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February 28, 2009

What bars have poker nights?

boomersI walked by Boomer's on the Hill (1749 Belt St., pictured) the other night, and saw a sign advertising a weekly Texas Hold 'Em poker night.

It's on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. And it's free, which makes it legal. At least that's how I understand it.

Got me thinking: Which bars around town have regular poker nights?

I went to a poker night at Maggie Moore's (before it became Lucy's, 21 N. Eutaw St.). It was a nice change of pace, but not nearly as fun as gambling for real money -- even pennies or quarters.

I think there is just something about playing with real money of any type that gives it an edge.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:21 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 27, 2009

A gentle reminder

The Midnight Sun shindig is 6 p.m. next Thursday at the Brewer's Art.



Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:40 PM | | Comments (6)

Tighten Up! dance party moves to Sonar tonight

sonar baltimorePablo Fiasco, the longtime host of a popular monthly soul, ska, funk and reggae dance party near Hollins Market, has moved the event to Sonar (407 E. Saratoga St.).

The party starts at 9 p.m. and costs $5.

I'm being a little vague here because certain members of the city's liquor board read this blog, and I don't want to get anybody in trouble.

But for years, Fiasco threw some pretty crazy parties at a semi-underground venue with the initials L.H. ...

These throwdowns are always on the last Friday of the month, which is tonight. So instead of heading to the aforementioned semi-underground venue, go to Sonar instead. It's in the main stage, which is a pretty big space for a smaller dance party, but whatever.

I'm also a little surprised that Sonar's main stage was free on a Friday night, but whatever. I might swing by tonight to check it out and support Fiasco. He's put a lot of effort into keeping this dance party alive.

"I love my city, and I ain't going to let it die," Fiasco said. "We'll start in one corner, and however big it gets is however big it gets."

(Photo of Sonar from Sun archives)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:58 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music


Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:32 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Random stuff

Who would win in a fight: the Snuggie or the Slanket?

slanketUntil I checked my e-mail this morning, I'd never heard of the Slanket. But apparently, it was quite the item for the (few) people who got it.

Here's an e-mail from Midnight Sun reader Melina:

I am thrilled about your recent posts on the Snuggie. My friend Nick bought a Slanket over a year ago, after he got his first job out of college ($50 + shipping is pretty steep for a blanket in college).

Ever since I saw his Slanket, which was before the Snuggie craze, my best friend and I wanted one. A year later, as soon as I got my first job out of college, I bought a Slanket and my best friend and her sister got them for Christmas.

Some people think we're crazy, but blankets with sleeves are where it's at! I'm actually wearing mine right now! ...

Attached is a picture of my best friend, Lauren, and I in our Slankets. I showed Lauren your posts and she loved them as well, but she lives in New York and cannot attend the Snuggie Crawl.

Her 23rd Birthday is Saturday (I jokingly told her that the crawl is in honor of her bday), and I'm sad that I can't be with her on her birthday. Could you possibly post this picture of us in our Slankets? It would really mean a lot to me, and would be an extra special birthday present to her.
Melina (pictured on left, Lauren the bday girl on right)
PS- Have you heard about the nuddle?

Melina, no, I haven't heard of the nuddle, and I'm not sure I want to. Hee hee. Happy birthday, Lauren!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:20 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff

February 26, 2009

Snuggie photo gallery

The kind folks at have also put up a photo gallery. You can submit your own photos of you and your loved ones in Snuggies, and see photos of others in the wrap-around-sleeved blankets.

Dig it.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:29 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff

Snuggies pub crawl Saturday in South Baltimore


This Saturday, the folks at Captain Larry's, (601 E. Fort Ave.) are organizing a Snuggies Pub Crawl, which runs from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and hits about a dozen South Baltimore bars.

Don't know what a Snuggie is? Hint: I'm wearing one in this photo.

Still confused? Read this.

Here is the route for the pub crawl, complete with Snuggies specials:

1. Captain Larry s - $2 Yeungling & Miller Lite Drafts
2. Rafters - $2 Yeungling & Bud Lite Drafts
3. Hogans Alley
4. Idle Hour
5. Don't Know - $2 Miller Lite bottles & drafts & free lite buffet
6. Southside
7. Little Havana's
8. The Tavern on Key Hwy
9. Sly Fox
10. Lime
11. Paul's
12. End at Captain Larry's ...

The kids at Captain Larry's are also awarding prizes to the people who wear their Snuggies the most interesting way. Hmm.

Either way, this sounds like fun. Unless you're a smoker. Who knows just how flammable these things are? I'll bet if somebody steps outside for a smoke and doesn't flick the cigarette butt far enough, he/she would flare up like a Christmas tree in February.

For more info on the pub crawl, go here.

(Sun photo by Jed Kirschbaum)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:15 PM | | Comments (33)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

La Marsa is under new management

la marsa baltimoreOr at least that's what the sign out front says.

Are you familiar with La Marsa (706 S. Broadway)? As far as I know, it's the only hookah bar in Fells Point. It opened in March 2006, offering different kinds of shisha (flavored tobacco) and small plates.

Not sure who the new management is, though.

Raouf Yousfi was the owner back when I reviewed it ...

I just don't know if La Marsa ever caught on. In passing, I never saw many people in La Marsa.

Anybody know more about this? 

From the signs on the window, it looks like they're offering tarot card readings, as well as a happy hour from 5 p.m.-8 p.m.

(Photo by me)


Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:06 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The review: Billabong Bar

Here is a link to my review of Billabong Bar, the new Australian-themed pub in Federal Hill.

I'm going to try and get a photo on my way to work, so I can show you what it looks like.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:07 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 25, 2009

Concert review: George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at Rams Head Live

george clinton, parliament funkadelic, rams head live, baltimoreMeant to post this earlier, but this week's been so  wild and crazy, I haven't had the time to write about it.

This past Saturday, my pal Evan and I went to see George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at Rams Head Live.

As always, it was half concert and half circus. And as always, they brought the funk. A three-hour set of funk, no less.

Clinton and his posse played all their hits ("Flashlight," "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)," "Maggot Brain" and more). The crowd was incredibly diverse, too ...

I looked around and saw people from all walks of life. The club was pretty full, and my only complaint was the ticket price ($40+). But Clinton's got to pay for all of his crew, so I understand it. 

