusively book Rams Head Live

rams head liveBethesda-based promoter I.M.P., which currently books the 9:30 Club, has become the sole in-house promoter for Rams Head Live, officials announced yesterday.

That's a lot of industry speak, which actually means that new people are deciding which shows come to one of Baltimore's biggest clubs.

A few years ago, I.M.P. had a relationship with Sonar, and frequently booked concerts there. That was back when Lonnie Fisher ran the place. After Fisher left Sonar, so did I.M.P.

I.M.P. brings some of the best possible concerts to the 9:30 Club. And I think they'll beef up Rams Head's lineup.

But there's a little more to this than meets the eye ...

Back around the time I.M.P. (which is run by Seth Hurwitz) started working with Sonar, Hurwitz didn't get along so well with Rams Head Live -- at least professionally. In a 2005 piece written by Sun reporter Stephen Kiehl, Rams Head Live owner Bill Muehlhauser accused Hurwitz of using his influence to keep high profile shows out of Baltimore.

But in the years since then, Rams Head Live showed that Baltimore could sustain a top tier club. Sonar's success and a revitalized Pier Six Pavilion further proved that case. When I revisited the topic in an article last year, Hurwitz agreed that Baltimore's music scene was on the rise.

"There's no question that without the addition of these venues, people would either just come back to Washington or skip Baltimore," Hurwitz said. "It's definitely helped Baltimore's case."

I'm glad Muehlhauser and Hurwitz are teaming up. I think only good things can come of it.

(Photo of Rams Head Live by Christopher T. Assaf/Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:16 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

The review: The Baltimore Music Project

Today's nightlife column is about something special.

This past summer, do you remember me talking about the Baltimore Music Project? It was this crazy idea I came up with to take two musicians who had never heard of each other and force them to write four songs in six weeks.

The results surpassed my wildest expectations. Caleb Stine and Saleem Heggins wrote a whole album's worth of material, which they're performing Saturday at The 8x10

Read about it here.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:05 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music

December 10, 2008

Weren't the late '80s/early '90s great?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:48 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Random stuff

X marks the spot

LuXLet's say you took over a club with two big metal Xs on the front of it.

Since you couldn't remove the Xs, you had to name the club something with an X in it, what would you settle on?

The newest incarnation of Club X Ultra Lounge/Xanadu is called LuX. If I understand correctly, that's Latin for "light."

Not bad, not bad.

But I have a few X names that might better suit the bill at this upscale club. I've even written some slogans to go along with them.

Let me show you ...

1) Club XanaX

It's great for the first hour. After that, I can't remember.

2) Club XeroX

Every other club copies off us.

3) Club Ex-LaX

"Gentle, dependable overnight relief."

Got any others for me?

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:46 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

I've been scooped!

Well, kind of.

Metromix has the skinny on Blue Grotto, a new restaurant and bar which opened in Towson.

I didn't know anything about it. But in my defense, Baltimore is the center of my sphere of knowledge, influence and power. Towson is just a little too far north for my taste.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 9, 2008

Bourbon Street scales back

bourbon streetBourbon Street, the semi-new mega club on Guilford Avenue, will no longer hold regular weekend hours in the near future, according to owner Jim Temple.

Temple said the club will be open for live music shows, such as the performance by local group Kristen and the Noise.

"We anticipate some major changes in the next few months," Temple wrote in an e-mail. "Until then we are going to book just local bands."

Thanks to MS commenter Eutaw Street Historian for the tip.


Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:32 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

See Junestar and the Cheaters for free

the cheatersStarting at 1 p.m. this Saturday, you can see two great local bands for free.

I'm hosting two back-to-back tapings of Baltimore Unsigned at The 8x10 (10 E. Cross St.) -- with folk/southern rock act Junestar and Annapolis rockers The Cheaters (pictured).

This is our last taping of the year, and promises to be one of our best. Both these groups have been around for a while and each has quite the following.

You can sign up here.

In case you've never been to one before, here's how it works: The band plays a few songs, I interview them a little bit, they play some more songs and I interview them some more. It's a lot of fun.

Hope to see you Saturday.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Queen Colleen's winnings

queen colleen's winningsLast month when Queen Colleen posted the 7,000th comment, I asked her to take a photo of the prize pack I sent her.

The Queen finally got one of her minions to take this photo, which she sent to me last week.

