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December 31, 2009

The (unpublished) comment of the week

Back when I posted about how it's not cool to send in evil/wicked/nasty/eviler comments, I never expected people to stop sending them in. I just stopped posting them. 

Then I got this comment from someone named Carl. It's so bogusly negative, I kind of want to publish it. Not under the original thread about DuClaw closing, but here, where it can get the attention it deserves ...

I think this blog is just a [female dog] and bash billboard. The comment from Brad is the only good thing I've read about any post topic I've seen so far.

This must be where all the losers and un-achievers hang out.

Sorry to have stumbled across it. I won't be back.

I'm sorry too, Carl. Because we'll certainly miss your positive presence here at Midnight Sun.

Cheerio then!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:02 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Random stuff

December 30, 2009

Deacon from Animal Collective needs your help

deacon, aka josh dibb, from animal collective

In 2007, Josh "Deacon" Dibb (pictured), a founding member of the indie group Animal Collective, took an indefinite break from touring and writing music.

He worked on Animal Collective's film, "ODDSAC," which was recently finished. He moved back to Owings Mills, where he lives with his mother, Jessica. He helped friends build an earthen house in Annapolis.

About a month ago, Dibb was invited to perform at the Festival in the Desert in Mali, Africa. But in order for Dibb to play, he needed music. So finally, he started seriously working on new material. 

Now, he's asking for tax deductible donations to help abolish slavery in Africa. You can make a donation by going here. If you contribute $50 or more, you will get a copy of Dibb's new CD after he returns. But the pledge window closes tomorrow, so if you're going to do it, do it now.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:37 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music

Fells Point DuClaw to close today

Fells Point DuClaw

Don't let the tagline fool you, this is actually from Sam Sessa who is out and about on assignment ....

Today is the last day for DuClaw Brewing Company's Fells Point location.

After roughly five years, the regional chain is closing its restaurant and bar at the corner of Thames and Bond streets, according to company president Dave Benfield.

"It was a little bit like no man's land down there," Benfield said. "It became a seasonal business and we weren't too pleased with that."

Benfield said a disagreement with the building's landlord, dwindling  business in the winter months and the smoking ban contributed to the decision to shutter the business. The company's other locations will remain open, Benfield said.

"We are a suburban concept for the most part," he said.

Posted by Tim Swift at 12:42 PM | | Comments (67)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Your intriguing drink of the day

In my four-ish years of covering nightlife, I've seen some pretty weird cocktails. But this one ranks high on my list.

It's called a Avocadotini, and you can find it at Aroma, a tapas restaurant in Olney. Yes, there is a tapas restaurant in Olney. (It's called Aroma.)

I'll bet you can guess at least two of the Avocadotini's ingredients -- avocado and vodka. But the other two threw me ...

Simple syrup and milk.

You can't see it, because you're not in the room with me, but my face just scrunched up into a grizzly grimace. This. Sounds. Awful.

Awfully intriguing, of course.

It costs $8, which, on the whole, is less than the average martini at a Baltimore martini bar.

But milk? And simple Syrup? And Avocado? And vodka? 

How ... intriguing ...

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:50 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 29, 2009

Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays: New Year's Eve horror stories

new year's octopusIn today's column, Owl Meat Gravy is dead on the mark. High expectations and beaucoup booze can -- and often do -- spell disaster. And few holidays have such high expectations as New Year's Eve. Take it away, Mr. Gravy:

There is something about New Year's Eve that attracts disaster like gravity loves anvils.

It's not impossible to have a good time on New Year's Eve, but you have a better chance of funning it up on any given Thursday.

Why not think of New Year's Eve as an ironic funeral for the year that was? Bury last year's missteps and misfortunes in a reckless haze of low expectations and random mayhem. ...

I recommend abandoning the good intentions of fools and amateurs and going full gonzo for this arbitrary calendar reboot. Do you think Charles Bukowski ever went to a plastic cup beer bash at Power Plant Live?

Another possibility is to blow it out the night before with people you actually like and spend New Year's Eve hung-over playing board games and quaffing the coif of the schnauzer that bit you.

The countdown to the end of the calendar year doesn't do much for me. Nothing much changes except that I write the wrong year on checks for three months.

First dates are Satan's jack-in-the-box. A first date on New Year's Eve is like bungee jumping into the foamy maws of Cerberus. Why not front-load your relationship with drunkenness and emotional shrapnel? If you can survive that, you were meant for each other.

A few years ago I was drinking and debating the end of the world with a beautiful Jehovah's Witness on New Year's Eve. Pamphlets and shots. Now that's a party. I stupidly honored my promise to go out with my friends and abandoned her. The evening ended with my friend's wife blubbering that she was afraid that her husband was cheating on her and that I was a bad influence because I was single. Ugh.

new year's eveI went to New York one year, because my über-Midwest girlfriend wanted to see the ball drop in Times Square. We broke up by 9 p.m. and I drank the mini-bar. Woo hoo.

Another girlfriend took me to Deep Creek Lake for New Year's. Skiing and all that. It rained the whole time and I spent beaucoup time with her sub-awesome Frostburg State friends. Her friend broke up with her boyfriend and spent the night in our room. Woo minus hoo.

I saw a story on the news about people having New Year's Eve swine flu parties. People intentionally spread the swine flu in its current state to prevent beinng infected with a more dangerous future mutation. Idjits.

My best New Year's Eve was in Dubrovnik, Croatia. I was drinking rakia in the bar near my unheated rented room. Rakia is a local spirit that tastes like brandy made from straw, goat sweat, and despair.

A wedding party swooped in, had a round of drinks and whooshed on to their next stop with me in tow. I don't know if this is a Croatian tradition, but I had big time fun. With zero Croatian language skills my understanding came from rakia. We also drank a lot of Coke mixed with a blunt earthy local red wine – surprisingly not horrible.

You can't plan a night like I had in Dubrovnik and that's the point. Real fun comes when you least expect it. The best you can do is be available and open to anything, have low expectations and ride any wave of chaos.

The lesson here? Giving in to the moment, Jägermeister and eschatology banter beats hanging out with married people every time.

You won't see me at any high-priced events or places with covers, but look for me wherever Sardonic is spoken and rakia is served. Have a chaotic New Year's Eve, Midnight Sunners and please share your New Year's stories.


(Getty Images)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:00 AM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays

Does anybody serve Dale's Pale Ale on tap around here?

dale's pale aleFor the past week or two, I have had a vivid, recurring vision.

I'm in a bar (big surprise there), and I look at the selection of draft beers, and see a tap handle shaped like a can of Dale's Pale Ale.

I can't remember if I order one or not. I don't think I do. But I make a mental note: Remember this place, Sessa, because you've never seen Dale's Pale Ale on tap before and this would make a great blog.

Of course I don't remember the place. Heck, I'm not sure if this is a hazy memory or something I've dreamt up entirely.

If you haven't tried it, Dale's Pale Ale is one of the best canned craft beers you'll ever have. The more I ponder this, the more I believe Dale's Pale Ale might be one of the only canned craft beers, which narrows the competition. Still, it's worth trying -- even though it's in a can ...

Before Dale's Pale Ale, the only two beers I would actively drink out of a can were Natty Boh and Coors Light. Some beers taste better in a can, and Coors Light is one of them.

I've never had Dale's any way but in a can, but lemme tell you, it's crisp and snappy and, all in all, pretty darn good. And if my vision of Dale's on tap was more than just a vision, I'd most certainly like a pint.

Anybody else seen Dale's on tap? Or am I dreaming?

(I got this photo, which I'm assuming is a press photo, here)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:49 AM | | Comments (33)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 28, 2009

More info on Clipper City Brewing's revamp

Last week, happy drinker Rob told us about Clipper City Brewing's plans to change their name to Heavy Seas and such.

Now, Beer in Baltimore has a few more details, including photos of some of the new labels and future bottling plans.

Check it out.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:13 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

I need tasty winter drink suggestions

hot buttered rumDo you have a favorite go-to winter cocktail?

I'm working on a roundup of awesome winter drinks for the Taste section, and could use some suggestions.

I know Bertha's has some great hot buttered rum, which I plan on sampling ASAP. I'm also going to hit up the B&O American Brasserie, which has a whole winter drink menu.

Who else has great winter drinks? They don't all have to be hot drinks, of course. 

Whatcha got for me?

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:26 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Emerging from the cookie coma

stoutOh goodness is it really Monday morning? That must mean it's time to put an end to Gorgefest '09 (aka Christmas feast).

I stuffed my face on meats and sweets (but not sweetmeats), and took a much-needed hiatus from work and the blog.

But now I'm back in business (and ain't it grand). Where were we?

Well, in case you haven't been around for the past few days, you missed this article about Stout, one of Baltimore's hardest-rocking, longest-running hard-core bands ...