Clinton's voice is shot from years of singing and ... whatnot ... but his backing singers are so good you barely notice it. I mean, Clinton doesn't really need to be there -- I'm sure this show could run on autopilot. But he is the ringleader. The funkadeer, if you will.

Great show, all around. Anybody else see 'em?

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:42 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Concert reviews

Bad Decisions makes a funny commercial

Do you know how hard it is not to make a terrible pun whenever I write about Bad Decisions (1928 Fleet St.)?

It's hard. 

I will resist the urge to play off the Fells Point bar's name, and instead show you this micro-commercial they made. It's hilarious ...

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Do people cruise O'Donnell Square?

Back when I was a young pup growing up on the Eastern Shore, there wasn't much to do at night.

In the whole county, there was (and still is) only one movie theater -- the Chester 5. This movie theater, while small and dinky, was the closest one to my house. It was 18 miles away.

The only thing a teenager could (legally) go out and do in Kent County was see a movie.

So as you can imagine, I saw pretty much every movie that came out while I was in high school ...

The Chester 5 sat in this shopping plaza. On Friday and Saturday nights, every teenager who didn't have anything else to do would either see a movie or hang out in the plaza.

The rednecks would pull up their pickup trucks and shoot the breeze with each other. And pimply young teenage boys used to drive their cars in a circle around the plaza, revving their engines and blasting their music. Since I had a muscle car (exactly like this one) and I looked just like this, I was one of them.

The only similar place I can think of in Baltimore where people might do this is O'Donnell Square. But I'm sure there are more places where this goes on.

Do you know of any? 

I'm just asking for curiosity's sake. I'm not going to cruise the plaza any more. Those days are behind me. But I must confess -- every once in a while, I'm in Chestertown on a Friday or Saturday night, and I still get the urge to see who's hanging out there.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 24, 2009

Charm City Devils to perform with ZZ Top and Buckcherry at Preakness

john allen, charm city devilsBaltimore-based rock group Charm City Devils will perform with Buckcherry and ZZ Top at this year's Preakness celebration.

Remember these guys from the video?

I wonder if they were chosen because of the choice quotes I gave about them.*

"We are so excited to be part of such an extraordinary event,” said John Allen (pictured), front man for the group, in a release ...

"To share the stage with rock legends ZZ Top and the incredible Buckcherry is an honor for us. We hope to make our city of Baltimore and the Maryland Jockey Club proud for having us open 2009's InfieldFEST!"

I'm not sure this lineup is enough to make up for the fact that you can't bring your own beer, wine or water this year

*Since it's sometimes hard to detect sarcasm in writing, I'd just like to say, 'I'm being sarcastic here.'


Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:48 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Local music

The Red House Tavern needs your help

redhouse tavern baltimoreGot this email this morning. It's a call to action for local musicians and local music lovers. Read it, and if you want to help, email me at

Here's the email:


My name is Dana Foster and I am writing to you on behalf of my father, John Harris.  John has been the owner of The Red House Tavern (2239 Essex St., 410-522-3220) for the last four years.

As a small business owner and music lover he has done his best to provide quality entertainment to Baltimore at no charge while keeping his drink prices reasonable. 

Over the last year business has been getting progressively worse and none of our attempts to boost business have been working.  It seems now that The Red House may have to close its doors very soon.

I am writing to you looking for help ... 

I was hoping that you would have some connections on the local music scene and would maybe be interested in helping me set up a charity show to raise money to keep The Red House open. 

I understand that you are very busy and I would be more than willing to work out all of the details and set up the show.  Any help you could lend would be greatly appreciated.

The Red House is a small, family run operation, dedicated to being a Baltimore club for Baltimore people who love music.  Please help us keep it open.

Thank you for your time,
Dana Foster

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:12 PM | | Comments (40)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

CD review: No Line on the Horizon by U2

bono, u2, no line on the horizonIf you're a U2 fan, you might read several different reviews of the new album, No Line on the Horizon. But I'll bet none of those other reviews were written in less than an hour.


(The "bam" is the link).

Bono, Edge and crew have put together a pretty adventurous album. It's nowhere near as good as their classic albums from the '80s, but I like it better than the last one, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

I was just surprised they released "Get on Your Boots" as a single. It stinks ...

There are better tracks to release, such as "Magnificent" or the title track.

I read some reviews from papers and blogs in the U.K., and they couldn't stop fawning over No Line on the Horizon. Gimme a break. Yes, listening to this album is refreshing, considering how focused and almost formulaic How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb was. But it's not the second coming of the Joshua Tree.

Either way, I think I could really get used to this kind of speed-reviewing. Aside from the pains in my chest (which I chalk up to stress), I think it helped me pick an opinion and go with it. There's a certain ... clarity to it. It's raw. It's unfiltered.

I spoke this morning with a buddy of mine who edits a music magazine, and he said he likes to drive at twice the speed limit while blasting whatever album he's reviewing and yelling his review into a tape recorder. He's my hero.

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:32 AM | | Comments (24)

What's the deal with Reefers?

reefers balitmoreAnd no, I'm not talking about the drug or the movie about the drug.

I'm talking about the Fells Point bar, at 711 S. Broadway. 

I've seen it open in years past. And it looks to me like a case of an owner who is looking for a buyer but doesn't want the liquor license to expire.

So he/she opens the place once every month or so to keep the license active.

Anybody know more about it?

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:33 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

"Drinking out of season"

ace in the hole kirk douglasLast year, roommate Patchen started showing film noirs on a semi-regular basis. He calls it Sin Sundays. Being a bad roommate, I haven't been to many of them, but I caught a great one the other night.

It's called Ace in the Hole, and it's about ... on second thought, if you like Kirk Douglas, newspapermen and film noirs, rent it.

For more about it, click here.

There are a few great lines in the film, but one stuck out. It comes early on, when Kirk Douglas is trying to convince a newspaper publisher to hire him.

Douglas says he's been fired from several other papers, and the publisher asks why ...

"Drinking out of season," Douglas says.

I love it! 

We paused the movie and one of the guys looked up the phrase on Google. He didn't find much though. I think it means having a glass of winter lager in the summertime, or something to that effect. 

Either way, I love the line, and want to see how many ways I can incorporate it -- or mutations of it -- into my daily routine. Suggestions are always appreciated.

