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November 30, 2010

Baltimore bans Four Loko to "protect youths;" selling comes with $1,000 fine

Not content to have beat the horse, and left it for dead in a dingy ditch somewhere, Baltimore's health commissioner today banned the sale of caffeinated alcoholic drinks like Four Loko within the city. The ban is effective Thursday, 5 p.m. Why the ban? The press release says it all: "Baltimore Health Department acts to protects youths." Yes, not only did the department just use a word that hasn't been uttered out loud since "My Cousin Vinny," they're also a month late to the Four Loko banning party. Maryland alcohol retailers agreed two weeks ago to stop carrying the devil swill, following four other states that had already taken similar steps months before. It's comforting to know the department moves at a quick pace when it comes to protecting our "youths."

In a move that smacks of reefer madness, the department is also telling residents to call 3-1-1 if they spot any retailers selling Four Loko past Thursday. I guess Andrew Sullivan was right.

Ban violators will be fined $1,000.

In addition to Four Loko, these are the other drinks that are banned in Baltimore after Thursday: Core High Gravity HG Green, Core High Gravity HG Orange, Lemon Lime Core Spiked, Moonshot, FourLoko, Joose and Max.

The press release from the City of Baltimore and the Health Department is here.

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:55 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: News

Review: Ozzy Osbourne at 1st Mariner Arena, November 29

Contributor Evan Haga reviews Ozzy Osbourne's show Monday night at 1st Mariner Arena.

Playing a video segment before a concert is nothing new. Often nonsensical, these clips set the mood, heighten the anticipation and allow audience members to find their seats without missing anything.

But the short program that opened heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne’s 100-minute show last night at 1st Mariner Arena was something else - savvy, explicit and hilarious.

It featured Osbourne verbally sparring with Snooki from "Jersey Shore"; dancing, in drag, alongside Lady Gaga; and working himself into various blockbuster films, "Avatar" and "The Hangover" among them. 

Funny stuff, and it made a point. Osbourne is now pop-culture property beyond rock ’n’ roll. He’s an advertising personality known to millions, not as the Englishman who invented heavy metal, but as the mumbling, bumbling grandfatherly star of reality TV.

So a challenge was set: Can the Prince of Darkness still bring it? The short answer is yes. The best hard-rock frontmen have been Pied Pipers to their head-banging fans, lion tamers at the circus that is the arena metal show.

Those literal and figurative pyrotechnics were present: a shower of sparks at the head of “Mr. Crowley”; a marathon solo from drummer Tommy Clufetos atop an elevated riser; and many startling blasts of fireworks, from the opening “Bark at the Moon” to the final encore, Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.”

Osbourne tended to pitter-patter around the stage—the same geriatric gait America came to love on MTV's "The Osbournes"—and carried a gut that even his head-to-toe black attire couldn’t downsize. Still, he was absolutely the centerpiece of the madness, and seemed to enjoy it.

 More than once, Osbourne mercilessly drilled security and the front of the crowd with a foam canon. After one blasting session, he tossed two buckets of - what was hopefully - water onto the ground-level fans. But his gratitude toward them was palpable.

Throughout his mostly indecipherable between-song addresses, he repeated one of his new album’s song titles, “I love you all,” like a nervous tic. (And that foamlike substance? Washable, he said.)

The crowd, cross-generational with a large quotient of middle-aged fanboys, bountifully returned his enthusiasm. But as fervent as the audience was, the numbers weren’t overwhelming. The floor and lower concourses were pretty filled out, but the rest of the arena looked barren. In the end, reality TV can only do so much.

The elephant in the room was, of course, the voice. With Black Sabbath and into the ’80s, Osbourne touted a sturdy vocal instrument, perhaps the most appealingly "evil" voice in hard rock. When metal singers either growled or squealed, Osbourne’s pipes were something else altogether, and you could recognize his tight, compressed mid-range a mile away.

You still can, but the wear and tear is, to put it kindly, very much audible. The 61-year-old warbled, wheezed and stopped short; in "American Idol" parlance, he was pitchy, to say the least.

What pulled up the slack was, first of all, an excellent and diverse set list, with 15 tunes plus instrumental spotlights for guitar, band and drums. Solo hits, like the tender “Mama, I’m Coming Home,” notorious “Suicide Solution” and hooky “Shot in the Dark,” were strategically ordered around Sabbath classics, which the band performed without too much revisionary decoration.

A recent single, “Let Me Hear You Scream,” painlessly advertised the new album. Osbourne’s other saving grace was his four-piece band, particularly new guitarist Gus G. As he himself recounted, Osbourne has collaborated with some of the best and most influential rock guitarists, and G. held up his end of this dynasty. What most impressed was how he seemed to blend this legacy with his own identity. In other words, he got in some original wailing but respected the past, quoting or recreating the most memorable leads of the Ozzy canon: Randy Rhoads’ solos on “Crazy Train,” or Tony Iommi’s immortal breaks on “Iron Man” and “Fairies Wear Boots.”