Stout formed in the mid-'90s, making them about 15 years old. That's ages and ages in band years. I talked to lead singer Thaddeus "Tad" Stamps, who told me the band got the name Stout because they used to drink a ton of Guinness. Niiiiiiiice.

Stout is signed to a British record label, and plans to tour Japan next year. 

"We just want to keep playing music and enjoying life," Stamps said.

Rock on, Stout. Rock on.

(Photo courtesy of the band)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:29 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

December 24, 2009

Porter's will reopen, possibly as Porter's

porter'sPorter's, the Federal Hill corner bar and restaurant which closed in October, could reopen as early as February -- as Porter's, according to building owner Dave Cowell.

Cowell has decided to lease the space to Kevin Cooper, who plans to keep the same low key vibe Porter's was known for while improving the menu and service. Oh, and Cooper also wants to keep the name Porter's.

"It's good news, I hope," Cowell said. "His whole goal is for the neighborhood to feel welcome and at home." ...

The new Porter's could reopen at the beginning of February 2010, after the liquor license transfer is approved, and all the proper permits obtained. Since these things tend to run behind schedule, Cowell isn't entirely sure when the grand opening will be.

When Cowell was searching for the right person to run the place, he wanted someone who wouldn't rock the boat. He thinks he's found that person in Cooper.

"I'm crossing my fingers he can turn a profit and run a good business there," Cowell said. "I couldn't ask for a better tenant. I'm excited to see what he can do with the restaurant." 

(Baltimore Sun archive photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 23, 2009

The skinny on Clipper City Brewing's redesign

clipper city founder hugh sissonClipper City Brewing is undergoing some noticeable changes in the new year. Here is Happy Drinker Rob, with the run-down:

Clipper City Brewing will be changing labels, and that means the guy on the "MarzHon" label wearing long black knee socks will disappear.

Founder Hugh Sisson (pictured) says that starting in February, his Pale Ale, Gold Ale, McHenry and MarzHon will lose their Clipper City look and moniker. They will be called Heavy Seas brews and get new labels.

Instead of Clipper City MarzHon, the beer will be known as Heavy Seas Marzen ...

The Heavy Seas Marzen label will lose the cartoon-like caricature of the MarzHon guy sitting on his front porch, in his undershirt and black socks.

That image and the whole Clipper City image does not register with beer drinkers who live outside the Baltimore area, Sisson said.

Too bad. I still will drink the beer, but I will miss the Hon guy.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Kim Hairston)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:34 PM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Timbaland is coming ...

timbalandFor some reason, I wasn't paying attention when this show was announced, but I'm definitely down for going: Timbaland is coming to Rams Head Live Jan. 17.

Tickets are available here.

I've never seen Timbaland live, but I'll bet it's going to be a good show.

That said, this is one of those shows where you never know quite what he's going to play. Since Timbaland's a producer, he'll probably do his solo stuff.

I'd also like to see him do some of the other stuff he's produced, especially if he brings backup singers who could fill in the other parts.

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:04 PM | | Comments (0)

Sipping Flying Dog at Poe Boys

poe boys pool tableI think the owners of Poe Boys may finally have a winner on their hands.

The new Fells Point bar feels like a Fells Point bar -- something it's predecessor, the fancier Miss Irene's, never did.

Midnight Sunner Alexander D. Mitchell IV wasn't too impressed with Poe Boys' beer selection, but I thought it was formidable. They have two tap risers, with more than a dozen draft beers.

I ordered a Flying Dog Raging Bitch, a new IPA from the regional brewery. It's hoppy, that's for sure. But it also goes down easy -- even at 8.3% abv.

There weren't many people in Poe Boys, probably because it's new, and it was also 9 p.m. the Tuesday before Christmas ...

Our server playfully tried to get me to order the buffalo wings (a special blend of spices the kitchen staff just loves, she said) and I must admit, I was tempted. But in the end, I opted for the one beer.

I also meandered to the back room, where the owners have installed a new pool table. The red felt goes well with the maroonish walls. It's a classic-looking space.

I'm always hesitant to make predictions about how well a new bar will do, because there are so many outside circumstances that always come into play. But Poe Boys has a better chance than Miss Irene's. That's for sure.

(Photo by me)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:40 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 22, 2009

Jason Zink and the tip pooling lawsuit

Let's start with an introduction: Jason Zink is the owner of No Idea Tavern and the operator of Don't Know Tavern.

For more than two years, Zink was also a bartender at Don't Know Tavern. All of the tips Zink and the other bartenders made went into a collective tip pool, which he said was divided evenly at the end of the night. Since Zink didn't pay himself a salary, he lived off the money he made as a bartender. He and the other bartenders made less than minimum wage, but the tips more than made up for it.

However, it's a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act for an owner or manager to collect a share of the tip pool when their employees are making less than minimum wage.

Zink found this out the hard way, when earlier this year, several of his former employees filed a lawsuit against him, seeking $250,000 in punitive damages. ...

"When you see '$250,000 in punitive damages,' it scares you," Zink said. "It literally made me sick to my stomach. It wasn't even anger. It was just scary, because it's my livelihood. ... I take it very personally."

In the 15 years Zink has bartended, he had never heard of anything like this. He can rattle off several bars in South Baltimore alone where an owner or manager bartends and shares the tip pool.

"Pooling tips is common practice," he said. "Unfortunately, now I know that everything that's common practice might not necessarily be legal."

The lawsuit was originally filed by Tara Gionfriddo, a former employee of Don't Know, as well as five other employees. Since then, three of the plantiffs have dropped off the suit, which leaves Gionfriddo and two others.

"I would bet this is a very common practice, because the truth of it is, as long as it's not policed, it will go on," said Philip Zipin, Gionfriddo's lawyer.

"If you're management and you have a chance to take $100 out of the till every night and no one's calling you on it, why wouldn't you keep doing it? The problem is, Mr. Zink was working these shifts and he felt -- rightly or wrongly -- that he was entitled to his share of the tips. He may have thought that way, but that is simply not what the law provides."

Zink toyed with the idea of going to court, but figures it will cost him as much -- if not more -- money than settling out of court. Since the lawsuit, he has gone back to being the sole bartender at No Idea. He thinks he'll probably end up settling in the coming weeks.

"It's a lose-lose situation for me," he said. "I just want to find out a way to make sure the other bar owners don't have this happen to them."

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:57 PM | | Comments (40)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Slainte Pub is pouring free Guinness drafts today

slainte pubSlainte Pub (1702 Thames St. in Fells Point) is pouring one free Guinness from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today if you sign up for their newsletter before 3 p.m.


Here's where you can sign up.

Just hurry, though, because it's already almost 11 a.m.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd Fox)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:52 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays: Office holiday parties

office parties Back when I worked at the college newspaper, we would have occasional parties after the work was finished for the night. We'd sneak a keg into the office, set up some beer pong and such. I always kept my head down at work and didn't goof off. But I went all-out for these parties.

I would show up wearing a kimono, or in a farmer's hat with a jug of moonshine. Everybody got a kick out of it. I don't think everybody would get a kick out of it if I did that at a Baltimore Sun holiday party. Either way, it's not an option -- there isn't an official Baltimore Sun holiday party.

In today's column (and, I think, one of his best so far), Owl Meat discusses the horrible, hazardous office holiday party. Here goes:

Nothing good can come from an office Christmas party.

With alcohol, it's a tinderbox of professional ruination. Without liquid spirits, it's a fluorescent prison of bad sweaters and forced cheer. Ho ho, no no. ...

Perhaps it's from watching "Mad Men," but I imagine a time when office Christmas parties were riotous blowouts of unleashed American angst and good-natured release of repressed urges. Back when the three martini lunch was a sign of success rather than addiction.

The dry Christmas party at the office is the worst. Throw in Secret Santa and the torment deepens. Sometimes I think these parties are all for the office party lady. You know her. She collects money for birthdays, showers, and all sorts of personal events that don't belong at work. She has the most awesome Christmas sweater ever, a gnarly philodendron begging for death, and a jar of honey mustard pretzel nuggets on her desk. She lives for the office party ... and cake. Cake cake cake.

The other party option is off-site at a bar or restaurant. This is better because at least you are out of the office. People tend to let their guard down at these parties and that's when trouble starts. Get drunk at an office party and you will never live it down.

Potential hazards: The inappropriate sexual advance, telling your boss what you really think, spilling personal info, or even a crazy dance.

office holiday partyObviously it depends upon where and with whom you work. If you work in a stiff corporate environment, the "holiday" party is a mine field of sugar cookies and corporate manners. The wise person sips half a drink and begs off early due to some bogus family obligation. That's not much of a party, but at least you won't get snickered at on Monday.