(Handout photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 23, 2009

WTMD launches Baltimore Channel

baltimoreunsigned.jpgThe coolest radio station in town, 89.7 WTMD-FM, just got a little more awesome. Awesomer? Is that a word?

WTMD launched a Baltimore Channel, which can be heard if you have an HD radio. But since not too many people have HD radios, WTMD is also streaming the Baltimore Channel online for free.

Click here for the free online stream.

The Baltimore Channel is all local music, all the time. There are interviews and live performances with some of the area's best artists, as well as plenty of tracks.

As the host of Baltimore Unsigned (and an employee of WTMD), I am pretty pumped about this little experiment. 

Some of the interviews go back a year or two.

Here's a funny way how you can tell how old they are ...

When I first started hosting Baltimore Unsigned, I was nervous about sounding nervous on the air. So I overcompensated by forcing myself to chill out.

But instead of sounding calm and collected, I sound like I've eaten a handful of Quaaludes or Xanax. This went on for a few months, before I finally started to get the hang of things.

I still cringe when I go back and listen to those early interviews. Hee-hee.

I think one of the most exciting things about the Baltimore Channel and Baltimore Unsigned is that we're covering this city's music scene at a really exciting time. Baltimore musicians are getting so much attention from the national and international press, and we're able to showcase many of these artists. I'm talking about everything from rock to folk to hip-hop to instrumental drum and bass.

So click on the link and listen to the Baltimore Channel. I think you'll be surprised at the quality of music coming out of Baltimore. I am.

(Sun photo of the band Pale Stars performing on Baltimore Unsigned by Gene Sweeney Jr.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:35 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local music

Changes at Coburn's Tavern

photo.jpgAs some of you may have read, there are some changes under way at Coburn's (2921 O'Donnell St.)

Midnight Sunner (man I really need to think of a new name for people who read this blog) F. Pants McFadden sent me this photo, as well as this caption:

Looks like they are shut down and doing a lot of freshening up. Thank god.  It used to be good.

I'm interested to see what exactly is going on there. I called the number but it kept on ringing. If someone who works at Coburn's and knows more about what's going on there reads this, please email me:

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:52 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Buddy Miller suffers heart attack, undergoes bypass surgery after Baltimore show

buddy millerSinger/songwriter Buddy Miller (pictured) suffered a heart attack after his show at the Meyerhoff last week, according to an article in the Tennessean.

Miller was taken to Johns Hopkins, where he underwent triple bypass heart surgery and is currently recovering.

Miller came to town with Emmylou Harris and Patty Griffin, and performed at the Meyerhoff last Thursday as part of the Mammojam Music Festival.

(AP photo from 1995)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:43 AM | | Comments (11)

Can you see my photos all right?

Midnight Sunner David sent me this email the other day:

I was wondering why I can never view the pictures you post in your Midnight Sun blog.  I read several other blogs on The Sun and I can see their pictures with no problem.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Help him! Help him!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:42 AM | | Comments (12)

February 21, 2009

Adam's winnings

adam is our lucky winnerWanna know what Midnight Sunner Adam won?

Do you want to know what makes the Midnight Sun Wicked Wicked Awesome Awesome Prize Pack so wickedly awesome?

Well, I think you'll agree when I tell you all of the wickedly awesome things Adam won. And all he did was post a measly comment. 

But it wasn't any measly comment. It was the lucky 33rd comment.

Here are his winnings ...

Adam walked away with a gift certificate to Don't Know Tavern (1453 Light St.), the box set of season four of The Wire, a handful of CDs, a book on pirates and a bobble head doll from Tropic Thunder.

Wowie wow wow zowie!

You should have seen his eyes light up when we gave him The Wire dvds. Oh my.

So remember, kids, always be on Midnight Sun. You never know when the next prize will be awarded. It could happen any time -- but not anywhere. Just right here, on Midnight Sun.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:55 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff

February 20, 2009

Concert review: Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller at the Meyerhoff

emmylou harrisIf you take a folk or country music song all the way back to its beginnings, most times you end up with a couple of singer/songwriters sitting on a back porch somewhere strumming acoustic guitars.

Emmylou Harris (pictured), Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller brought that same intimate, informal setting to the Meyerhoff last night.

The show, in support of the Mammojam Music Festival, nearly filled the symphony hall.

They sat on stage and performed in a songwriter's circle, offering just as many original songs as covers ...

Between songs, they'd tune their guitars and tell jokes and stories about why they picked the songs they did. Griffin did a fiery rendition of the traditional tune "Samson and Delilah," Harris tugged at my heart strings with "Red Dirt Girl," and Miller marveled at the fact that he was even on stage Harris and Griffin.

In truth, Miller more than held his own. When Harris or Griffin played a song, he added tasteful guitar fills and backing vocals. And when it was his turn, his warm voice and skillful picking made it plain why he was up there.

I've been to a lot of concerts, and that one is going to stay with me for a long time.

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:30 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Concert reviews

On reviewing bars: Is it better to be too soon or too late?

j.a. murphy'sGot this email from a reader named Ted:

I read your review of J.A. Murphy's (pictured) and question the wisdom of reviewing someplace that has only been open for a week. Bars and restaurants need time to work things out. Even the best and most experienced restaurant owners make many changes in their first year.

The New Orleans food critic Tom Fitzmorris has a policy of not reviewing any restaurant until it has been six months. I think it allows owners to smooth out the problems. If they haven't, they probably won't be around in a year.

And here is what I wrote back to him ...

Thanks for the email, Ted. I'm with you -- I think reviewing a place a week after it opens is unfair. When I started The Sun's nightlife column about three years ago, I always waited about a month before reviewing bars and clubs for this very reason. But lately I've been getting some competition from other Web sites.

j.a. murphy's happy hourNormally when a new bar opens, I like to announce it on my blog, Midnight Sun, give it a couple weeks to get its bearings, and review it.

But more and more, these other Web sites see my blog posts about new bars opening, run to the bars and review them -- just to say they were the first to review them.

So I've been forced to review bars the first or second week they open. It's silly and unfortunate, but in the press, being the first is everything.

Now, in my reviews, I usually mention that I was there soon after the bar opened, and new bars take time to get their bearings.

Thanks again for the feedback.