G. seemed to work a stunning balance between the neoclassical school that Rhoads influenced and the beefier, blues-based shredding of Zakk Wylde, whom G. replaced last year. There didn’t seem to be a fingertapping lick or rapid-fire arpeggio that escaped him.

Osbourne’s opening act, Halford, had two of its own certified guitar virtuosos, and worked a different dynamic than Osbourne: zero pyrotechnics, except for Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford’s thrilling falsetto, which sounded remarkably on point. But some fans seemed disappointed this wasn’t an outright Priest set, even if it did include “Jawbreaker” and Priest’s covers of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Green Manalishi” and Joan Baez’s “Diamonds & Rust.”

Halford has a new album out, and the band played several of its songs. They had rip-roaring harmonized guitar leads, pummeling double-bass drumming, titles like “Thunder and Lightning” and surplus volume. Isn’t that enough?

Rob Halford setlist:


Made in Hell  

Locked and Loaded  

Made of Metal  

Nailed to the Gun

Fire and Ice  

Thunder and Lightning  

The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown) (Fleetwood Mac cover)  

Diamonds & Rust (Joan Baez cover)  

Jawbreaker (Judas Priest cover)  

Like There’s No Tomorrow  

Cyber World

 Ozzy Osbourne setlist:

Bark at the Moon  

Let Me Hear You Scream  

Mr. Crowley  

I Don’t Know  

Fairies Wear Boots (Black Sabbath)  

Suicide Solution  

Road to Nowhere  

War Pigs (Black Sabbath) 

Fire in the Sky  

Shot in the Dark 

Guitar solo/Full-band jam/Drum solo  

Iron Man (Black Sabbath)  

I Don’t Want to Change the World  

Crazy Train  


Mama, I’m Coming Home  

Paranoid (Black Sabbath)

Evan Haga is a frequent Midnight Sun contributor, and the managing editor of JazzTimes.  He last reviewed The Cult at Rams Head Live. Erik Maza edited this post. 

Photo: Gene Sweeney Jr/Baltimore Sun

Our Ozzy photo gallery is here.  

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:30 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Concert reviews

"Tron: Legacy" soundtrack previewed on MySpace

Nerds rejoice: MySpace today posted the longest preview yet of the music in "Tron: Legacy." The preview begins with Jeff Bridges ominously intoning: "The Grid. A digital frontier," followed by 21 minutes of the Daft Punk-scored soundtrack. Of course, a couple of tracks have been playing on the movie's official website since the summer, and at the soundtrack's own website.  The soundtrack goes on sale next week. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:27 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff

Bryan Adams to perform at Hippodrome Theater

ADAMS%20-%20Live%20B%26W.JPGBryan Adams will perform at the Hippdrome Theater at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center in January, the theater announced Monday.

Adams, most known for providing the theme song to Kevin Costner's Robin Hood movie, is on a worldwide solo-acoustic concert tour that includes stops in places near and far. For instance, he's in Dayton, Ohio one day, and the next week he's Beirut.

The Baltimore date hasn't even been posted on his official website yet. 

Fun fact from the press release! Four years ago, Adams was awarded the Order of Canada. Does that mean we have to call him Sir Bryan, now? At least it means you won't ever confuse him with Ryan Adams again, right? Remember! Bryan is the one who's literally Canadian royalty.

The Canadian singer-songwriter will perform at the theater January 29. Tickets - at $37.50 to $67.50 - will go on sale December 3 at the theater's box office, or at 

Photo: Bryan Adams official website 

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:31 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

Early Review: Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford at 1st Mariner Arena, November 29

Contributor Evan Haga reviews Ozzy Osbourne's show Monday night at 1st Mariner Arena.

Wham City be damned: For three terrifically loud hours last night at a half-full 1st Mariner Arena, Baltimore was a metal town again.

Ozzy Osbourne—Prince of Darkness, reality TV icon, advertising personality—played a 100-minute show that stretched back to his Black Sabbath days, covered ’80s and ’90s solo hits, and tossed in an obligatory new song for good measure.

You guessed it: Osbourne’s voice ain’t what it used to be, but a crack band featuring consistently jaw-dropping guitarist Gus G. pulled up the slack and the results were worth the tinnitus.

This was unapologetic metal, and, consequently, lots of fun: pyrotechnics, marathon drum solos on elevated platforms; “Iron Man;” “Crazy Train;” “Paranoid;” a well-used foam gun, and an opening set from another hard-rock icon, Rob Halford.

A full review to come later today. Set list after the jump. 