What's worse than your office party? Your significant other's office party. Oh, the horror. Being a guest at someone else's office party is less fun than watching Olympic curling or cleaning your bathroom with a Q-Tip.

A few years ago at an office party, an amateur Cosmo-naut insisted with slurry enthusiasm that I simply must come to his house to make kumquat preserves. Uh, sure, e-mail about it next week. Last year, a senior researcher lashed out at her husband after one too many Manhattans – about their cat. More amusing is the non-drinker who stumbles upon the frozen cocktail – the Piña Calamity. Wind up Poindexter and watch him go. One minute he's the nerdy statistician and the next he's a ... Girl Drink Drunk.

Was there ever a time when holding mistletoe above a woman's head gave you license to mouth-mount her? Perhaps in a Jane Austen novel, but nowadays it looks more like sexual assault. Expect a sit-down with HR if you try this, Mr. Darcy.

I don't remember behaving badly at an office party and I'll leave it at that. So have you witnessed any amusing or horrifying work holiday parties? Come on, spill it. Extra points if any sort of nog is involved.

(Getty Images)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:38 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays

December 21, 2009

So, today is Frank Zappa Day, eh?

frank zappaHave you heard the news?

Today, Dec. 21, 2009, is Frank Zappa Day.

Mayor Sheila Dixon issued the proclamation, which makes it official. Why today? Well, today was his birthday, and he was born in Baltimore.

I did have one question, however: Is Frank Zappa Day just today? Or every Dec. 21 from now on?

So I called Scott Peterson, the mayor's spokesman, and asked him. His response was pretty funny ...

"That's a good question," he said. "I don't know how those proclamations work. ... If every Dec. 21 could be, it should be."

Amen to that, Scott.

Scott put me in touch with Jeanette Garcia, Mayor Dixon's deputy director of correspondence and constituent services, which is a really long and boring way of saying Garcia, among other things, helps issue proclamations like this one.

Interesting fact: There are no permanent So-and-So days. Every year, somebody somewhere has to file a formal request to have a certain day made into Frank Zappa Day or Billie Holiday Day.

This isn't the first Frank Zappa Day, and probably won't be the last. The first one was in the summer of August 2007, when Zappa's son Dweezil was in town to play his dad's music. The second one was Dec. 21, 2008.

Garcia hopes to have every Dec. 21 from now on designated Frank Zappa day. I do too.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:45 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Random stuff

Want to buy the Red House Tavern?

redhouse tavern baltimore

Wanna buy a bar? 

How about the Red House Tavern?

It's for sale, you know. 

Dig it.

Earlier today, Midnight Sun reader Adam Meister sent me the heads up about the Canton joint, which used to host a lot of local bands.

The tavern shut down when it couldn't pay its taxes earlier this year, and never re-opened.

I'll keep you posted on what happens to it.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:36 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

If you opened a bar, what would you name it?

We've talked about the best bar names in town. We've even toyed with the best fake band names.

Now, I bring you this question: If you opened a bar, what would you name it? ...

There have been so many new bars with hilariously awful names this year, I almost want to dub 2009 the Year of the Bad Bar Name.

Now, let's counter all the bad bar names and make a list of the best hypothetical bar names out there.

Mine would be Sam's Seaside Shanty Shack. If you say the name 37 times fast, you get a free shot of Q Tonic.

What are yours?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:49 AM | | Comments (45)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Looking back on 2009

Yesterday, the big story in the arts and entertainment section was a look back at nine trends of 2009. I pitched in for two of them: Local bands in 2009 and live music in 2009.

When I thought about it, I realized: For local musicians and music lovers in general, 2009 was a great year.

It seemed like every prominent local band signed a record contract or released a well-received album. Beach House, J-Roddy, Double Dagger, Wye Oak, Dan Deacon were just a few of them. Here's a link with more about it.

But let's not forget live music ...

This was an awesome year to see live music. Just about every big name act in pop and rock came around, and they all put on solid shows. Paul McCartney was awesome. U2 were great. Jay-Z and Beyonce kicked butt. And Bruce. Well, what more can I say about Bruce. I think Frank Remesch, 1st Mariner's general manager, says it best here.

Did you have a favorite show of the year? Springsteen was mine.

And as for those local bands -- next week, I'm going to list Baltimore Unsigned's Top 30 songs of 2009. Stay tuned.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:40 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Local music

December 20, 2009

Digging out? Call me.

Hey folks, I'm helping out with a piece about people digging out from the blizzard of '09. Got any stories for me? I already talked to a guy who took his fiancee to the airport at 7:30 a.m. He said the airport was desolate.

Call me at 410.332.6689 or e-mail me at Hope to talk to you soon!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:19 AM | | Comments (0)

December 19, 2009

Snow day specials?

If you're a bar owner (or you're at a bar right now), post a comment with your snow day specials. I heard through the grapevine that Ryleigh's has $2 drafts and chicken pot pie.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:39 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 18, 2009

It's never too cold for mojitos

sascha's 527Eight hours in the saddle (or at the keyboard) can make a man mighty thirsty.

After work yesterday, I needed the good stuff, so I met up with some folks at Sascha's 527 for happy hour. On my way in, I spotted a sweet special on the chalkboard -- $4 mojitos from 5 p.m.-7 p.m.

Consider my curiosity piqued. 

Y'all know I like mojitos. But I don't want to be caught drinking out of season

Still, I couldn't resist asking the bartender why he was serving mojitos when it was freezing outside. He shrugged, and said it's never too cold for mojitos.

Consider me convinced.

The bartender (who said they run the mojito special about once a week) made it just the way I like it -- not too sweet, with simple syrup, a handful of muddled mint and lime, Bacardi rum and a splash of club soda. It was scrumptious ...

I ordered Amie a glass of petite sirah, which, at the bartender's recommendation, was silky yet still full-bodied. Oh, and it only cost $6. Thanks, happy hour.

In fact, one mojito, two tall glasses of petite sirah, one Brooklyn Lager and two small plates (fish tacos and bison sliders) cost less than $40, with tip. I love Baltimore.

I've been to Sascha's for lunch before, but never drinks. I liked the cut, artsy bar area at the rear of the building. Typically when you walk into a restaurant, the bar snakes along the side near the front. At Sascha's the drinkers have their own little section. After one night there, I'll be back for more.

(Baltimore Sun archive photo)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:30 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

So I got some Q Tonic in the mail ...

q tonicLast week, when I wrote about artisanal Q Tonic (made with hand-picked quinine from the Peruvian Andes and the hopes and dreams of small children), the company's founder, Jordan Silbert, offered to send me some.

I've never met Silbert in person, but I imagine him as a mustachioed fellow with a top hat and cane, standing on a stage with a case of Q Tonic.

"It makes you younger, stronger and faster! No ailment stands a chance if you ingest Q Tonic. Guaranteed to cure consumption, gout, typhoid, scarlet fever, water on the knee (operation!), writer's cramp and plague." 

With that kind of pitch, who could refuse the call of Q Tonic? ...

Hee hee.

Q Tonic comes in cute little glass bottles -- much snazzier than the big plastic jugs of Schweppes tonic I'm used to.

I'm ready for the taste test. I'm up for the challenge.

Bring it on!

(Photo courtesy of Q Tonic)


Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:37 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 17, 2009

Frank Zappa statue to go near Highlandtown library

frank zappa statueSo the Public Art Committee finally found a home for that Frank Zappa statue: Outside the Southeast Anchor Library, a branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Highlandtown.

The bust of Zappa (who was born in Baltimore) will go up sometime next year, according to committee chair Anne Perkins.

"We think this is a great place for it -- a terrific neighborhood" Perkins said. "I think it will be the focal point for a lot of really fun festivals."

Here's a link to the full story.

At first, I was a little surprised at the site they chose. Highlandtown might get a decent amount of foot traffic, but probably not as much as the other sites they were considering -- such as Fells Point.

And besides the Creative Alliance, Highlandtown really isn't known for its arts and entertainment.. 

Then I spoke with Zappa's widow, Gail, who cleared things up for me ...

Gail said Zappa would have liked the location, because his mother, Rose Marie, was a librarian. Gail actually lobbied to have the bust placed near a city library.

"I'm thrilled," she said. "That's where he went to school, in the library. The library was a really important place for him in his teen years."

I asked her if Zappa would have even wanted a bust of himself anywhere, let alone in Baltimore, and she laughed.

"It's the ultimate bust, isn't it?," she said. "It's a beautiful, beautiful bust. I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome. It's stunning. It really represents Frank's character beautifully."

(Pictured is a Zappa statue in Lithuania, similar to the Baltimore statue. AP photo.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:12 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Random stuff

Harbor East is getting a new wine bar

pouring wineElizabeth has some good news in her latest Table Talk column: A new wine bar is coming to Harbor East.

