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June 5, 2009

A look at Wednesday's Drive By Truckers & J-Roddy Walston show

drive by truckersBaltimore's nightlife scene is too big for me to cover every corner. Fortunately, my legion of spies has my back. Josh Fink was at Bourbon Street Wednesday night for the free Drive By Truckers and J-Roddy Walston and the Business show sponsored by Jim Beam. Here is his report:

I feared that this new venue my feel hollow, too big, and lacking character, but it was actually a great time. Two separate aspects particularly piqued my interest during the night: a) The venue, and b) The actual show.

The Venue: Not that the place is officially a new force to be reckoned with, but overall, it surpassed my expectations. 

I'd been to the general Bourbon Street facility only once before (Ben Lee a few weeks back), but that show was limited to "The Quarter" section, which is only 1/3 of the total square footage.

For this show however, they had the whole building opened up, which gave us the opportunity to explore the large "Ballroom" venue side, the second floor which has a huge square bar in the middle, a dance floor, and then the railing viewing area to peer down onto the Ballroom stage (somewhat similar to Rams Head, 9:30, 8x10).

There's also a pool table on the front side of the 2nd floor, which seemed out of place considering the venue only holds concerts and heavy dancing/club nights ...

Continuing our exploration, we moved up to the rooftop deck. It's huge, with many areas covered, private VIP cozy areas/lounges, and again a square bar in the middle offering $8 frozen drinks (seems pricey).

I was pretty impressed with the actual facility. For the most part, by its sheer usable space, above average bathrooms for a club (no attendant!), wealth of bars, and bits of the warehouse feel maintained.

On the downside (these are a bit nitpicky), the acoustics are bit awkward due to the brick walls, the steps were all quite slippery and badly needed some of those sandpaper strips, there were very few beers on tap (if any), and a lack of access to the rooftop except while the club is in full effect. Also the roof leaked, causing a few inches of flooding in some (non-show interrupting) areas.

I’m not sure this place will become the Clarendon Ballroom it would love to be, but it’s got a good shot at continuing to build the "Under the JFX" music scene in that area.

And now, the music: The Drive By Truckers (DBT) continue to impress in their live shows. I’m not huge fan -- I only celebrate about 2 albums of the collection. However, they put out some great raw energy, Southern rock/twang style. Add a bunch of bourbon and free entry to that formula and you’ve got yourself a good time.

I honestly think DBT should just contract with Jim Beam to be sponsored all the time. Guitarist Mike Cooley was drank straight from the bottle on stage, puffed on his performer’s cigarette, and let loose a few face-melting solos. One lackluster part of the music was the completely inaudible bassist. "Chick" bassists are hot and she appeared talented, but the instrument was almost  completely muted. 

j-roddy walston and the businessNot to be overlooked, the opener J-Roddy & the Business put on a pretty lively show themselves.

The highlight was the bass player (pictured, bottom right) who clearly knew every lyric as he head banged through the show. If it weren't for his singing, I’d assume he was recently plucked out of the crowd at the recent Metal Fest in town. Love this guy!

I can honestly say it was one of the best frees show I’ve been to, probably ever. Artscape has had it’s great moments, but I'm very partial to indoor venues (with the exception of massive festivals like Virgin Mobile, Bonaroo, etc).

J-Roddy played for at least 45 min, then DBT played for close to two hours I think, closing with Jim Carroll’s "People Who Died." They also brought up local badass Rodney Henry of Dangerously Delicious Pies and the Glenmont Popes fame to play some guitar. I think only a small portion of the crowd recognized who he was, but it gave it that extra kick every show needs.

(Top photo from Getty Images. Bottom photo courtesy of J-Roddy Walston and the Business.)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:26 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Local music


my friend said the same thing about the venue. he was expecting it to suck and he said it wasn't too bad at all.

but not having any beers on tap at all is much more than nitpicky...if you're not gonna have beer taps, you shouldn't even be issued a liquor license imo.

Actually, Jack Daniels is the poison of choice for DBT. And my suspicions were confirmed when I got to get backstage after the show and visit with the band (my buddy won the raffle for the band-signed Beam guitar that they gave away before the show, which included a backstage meet and greet with the band).

When I commented to Cooley that I was surprised to see him drinking Beam, he told me they drained the Beam bottle and filled it with Jack prior to the show.

Awesome time all around, althoguh I agree wioth you on the acoustics of the place. But then again, for a free show of one of my favorite bands, I certainly wasn't complaining.

Heyy good review of the show, I definitely agree that I was more impressed with Bourbon Street than I expected.

Just a tiny correction, though. That's not Cooley in the photo up top. That's Patterson Hood.

I agree with most of the review/comments. One thing that I didn't see a critque of was the sound. It was freaking terrible during the J-Rod set. You couldn't hear the guitar solos and the drums were the loudest I've ever heard in a live mix. Beyond bad. It was better for DBT, but I heard they did a 3 hour sound check so you would hope so! They got to get a better sound man if they want to be viable venue.

i totally dig how the bassist for J. Roddy looks like a skinnier Murderface from, Metalocalypse.

Sounds like you had a lot of fun, Sam!!! :)

Jess, good call, I'll update now.

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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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