Our Ozzy photo gallery is here

Rob Halford setlist:


Made in Hell  

Locked and Loaded  

Made of Metal  

Nailed to the Gun

Fire and Ice  

Thunder and Lightning  

The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown) (Fleetwood Mac cover)  

Diamonds and Rust (Joan Baez cover)  

Jawbreaker (Judas Priest cover)  

Like There’s No Tomorrow  

Cyber World

 Ozzy Osbourne setlist:

Bark at the Moon  

Let Me Hear You Scream  

Mr. Crowley  

I Don’t Know  

Fairies Wear Boots (Black Sabbath)  

Suicide Solution  

Road to Nowhere  

War Pigs (Black Sabbath) 

Fire in the Sky  

Shot in the Dark 

Guitar solo/Full-band jam/Drum solo  

Iron Man (Black Sabbath)  

I Don’t Want to Change the World  

Crazy Train  



Mama, I’m Coming Home  

Paranoid (Black Sabbath)

Update: Fun fact! "Light show designed by Michael Keller, using Vectorworks Spotlight software, made in Columbia, MD," says reader John, who works for Vectorworks.

Evan Haga is a frequent Midnight Sun contributor, and the managing editor of JazzTimes.  He last reviewed The Cult at Rams Head Live. 

Photo: Gene Sweeney Jr/Baltimore Sun

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Concert reviews

November 29, 2010

Christmas in November at Max's Taphouse

Last month, when I wrote about bars that repurpose architectural salvage to decorate, I didn't spend nearly enough time on Michael Metcalf, the guy who oversees interior design and construction at Max's Taphouse. To say Metcalf is just an interior decorator is to vastly understate what he does. He recycles useless junk and forges brand-new, incredibly creative decorative pieces. That old pick-up fender above one of the bar's doorways? That was him. Same goes for the miniature Maryland State Fair made out of beer cans and other refuse that was displayed on one of the bar's display windows in October. For the holidays, Metcalf has taken used translucent, spherical beer kegs, or key kegs, to create over-sized Christmas lights that might be seen from a distance.

Photo: Alexander D. Mitchell IV, aka Beer in Baltimore

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:30 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Canton on game day: Ravens specials, Joe Flacco hot dogs, Claddagh Pub and overall sensory overload

Contributor Jay Trucker spent a day barhopping in Canton on game day.

On your average Fall Sunday afternoon, Canton Square is full of jersey-wearing football fans yelping, cheering, cursing, and bro-high-fiving with child-like abandon. 

That's because despite all of the well-deserved criticism the area may draw for its lack of variety, Canton certainly doesn't want for sports bars. 

Southeast Baltimore bars offer cheap specials, are noticeably co-ed, and cater to fans of different teams.

Because of the area's transplant professional population - and their varying franchise loyalties - most bars will show each game on one of their many flat-screens, though sound is only piped into the speakers for a single game at a time.

This will sometimes create an awkward dilemma, such as the one I faced at Claddagh Pub last week. At the two-story bar, patrons had to listen to the Redskins game while watching the Giants.  Think that's difficult?  Try patting your stomach and rubbing your head at the same time.

And while most football specials in Canton favor domestic beer and wings, a few places have tried to branch out. 

Coburn's sells a “Joe Flacco” special: two hot dogs and cheddar wrapped in puff pastry.  What does this have to do with the Ravens' third year QB?  Maybe it's a University of Delaware thing. I'm not about to find out. 

If you're in the mood for reduced-calorie island brew with your gridiron, Looney's sells Red Stripe Light bottles for $3 a pop during games.  With the exception of the Mama's on the Half and Nacho Mama's “no specials zone,” most places in Canton offer domestic bottles in the $2 range and pitchers in the $8 range. 

Looney's and JD's are typically the most crowded bars on the block.  Last week, Looney's had the New York Giants game piped into the speakers during the early games, but by the time Eli Manning lined up in the victory formation, a sizable group of Ravens fans had claimed seats on the first and second floor in preparation for the the late kickoff.

The key to good TV sight-lines is arriving at least a half an hour before kickoff, especially at Looney's or JD's Smokehouse Coburn's provides a worthwhile alternative for latecomers as it is usually the last to fill.  Coburn's gives away free sugary purple shots to all bar patrons when the Ravens score a touchdown and occasionally puts out a free munchie buffet. 

For my money, though, Claddagh Pub offers the best specials with the most elbow room in Canton.  Their menu includes most football food staples (except nachos) and their kitchen, though a bit slow, offers higher quality grub than their neighbors.

That's maybe because the bar doubles as a quality restaurant during lunch and dinner hours. A pitcher of domestic beer and 30 wings are $16.95.  For ten dollars more, fans can upgrade to a beer tube that will probably last a table the entire game. Shrimp, oysters, and fresh squeezed orange crushes are also on special.With its three bar areas, it's also relatively easy to grab a seat.