(Photos by me. Kudos to the tavern for offering such a sweet happy hour special, too.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:04 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

And the winner is ...


With his enlightening comment, "Will anyone win the prize today?"

Adam, please email me at with your mailing address and name, and I will send you the Midnight Sun Wicked Wicked Awesome Awesome Prize Pack, post haste.

As always, thank you all for playing, and I hope to see you all at the shindig, where you will receive more chances to earn more prizes! Remember, get your pet spayed or neutered. This is Sam Sessa saying goodnight!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (6)

February 19, 2009

Want to win a prize?

I totally forgot to announce or award a prize for the poster of the 9,000th comment on Midnight Sun. Now I'm not even sure who it was ...

So, to make up for such a gross transgression, I am awarding a bevy of prizes and whatnot to the person who posts the 33rd comment on this entry.

I'm calling it ... the Midnight Sun Wicked Wicked Awesome Awesome Prize Pack. You have to emphasize the italicized words. How you emphasize them is up to you. I suggest using a falsetto voice.

Notice how I posted this after the "continue reading" link. That was to make sure only die-hard Midnight Sunners are involved in this competition.

Also, I'm not going to publish any comments until the 33rd comment is submitted. That way you have no idea how far along we are, and everybody has a fair chance.



Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:28 PM | | Comments (45)
Categories: Random stuff

Going to see Emmylou Harris at the Meyerhoff tonight?

emmylou harrisI am. I've never seen her before, and I'm pumped.

Personal confession: I have choked back tears listening to her song "Red Dirt Girl." I am from a place like Meridian, and know men and women who are very much like the main character in the song.

This song makes me very sad, and I've had to turn it off on several occasions because I can't bear to hear it. But when I listen to it all the way through, I feel better.

God, what a song:

And the stars might fall on Alabama
But one of these days I'm going to swing
my hammer down
Away from this red dirt town
I'm gonna make a joyful sound.

And and and, tonight's show is in support of the Mammojam Music Festival, which raises support and awareness of breast cancer detection and treatment. Get your tickets here. But wait, there's more ...

If you recall, I hosted a special Mammojam edition of Baltimore Unsigned. It was a free show, and we had about 125 people show up. Here's a video from that show, of the Grilled Lincolns doing Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On."

(Stock photo of Ms. Harris)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:40 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Local music

The review: The Metro Gallery

the metro gallery baltimoreWell, I finally got around to reviewing the Metro Gallery (1700 N. Charles St.).

Here's the link to the piece, which ran in today's paper.

UPDATE: Ah crap I forgot to post the link. Here it is.

Took me long enough, right?

But owner Sarah M. Williams recently started opening the place regularly, so I could justify a full-length review.

I should have gotten there sooner, but honestly, I didn't know whether the Metro would last long. So many under-the-radar galleries and live performances spaces either go under or never get off the ground in the first place.

Not so with the Metro.

Nice job, Sarah.

(Sun photo by Jed Kirschbaum)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:21 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

If you own a bar and I walk in, here's what not to do

Before writing this, I asked Elizabeth Large if I was going too far. She said no way, and directed me to a post she did a little while back about the very same thing.

I have been offered so many free drinks and put in so many awkward situations since my photo started appearing in the paper, I had to write something about it.

If you own a bar or work at a bar and I happen to walk in, please don't say anything. Don't make any snide remarks. Don't offer me free drinks. Or a free T-shirt. The Sun's ethics policy says I'll get fired if I accept free stuff ...

And though I've written about this before, it doesn't seem to stop people from trying to offer me things. I had one very polite bartender approach me this past weekend with a couple free shots and tell me how much he liked Midnight Sun. I was wearing a disguise, and he still recognized me.

I had to refuse the shots, which immediately makes things incredibly awkward. In fact, if you're a bar owner or bartender and you recognize me, it's probably best if you just let me be. That way, if I'm reviewing your place, I don't know that you know who I am. And you don't get put in an awkward spot.

Again, I'm really sorry if this sounds mean or pretentious. I just don't want anybody put in these weird situations all the time.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:38 AM | | Comments (24)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 18, 2009

The Midnight Sun Shindig: 6 p.m. March 5 at the Brewer's Art

That's right ladies and gents, it's official.

We are all set for 6 p.m. (ish) on Thursday, March 5 at the Brewer's Art (1106 N. Charles St.).

This also happens to be the night of the City Paper's Cosmic Cocktail Party. But there's always going to be something else happening, and I have to pick a date. So I picked a date.

Plus, the CP's party costs $40, and my party is free! Take that, City Paper!


See you at Brewer's, kids. Also, bar owners, I'm going to be sending out the Best of the Best of the Best awards the week beforehand. I expect to see you at the Shindig.

Oh, and Evan, if you pick the Dropkick Murphys over my Shindig, I'm never posting your comments again.

(Sun photo by Chiaki Kawajiri)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:42 PM | | Comments (10)

Changes at Magooby's Joke House

Soon after Magooby's Joke House (9306 Harford Road) opened, I went there for a nightlife column. I remember thinking that the service was surprisingly on point, and the comedians were pretty funny. It seemed like a well-run place.

But I also remember thinking the club (formerly Tracy's at the Bowman) and many of the patrons seemed stuck in the '90s. "Light jeans, sweaters and poofy hair abounded," I wrote in my review. "The chairs were metal with vinyl cushions, similar to what you'd see in a VFW hall, but comfortable enough." ...

Though I can't vouch for the people that go there, it seems that decor-wise, Magooby's is finally trying to enter the 21st century. I got an e-mail from co-owner Marc Unger, who said they've installed a new sound system and bought new chairs, among other things.

Unger also said Magooby's is doing well. That's good news, because I think Unger puts a lot of work into the place, and I'm glad it seems to be paying off for him. Of course, this doesn't change my opinion about the incredibly silly name.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:33 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Dave's basement bar

After reading my blog post from late last month, Midnight Sun reader Dave in Overlea sent me this photo of his basement bar.


Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:14 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Why I asked for Facebook users

facebook terms of serviceHere is a link to the piece Meredith Cohn and I did. It ran on the front page of today's paper.

As Mark Twain so astutely guessed yesterday, I was indeed writing a piece about the new Terms of Service. 

Midnight Sunner David S, who was one of the first to respond to yesterday's request, weaseled his way into the photo and the lead of the article.