Rosina Gourmet (the upscale sandwich shop) is branching out into the wine shop business, it seems. The new member of the Rosina family is Vino Rosina, which should open at 705 Exeter St. in late February/early March.

This is great news for the neighborhood, because there aren't many decent spots to get a drink in Harbor East after 10 p.m.

According to Elizabeth's piece, the 2,200-foot spot is being designed by SMG Architects. You may remember them from such restaurants as Woodberry Kitchen. Oh yeah, baby.

But wait, there's more ...

According to the article:

"We'll have great wines by the glass, good cheese, small plates, charcuterie and Tuscan flatbreads," said Lancaster. "We'll keep a lot of the gourmet sandwiches [offered at the Rosina Gourmets], but we're reaching for some more exotic ingredients."

The emphasis will be on local producers and organic and green products.

Vino Rosina's hours will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, and the place will probably stay open until midnight on the weekend.

(Los Angeles Times photo)


Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:37 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 16, 2009

Happy holidays from an all-star cast of local celebrities

I've always liked the poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas," but I love this reading of it. The Baltimore Sun multimedia team corralled dozens of local celebrity types and got them to each read a stanza from the poem.

Marin Alsop, Robert Ehrlich, Joe Flacco, Michael Oher, Hugh Sisson, Martin O'Malley, Susan Reimer, Cindy Wolf, Kimmie Meissner, Marc Steiner, Ed Norris, Sam Sessa and Vic Carter are just a few of the folks who make appearances. Dig it ...

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:30 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Celebrity sightings

Aural States Fest II is coming!

heightAural States, the blog that brought you Aural States Fest I is returning ... with Aural States Fest II.

Oh snap!

Sonar and the Talking Head Club will host the festival, which takes place Jan. 30. I have it on good authority that this will not only be the second Aural States Fest -- it will also be the last.

If I understand correctly, Aural States' main man Greg Setzo is moving out of Bmore next year. Then again, you know how I am with rumors.

Are you ready for the lineup? Of course you are. And what a lineup it is ...


Leprechaun Catering

Vincent Black Shadow

Sick Weapons

Office of Future Plans (J Robbins of Jawbox)

Caleb Stine

Benjy Ferree

Sick Sick Birds

Noble Lake

Dustin Wong

Height With Friends


True Womanhood

Lands & Peoples

Ami Dang

Here's everything you need to know, courtesy of Aural States:

This year we are proud to team up with our younger regional cousin Bmore Musically Informed to present our festival as Night 2 of the “Blogtimore PWNS” weekend. Night 1 takes place Friday January 29th, when a combination of Aural States Fest alums and fresh local talent will play the last show ever at the G-Spot.

Tickets for Night 1 are $10ADV/$12DOS and available through Tickets for Night 2 are $15 and available through A limited supply of 50 double-header tickets are available for a discounted rate of $20 through ( and missiontix), and will guarantee access to both nights.

(Anybody know who took this photo? I borrowed it from Height's Myspace site. I'm guessing it's a Josh Sisk photo, but I'm not sure)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Local music

December 15, 2009

Terrible service at Aloft's w xyz bar

aloft's w xyz barIn the four odd years I've been writing about nightlife, I've seen my share of bad bartenders.

But a night at Aloft Hotel's w xyz bar in the National Harbor was one of the worst. I'd completely forgotten about my time at the bar until a PR rep for Aloft e-mailed me today with a press release about the place.

This past summer, some friends and I went to a wedding near the National Harbor, and we stayed at Aloft. It's a nice hotel.

After the wedding, we went to the hotel bar, w xyz, for a drink.

I'm always on the lookout for great new bars, and w xyz looked pretty chic. The bar was back lit, and we plopped down in cushioned corner seats ...

I walked up the bar, waited for a while in line and ordered two Bombay and tonics. The bartender asked me to get out my ID, but before I could hand it over the bartender walked away and started serving other people. I was miffed ...

Everyone else who was standing in line at the bar got drinks -- even the people behind me. After about 10 minutes, when there was no one else left to serve, the bartender came back to me and asked "What did you want again?"

I got my drinks but didn't leave a tip.

That, I think, was the last time I'll have a drink at the w xyz bar.

(Photo by me)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:56 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Looking for bars with NHL Center Ice

hockey time!What Baltimore bars have NHL Center Ice?

I had a reader ask me that question via Twitter (are you following me on Twitter? No? Do it.) late last night, and I didn't really have an answer for her.

She used to watch the games at Fletchers, but, well, this happened.

Any suggestions?

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:08 PM | | Comments (34)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

About that Johnny Walker Blue photo ...

BlueLabel_BlankBottle2.jpgBlueLabel_BlankBottle2.jpgBlueLabel_BlankBottle2.jpgMinutes I jabbed the Johnny Walker Blue folks for not sending me a photo of their heralded scotch, they sent me the photo.

I didn't want it to go to waste, so I figured I'd share it with you.

I'm not sure what else to say.

I like scotch.

Do you like scotch?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:31 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The recession is official

hops innMy friends, it is with a heavy heart (and a spotted liver) that I give you this sad news: The price of a glass of Johnny Walker Blue at Hops Inn (7002 Railway Ave. in Dundalk) has tripled, from $3 to $9.

Blame the recession. Blame the demand. Blame whatever you will. But there's no escaping it.

These are tough times, when even the best bars must tighten their belts and hike up their prices.

Of course, the average price for a glass of Johnny Walker Blue is more than double that at most Baltimore bars. But still! 

Midnight Sunners Jmgiordano and Shankman stopped by Hops last weekend, and relayed the sad but expected news.

I mean, $3 glasses of JWB don't last forever, folks ...

I'm still leery of going back to Hops, because I had such an awesome, awesome time there last time, and I don't know if Hops could ever live up to itself ...

Our night at Hops for the original Dundalk bar tour was one of the best bar experiences I've ever had. It was mind-blowingly good.

Anyway, I would still recommend Hops to anyone who likes low-key county joints. I went back through the archives and dug up this bit from the Dundalk bar tour nightlife column, which originally ran in June 2008:

It's possibly one of the most random but welcoming bars I've ever been to. Hop's sits in the middle of a residential section of Dundalk on Railway Avenue. A list of the buildings on this street would read: house, house, house, Hop's, house, house. A big sign out front advertised "Bud On Tap," as if it were some novel thing, and I wondered just how long it had been there.

I'm glad Hops is still doing well -- even if the scotch has gone up a bit. In my humble opinion, it's still one of the best bars I've ever been to.

(Sorry for the lack of a scotch photo. I e-mailed Johnny Walker Blue, but they never got back to me. Huff.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:08 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays: Bar tunes

music in barsAfter a two-week vacation, Owl Meat is back in business, with this post about music in bars. Bring it on, OMG:

Good non-live music is a rare commodity in Baltimore bars.

There are a bazillion great songs available via CD, iPod, or even XM radio. But noooooo I have to hear Journey's "Open Arms" for the millionth time. Die Mr. Robato, die!

Down with lazy music programming. Enough "classic" rock and '70s and '80s hits. That was the music I hated in the '80s and now my ears are imprisoned by it.

I think too many bars program the music to not offend anyone, which really pleases no one, and offends me. It take that back. It pleases people who bore me ...

Years ago juke boxes used to define the character of a bar. Presumably the owner picked out the songs available, so it was okay to play anything. On your home turf you may be into hip-hop or punk, but in a random bar there was no shame in spinning some Merle Haggard or Patsy Cline. There was something special and naughty about the strange juke box. I fear that musical strange is gone forever.

Enter the digital jukebox. That thing that has every song every recorded available. It has no character -- or rather it lends no character to the bar.

My phone seems to have more storage capacity than these devices. They seem to have less songs available for the standard rate than the old jukebox of 45s. Why is that? To squeeze money out of you.

Will this e-bandit play Son Volt's "Medicine Hat?" Yes, for a dollar. That's a crime. I could buy it online for 99 cents.

Then there is the problem of coughing up your crinkled dollar bills for that great song you love, only to get it booted by the bartender because someone else hates it. You give me a Guinness and a Jameson and I will play Yo La Tengo's "Cherry Chapstick" or the Velvet Underground's "Heroin" every time.

There are also songs that I play only on a jukebox obsessively, such as White Zombie's "More Human than Human" and Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle."

What to do, what to do?

(Photo by Getty Images)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (30)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays

December 14, 2009

Concert review: Dashboard Confessional at The Ottobar last night

chris carrabbaLast night, when Dashboard Confessional front man Chris Carrabba played an all-acoustic show at The Ottobar, it was like he'd come full circle.

Dashboard started out as a solo project for Carrabba, and gradually grew into a full band. But last night, it was just Carrabba and Dashboard guitarist John Lefler on stage, offering up loose, acoustic versions of their emo hits.