Fans of any team can also try Baltimore Taphouse, O'Donnell's or Saute, off-the-square bars in Canton with the NFL Ticket.  It can be hard to find seating and your game of choice  in one of these smaller neighborhood bars on an NFL Sunday, so be ready to scout a few spots before finding a place to settle in. 

Steelers fans will be zoned in at NcDevin's. And I was once cursed at during a trip to Butt's and Betty's for asking the bartender to tune a television to the Giants game.

And here's another thing: in Canton, game day is not just a Dude's Day. The football bar scene in Southeast Baltimore is populated with nearly as many women as men lining the window seats in and around O'Donnell St. 

It's said that game days are some of the most profitable for the pizza industry. You could keep helping them out. But, in the experience of this Southeast Baltimore resident, a Sunday afternoon of cheap bar hopping in Canton beats Domino's delivery any day. 

Jay Trucker teaches English at the Community College of Baltimore County, lives in Southeast Baltimore, and eats Old Bay wings on Sundays. He previously reviewed the first Baltimore Beer Festival. Erik Maza edited this post. 

For Baltimore's best Ravens bars, Midnight Sun's Live! cover story is here.  

Photo: Claddagh Pub (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:35 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Vampire Weekend shills for Tommy Hilfiger, Honda

Vampire Weekend has allowed its "Holiday" to be used for a couple of new ads. Among them? The Macy's man Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger. You see, the preppy New Yorkers can still surprise us. It is at least only a single, not as bad as the truckloads of Christmas CDs I've been getting. The other ad is for Honda. The band played Merriweather Post Pavilion in September. (via Stereogum)
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:30 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Music News

Barhopping on the Charm City Circulator?

Recently, I went barhopping using just the Charm City Circulator, and I survived. It was for an upcoming story. And, mainly, I did it to see if it was possible. It is, depending on how much time you're willing to spend traveling.

Anybody else do this?

According to the Baltimore City Department of Transportation, there are people who use the service at night, if not as many during the day. But with the bus active only until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, is it useful for people who don't have curfews? Or is it the kind of service that is more helpful in just getting you to your watering hole of choice?

Photo: Jed Kirschbaum/Baltimore Sun

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:03 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Tour partners Usher, Trey Songz tie at Soul Train Awards - Awkward!

Usher and Trey Songz were up for the same award at Sunday night's Soul Train Awards. You would think the heir apparent to Michael Jackson would have this one in the bag right? Well, his tour opener, Trey Songz, half-swiped it away from him, tying with him for best R&B male artist. That's got to be like your little brother taking the king's crown at the sophomore homecoming dance - this being the Soul Train awards and all. Usher later upped his score by winning best album of the year for "Raymond v. Raymond." The two of them will swing by 1st Mariner Arena Wednesday December 8 on Usher's OMG Tour. I'll have a preview of the show here later this week. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:22 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Music News

Spencer Horsman aims to be next Harry Houdini, not David Blaine

Remember a few weeks ago, when Spencer Horsman had a bloody accident at Illusions: Magic Bar and Lounge that sent him to the hospital for five hours? In Sunday's paper, we have a full profile of the 24-year-old. Here's the beginning:

Every Friday night for the past three years, to the delight of an audience, magician Spencer Horsman escapes from his straitjacket.

By his own estimate, he's done the trick 400 times already. And until a recent Friday, he'd never made any missteps in an escape, invented by Harry Houdini 100 years ago, that is fraught with peril.

Dangling from a crane above the stage at Illusions: Magic Bar and Lounge, he was two minutes into the escape and had almost freed himself from the jacket.

But suddenly, with all the spinning, a bolt loosened, and the crane, the straitjacket and the 125-pound magician hanging from it all fell flat on the stage. One minute, the audience was clapping, bartender Ben Rosen recalled; and the next, there was "thud" and "a bunch of gasps."

Horsman later said, "I didn't realize how bad it was until I took my hand off my forehead and the blood gushed all over the stage."

The accident sent him to the emergency room, nearly fractured his skull and resulted in 16 stitches, but the next week he was back on stage. Why so soon? Why else? The show must go on.

"Entertainment isn't a 9-to-5 job," he said. "It's a lifestyle."

The rest of this story is here.

We also have a photo gallery of Horsman's double straitjacket routine last month and video.

Photo: Photo: Spencer Horsman attempting the Houdini routine Friday, October 29 (Monica Lopossay for The Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sunday Profile

November 26, 2010

Rams Head Live's Black Friday deal

Black Friday is here. Everyone's offering nutty deals for holiday shoppers. Toys R Us opened Thursday at 10 p.m, Arundel Mills Mall opened at midnight, and Target opened its doors at 4 a.m. Of course, the Black Friday event to beat is Apple's.