Thanks again, everybody, for responding.

(Sun photo by Kenneth K. Lam)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:11 AM | | Comments (10)

February 17, 2009

A brief update on the shindig

So I think we're set for March 5. I just have to call Tom at Brewer's Art and double check with him. I also want to see what kind of happy hour specials they might offer. I'll keep you posted.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 5:07 PM | | Comments (8)

DTV: The story behind the story

I don't normally do this on Midnight Sun -- especially if it's not directly nightlife related -- but I want to share the story behind today's piece* about the digital TV conversion.

Just before lunchtime, my editor Tim Swift (of Swift Picks fame) came over to my desk.

"Sessa!," he growled, "We need people with bunny ears, and pronto!"

"But it's not Easter yet, sir," I said.

"Not bunny ears like the costume, you dimwit, bunny ears like on TV sets," he said.**

Then Mr. Swift had a stroke of baldness ... I mean ... brilliance ...

He told me to go to this apartment high rise building in Mount Vernon and look for sources.

When I got there, I talked to people in the lobby, people in the lounge and people in the laundromat. No luck.

Disheartened, I was about to leave when I ran into the gentleman in the top photo. His name is Steve Finckel, and he said he thought he and his wife Janice Stephenson still had regular old TV.

Sure enough, he was right. It was my lucky break!

I sat down and interviewed them, and Stephenson became the intro to today's piece.

Part of the reason why I wanted to tell you this story is that we took their picture, but didn't have room for it in the paper. Since they don't have cable, I seriously doubt that they have the Internet.

But I wanted to post it here, in the hopes that somehow, someone would recognize them and show it to them.

Thanks again for all your help, Mr. Finckel and Ms. Stephenson. You saved my day.

*The piece ran on the front page, if I may say so myself. In short, BOOYAH!

**This exchange has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit your screen ... and highly embellished for your reading pleasure.

(Top photo by Sun photographer Barbara Haddock Taylor. I'm not sure where this graphic comes from, but it ran on our front page.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:43 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Random stuff

Where the Foo Fighters eat when they come to town

foo topiaIt's on Baltimore Street, right downtown.

Centrally located, if you will.

I hear the food is heavenly -- if you're a Foo Fighter.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:46 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff

If you're on Facebook, call me

I need to talk to Facebook users for a piece I'm working on.

410.332.6689 is the number, and is the email. Holler at me.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:27 AM | | Comments (1)

February 16, 2009

Two women shot outside Club One, suspect arrested

club one baltimorePolice said a 29-year-old man opened fire at a crowd outside Club One (300 E. Saratoga St., pictured) early this morning, according to this piece by Sun reporter Justin Fenton.

According to a news release, the club was over occupancy and as people emptied out at 1:40 a.m., someone fired shots into the crowd. Two women were hit in the lower body.

Police said they arrested Dennis Bullock after a brief chase. Surveillance cameras helped police keep track of him as he fled. Bullock was charged with attempted murder.

"Issues of violence around the Club One establishment continue to be a concern for the Baltimore Police Department," Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said in a statement ...

"We have invested in technological systems that enable us to help provide a margin of safety and station our officers in locations to avert violence. If and when violence occurs, we are prepared as underscored in last night's results."

Personally, I didn't know Club One had problems like this. But shooting two women outside a club? That is terrible. I hope the city and the owners of the club take steps to keep this from happening again.

(Sun archive photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 5:52 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

XS has a new lounge

xsHow was everyone's weekend? Did you do anything crazysexycool?

Midnight Sunner Evan posted a pretty funny recap of his exploits at Max's Belgian Fest, complete with videos of the experience.

I have some nightlife news to share with everyone: XS, the restaurant and bar at 1307 N. Charles St., has a new lounge space. It's on their third (or maybe fourth) floor. XS has so many tiers I sometimes lose count. 

The building owners blasted a hole in the brick wall, and created a dark, inviting lounge in the neighboring building space ...

It's not worth a nightlife column, methinks, but it is worth noting. If you're in the area and looking for a low-key spot to chill on a Friday or Saturday night, keep it in mind. XS has great chocolate chip pancakes, if that's your thing, but I haven't spent many late nights there.

I also dropped by another brand new bar, which I will post about later today. And I hit up two favorites, which were awesome, as always: Brewer's Art and the Idle Hour. Good weekend for me, all in all.

How was yours?

(Sun photo by Doug Kapustin)

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

I'm such a dork

A couple months ago, the press team for the Charm City Devils asked me to talk a little bit about their album for a YouTube video about the band.

This was the first time I'd done anything like this, and I laughed out loud at myself when I saw my quotes. Not only do I look like a dork, but I look like a fat dork with a bad haircut. For the record, I only weigh 162 -- the camera appears to have added 40 pounds!

Watch and learn ...

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:16 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local music, Random stuff

February 15, 2009

My favorite "Ave Maria"

This may sound silly, but bear with me here: Bobby McFerrin's version of "Ave Maria" blows me away. Well, it's actually his version and the crowd's version. Let me explain. No, wait, I'll let Bobby explain. But I will say this -- this video never ceases to give me goosebumps.

Here's the video ...

I've seen so many videos of opera stars and rock stars singing "Ave Maria" that I'm a little sick of hearing the pristine renditions. I like that McFerrin lets the audience sing the lead. I like that you can't hear the audience too well -- it makes the recording sound ethereal.

I don't know about you, but the first time I watch the average Bobby McFerrin video, I'm amazed by his many vocal talents. Dude can sing! Dude can beatbox! Dude can whistle! All at once!

The second time I watch the average Bobby McFerrin video, I'm kinda "meh" about it. He wears thin pretty quick -- at least for me.

Not this video, though. I've watched it a few times, and it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.


Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:31 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff

February 14, 2009

One Valentine's Day alternative

I stopped by Muggsy's Mug House last night, and saw a poster advertising Cupid's Revenge Party. That's tonight at 7 p.m. Not sure what in all's going on, but it sounds interesting to say the least. Muggsy's is at 1236 Light St.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:09 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 13, 2009

One-eyed Mike's is doing fine

one-eyed mike'sI'd like to take a moment and dispel any gossip about One-Eyed Mike's (708 S. Bond St.) being closed.

They are not closed.