"It's fun to do this once in a while," Carrabba said.

The show was sold out, to no one's surprise. Dashboard usually plays in much larger venues; in fact, they had booked a full-band tour this fall (their latest album, "Alter the Ending," came out Nov. 10). But when one of the band members suffered an undisclosed emergency, Carrabba postponed the full-band tour and booked a series of acoustic dates in small clubs such as The Ottobar.

How small is small for these guys? Well, their tour bus was longer than the club was wide ...

The show was dynamite, to no one's surprise. Whenever you get a couple hundred screaming, hormonal teenagers and emo icon Carrabba under one roof, the energy is explosive. It's a match made in Hot Topic heaven. Parents aside, I was probably one of the oldest people there, and I'm 26.

At times, Carrabba acted like a camp counselor, leading the kids through singalongs of whole verses of his songs. He would strike the opening chord of a song and the crowd would know exactly what he was about to play. It was uncanny.

Carrabba and Lefler both played acoustic guitar, and took turns at an upright piano. There were missed cues, botched solos and such, but if anything, they added to the show's spontaneity. Carrabba took a couple requests, and played a handful of covers.

Dashboard's heart-on-my-sleeve sound is a very specific kind of rock, with a lot of fans and even more haters. Love it or not, there's no denying: Carrabba does it well. At 34, he can still hit the high, whining notes on early songs such as "Screaming Infedelities."

Sweat poured off Carrabba, who smiled for photos in mid-song and stomped his worn black dress shoes on the stage to give the songs some oomph. He blew through a 19-song set in an hour and 12 minutes, and came back out for a short encore before calling it a night. And for his young audience, what a night it was.

Here is the set list:

The Brilliant Dance
The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most
The Good Fight
I'll See You There
Where There's Gold
Belle of the Boulevard (cc on piano)
Ghost of a Good Thing
So Long Sweet Summer
Bend and Not Break
Screaming Infidelities
Saints and Sailors
Until Morning
Up My Sleeve*
El Scorcho***
The Swiss Army Romance
Get Me Right

Hands Down

*John Lefler song
**Ingrid Michaelson cover
***Weezer cover

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:53 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Concert reviews

The ultimate comfort cocktail?

It could be the comfort cocktail to end all comfort cocktails.

This weekend, Owl Meat sent me a link to the recipe for the Bloody Bacon & Cheese. It's made with grilled cheese, bacon, tomato soup, garlic salt, ground pepper and sun dried tomato-infused vodka. I knew vodka comes in a trillion different flavors these days, but sun dried tomato-infused? Really?

Here's a video where two mixologists guide you through the recipe. I love how the grilled cheese is actually used as a garnish. Evan, can you make this and report back to us? You are Midnight Sun's resident mixologist, after all ...

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:18 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 13, 2009

You know what I need?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:59 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Random stuff

December 12, 2009

Concert review: Chris Brown at Sonar last night

chris brown at sonar in baltimoreBaltimore Sun writer John-John Williams IV was at Chris Brown's show last night at Sonar. Here are his thoughts:

Of the dozen or so concerts I’ve been to this year, not one artist can hold a candle to Chris Brown when it comes to dancing—not even Beyonce. But when it comes to new music, Chris Brown is dead last.

I suspect the now infamous crooner knows it too. Why else would his Fan Appreciation Tour performance last night at Sonar feature close to a half dozen reminders to purchase his new album, "Graffiti?" His DJ at one point urged the room of mostly screaming teenage girls to buy five copies each.

Um, no. The new cuts on "Graffiti" simply lack the wow factor of his first two albums, 2005's "Chris Brown" and 2007's "Exclusive."  

Last night, Brown was on stage for a little over an hour. And even though many of his songs were lip synced, you didn’t feel cheated.

His choreography, stage presence and live singing more than made up for the pre-recorded vocals. (I suspect he relied so heavily on lip syncing so he could catch his breath.) ...

Brown began his performance by lip-syncing "I Can Transform Ya," the debut single off "Graffiti."  It sounds like the producers synthesized Brown’s vocals, added some of the sound effects from "The Transformers" movies and meshed it with Lil' Wayne's over-exposed auto-tune. But Brown rocked it with great moves and good command of the stage.

Unlike "singers" such as Britney Spears and Co. who routinely lip-sync in the name of "choreography," Brown actually burns up the stage. He is a true dancer. He can actually freestyle, and he and his crew all go full-force through steps that rival any of the moves you would see in a street battle.

Brown truly excelled when he was performing material from his first two albums. It's astonishing by just how many world class hits he's had in his relatively short career.  

chris brown at sonar in baltimoreSpeaking of which, Brown is at a weird point in his career. His voice sounds fairly boyish and immature. That was cool during his first two albums, which were pretty much bubble gum, poppy songs that parents probably didn’t think twice about their young daughters listening to. But Brown’s reputation has been severely tainted by his assault of pop star Rihanna. Couple that with his newer songs that feature lyrics about "panty-dropping" and the end result just doesn’t quite mesh.

Last night, Brown really got the crowd jamming to "Wall to Wall" from "Exclusive" and "Gimme That." He followed with other hits, including "Run It" from "Exclusive" and "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)" from "Chris Brown." Even without collaborator Jordin Sparks, "No Air" was still magical. After urging the crowd to fill in and sing her parts, Brown finished up the song singing a capella to showcase his vocal range.

Brown tried to sprinkle in his newer material in between his older hits and dance sets. (On more than one occasion, Brown allowed his DJ to spit out about five minutes worth of popular R&B and Hip-Hop hits while Brown and his background dancers freestyled and did intricate choreography.)

Brown's new material just didn't resonate as much with the crowd, who had clearly not familiarized themselves with "Graffiti." The slew of fans, who minutes before were harmonizing lyrics with Brown, just stood in the crowd attempting to echo new lyrics that lacked the depth and power of his older hits. Thank goodness Brown realized this, and kept hitting us -- no pun intended -- with vintage Chris Brown chart-toppers. He launched into "Kiss, Kiss" and "With You" from "Exclusive," and "Poppin" from "Chris Brown." All the songs were well received by the sea of screaming young fans crowded around the Sonar stage.  

Brown ended the evening singing the upbeat, poppy "Forever." (Remember? It used to be featured in Double Mint gum commercials before the Rihanna assault.) It was just another reminder of how good Brown was, and how much potential he had.

(Baltimore Sun photos by Karl Merton Ferron)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:37 AM | | Comments (37)
Categories: Concert reviews

December 11, 2009

Here's how to get Beach Boys pre-sale tickets

beach boysThe Beach Boys are coming to Pier Six Pavilion July 24, and pre-sale tickets are available until 10 p.m. today.

The folks at Rams Head, who book the pavilion, decided to briefly sell tickets as an early holiday present to fans. All of the orders will be mailed in time for the holidays.

"Just a little cheeky fun to get you through the nasty weather and give a sneak peak to the awesome stuff we are going to be throwing down at the pier," Sarah Sample, marketing director for Rams Head Live and Pier Six, wrote in an e-mail.

Tickets are $30-$75. Go here, and enter the password beachboys2010.

(AP photo from 1966)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:35 PM | | Comments (6)

Strip club Lust fined, temporarily suspended

The liquor board fined and temporarily suspended Lust, a strip club on The Block, yesterday for numerous offenses.

Lust was fined $5,000 (a tidy sum, I might note), and suspended for 10 days, Feb. 1-11 next year, according to chairman Stephan Fogleman. Fogleman sent me an e-mail which broke down the violations. Lust was found guilty on all counts. Here they are ...

Violation of Adult Entertainment Rule 7

“No dancer may mingle with patrons while the dancer is nude” on September 12, 2009 (Re: Dancer with no underwear seated in the lap dance area with a patron) and on September 12, 2009 (Re: Another dancer with no underwear performing a lap dance for a patron seated at the bar);

Violation of Adult Entertainment Rule 3(a)

A dancer may not perform or otherwise appear nude unless the dancer; (1) is on a stage that is raised at least 18 inches above floor level; and 2)except as provided in subsection (b) of this rules, is at least 3 feet from the nearest patron on September 12, 2009 (Re: Dancer with no underwear performing a lap dance for a patron seated at the bar);

Violation of Adult Entertainment Rule 5(b)(2)

“No dancer may touch a patron’s (i) breast or chest; (ii) genitals or genital area’ or (iii) anus, anal area or buttocks” on September 12, 2009 (Re: Dancer rubbing up and down male patron’s body from his genital area to his midsection);

Violation of Adult Entertainment Rule 6

“An adult-entertainment business may not permit any of the following on the premises, whether by dancers, patrons, or otherwise ... (2)caressing, fondling, or touching the breast or chest, genitals or genital area, or anus, anal area, or buttocks of any other person, whether clothed or unclothed on September 12, 2009 (Re: Dancer rubbing against genital area and mid section of male patron);

Violation of Rule 4.18

“No licensee shall commit or allow the commission on his premises of any act which shall be contrary to any federal, state or local statute, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or morals” on September 12, 2009 (Re: Violation of Adult Entertainment Rules as adopted under the provisions of Baltimore City Code, Article 15 §1-3(a) and enforced under authority of Article 2B §12-203.1)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:37 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

What was your very first favorite song?