Well, it's no $1,000 iMac, but for Black Friday, Rams Head Live and Rams Head on Stage have removed service fees on all tickets bought online today. Rams Head Live has only posted its schedule through December 22, but with no service fees, you could save a couple of bucks on upcoming shows like Matisyahu, Sean Kingston and Wale.

Tickets are sold at or, naturally, on Facebook.

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:29 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music

DuClaw Brewing to host its first beer brunch at Arundel Mills

Because you didn't go to enough of them during Baltimore Beer Week, DuClaw Brewing Company will throw its first beer brunch in December.

DuClaw's Arundel Mills location will host a six-course brunch December 19 at 9 a.m. Tickets for the event, which cost $45, will go on sale December 1.

There are only 50 seats available. 

That location has nine DuClaw beers on tap, including Mad Bishop. The company has four locations in the metropolitan area; it closed its Fells Point store December 2009.

Both Beer in Baltimore blogs have posted the menu for the brunch: 

Sweet Potato Pancakes with a Vanilla Almond Syrup topped with Fresh Homemade Cream paired with Sawtooth Belgian Wit

Spiced Pumpkin Waffles topped with a Cinnamon Cream paired with 31 Spiced Munich Dunkel.

Beer Marinated Steak and Eggs paired with Devil’s Milk Barleywine

Cherry Strata paired with Cherry Black Jack Stout

Beer Biscuits and Maple Sausage Gravy with Euphoria Toffee Nut Brown Ale

Banana Crepes with a Chocolate Drizzle with 13 Degrees Hefeweizen

Tickets are sold DuClaw's online store.

Photo: DuClaw's Bel Air location, from Dave's Blog.

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:58 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Brewing News

November 25, 2010

What are 2011's most anticipated live shows?

In June, Sade will kick off her first tour in a decade at Baltimore's own 1st Mariner Arena. And a week later, U2 will bring their colossal tour to M&T Bank Stadium.

If you like 'em smaller, Robyn will perform at Rams Head Live and so will Girl Talk. The 90s will be back (again) when The Dismemberment Plan reunites at the Black Cat and the 9:30 club for a couples of dates - tickets still available, by the way. As will the 80s -when Bon Jovi performs at Verizon Center.

Shows! 2011's got many of them. Yesterday, I asked you what albums you were most excited about hearing next year. Can you picture the next question? What are your most anticipated shows of 2011? 

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Music News

November 24, 2010

KT Tunstall on Cocteau Twins, blood-sucking executives, and "American Idol"

One performance on "American Idol" can make anyone ubiquitous.

Soon after Katharine McPhee performed KT Tunstall's single "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" on the show in 2006, even soccer moms knew the words to the "woo hoo" song.

You might have also heard the songwriter's "Suddenly I See" played over promos for "The Amazing Race" or opening the movie "The Devil Wears Prada," behind a montage of pretty girls and Anne Hathaway getting ready for work.

In fact, even her label, Virgin Records, was getting tired of seeing her face, Tunstall says.

"They said, 'Go write some new material.' It was really refreshing, actually, to have a record executive, someone who would normally try to milk the cow dry, say that."

So she did. After she finished touring with her first two albums in 2008, she disappeared. She didn't tour or appear on the soundtracks of any chick flicks.

"I was really scared at first," she said. "I had toured solidly for six, seven years."

But the time off resulted in the 11 tracks of her new album, "Tiger Suit," which she's promoting with an 20-city tour that will stop at the 9:30 Club on Saturday.

The rest of this interview is online here and in Live! Friday.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:33 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Live!

What are 2011's most anticipated albums?

Kanye West wasn't quite finished dominating the entertainment news cycle this week, when a new collaboration with Jay-Z leaked, positioning their new album already as one of next year's most anticipated.

It apparently also made some people start compiling their wish-lists for the new year. Stereogum ran their top 50 today, with Kanye/Jay-Z landing at 48, and Lady Gaga at 21. As most of these things go, almost half the list is wish-fulfillment - at least that many albums have no announced released dates.

On my list? Polly. Jean. Harvey. Three years is way too long. My favorite Irish lady Roisin Murphy might - just might - finally release a follow-up to "Overpowered." And from what Thrill Jockey tells me, Future Islands will follow up their "In Evening Air" in late 2011.

What are your most anticipated albums of 2011? 

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:58 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Music News

Bill's Lighthouse Inn in South Baltimore to be auctioned off

Bill's Lighthouse Inn, a South Baltimore bar and restaurant for 30 years, will be auctioned December 8.

Owner Adele Wedemeyer wouldn't say what the asking price is. But the property was previously listed on Craigslist for $775,000. 

Up for auction are the four buildings that comprise 1741 Light St., the bar's liquor license, and the bar/restaurant's equipment and furniture.