I just called them and spoke with a real live person who laid it all out for me: One-Eyed Mike's ain't goin' anywhere anytime soon.

There was a plan to move One-Eyed Mike's down the street, but that fizzled out. 

And the number on their Web site was disconnected or temporarily offline or something along those lines, which threw people for a loop.

But I can safely put the kibosh on the rumored closing of One-Eyed Mike's. They're open for business.

(Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:37 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Max's swamped for annual Belgian Fest

max'sThe party is on at Max's Taphouse, 737 S. Broadway.

Midnight Sunner/Nightcrawler columnist Jmgiordano is over there right now, and just called with a morning report.

The doors opened to the public at 11 a.m., and already the place is swamped, he said.

"It is mobbed," he said. "We started drinking at 10 a.m. for the Nightcrawler tasting. [begin gratuitous plug about the bar owner] Ron Furman is a wonderful host. He's a great man. [end gratuitous plug about the bar owner] Yeah but it's mobbed. They opened the door and it was like a floodgate." ...

Then he passed the cell phone to Furman himself, who was standing nearby.

"The building is almost filled already," Furman said. "Casey [Hard] outdid himself this year. The man is doing great."

(Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:39 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

More trouble for Lava Lounge

Lava Lounge, the scruffy little club on the outskirts of town, is back in the news again. Yesterday, the liquor board fined the place $4,400 and suspended its liquor license for 80 days for underage drinking and allowing patrons younger than 21 to enter. Read the rest of Sun reporter Brent Jones' piece here.

This isn't the first time that spot has been in the news. In October 2006, 12 people were stabbed, cut or beaten at Club Malibu, the previous incarnation of the Lava Lounge. Yikes!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:45 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

New hookah bar: El Basha

el bashaLooks like there's a new hookah bar in town. It's called El Basha, and it's on the 200 block of East Baltimore Street.

Don't know much more about it right now, because it wasn't open today when I dropped by, but from peering through the window, it looks like it's about ready to open.

I saw some circular cushioned booths, as well as a few hookahs lined up along the back wall.

Odd place for a hookah bar though. I'll bet most of the foot traffic they get is either going to or coming from The Block. 

I'll post more when I know more. 

Thanks to MS reader Courtney for the tip.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 12, 2009

Cheap Valentine's Day dates in Baltimore

valentine's dayYou're not going to find a better Valentine's Day itinerary in Baltimore. Not that I'm biased or anything. 

Dig it.

I spend hours and hours and days and days rustling up five dates -- not five things, but five whole dates -- for less than $50 total. I called liquor stores, restaurants, comedy folks and event promoters and planned five different themed dates.

You're not going to find a list like this anywhere else.

The crappy part? Since Amie is in Argentina this month, I'm not going to go on a Valentine's Day date myself. Sniffle.

(Awesome photo by -- unsurprisingly -- the ever-awesome Sun photographer Monica Lopossay)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:06 PM | | Comments (5)

Let's pick a date for the Midnight Sun shindig

brewer's artI have narrowed down the potential dates for the Midnight Sun shindig to Thursday, March 5 and Thursday, March 12 at Brewer's Art (pictured).

This would start at happy hour time, say, 6:30 p.m. And before anybody gripes about it being on a Thursday, let me tell you why I want it to be on a Thursday.

I want all of the bar owners and bartenders to be able to come out and have a drink with us, because I'll be awarding the Midnight Sun Best of the Best of the Best awards there.

So what day works best for y'all?

(Sun photo by Jed Kirschbaum)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:53 AM | | Comments (32)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Changes at Charlotte's

Midnight Sunner Evan snapped this shot of a transfer of ownership posting outside the now-defunct Charlotte's on Light Street in South Baltimore.

Looks like someone named Sean White is taking over the place, though he doesn't have a company name posted yet. I nominate Pong Bar.

But seriously folks. it's good to see new bars opening despite the recession.

(Photo by Evan)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:39 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 11, 2009

Pong Bar

pong barSince it's still legal to have beer pong, I think it's time to introduce my latest awesome bar idea: Pong Bar.

At Pong Bar, you can play beer pong, Ping-Pong and Pong, the Atari game. Our signature drink will be the Pong Tang -- vodka and tang in a martini glass, rimmed with salt and garnished with sardine.

Now that's what I call stylin' and profilin'.

I might even buy the pong that Michael Phelps smoked and put it in a jeweled display case behind the bar. Isn't that what they call those things? Pongs?

Hee hee.

Thanks to Patchen for the inspiration.

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:27 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

City beer pong ban fizzles

beer pongLet me start by saying I'm so sorry for not posting these past couple days. Regular Midnight Sunners know that I never, never go two weekdays without posting something, unless I'm on vacation.

Since Monday, I've been chasing this story about a state senator who proposed a city-wide ban on drinking games such as beer pong and flip cup. Yesterday, I went to Annapolis, sat through a Senate session and spoke with Sen. George W. Della Jr., who drafted a bill which reads:

"A holder of a retail alcoholic beverages license or owner or operator of a bottle club may not promote, encourage, or allow on the premises a game commonly known as beer pong or any other game or contest that involves drinking alcoholic beverages or the awarding of drinks of alcoholic beverages as prizes." ...

As you can imagine, this set of all kinds of protests from local beer pong players. I spend days talking to legislators, experts, beer pong players -- anybody even remotely involved with this issue. The bill was slated for a hearing tomorrow, and the piece had a chance of going on the front page.

Then I get a voicemail today from Della, who said he decided to withdraw the legislation.

"We're getting inundated with so many e-mails that I don't have the time to fool with it," he said. "I just hope that if people continue doing it, they do it in a way that there's not excessive drinking and disrespect for the surrounding neighborhoods."

The bill, SB 233, never even got to committee. And thus, the short, fiery saga of Baltimore's beer pong ban comes to an end. At least now I'm back on the blog.

Any thoughts you'd like to share about this hot topic?

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:56 PM | | Comments (27)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 9, 2009

Metro Gallery packed for El Rancho Grande benefit

caleb stine, jenn wasner, andy stack, etc.

Sorry I haven't posted any earlier today, gang. For the past few days, I've had a bad cold, and have felt like my head has been shot full of foam insulation. But I was able to make it to the Metro Gallery's benefit concert for El Rancho Grande this past Saturday night.