For the record, I did not send her the vodka. That was hers already. I sent her the CDs and some of the figurines.

So what are the prizes doing in Queen Colleen's freezer?

Well, she sent me this explanation ...

"sorry it tool me so long to get you these pics.  What had happened was the prize pack threw a party in my freezer and well....they went on a bit of a bender,  The wolf is MIA.  We think he went to rehab.  But Magic Screen and Conky joined in the fun.  Thanks for the cool gifts again."

You're welcome, Queen!

(Photo courtesy of QC)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:40 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff

December 8, 2008

LuX to replace Xanadu

LuXHere's a big shocker: There's a new high-end club coming to 10 S. Calvert St.!

It's called Lux. Here is the club's MySpace site.

No word on exactly when LuX will open, though they are accepting reservations for a New Year's Eve party.

But who knows how long LuX will last? It's changed hands a lot in the past couple years.

Club X Ultra Lounge opened there in late 2005, which was replaced by a new Club X Ultra Lounge, which was replaced by Xanadu which is going to be replaced by LuX ...

You get the picture.

Notice how each of these clubs has an X in the name. After Club X Ultra Lounge closed, the new owners never bothered to take down the big metal Xs on the front of the building. I guess they figured it's easier to start a new club with the letter X in its name than to trash the metal signs. Heh.

But I just wonder -- what makes people so willing to keep sinking money into this particular spot? I mean, look at its track record!

Well, I wish LuX the best. But I can't help but be a little hestitant about its chances -- given the building's history.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:09 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


new york cityGood morning, gang!

Everybody have a good weekend? Not if you're a Redskins fan (zink!).

I spent the weekend in New York City (pictured) working on some music with an old buddy. We also went out to a couple bars. My favorite was the Dram Shop in Brooklyn. They played a bunch of songs from Radiohead's In Rainbows, the hamburgers were tasty and the beer cold and local. As the English would say, Dram Shop ticked all the boxes.

What were you up to?

(Photo from Sun archives)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:54 AM | | Comments (6)

9:30 Club upgrades sound system

seth hurwitzSeth Hurwitz (pictured) just made a good thing better. 

It's no secret: The 9:30 Club is one of the country's best live music clubs. It has some of the best sightlines, gets some of the best shows and sounds better than most clubs I've been in.

But that wasn't enough for Hurwitz, one of the club's co-owners. He recently oversaw a massive overhaul of the club's sound system, which included 20 new speakers and new mixing equipment.

"My production people found the best in the world and now we have it here at the 9:30 Club," Hurwitz said in a statement.

"I could have bought a small island for the same price -- they made sure I purchased the sound system instead."

I haven't been to the club since they made the upgrade, but I hear it sounds something like this.

(Photo by Monica Lopossay/Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:30 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

December 7, 2008


birthday cakeI turn 25 years old.

Look, Ma! I made it halfway to 50! 

And I'm celebrating with this photo of a cake.


(Photo from Sun archives) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:35 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Random stuff

December 5, 2008

Looney's Pub to open Columbia branch

looney's northLooney's Pub, the Canton Square corner bar, will open a satellite location in the Maple Lawn development just outside of Columbia, according to an e-mail sent out by owner William Larney.

The new Looney's -- called Looney's South -- will be a whopping 11,000 square feet. More details will follow in the coming weeks.

Looney's opened a sister location called Looney's North (pictured) in Bel Air a couple years ago.

What's next, Larney? Looney's West in Mt. Airy?

(Photo of Looney's North in Bel Air by Lloyd Fox/Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:13 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

My first Washington Monument lighting

washington monumentEver been to the annual Washington Monument lighting?

Last night was my first time. And in classic Baltimore fashion, it was quite the ordeal.

This year, they had some kind of special fireworks rig, which meant they had to completely cordon off Charles Street. 

If you're not familiar with the streets, this is how it works: Mount Vernon Place is this beautiful park, divided up into four blocks -- north, south, east and west. It looks like a cross on a map. And the Washington Monument is smack in the middle.

All the festivities (vendor booths, a stage with live performances, etc.) took place on the west square of the park. Amie and I thought we could walk up to the festivities from any direction. Silly us.

Turns out, you could only walk up to it from the west side. They had every other direction blocked off.

After spending 15 minutes figuring this out (the uniformed city official we talked to wasn't too helpful), we got around to the stage side -- just in time for the lighting.

