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July 6, 2009

Resurrecting Merriweather Post Pavilion

mpp.JPGI had a piece in yesterday's paper about the remarkable turnaround at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

This is an amphitheater that was on its last legs a few years ago.

Since then, promoter Seth Hurwitz has led a remarkable comeback, topped by the Virgin Mobile FreeFest, which Merriweather hosts Aug. 30.

Check out the piece.

Besides the bit about the turnaround, it has some interesting history about the venue ...

My parents were actually at the Jackson Browne show there in the mid-70s that was taped for Running On Empty. They have reminded me of this several times in a vain attempt to prove that music was better in the '70s then it is now.

I'm still not buying it.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Tasha Treadwell)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:15 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music


Bah! If you ask people (young or old) who enjoy good rock music what their favorite songs are, invariably the top 3 or 4 songs are from the 70's.
And if you do find the rare person who hasn't taken the time to listen to 70's rock and play a few songs for them they become very interested with the nuances of the music and the talent of the artists that just do not seem to be available in today's music.
LOL, all that aside,
that was an Incredible concert. I do feel sorry that you youts do not have the opportunity to see the artists of the 70's in their prime as we got to. it's a shame that these artists are now in their 60's and in no way able to perform as they did "back in the day" as Sam so eloquently puts it when we speak of such matters.
it really was a great time for rock music!

Your parents are right. Music artists today are dime a dozen.

Good work Sam. Nice piece.

Hey Sam - your piece in the Sunday paper was an interesting profile of the venue, and the events of recent years that have led to Seth Hurwitz literally running the show. It is definitely more about quality, not quantity, but it's good to see the number of events increasing. But I still don't see how they're gonna fit 30,000 in there for the Virgin FreeFest!

I'd say that "music" in general isn't any better now than it was in the '70s, as it just hasn't continued to evolve as much as it did back then. Think about how much mainstream / pop music changed in the 25 years from 1955 to 1980, and then compare that to how little it has changed in the nearly 30 years since then... Other than the mainstreaming of alternative / college rock music and the tremendous growth in popularity of rap & hip-hop, most everything you hear today is a variation on something that has already been done... You may like some songs or artists better, but new genres just aren't being introduced as dramatically as they were in the '60s and '70s.

you really got to the bottom of this one, sport.

Another Merriweather moment? It was one of the few places that Pearl Jam played during their boycott of Ticketmaster. The fact that so few venues were available at the time highlighted how monopolistic Ticketmaster really was.

To this day I'm amazed that more artists didn't join forces with Pearl Jam to take on Ticketmaster.

The ressurection of Merriweather is exciting news indeed. I have many good memories and without it Baltimore is summer concert purgatory with Philly or Camden being better options than Nissan (I just assume never have to drive down that 2 lane road again).

I wish more bands would have latched onto the Pearl Jam movement too. Even they've caved though:

That darn Eddie Vedder...

I was a huge 1970's music fan, IN THE 1970's!

I'm 47 years old, grew up in a musical household, and have been a musician since about 1970. I still listen to new music daily and keep up with what bands are doing what.

The vast majority of bands in the 1970's were just as good or as bad or as mediocre as the vast majority of bands today. For every Led Zeppelin there were tons of 2nd and 3rd rate acts, just like today.

In fact with the recent near-demise of the monolithic record companies feeding us what they thought we should hear, there's arguably more quality and diversity today than there was in the 1970's.

Rarely do I put on anything older, as I've heard that music so many millions of times that it's really not that pleasurable to listen to it again and again. Even a favorite song has limited appeal after the 500th lifetime listen. So when I have the choice between listening to a new song from a good band that I've only heard a few times vs. a Led Zeppelin song that I've heard a couple thousand times, I'm pretty much always going to go for the fresher music unless I'm in nostalgia mode.

But, I'm a rarity among people my age it seems. Almost everybody seems to kind of stop paying attention to new music at some point and freezes in their personal "golden era". I remember growing up that there were older people who swore the new music was nowhere near as good as the swing music they grew up with, and then later there were the Elvis diehards, then Beatles diehards, and now we have the Classic Rock diehards who think nothing can ever match their CCR albums.

Whenever I hear somebody who only listens to older music say new music isn't as good I conclude they are not really all that interested in music, but rather in nostalgia and memories. It's like having the choice between 30 Rock or whatever and deciding to watch some MASH reruns again.

The difference is music today is terribly over-compressed -- the difference between the quiet and the loud is almost non-existent!

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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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