The bar, which William Wedemeyer opened in 1980, is "more known for its food than its drinks," in particular the Lighthouse club sandwiches, Adele said.

She's been trying to sell the property for the last year, since William died. 

"I have too much money to pay off on his estate," she said. 

She listed the property with Alex Cooper Real Estate Services three months ago.

Bill's includes a bar, a seated area, two public restrooms, and a commercial kitchen. The rest of the real estate is made up of a second-floor, two-bedroom apartment and two empty buildings that require renovation.

A $30,000 deposit is due at the time of sale, according to the listing at Alex Cooper. (Within three days of purchase, the buyer is required to bring the deposit up to 10% of the asking price.)

The auction will take place December 8 at 11 a.m at Bill's. (Thanks to reader locust point man for noticing the auction sign)

Photo: Alex Cooper Real Estate Services
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:37 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Ozzy Osbourne comes to 1st Mariner after Rally to Restore Sanity performance

In Friday's Live: A month ago, rock legend Alice Cooper complained on Midnight Sun about today's young Turks of rock.

"A lot of hard rock today sounds joyless," he said in an interview. "Bands forget to have fun." Rock stars from his era, he said, knew "rock should be played from the crotch — not the brain."

This much we know about Ozzy Osbourne: When he performs at 1st Mariner Arena on Monday, he won't be playing from the brain.

Now in his 60s, Osbourne hasn't given up on being an agitator. Earlier this year, he headlined the 14th annual Ozzfest, the heavy-metal festival he founded. In October, he announced he was disgusted by use of his song, "Crazy Train," by the Westboro Baptist Church (the group that demonstrates at troops' funerals).

And in what was perhaps the best moment of the Stephen Colbert-Jon Stewart rally at the National Mall, he played that very song right after Cat Stevens performed "Peace Train." The double whammy became an instant YouTube moment.
The full story is here
Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images
Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Live!

November 23, 2010

Last Night's Photo: The Castaway in neon

The Castaway Bar & Grill after dark, by flickr user photoskip. To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join the flickr pool.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:00 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Girl Talk's "All Day" visualized

This guy made a visual breakdown of all 372 songs sampled in every track of Girl Talk's new album, "All Day." You may now go shower him with compliments.

The nifty Girl Talk visualizer is here. The DJ will perform at Rams Head Live January 31. (via BuzzFeed)

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:59 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Free Download: new Celebration track "Battles"

Celebration premiered a new song last night on WICV, MICA's student-run radio station.

"Battles" is the sixth song from upcoming album "Hello Paradise."

Today, it was posted online as a free download, just like the five previous songs from the album.

All six tracks can be streamed and downloaded at Friends Records.

The full album and vinyl will be released later this year.  (via Pasta Primavera)

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:46 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Bartending Academy drops out of Mix-off; Midnight Sun seeks new bartenders

PX00117_9.JPGAn update on the Midnight Sun Mix-off: Mark Russell, the owner of Maryland Bartending Academy, has decided to pull out of the contest.

But the mix-off will still happen. It is scheduled for December 13* at Don't Know Tavern

A week after I wrote about the bartending academy, a debate erupted in the comments over the value of a $540 bartending course. Some said the class would just teach students to pour and memorize the recipes of corny cocktails.

Russell -- and the students I interviewed -- said the course provides a solid foundation for budding bartenders. 

Russell was so confident in his school, he took the challenge proposed by commenters: a face-off pitting bartenders who had taken his course and those who hadn't ever stepped foot in a bartending classroom. 

Last week, he was still on board. But, on Monday, he commented on the blog (under the handle M.B.A.) to say he was pulling out because an "Erik Meza" wasn't a good judge of skill. Whoever that guy is, it must be said, he is probably a better judge than me. 

Over the phone, he later said he thought the rules were too vague. But when I laid out the rules again for him, like I had last week, he repeated he didn't see the value in participating because such a contest wouldn't settle any debates at all.

OK! That's a shame. I'd still like the academy involved, but, we'll pick up the pieces and move on.

This is still a debate with two very passionate points of view, and it merits a spirited fight. Midnight Sun is now seeking bartenders with school training and those with just real life experience to participate in the contest.

Just for clarity, here are the ground rules, as originally laid out:

Contestants will face off in individual speed and mixing contests to be judged in a blind taste test by three impartial judges. Participants, three per team, will all have the same ingredients and they will all make the same cocktails, to be decided by the judges. (Jason Zink has said none of his bartenders will participate)

Possible addition: Contestants might also have to make cocktails from their own recipes as a tiebreaker.

Who are the judges? Brendan Dorr has volunteered to participate in some fashion, and Sam Sessa has stepped forward to be a judge. (I will update as other plans come into place).I will merely be taking notes for a column and timing along with someone else.

If you would like to participate in either team, comment below or e-mail me at Include your e-mail address, and some background. 