It was classic Baltimore ...

There was some kind of choir on stage, but for some reason, nothing was coming through the PA. Maybe the mikes were malfunctioning, or they just weren't loud enough. But we couldn't hear anything.

washington monument lightingSide note: I also heard that the WBAL TV crew set up this giant tent down by the stage which blocked a bunch of people's views. Anything for the perfect shot, right guys?

When the fireworks started, it was hard not to laugh at the sexual innuendo of it all. I mean, look at the photos! This has to be Baltimore's most lude lewd holiday tradition.

And, in classic Baltimore fashion, half the lights draped from the monument went out seconds after they were lit. Hee hee. And when a couple fireworks boomed particularly loud, somebody behind us said "Don't worry, we're not in West Baltimore."

Now, I don't mean to sound like a jaded snarky journalist -- once we got to the right square, we had a great time. The sights (parents and children sipping hot chocolate) and smells (roasted peanuts, kettle corn and cigarette smoke) all came together to create a crisp, exciting holiday evening.

Yes, the foot traffic situation was way convoluted and yes, half the lights went out, but gosh darnit we're not going to let that stop us celebrate the holiday season. And that's Baltimore spirit for ya.

Now that the Washington Monument is lit, it's official: Happy Holidays, gang.

Click here for more photos of last night's fesitivities and past Washington Monument lightings

(Photos by Monica Lopossay/Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:31 AM | | Comments (24)
Categories: Random stuff


Tonight, I leave for New York City.

New York City. The Big Apple. The Big Cheese. Sin City.

Wait a minute, isn't Sin City Las Vegas? Hmm ... Well, my point is, I' m not gonna be around Baltimore this weekend. If I were, I'd probably go to the Repeal Day celebrations at Kooper's tonight. I went to the Washington Monument Lighting last night. More on that later.

Big plans this weekend, gang? 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:09 AM | | Comments (11)

December 4, 2008

The bathroom post

art?As you may have noticed, I have a thing about bathrooms.

I don't know exactly why, but for some reason, I tend to mention a bar or club's bathrooms in most of my reviews. It seems important to me while I'm writing the review, I guess.

When I plug my name into The Baltimore Sun's archive search mechanism, it tells me I've mentioned the word "bathroom" 17 times in 136 nightlife columns. That's a lot of times.

But the more I think about it, the more I decide that bathrooms are at least quasi-important. I mean, if you stay at a bar long enough, you're probably going to visit the bathroom ...

And though you're probably not going to go to a bar just because it has awesome bathrooms with XLerator hand dryers, it's always nice to know that they exist, methinks.

So I write about them. And some of you give me crap for it. But I don't care.

I'm hoping that somewhere along the line, someone who is reading my nightlife columns and/or this blog will be glad that I mentioned Ropewalk Tavern's nice new bathrooms -- or that you share a communal sink at the new Abbey Burger Bistro.

Maybe I'm hoping in vain. But maybe -- just maybe -- someone out there feels the same way I do. 

(Photo from Sun archives) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:03 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

My first concert

goo goo dollsAhh, high school. Fast cars, raging hormones and other such coming-of-age cliches.

I didn't see my first real concert until high school. I don't know what your first concert was, but I'll bet it was something silly. Mine was pretty silly.

I was in 9th or 10th grade when I bought tickets to see the Goo Goo Dolls.

Fastball (remember them?) opened the show, which was in an auditorium at a college in Delaware (can't remember which one, but the whole state is best summed up in this short video clip).

This was the late '90s, right after the Goo Goo Dolls released Dizzy Up the Girl, and they were riding high on the hog.

For a long time, I was ashamed to admit that the Goo Goo Dolls was my first show. I had friends whose first concerts were cool bands like Green Day.

But now I'm not bashful about it ...

The Goo Goo Dolls were pretty good live, if I remember correctly. I mean, they pretty much played the album tracks verbatim. There was one soccer mom for every two suburban teenagers in the crowd. Everybody loved the Goo Goo Dolls, right?


The Goo Goo Dolls was one of those bands that released hits that sounded nothing like any of its previous material. So when the band played the hits, everybody sang along. But when the band played older punky hard rock stuff everybody went to the bathroom. Kind of like Sugar Ray (remember them?).

I remember leaving the show on cloud nine. I think that feeling is part of why I write about music now.

Do you remember your first show?

