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October 27, 2009

I hope Mayor Dixon signs the live entertainment bill

city council argues live entertainmentLast night, the Baltimore City Council passed a bill which lets more bars and restaurants bring in live entertainment.

City Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, who sponsored the measure, said it makes Baltimore "more marketable as a city."

She's right. This bill, which is a drastically scaled-back version of an earlier live entertainment initiative, is an important step for Baltimore.

More live entertainment means more opportunities for bars and clubs to bring in DJs, karaoke and live bands. Local and regional groups will have more places to perform -- even if it's just acoustic nights ...

Currently, Mayor Sheila Dixon is considering whether or not she will sign the bill. It does not have enough city council votes to override a veto. That means it's up to the mayor. As a nightlife and local entertainment blogger, I want to see this bill passed. More live entertainment in Baltimore, means a bigger music community and more destinations for locals and tourists alike.

I don't think most people realize what is technically "live entertainment" in this city. Anything that involves dancing, karaoke, a DJ or a band is considered live entertainment. I've been in quite a few places that have a DJ or dancing on Friday and Saturday nights but don't have a live entertainment license. On the flip side, there are plenty of bars and restaurants (Pazo, for one) that should have live entertainment but don't.

Also, almost anything involving zoning in this city (and, I suspect, most cities) is a major headache. A couple months ago, I sat down with Annie Linskey, who wrote this piece in today's paper about the bill. We tried to figure out why some bars have live entertainment when they're not in the proper zones for it. Both of us ended up scratching our heads.

I understand the neighborhood associations' alarm at the idea of bringing in more live entertainment. If there are enough safeguards in place to find a happy medium on noise and other nuisance -- and I think the other two measures passed yesterday have enough -- the bill will be good for Baltimore.

Credit where credit is due: Rawlings-Blake, who has been working on expanding live entertainment in this city for years, should be commended for her efforts. Now, all we need is for Mayor Dixon to sign it.

Above, councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, against the bill, sees clashes between bar or restaurant owners and area residents. (Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina Perna / February 23, 2009)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:10 PM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music


Mary Frat Clarke is against the bill. Shocking.

The rules against live entertainment are oppressive. How does a hippie with a kazoo inside a coffee shop adversely effect a neighborhood? It keeps a hippie off the streets and that's great. Otherwise he might be on the sidewalk playing hacky-sack with his other patchouli-wearing slackers and their dogs with bandanas.

The laws seem Puritanical. Management 101 mistake number 7: punish everyone rather than the one who misbehaves.

I could go on but I need to go work on my owlman fursuit.

I agree with OMG, why punish all of the bars for a few bad apples.

It shouldn't be about live entertainment, it should be about the noise level.

Man, a lot of hate on the comments on the original story. I don't get peeps who live in a city and bitch about noise/traffic. It's one thing when you have unruly bars like the one in the Belvedere, but urban environments are supposed to incorporate entertainment options. Hampden nightlife has blossomed with live music, and Charles Village and Remington could use more venues. In places like Fed Hill/Canton, all this really going to do is provide extra entertainment on off-hours, and popular DJs on the weekends. Metallica ain't playing McGerks anytime soon.

It shouldn't be about live entertainment, it should be about the noise level.

Exactly. Aren't there rules about loud noises on the street after ten already? Who cares about noise inside?

How about a law that allows me to smash the hell out pof that jerk's car alarm that goes off all night long?

This is all seems a little bit too much like Footloose to me, a movie I have never seen but whose concept seems obvious – dancing leads to too much Kevin Bacon.

"Metallica ain't playing McGerks anytime soon."

But, in the immortal words of David Wooderson, "It'd be a hell of a lot cooler if they did!"

If the city is so worried about music noise levels bothering city residents than why is the Ravens marching band allowed to play outside my window at 8:00am every sunday home game. I dont hate the the band, I just hate 8:00am noise on a sunday morning in a residential neighborhood.

I used to live across the street from St. Leo's Church in Little Italy and every Sunday morning the blaring church bell recording would rouse me from my slumber as if god himself wanted to give me a hangover and shame. Noise is noise.

the city could always make money off this...send out noise inspectors and fine the establishments that are in violation.

I was entirely confused as to why the article in today's Sun about this kept referencing Hampden as one of the neighborhoods that would be a sticking point. Lots of places in Hampden already have Live entertainment: Golden West, Bar Hon, Dimitri's, and the now defunct Dangerously Delicious Savory House being ones I know of off the top of my head.

Music brings people together.....look how awesome Austin Texas is... they are the live music capital....if anything makes the city more unique and eclectic...instead of having do deal with the crap music played at the typical fed hill bar with the same songs of bon jovi "living on a prayer", def lepperd "pour some sugar, sweet caroline...and every mindless persons favorite journeys "don't stop believing"...obviously there are better places to go but baltimore deserves better music choices then the blah being offered

come on baltimore you can be better than this

Not surprising Mary Pat Clarke is against people enjoying themselves. She's the reason you can't take your dog to an open-air market.w

This is the best thing I have heard regarding the music scene here in awhile. There is no sound reason for the Mayor to not sign out. Props to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.. she seems to be a constructive and proactive force on the City Council, hope to see her run for Mayor and win one day soon...

What kind of sick society are we that we can passively listen to XM radio in bars but can't spin our own tunes or sing or play a guitar in public? Expressing yourself in song should be covered by the First Amendment..

You can play a jukebox but not a turntable or iPod? Demented, I say. What about singing in churches?

I hope you step on a rusty nail, Sam Sessa!

Nicely put, Sam.

I would vote for Rawlings as Mayor in a heartbeat.

As for the bill, it would be great to see this signed off. But, it would be a great political move for dixon to vote no. She might do anything to appeal to local ordiances after essentially being caught as the criminal that she is.

Hopefully we can do more to further Baltimore's music scene. Like, a new venue to attract artist. We really dont need another enormous arena, and artists filling in smaller venues then they normally play seems to be getting more and more popular. What we need is something with better sound quality then rams head live, a bit larger, and still casual. Not too stuffy like Meyerhoff can be, and not as large as 1st Mariner Arena. Thats something I would be willing to put my tax dollars towards.

Does Rawlings Blake care about the quality of life of anyone living within earshot of a bar?? How about a bill that would improve the quality of life for city residents instead of bars and/or music venues? They already have an avenue of obtaining a live entertainment license: go to the liquor board and apply for one. Yet another example of city gov't wasting our time and money...thanks so much!!

Enough Already!, I presume we should also get off your lawn.

When will the mayor either sign this bill into a law or veto it? I hope she signs it.

Free trade and freedom of expression. Let's build a Tower of Song.

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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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