Have you been to the Metro Gallery? If not, you definitely need to check it out -- especially now that they have regular bar hours. Owner Sarah M. Williams has done some pretty cool stuff with the space.

The show featured an all-star cast of Baltimore musicians, including Wye Oak, Caleb Stine and the Brakemen, Junestar, Young Sir Jim and many more ...

Each musician would perform one -- maybe two -- songs and then turn it over to the next musician. In the collaborative spirit of El Rancho Grande, all of the musicians hung out on sofas and chairs near the stage, and often performed with each other. In the free spirit of El Rancho Grande, there was no cover charge, but donations were accepted.

The music sounded great, and I'll bet the night raised a pretty penny to help pay El Rancho Grande's bills.

I was able to snag a seat at the new(ish) U-shaped bar, where I sat and watched the show while drinking a bottle of Duvel ($8). I stayed until about 10:30 p.m. or 11 p.m., at which point my cold got the best of me and I headed home. But I was glad I went, because it was a great night of music for a good cause.

(Photo by Courtney Block)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:45 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

February 7, 2009

Blast from the past: New York George

new york georgeEver see a picture of someone and figure that if you knew them, you'd probably like 'em? I feel that way about this guy.

This is a Sun archive photo from 1995. Here is the caption:

"New York George" Miller, a 68-year-old local character, makes daily rounds visiting bars and businesses and sometimes helps people place bets at various racetracks. George enjoys a beer and his ever-present cigar at Burke's Restaurant, Lombard Street near the Inner Harbor.

I read a fantastic piece about New York George, written by a former coworker, Rob Hiaasen. Yeah, I bet I would have liked George.

(Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:19 AM | | Comments (12)

February 6, 2009

Check out Catch tonight

Baltimore Magazine is celebrating its singles issue with a party at Mosaic tonight to benefit the Casey Cares Foundation. Advance tickets are sold out, but you can still get $75 tickets at the door.

Go here for more information.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:26 PM | | Comments (1)

Some rumored Canton closings

I have it on good authority that the Outback Steakhouse in the Can Company complex is closing on Feb. 15. I've also heard that Coburn's Tavern (2921 O'Donnell St.) could close soon too.

Anybody know anything about either of these two?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:50 AM | | Comments (93)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 5, 2009

The Metro Gallery now has regular bar hours

metro galleryFirst it was an art gallery. Then it was an art gallery/live music space. As of today, it is be an art gallery/live music space/bar.

Starting today, the Metro Gallery (1700 N. Charles St.) will be open 6 p.m.-2 a.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It will also be open other days for special events such as shows.

This is a big step for the Metro. Owner Sarah M. Williams said she only booked seven shows last month so she could take some time and make a smooth transition to three-day-a-week bar. She's also has some pretty sweet drink specials ...

"We're ready to hit the ground running -- as opposed to running after the ground," Williams said.

Here is a list of their drink specials for this month:

Thursdays 7 p.m.-11 p.m. $12 all-you-can-drink house wines. 
Fridays 7 p.m.-10 p.m. dollar of all beer and whiskey. 
Saturdays 7 p.m.-11 p.m.  $2 Yuenglings, $2 Miller Lites, $2 Lowenbraus



Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:12 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Have you been to Preakness recently? Call me ASAP.

Here's the number -- 410.332.6689

And here's an email --

Starting this year, you're not going to be able to bring beer or water bottles to the infield. You can bring food in coolers. There will also be performances by ZZ Top and Buckcherry. Here is more information. I want to know what you think about it ASAP.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:08 PM | | Comments (24)

Chicken bar crawl this Saturday

chicken crawlGot this email from Midnight Sun reader Sturmy, and wanted to give everybody the heads up:

This is an event we started last year to completely humiliate the person who came in last place in our fantasy football league.

We place this individual in a chicken suit (beak, talons, wings) and march them into every bar in Canton (playing the chicken dance on a boom box) for an hour of drinking and chicken dancing before proceeding to O’Donnell Square to dance around the statue and then hitting up another watering hole.

Last year’s winner (loser) is a real fun guy (i.e. drunk) who at 6’4” makes a great chicken. The fact that he was down for whatever humiliation we could dish out made it even better. Last year’s chicken crawl started at 11 a.m. at Portside on a Saturday and lasted until 2 a.m. on Sunday at Lager’s.

We brought along a mega-phone (a la Jimmy Hart) to attract as much attention from passersby as possible. At one point we had about 50 folks trailing us from bar to bar.

This year’s festivities will not be as crazy as last year’s.  Admittedly it was too much.  That said our little crew would like to spread the word on this year’s event as much as possible. 

Here is the schedule for this year's chicken crawl, as well as a video from last year's event ...

2:00 - 2:50 Bartenders
3:00 - 4:00 Mahaffey's
4:10 - 5:10 Looney's on the Square
5:20 - 6:20 JD's on the Square
6:30 - 7:30 Pickled Parrot on Elliot St.
7:40 - 8:00+ (Bonus Time) Walt's Inn

(Please forgive the photo. It's the best thing I could find -- from the 2007 Polar Bear Plunge. It was taken by Sun photographer Monica Lopossay)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:12 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 4, 2009

Clay Aiken visit submerged in shellfish controversy

clay aikenDid American Idol star Clay Aiken really drop by a South Baltimore restaurant and bar last Sunday?

Or was it ... Clay Faiken?

When reports first emerged that Aiken had eaten crabcakes at Regi's American Bistro, Aiken's fans (commonly known as Claymates) cried foul. 

"I don't believe the story sence he was seen somewhere else plus he's allergic to shellfish," wrote one anonymous commenter.

This murky little mystery begs the question: What exactly is a shellfish?

According to the Food Lover's Companion, "shellfish" is a "broad term for all aquatic animals that have a shell of some kind. Shellfish are separated into two basic categories -- crustaceans and mollusks."

Shrimp, lobster, crabs and crayfish are all crustaceans. Snails, squid, oysters and octopuses are mollusks.

Is Aiken allergic to one subcategory? Or both?

Aiken's management has not returned a phone call or e-mail, and Alan Morstein, the restaurant's owner, stands by the sighting.