(Photo of the Goo Goo Dolls in the late '90s by the AP)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:57 AM | | Comments (52)
Categories: Local music, Random stuff

Guerrilla Gay Bar Baltimore

Today's nightlife column takes a look at a new monthly happy hour for gays called Guerrilla Gay Bar.

It's a pretty interesting topic -- they don't announce where they're going until a day or two beforehand. Guerrilla Gay Bar is pretty popular in other cities. For this piece I talked to Mark Yost, who founded the Baltimore chapter.

Check it.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:11 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 3, 2008

A brief history of "Zink!"

One of the trickiest tasks about running a blog like Midnight Sun is keeping it open and inviting enough so the average reader can understand what's going on while also occasionally tossing out an inside joke for the regulars.

"Zink!" is one such inside joke. And if you're semi-new to Midnight Sun, you're probably wondering what the heck it means. Is it a typo? Did he mean "Zing?"

Yes ... kind of. Here's the skinny ... 

Jason Zink, who owns the South Baltimore bar No Idea, is a frequent commenter on Midnight Sun. He normally posts under the name Jason.

Midnight Sun has its share of sarcastic jokesters, but Jason isn't one of them. He has weighed in about serious bar and neighborhood issues in the past, and provided some interesting insights.

So from time to time, when I crack one of my incredibly corny puns, I follow up with Jason's last name. Instead of saying "Zing," I say "Zink!" I did a brief search through Midnight Sun, and it looks like the first time I used Zink in a post was back in October on the Pun of the Day.

I've never asked Jason how he feels about me using his last name as a period to my horrible puns, but I'm sure he doesn't mind.

Now you know the history of Zink. And knowing is half the battle. 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:06 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff

Baltimore roller boys thwart break-in at Dougherty's Pub

harm city homicideKnock knock ...

It was midnight Monday Nov. 17, and a few members of the Harm City Homicide male roller derby team were drinking at Dougherty's Pub (223 W. Chase St.) in Mount Vernon. They were pretty much alone in the place, except for the waitress and the bartender.

Then the waitress comes running out of the back of Dougherty's and tells them someone is trying to break into the kitchen, recalls Tracy Williams (pictured, bottom center).

The boys ran into the kitchen, and sure enough, they heard a loud, persistent banging on the back door. There was a man on the other side trying to push and pry it open. And he wouldn't stop -- even though he knew there were people holding it shut, Williams said ...

So a couple members of the derby crew sat down in front of the door while someone called the police, he said.

"I was never quite clear whether the guy was really drunk or crazy or what, but he was very insistent that he had to come through that door," he said.

dougherty's pub

"Basically we were like, 'No, no that's not really the way this is going to be resolved. You need to calm down and leave.'

But he just kept going at the door. He didn't seem to register that the door wasn't moving anymore. It was just one guy and there were four of us holding it back there wasn't really anything happening." 

After about five or 10 minutes, the police showed up and arrested the man, Williams said.

The bartender thanked the derby boys for their assistance and treated them to a few complimentary rounds.

I heard a rumor that due to the free drinks, a couple of the guys called in sick to work the next day. So I asked Williams about that.

"As far as I know, that is true," he said.


(Photos of Harm City Homicide crew and Dougherty's Pub by Gene Sweeney Jr./Sun photographer) 
Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:17 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

So how was the Silo Point wine tasting?

A week or two back, I blogged about this wine tasting on the 19th floor of the new Silo Point complex. A few MS commenters said they bought tickets and were planning to go to the tasting, which happened last night.

Well now I'm curious: How was it? Were the wines, view and company worth the $15 price tag?   


Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:06 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 2, 2008

A new video from Beach House

The Baltimore-based ambient pop duo Beach House just released a video for their new single "Used to Be" on

It's got some striking shots, like a church with the crucifix in a bent, crumbling chimney. At one point, you peer through a busted window and see an American flag. There's also some palpable tension between band members Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand. I like it a lot better than their video for "Gila."

Here is the "Used to Be" video ...

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:48 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music

Hey, is this your beer? Why, yes, it's mine. See?

my beerI like silly stuff like these plastic beer-marking bands.

They're like Lance Armstrong's Livestrong bracelets, but not for charity.

And they say "Mine." Like those sea gulls from Finding Nemo. I like that, too.

As a rule of thumb, when someone gives me a gift like this, I use it once and then slowly lose all of the thingys.