Do you remember the very first song you were fixated with? Think way back -- waaaaay back to when you were a little kid.

What was the first song you played over and over and over again?

For me, it was "All I Need is a Miracle" by Mike + The Mechanics. I hope I'm not dating myself here. I was a little kid, and I had a little record player that spun 45s. I'm not sure where I got my hands on the single, but I had it, and I played it to death ...

This morning, I sat down and listened to the song from start to finish for the first time in more than 10 years. I was surprised at how well it holds up, almost 25 years after it was released. "All I Need is a Miracle" was never a huge pop smash, but it's a solid pop song, through and through. 

Mike + the Mechanics are probably best known for the single "The Living Years," which still sends shivers up my spine when I listen to it. But "All I Need is a Miracle" will always have a special place in my heart.

What about you?
Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:28 AM | | Comments (52)
Categories: Random stuff

December 10, 2009

Help me pick the best new bars of 2009

the reserve baltimoreLordy, lordy, it's December already, which means it's open season on End-Of-The-Year lists. And since I know how much everybody loves lists, I'm going to whip up a few of 'em.

Let's start with the Best New Bars of 2009. I'd like to pick the Top Five New Bars of 2009, but to do it, I'm going to need your help.

I sifted through the Midnight Sun digital archives (which look something like this), and came up with a bunch of nominees. I'm sure I'm missing some, so let me know which ones aren't on my radar.

It's going to go down like this: You pick one of these bars (or nominate your own, as long as it opened in 2009), and tell me a couple reasons why you think it should make the Top Five. Reasons are important.

As you'll see, some of the nominees are both restaurants and bars. If you can, focus on the drinks and bar scene first and foremost. Food is for the weak.

OK. Ready?

Here are the nominees ...


Canton Arts and Entertainment

Lil' Phil's

The Rowhouse Grille

The Reserve (pictured)

Suite 18


Green Cilantro

The Hill


J.A. Murphy's


The Velvet Rope



Blue Hill Tavern


Azul 17


(Baltimore Sun photo by Kim Hairston)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:33 PM | | Comments (39)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Poe Boys is open

Midnight Sunner Alexander D. Mitchell IV reports that Poe Boys is open. If you recall, this is the restaurant that took over from Miss Irene's in Fells Point. Poe Boys has a pool table in the back, as well as a few beers on tap. Which beers? Funny you should ask.

"Unexciting draft list," Mitchell wrote in his e-mail. Hee hee. I'll try and get out there sometime in the next few days to scope the place out.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:12 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Will Chris Brown bounce back?

chris brownIn today's paper, I did a piece about R&B singer Chris Brown.

Brown, who pled guilty to assaulting his ex-girl Rihanna earlier this year, is finally back on tour, playing relatively small venues. Tomorrow, he'll be at Sonar. His new album, "Graffiti," just came out Tuesday, too.

I asked a bunch of folks if they thought Brown will ever bounce back from the incident. Most of them said Brown will forever be associated with the assault, in the same way R. Kelly is known for the child pornography charges, but Brown is still young and has a bright future.

"It's going to be a hard one to shake," said Angela Yee, host of The Morning After on Sirius/XM satellite radio. "Stuff like this does tend to stick around."

It's been almost a year since Brown was arrested and this whole mess started. It seems like he lost a lot of fans over it, and understandably so. His listeners still feel divided about the ordeal ...

Qiana McKay, a 29-year-old who lives in Washington, supports the singer but doesn't know if his career will ever be the same.

"It's a horrible situation for both of them, but he's paid his debt," McKay said. "It's not like he said he didn't do it. He did it, he's atoned for it, let's all move on."

Since Brown typically performs in arenas, the Fan Appreciation Tour is a chance for the singer's fans to see him in an intimate setting. Though ticket sales were sluggish at first, according to the New York Daily News, the Fan Appreciation Tour appears to have picked up steam. Brown's shows in Washington and Connecticut sold out, and the last few tickets for the Sonar show went on Tuesday.

What do you think? Will audiences forgive and forget? 

(AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:30 AM | | Comments (13)

December 9, 2009

Max's to expand beer selection

max's baltimoreThe already massive selection of draft beer at Max's could get even bigger.

The Fells Point bar plans to increase its tap selection from 78 to 100 in 2010, according to manager Casey Hard.

"More is better," Hard said. "The new year will be very big for us."

Max's is also adding two more hand pumps behind the bar, which will let them serve five cask beers. Right now, they only offer three.

Instead of waiting for micro-breweries to ship out cask beers, Max's bought seven of their own casks and sent them to the breweries. That way, Hard said, Max's will be able to serve casks of more exclusive suds. ...

"Some breweries don't have enough [casks]," he said. "This is the only way to get some of the far away breweries," he said.

About 10 years ago, Max's made most of its money by selling domestic standards such as Budweiser and Miller Lite. That has since changed, Hard said.

These days, Max's makes more money from local drafts such as Clipper City Loose Cannon and Brewer's Art Resurrection and specialty bottles than it does from the big-name domestics. Hard calls Miller Lite and Budweiser "TV beers," because you always see them advertised on television.

"The customer is a little more educated, with the whole craft beer boom," he said. "We do still sell a lot of TV beers, but the ratio is definitely a lot different than it used to be."

(Photo by me)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:57 AM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Going to Chris Brown at Sonar Friday? Call me.

Are you going to the Chris Brown show Friday at Sonar? Or do you know someone who is? Call me at 410.332.6689 or e-mail me at I'm working on a piece for tomorrow's paper and would love to talk to you.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:23 AM | | Comments (2)

Daft Punk is playing on my keyboard

Do you like Daft Punk? Or do you like wasting time on silly Internet things? I know you do, and you're definitely going to like this. ...

It's a site where you use your keyboard to play the samples from "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger." That in itself is cool. But the site went from Level Cool to Level Awesome when I realized you can play the backing track too. Sweet!

Just be careful. This site was recommended to me from a friend, who said it has consumed his life.

"I just got out of a relationship because of this," he wrote. "Couldn't juggle the two."

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:04 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Random stuff

December 8, 2009

Bro vs. Bro

The "Top Chef" finale airs tomorrow night, pitting Frederick's Bryan Voltaggio against his brother Michael. (There's some other dude, too, but we don't care so much about him, because he's not from the area.)

In honor of the show, my editors asked me to put together a sidebar comparing famous brothers, such as Peyton and Eli Manning and Jeb and George Bush. Dig it.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:08 PM | | Comments (2)

The cocktail list at Mr. Rain's Fun House makes me salivate

ludlow at mr. rain's fun houseThis afternoon, I snagged a copy of the drink list for the new Mr. Rain's Fun House from Elizabeth Large.

The selection looks decent: One sparkling wine, five whites and five reds, from countries such as Argentina, Austria, Spain and Australia, with prices ranging from $28-$40.

But the cocktail list is what really caught my eye. All the mixed drinks cost $12, which isn't too too bad.

The Ginger Julep looked snappy: Elijah Craig Bourbon, Campari bitters, ginger beer, muddled mint and ginger.

Another signature cocktail is The Ludlow (pictured), made with Bombay Dry Gin, Lillet Blanc, apple cider and cinnamon syrup. That sounds like prime wintertime toasting material, if you ask me.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Fun House Gin Tonic (I think they're missing a word somewhere in there), which is Bombay Dry Gin, Q Artisanal Tonic Water and muddled lime.

Artisanal tonic water, you say? Curious about what constitutes artisanal tonic water, I did a little digging ...

According to this site, which sells Q Artisanal Tonic Water at the low low price of $58 per case (plus shipping), Q is the best thing to happen to tonic water, well, ever. Check it out:

-Hand-picked quinine from the Peruvian Andes
-Organic agave as the sweetener
-60% fewer calories than regular tonic water
-All natural ingredients
-No high fructose corn syrup
-85% lower glycemic rating than other tonic waters

I don't know about you, but I only consume tonic water with organic agave and hand-picked quinine from the Perivan Andes. And the glycemic rating of my tonic water is VERY IMPORTANT to me. Hiccup.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:36 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Some good development news

parkway theatreOver the years, I haven't hesitated to point out neighborhood eyesores like the Parkway Theatre (pictured) and all the boarded-up shops along Broadway in Fells Point.