(Photo courtesy of the Hodges Partnership)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:50 PM | | Comments (50)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Celebrity sightings

Clay Aiken spotted at Regi's Bistro

clay aikenAmerican Idol star Clay Aiken stopped by Regi's American Bistro (1002 Light St.) this past Sunday to watch the Superbowl.

Apparently, he was "Aiken" for some seafood: He had Maryland crab soup and crab cakes, according to Regi's owner Alan Morstein.

No word on how well Aiken tipped. And as we all know, the size of your gratuity is the Measure of a Man.

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:18 PM | | Comments (24)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Celebrity sightings

Junior's Wine Bar changes hands

junior's wine barI have it on good authority that Brian McComas of Ryleigh's Oyster (36 E. Cross St.) has become the new owner of Junior's Wine Bar (1117 S. Charles St.).

No word yet on what changes he plans for the place. Considering that he hasn't returned two phone calls about Avery's Pearl, I dout I'll hear from him anytime soon.

But considering that McComas is going to be running two more bars in the near future, he's probably a busy guy with people to meet and things to do.

(Sun photo of Junior's Wine Bar by Elizabeth Malby)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:53 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The best local albums of 2008

You know, I don't think I ever linked to Baltimore Unsigned's top 10 albums of 2008. What silliness! I'm the host, and I should know better. Better late than never, right?

So here is the list, complete with music players, photos and short bios. A lot of people ask me what local artists they should be listening to. Well, this list is a great place to start.

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

Changes at Bourbon Street

bourbon street baltimoreSam Chaney, the former manager of the now-defunct Bedrock, is now the general manager of Bourbon Street (316 Guilford Ave.).

Chaney plans to beef up Bourbon Street's live music lineup by adding a second stage on the smaller side of the first level. That gives Bourbon Street the ability to have two performances at the same time.

"The smaller side will also give us the ability to open a little more frequently and not have to try and fill a room that holds 3,000 people," he wrote in an email.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 3, 2009

J.A. Murphy's Tavern replaces Lulu's Off Broadway

j.a. murphy's tavernHere's a first look at J.A. Murphy's Tavern (1703) Aliceanna St.).

The new Fells Point bar opened last week in the space formerly occupied by Lulu's Off Broadway.

Lulu's closed in December of 2007, and the building sat vacant until Joel Anthony Gallant (J.A., for short) and Keith Murphy took over a couple months ago.

Murphy and Gallant kept the vintage back bar but redid the rest of the place.

The comfortably cluttered Lulu's is now the plain, open J.A. Murphy's, named after its owners ...

Rather than make it an Irish pub or a sports bar, Gallant and Murphy decided to keep an open mind with their tavern and see where their clientele takes them.

"We call it a bar about nothing," Murphy said. "No themes. Everyone's welcome. It's the sandbox mentality."

In this economy, it’s tough to make long-term predictions when it comes to bars. But I think if Murphy listens to his customer base and makes decisions based on what they want, this tavern has a better chance than most new bars. 

There is no phone number or Web site up for J.A. Murphy's Tavern just yet. But the bar's hours are 4 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Sundays.

My full review will be in Thursday's paper.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:27 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Dundalk bikini club catches fire

bustosBustos, a bikini club on the 4000 block of North Point Blvd., caught fire early this morning, according to this piece by Sun reporter Gus G. Sentementes.

My take: OH NO! NOT BUSTOS! 

Can you imagine a world without Bustos? Hee hee. I've never been to or even heard of this place. But I've got a question for you: What's a bikini club? ...

Sentementes' article says it features "women dancing in bikinis." Is that all they do?

Or do they take the bikinis off after they've danced in them for a while? Girls dancing in bikinis doesn't sound too hot to me. But it must have been hot, because, well, the place caught fire. Zink!

Sorry, sorry, I know it's probably too soon for fire jokes. But I just couldn't resist.

Also, this piece says the club is owned by a company based in a town called Street. There's a town in Maryland called Street? How confusing is that? I mean, who names a town Street? I looked it up on Google Maps, and discovered that not only does there appear to be a town called Street, there is a road called Street Road in Street.

Still with me?

"Hi, I live at 12 Street Road in Street."


I hope, for the sake of common sense, that I'm wrong, and this place doesn't really exist. But if it does, I wouldn't be surprised. 

(Sun photo by Kim Hairston)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:23 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

What are Baltimore's best hot drinks?

Since it's snowing outside, I thought I'd pose the question: What are your favorite hot drinks around town?

I've written about Bertha's (734 S. Broadway) hot buttered rum before, and that always is the first to come to my mind. And though I've never asked, I'll bet One World Cafe (100 W. University Parkway) would slip a little rum in their hot apple cider on request. And Amie recently had a coffee spiked with Bailey's Irish Cream at Lux (10 S. Calvert St.).

Got any other favorite hot drinks to help you warm up in winter time?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:54 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 2, 2009

A pretty good deal at Mad River & Taps

mad river grilleFrom 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays, Mad River Bar and Grille (1110 S. Charles St., pictured) runs a pretty sweet special: You pay $5 for a wristband which gets you $1 domestic drafts, house liquor and wine. You have to call Amanda, who works there, to get your name on the list for this special. Her number is 410-727-2333.

When it comes to South Baltimore happy hour specials, nothing beats the deal at Taps (1439 S. Charles St.). For $9, you get bottomless domestics and rail drinks from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Yowsa!

(Photo from Sun archives)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:53 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I stopped by Philly Saturday night to visit some friends, who took me to a bar called North Third (for short, N3RD).

It's a really cool place (here's a link to their lovely Web site, from which I cribbed this awesome rotating pic). With its artsy, eccentric decor, N3RD had the trappings of a hipster joint -- but without the snobby attitude. The night I was there, hipsters and yuppies co-existed in peace.

The service was fast and friendly and the drink list was long. I ordered a light, smooth Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale, as well as a dark, rich Victory bach whose name escapes me.

As a nightlife critic, I always grapple with where to draw the line between work and fun. In this case, I  wasn't paying as much attention as I normally would to properly review a place. But I didn't care -- I wasn't on the clock.

We also ordered a big bowl of their fries, which came with ketchup and a side of some other spicy sauce I didn't recognize. Good stuff, though.

If you're ever in Philly, definitely check this place out. It's got charm, character, and plenty of substance too.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:31 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:01 AM | | Comments (5)
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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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