But hey, these only cost like $10 or something. Although $10 goes a long way in a recession.

I didn't find these beer markers myself. Liz over at Consuming Interests did.

Heck, there's a whole photo gallery with cheap stuff like this on our site. Here's a link.

You're welcome. 


Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:14 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Drink-ology

Prohibition ended 75 years ago this Friday ...

h.l. menckenAnd I wanna know what Baltimore bars are doing to celebrate it.

MS poster BA brought this important date to my attention, and we both think the Owl Bar (which was a speakeasy at some point) should do something. So should Speakeasy in Canton (which is a speakeasy now ... zink!).

Some kind of special on bathtub gin, maybe?

Or are there Prohibition anniversary parties going on that I don't know about?

(H.L. Mencken and his buds celebrate the end of Prohibition 75 years ago with some 3.2 percent alcohol beer. Photo from Baltimore Sun archives.) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:35 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

All I want for Christmas

my two front teeth

(Photo from this site

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff

December 1, 2008

Back to the Laughing Pint

the laughing pintShortly after the Laughing Pint opened two years ago at 3531 Gough St., I wrote this:

It’s really tough to drastically change a bar without driving off its old clientele. When Shannon Cassidy bought an old Highlandtown corner pub called Casey’s, she wanted to find that middle ground.

Well, I went back to the Laughing Pint last weekend to see how Cassidy’s corner bar was doing.

And I’m happy to report that the Laughing Pint is flourishing ...

It now has a kitchen, new furnishings and about a dozen delicious beers on tap. I had a scrumptious Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale and my friend Joe had a Guinness.

Cassidy was behind the bar serving drinks the Friday night we went. She said business has grown steadily over the past couple years. They’ve kept the local base and also attracted some newer neighborhood residents.

I’m not surprised.

Cassidy knows how to run a bar, and instantly makes you feel right at home.

(Photo courtesy of

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:38 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

"Infused" vodka

m-m-m-martini!What exactly does "infused" mean?

I always thought infused meant chemically combining two different substances. Example: Infusing an anemic person with fresh blood. See what I mean?

All around the city, bars offer infused drinks. Example: The Stalking Horse (26 E. Cross St.) has a cotton candy-infused martini. Sounds fancy, doesn't it?  

Well, I hear that if you go to the Stalking Horse and order a cotton candy-infused martini, they put a tuft of cotton candy in a martini glass and dump vodka on it. Voila!

But that's really not fancy at all ... 

I thought vodka infused with cotton candy meant they had somehow let the cotton candy marinate in the vodka days ahead of time, or something like that. I mean, Bacardi Limon is rum infused with citrus.

Then I looked up "infused" on This is what it said:

   /ɪnˈfyuz/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [in-fyooz] Show IPA Pronunciation
verb, -fused, -fus⋅ing.
–verb (used with object)
1.     to introduce, as if by pouring; cause to penetrate; instill (usually fol. by into): The energetic new principal infused new life into the school.
2.     to imbue or inspire (usually fol. by with): The new coach infused the team with enthusiasm.
3.     to steep or soak (leaves, bark, roots, etc.) in a liquid so as to extract the soluble properties or ingredients.
4.     Obsolete. to pour in.

Now I read the first definition and was like, 'Oh man, I was wrong. You can pour vodka on cotton candy and call it infused.'

But then I read the fourth definition, and it says pouring is an obsolete definition of infused.

So which one is it? Is it open for interpretation?

(Photo of a martini by the South Florida Sun-Sentinal) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:56 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

2008's best bar openings and closings?

I'm thinking about doing a nightlife column on this year's best bar openings and closings. I might even split it into a couple different categories. I might do best revamp, best new drink, etc.

Got any suggestions for best new bar? How about the bar you miss the most?
Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:19 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


knotty pineAhem.

Since this is a special holiday edition of Whatchadothisweekend, I'm expecting some pretty long lists here, people. I've got a pretty considerable list myself.

This past weekend I went to the Knotty Pine out in East Baltimore (which is reopen after catching fire earlier this year), as well as the Laughing Pint and the Idle Hour.

I also tried some of the Festivus Ale at Brewer's Art (yum) and hit up Tapabar (not bad) in Little Italy.

How was your weekend?

(Photo of the Knotty Pine pre-fire by Kenneth K. Lam/Sun photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:28 AM | | Comments (9)
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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

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

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