In the past several days, a bunch of good development-related news has been announced.

Today, the Baltimore Development Corp. announced its choice of developers to renovate the Parkway Theatre, according to this piece by Ed Gunts.

Under a plan by Seawall Development Company and Cormony Development, the theater and a couple nearby buildings will be transformed into a bar, museum and performing arts space.

This is exciting stuff, and will be pivotal for the growth of the neighborhood. But wait, there's more ...

As for those boarded-up shops? Thanks to a bunch of federal stimulus money, all the vacant storefronts flanking the Broadway Market could be turned into 160 apartments, shops and parking. (The whole project is called the Marketplace at Fells Point.) You can read all about it in this piece by Sun reporter Lorraine Mirabella.

I can't wait to see how Fells Point looks this time next year, if all goes as planned. 

(Baltimore Sun photo by Jed Kirschbaum)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:56 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

'Baltimore's 25 Best Bars'

There's no denying it: People love lists. Writers, on the other hand, tend to loathe making them. Inevitably, someone gets left off the list who feels they should have been on the list, etc.

So I have much respect for my colleague Jess Blumberg, who put together a list of the city's 25 best bars for Baltimore Magazine. Here's a link. ...

Blumberg's list has bars you'd expect, like Club Charles, Brewer's Art, Idle Hour and the Hamilton Tavern. Those bars are unavoidable, as far as Best Of lists go. But Blumberg also shows some love to lesser known (but just as deserving) joints like the Laughing Pint and BAR.

Now, the debate: How do you feel about the list? Anybody get left off that should have made it?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:57 AM | | Comments (27)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 7, 2009

Why I'm not posting much today

In case you haven't noticed, I'm not posting much today. I'm working on a bunch of stories, which are eating up my afternoon. Also, today is my birthday. So instead of blogging all day, I'm going to ask a question: What's the difference between well drinks and rail drinks?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:52 PM | | Comments (10)

Introducing Woody's Winter Lounge

woody's winter loungeI'm a-lookin', and I'm a-likin' these photos of the new Woody's Winter Lounge.

After reading your suggestions, the Woody's crew went out and bought new furniture for the Fells Point space. They're also developing a winter cocktail and food menu, which will have a tiki bar theme.

The only idea that they didn't take into consideration was the death metal bar suggestion, according to manager Bill Irvin.

"That's the only one I couldn't pull off," he said. "Everything else, we're going to make happen." ...

Woody's will be open 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays, 9 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays, 9 a.m.-2 a.m. Sundays, and also for special events, according to marketing rep. Willy Dely (he's the one who sent me the photos).

Below is another photo of the space, from a different angle.

woody's winter lounge(Photos courtesy of Willy Dely)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:45 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 6, 2009

DJ Oh Snap! scores RadioShack commercial

Man, the local music news just keeps pouring in.

Mount Airy's DJ Oh Snap!, aka Mickey Fortune, landed a song on a RadioShack commercial. The commercial, which features a crazy looking nutcracker on stage with some dancing puppets, has aired during huge TV programs like Monday Night Football and the Today Show. I've actually seen it, and didn't realize it was an Oh Snap! tune. I love it!

The song is "Lap Top." Here's the commercial ...

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:56 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

December 5, 2009

Midnight Sun endorses this T-shirt

carpe noctumAfter the monument lighting Thursday night, City Paper held one of their Illuminate events in a building on West Read St.

The events showcase local arts and crafts, as well as apartments and condos. 

I came across this T-shirt, which was part of a display from Shine Collective. I didn't ask how much it cost (I'm too poor to afford clothes), but if I had some greenbacks, I'd buy one.

That's why I'm endorsing it on behalf of Midnight Sun.

Carpe noctum!

(Photo by me)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:09 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff

December 4, 2009

Victoria Vox appears on The Jay Leno Show

victoria voxWhat a week it's been for Baltimore music.

First, Milkshake was nominated for a Grammy. Then, J-Roddy Walston and the Business signed to Vagrant Records

On Wednesday night, Baltimore singer/songwriter and ukulele player extraordinaire Victoria Vox appeared on "The Jay Leno Show."

Vox was a contestant on Jay's 'Meal or No Meal' segment, an off-beat talent show where folks compete for meals at restaurants. Vox performed a cover of Europe's "The Final Countdown" on her mouth trumpet.

"It was really fun," Vox said. "It's cool to get some national recognition for my mouth trumpet."

Vox was put up in a fancy New York City hotel, and given a free limousine ride (her first ever limousine ride) to the studio, courtesy of the show.

"They take care of everything," she said.

The show's producers saw a video of Vox performing on YouTube, and reached out to her about being on the show. They auditioned Vox over the phone (she did Lady Gaga's "Poker Face") ...

Vox wanted to perform some of her own music on the show, but the producers pushed for a cover of a more well-known song, and Vox agreed. That was Vox's only regret, she said.

"I'm kind of a stickler for original music," she said. "My true fans are disappointed that I wasn't up there performing one of my own songs singing ukulele. But going into it, I knew what they wanted."

Vox is the last of three contestants. I spared you the first five minutes of the segment, because the other two contestants are pretty lame.

The first one shoves four quarters up each nose (yuck) and the second one spits a Ping-Pong ball into the air and catches it into his mouth. Yawn. Somehow, both of them win free meals. The second dude even won dinner for four at Morton's, which baffles me.

Then comes Vox. When she tells Jay she's going to be playing the mouth trumpet, he says, "The mouth trumpet? Wow. I bet you have a boyfriend."

Vox's rendition of "The Final Countdown" kicks butt. It's adorably awesome. She wins a gift certificate for eight to the Japanese restaurant Benihana.

After the show, Vox got a ton of feedback and support from friends and fans.

"My phone was pretty much going berserk," she said. "It was a blast."

Here's the video:

(Photo by Daria Johnson)

If you want to see Vox live, she'll be at Stage 35 in Reisterstown on Saturday, Dec. 12. Tickets are $15. For more info, go here.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:26 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music

The real Fumbles sports bar

fumbles sports bar iowaRemember when jmgiordano and I dreamed up the idea for Fumbles, the sports bar for losers?

Our version of Fumbles celebrated famous flubs that cost teams the game. I Googled around and found one other Fumbles, located in Iowa. When I called it, the person who answered the phone was baffled by our idea.

Yesterday, the owner of Fumbles in Iowa e-mailed me with more details about their bar. That's their logo, to the right.

Here is the skinny on the pre-existing Fumbles ...

Dear Mr. Sessa,

My name is Chris Jasper and I am one of the owners of Fumbles Sports Bar in Bettendorf, Iowa.

My wife and I enjoyed your article in the Baltimore Sun and we decided to write to you to tell you a little about our bar. We bought the bar three and a half years ago and we really fumbled to come up with a name, that is how we came up with Fumbles. We are an Iowa Hawkeye bar and we have painted it black and gold to show our support to the Hawks.

When there is a fumble in the Hawkeye games and Iowa recovers the other teams fumble we have half price drinks for the next 5 minutes. If Iowa fumbles and loses the ball all drinks are doubled for the next five minutes.

Needless to say no one orders during this time. We have had a great time with this and our name and we are usually filled during a game.

Chris Jasper

(Fumbles logo, above)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:56 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 3, 2009

J-Roddy Walston and the Business signs to Vagrant Records

j-roddy walston and the businessBaltimore rockers J-Roddy Walston and the Business have signed to Farifax/Vagrant Records, drummer Steve Colmus confirmed today.

"[It's] pretty [expletive] rad!," Colmus wrote in an e-mail. "It's all come together really quickly."

Vagrant/Fairfax is a partnership between Fairfax Recordings and Vagrant Records, which signed the hit indie group Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes.

Vagrant is home to some of the biggest names in indie rock, including the Hold Steady and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club ...

The four-piece is in Los Angeles at the moment, working on a new album at Sound City Studios. They hope to finish the album, which is still untitled, by the end of the year. It could hit shelves as early as March or April 2010, according to Colmus.

"So our reign as "Baltimore's Best Unsigned Band" was mercifully short!," Colmus wrote. "Thanks for that mention by the way."

J-Roddy Walston and the Business will be back in Baltimore for a New Year's Eve show at The Ottobar. For more information (and tickets), go here.

(Photo by Ryan Thomas)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:58 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Local music

Baltimore's Milkshake nominated for a Grammy

milkshakeMilkshake, the Baltimore-based children's band, has been nominated for a Grammy award for Best Musical Album for Children.

"It's refreshingly unexpected," said lead singer Lisa Mathews. "It just feels good that our peers think we're worth at least a nomination."

Released in August, the album, "Great Day," is Milkshake's fourth, and is in great company, Mathews said. Other nominees in the same category include albums by Ziggy Marley, Jonathan Sprout and Buck Howdy.