*We originally scheduled the mix-off for December 16, but it was suggested that a Monday rather than a Thursday might encourage more participation from bartenders. So, we've scheduled it for Monday, December 13. 

Photo: Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:08 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Robyn to perform at Rams Head Live in February

Robyn announced new dates for her North American tour, which until now was scheduled to bypass the metropolitan area.

On February 1, she will perform at Rams Head Live.

The show is a pretty big get for Rams Head. She's no ten on Pitchfork or anything, but Robyn's new album triptych - "Body Talk Pts. 1 & 2" and "Body Talk" - have been nearly universally embraced. So much so she was even featured on an episode of "Gossip Girl," a blessing of mass appeal if there ever was one.

In the episode, Robyn sings "Hang with Me" while Blair argues with her mother over Chuck, and Serena flirts with Joan Holloway's husband, who I'm pretty sure was stationed in Vietnam. TV is so magic. (I also learned watching that clip that "One Tree Hill" is still on)

Robyn's new album, "Body Talk" was released Monday along with her new single, "Indestructible."

Full tour dates after the jump:

Robyn's North American tour dates (via Pitchfork):

01-26 Toronto, Ontario - The Sound Academy
01-27 Montreal, Quebec - Metropolis
01-28 Quebec City, Quebec - Imperial Theatre
01-29 Portland, ME - State Theater
01-31 South Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
02-01 Baltimore, MD - Ram's Head Live
02-03 Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory
02-04 Boston, MA - House of Blues
02-05 New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall
02-07 Cleveland, OH - House of Blues
02-08 Columbus, OH - The LC Pavilion
02-09 Detroit, MI - Royal Oak Music Theatre
02-11 Chicago, IL - Riviera Theatre
02-12 Milwaukee, WI - Rave Ballroom
02-13 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
02-17 Austin, TX - ACL Live
02-18 Dallas, TX - South Side Music Hall
02-19 Houston, TX - Warehouse Live
03-03 London, England - The Roundhouse
03-07 Frankfurt, Germany - Mousonturm
03-09 Cologne, Germany - Live Music Hall
03-11 Munich, Germany - Muffat Halle
03-12 Berlin, Germany - Astra

Photo: Robyn MySpace
Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

November 22, 2010

Watch the new Future Islands video

 Future Islands, whose performance at The Ottobar Saturday I previewed last week, have a new video for "The Ink Well," their half of their split 7-inch with Lonnie Walker.

THE INK WELL /// FUTURE ISLANDS from Theo Anthony on Vimeo.

(via Bmore musically informed)

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:45 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block to play D.C. in June

Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block announced a co-headlining tour Sunday following a joint performance at the American Music Awards.

The tour, which will kick off June 2, will come to Washington D.C.'s Verizon Center on its second night

Tickets for that show will go on sale December 11 via Live Nation and Ticketmaster. 

If you don't remember - as I didn't - the band members are: Joey McIntyre, AJ McLean, Jordan Knight, Howie Dorough, Jonathan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg, Brian Littrell, Danny Wood and Nick Carter. I'll leave you to sort out which middle-aged heartthrob belongs to which boy band. 

Full dates after the jump: 

Gratuitous New Kids on the Block picture from their performance at the AMAs:


Full tour dates

Thu        2-Jun             Uncasville, CT            Mohegan Sun Arena              
Fri          3-Jun             Washington, DC          Verizon Center                       
Sat         4-Jun             Boston, MA                 TD Garden                             
Sun        5-Jun             Philadelphia, PA          Wells Fargo Center                
Tue        7-Jun             Montreal, QC             Bell Centre                             
Wed       8-Jun             Toronto, ON                Air Canada Centre                 
Thu        9-Jun             Toronto, ON                Air Canada Centre                 
Sat       11-Jun             Uniondale, NY             Nassau Coliseum                   
Sun      12-Jun             East Rutherford, NJ    Izod Center                            
Wed     15-Jun             Pittsburgh, PA             Consol Energy Center           
Thu      16-Jun             Detroit, MI                   The Palace at Auburn Hills    
Fri        17-Jun             Chicago, IL                  United Center                         
Sat       18-Jun             Chicago, IL                  United Center                         
Tue      21-Jun             Nashville, TN              Bridgestone Arena                 
Wed     22-Jun             Atlanta, GA                 Philips Arena                          
Fri        24-Jun             Lafayette, LA              Cajondome                            
Sat       25-Jun             Houston, TX                Toyota Center                        
Sun      26-Jun             Dallas, TX                   American Airlines Center       
Thurs   30-Jun             Phoenix, AZ                US Airways Center                
Fri           1-Jul             Los Angeles CA          Staples Center                       
Sat          2-Jul             San Jose, CA              HP Pavilion                            
Sun         3-Jul             Las Vegas, NV            Mandalay Bay Events Center
Fri           8-Jul             Tacoma, WA               acoma Dome                         
Sat          9-Jul             Vancouver, BC           Rogers Arena 

Photo: Reuters                        

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:06 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Music News

Catherine's Pub, Taps' replacement, to open in January

South Baltimore's Taps bar, which was auctioned off in August, finally has a replacement.