"We were up against some heavyweights," Mathews said.

With "Great Day," Milkshake aimed to make an album that appealed to tweens and toddlers alike.  "I Want It," one of the dozen songs on "Great Day," is about materialism. ...

"I want five scoops of ice cream, piled up so high / whipped cream and a cherry, yeah, that'll keep me satisfied," she sings. "But all I want isn't all I need / I don't need a room full of things / I just need home, good books to read / The wind in my hair, a kiss on my cheek."

Mathews fronts the six-piece, which includes acoustic guitarist Mikel Gehl, bassist Cord Neal, drummer Tom Moon, electric guitarist Michael Sheppard and accordionist and keyboardist Brian Simms.

"It's a dream of theirs to go to the Grammys," she said. "It's going to be good to walk the red carpet. They should be proud, and I know they are. They're gushing about it."

(Handout photo)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:10 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Local music

The review: The Rowhouse Grille

the rowhouse baltimoreI still can't believe it's the same place.

Last Saturday, I stopped by the new Rowhouse Grille (1400 Light St.) in South Baltimore for a couple beers, and was pleasantly surprised at how great it looks. I remember when it was the Light Street Station, a seedy joint with colorful characters.

When Rowhouse owners Patrick Dahlgren and Joseph Flynn bought the building, they gave it quite the facelift, from the oak bar to the cherry floorboards. They painted the walls a blueish gray inside and out, and installed eight taps behind the bar.

Of those eight taps, three were Clipper City. That's the highest ratio of Clipper City beers I think I've ever seen in a neighborhood bar ...

Granted, it's no surprise, considering Dahlgren's step-father is Clipper City owner Hugh Sisson. But it's still a treat. I ordered a Clipper City Loose Cannon IPA, which cost $5. 

The Rowhouse's first floor has a bar up front and a dining space in back. The second floor, which was closed the night we went, has also been remodeled.

I had no complaints with the service at the Rowhouse. The bar area was comfortably full, but I never had a problem getting a drink. I also liked the tunes, which weren't your average pub fare. Instead of Journey and such, we got A Tribe Called Quest.

The Rowhouse isn't overflowing with character yet, because, well, it's still brand new. But The Rowhouse is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, in a spot that helps bring much needed foot traffic south on Light Street.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:58 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Video: A night in Baltimore with ... me

A couple months ago, a travel correspondent for the British newspaper The Guardian asked me to take him on a tour of Baltimore nightlife. I agreed -- even though I'd never done anything like this before. The writer, Benji Lanyado, was a charming fellow with a contagious enthusiasm. Together, we dropped by places like the Sidebar, Idle Hour, Owl Bar and Metro Gallery, among others.

Here is a link to the video.

I was worried I'd sound pretentious or just plain dumb, but between Benji's shooting and The Guardian's skilled editors, I think it came out really well. Thanks again for thinking of me, Benji. Cheers!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:31 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 2, 2009

Baltimore's most in-demand draft beer?

brewer's art resurrection aleResurrection Ale is perhaps the most desired draft beer in Baltimore. 

Everybody wants it. Only a few bars have it. But there's only so much to go around.

Resurrection is the signature beer of the Brewer's Art, which makes the popular ale in-house. About 50 bars and restaurants in the region serve Resurrection on tap: Everybody from Max's Taphouse in Fells Point to Idle Hour in South Baltimore to, oddly enough, Bill Bateman's in Towson.

Since Brewer's Art can only make so much Resurrection -- about 30 kegs a week get shipped out -- and they're already at capacity, it's almost impossible for a new bar or restaurant to start offering it.

"The folks who have it don't give it up," said co-owner Volker Stewart. "If the beer becomes available, it's usually because someone goes out of business." ...

When an account opens up, Brewer's Art and the wholesaler decide which bar or restaurant gets the suds. Bar owners are constantly calling Stewart, asking is they can get Resurrection on tap. It puts Stewart in an awkward position, he said.

"We're glad people enjoy the beer, but a lot of people get steamed when they hear 'No,'" he said. "After a while, it gets tiring to get those phone calls."

Stewart has thought about expanding the brewing operations in a new location, but said with the current liquor laws, it just isn't feasible.

"It would mean going out of state," he said.

Brewer's Art could make more Resurrection if they cut back on their seasonal drafts (such as their delicious St. Festivus holiday ale), but Stewart doesn't want to do that either.

"If I went to the brewery operations guy and said, 'Make less seasonals and make more Resurrection,' you'd see me hanging from the lamp post outside the place," he said.

For now, Resurrection will continue to be one of the region's most in-demand brews.

"On the one hand, it's a good complaint to have," Stewart said. "On the other hand, it causes us a little grief from time to time."

While we're on the subject of Brewer's Art, there are still a handful of tickets left for their annual holiday beer tasting Dec. 12. If you're a beer geek, you're going to want to check this out: About a dozen of the region's breweries will be on hand with their holiday beers. Call 410-547-6925 for more info.

(Baltimore Sun archive photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:01 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

A tip

I have it on good authority that Boomer's on the Hill, the South Baltimore neighborhood bar, has closed. I'll let you know when I find out more.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:16 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 1, 2009

For the record ...

... According to the Office of the Fire Marshal, the legal capacity of Paradox is 775. When the Fall Massive was shut down early Sunday morning, there were more than 1,500 people inside, estimated event promoter Evan Weinstein.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:43 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

A bar owned by two firefighters caught fire. Here's what happened.

banners fire baltimore

When Baltimore city firefighters Wayne Robinson and Rick Hoffman opened Banners in August, they expected setbacks.

Of all the disasters that could befall the Locust Point corner bar, a fire was the last thing they anticipated. But that's exactly what they got last Friday afternoon, when a blaze sparked by a grease fire ravaged their kitchen and the storage space above it.

"It's crazy," Robinson said. "Rick and I are both firefighters. To have your own place go up like that is pretty disappointing."

Neither of the owners was at Banners when the fire started. Robinson was on his way to the bar and Hoffman was on duty. Apparently, an employee had cooked a burger on the kitchen grill and the leftovers flamed up, Robinson said.

Robinson received a few text messages about a fire at Banners, but didn't think it was a big deal. Then he rounded the corner and saw smoke billowing out of the second-story windows ...

Several fire engines responded to the blaze at 2:24 p.m., according to fire department spokesman Kevin Cartwright. They performed a search and rescue and controlled the fire in about 15 minutes.

Robinson was stunned by the damage. He doesn't know how much it will cost to repair the place, but he thinks it could be more than $100,000. They had just bought a new freezer, and received a large food shipment in time for the holiday weekend.

"We got banged pretty good," Hoffman said. "The entire kitchen is gone now. Just gone."

Following standard procedure, fire crews stayed on the scene for a couple hours to make sure the blaze hadn't spread through the walls to neighboring businesses, Cartwright said.

After the fire was extinguished, several neighborhood residents showed up with buckets and rags and offered to help Robinson and his crew clean up the mess. Robinson gladly agreed.

"In three hours, the place was spotless," Robinson said.

Though it could be months before Banners' kitchen opens again, the bar is still serving drinks, Robinson said. He and Hoffman are disappointed that the nearby Locust Point fire house was temporarily closed at the time of the fire, due to budget cuts. Firefighters responded from a station in Brooklyn instead.

"You could throw a rock and hit the fire house from here," he said.

Though the fire may have destroyed their kitchen (and dented their pride), Robinson and Hoffman are determined to make Banners a success.

"We'll bounce back from this," Robinson said.

(Photo by Midnight Sunner LGood)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:14 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Woody's to be open year-round, owners want input

woody's rum barIf all goes as planned, Woody's Rum Bar and Island Grill will be open year-round starting next week, according to its owners.

This week, they're installing a $10,000 heating system to the third-story watering hole located above Slainte in Fells Point. It's got one of the best views in Fells Point. Yesterday, the owners called me, asking for input.

What should they do with the space, now that it's going to be up and running in the winter? ...

If I remember correctly, they were hosting live acoustic music semi-regularly at Woody's over the summer. I don't know how successful that was, but if it brought in a decent amount of customers, I'm all for having live music one or two nights a week.

I don't know how many different types of rum Woody's offers, but rum isn't considered a wintertime drink. However, if done right, a one-off "summer in December" event would be fun. People could dress like it's hot outside, there could be tons of different warm and cold rum drinks (maybe even a rum tasting?) and such.

I like how you have to walk up three flights of stairs to get to Woody's. That means you almost have to know it's there. And the view is a nice payoff. The idea of turning it into a cozy, romantic space where people could get drinks and desserts and enjoy the view is tempting. But the low key, summertime furniture doesn't suit that scene.

What do you think?

(Photo courtesy of Woody's)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:20 AM | | Comments (33)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
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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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