Taking over 1439 South Charles Street will be Catherine's Pub. Opening is tentatively scheduled for January.

Taps, which replaced the old Fort Charles Pub, opened nearly three years ago, on February 2008 with promises to install 40 taps and even a wine tap. 

Two years later, only 17 taps had been installed, and no wine tap.

In August, two months after owner Dave Holter put it up for sale for $375,000, Ropewalk Tavern manager Marc McFaul bought the 4,000-square-foot property and the business for $450,000.

Chris Reda, McFaul's business partner, told me that today renovations began to prepare the bar for a mid-December, though most likely January opening.

Reda and McFaul then leased the business to Gary Morse.

Reda said the new bar, to be called Catherine's Pub, will be an Irish pub.  Renovations will be reserved to the exterior, though he said if the budget allows, the interior will be changed.

For the time being, Catherine's Pub will look a lot like the old Taps, minor a few cosmetic changes. 

 Reda said there will be eight taps, but that they haven't yet settled on a bottled beer list.

There are plans to have food, but not until after a month or two of being open. Operating hours have not been set.

But, still, Reda and McFaul must be for the bar's opening date. Catherine's Pub is already listed on their promo card alongside standbys Ropewalk Tavern, Dark Horse Saloon, and Stalking Horse.

Photo: Sam Sessa

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:35 PM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The American Music Awards 2010 in less than 30 words

I didn't watch the American Music Awards. There were just other things on TV Sunday night that I was more interested in watching, like static. But The Awl did. Live-blogged it, in fact. Here are the AMAs in a nutshell: "9:02 p.m. Nicki Minaj's 10-word speech went through about three of her accents. Impressive that she did that while wearing an exoskeleton made of zippers." The water-cooler is waiting for you to discuss. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Is selling concert tickets on Facebook the future?

It's too early to gauge how big a deal Rams Head Live's move to sell concert tickets on Facebook really is.

But here's a couple of reasons why it could be significant: for one, it's another gimmick to sell tickets for an industry that's quickly running out of options to goose up sales. 

But more importantly, it's a gimmick that anticipates a time, fast-approaching, when the social networking site will be integral to people's lives. And that's a bet even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is making.

Concert sales have been declining nationwide for the last five years. Blame the economy, expensive tickets, veteran acts who refuse to call it quits, but revenue still dropped $200 million from 2008 to 2009, according to trade magazine Pollstar.

When I talked to Frank Remesch, general manager at 1st Mariner Arena, he prefaced his thoughts on the Rams Head move by saying something that editors at Pollstar had also told me: everyone's looking for new ways to sell concert tickets. Many have even taken a sort of Groupon approach, offering discounted tickets for major acts.

"I admire Rams Head. [Owner] Bill Muehlhauser is always trying to keep things fresh," Remesch said. "Anything that helps our business is good for me."

But the more significant reason why Rams Head's move could work is the social networking site itself.

Recognizing that Americans already spend more time on Facebook than on any other website, the site is moving in a direction where it would become a one stop shop for all kinds of media needs.

Last week, Zuckerberg introduced Facebook Messages, a new e-mail service that comes with an address. It's a move aimed at slowly integrating the span of the online experience at one handy location.

Integrated communications, a Yahoo! boos told the New York Times, is the future. 

So Rams Head's move is a natural progression for them as well as for the site, and could be a harbinger of things to come.

"Social media has become a huge part of business," Rams Head Group vice president Erin McNaboe told me last week. "People aren't using it just for day to day interaction with friends, but to figure out where they're going on the weekend."

What's surprising is that no one - not I.M.P., Goldenvoice, Stubhub, MissionTix, Ticketfly,Ticketmaster, and not even Facebook, actually - had thought of it before. But maybe Facebook will get 15 other engineers to come up with its own ticketing vendor if Messages proves to be a success.

Remesch, though, remains dubious of Facebook sales.  "Is it better for the customer? It seems like it removes an extra step," he told me. "Will it drive sales or push them over another venue? In my humble opinion, I don't think so."

For Rams Head, as well as for Messages, the question is still, will users abandon their standby websites - Gmail or Ticketmaster - for a new Facebook-centric alternative?

Will you buy concert tickets on Facebook?

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:01 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: News

November 20, 2010

The week, reviewed: Nov. 14 - 20

It was a Four Loko-crazy kind of week. One day America lost its mind over Four Loko, and the next, that insanity was vindicated. But here's a list of stories from the past week where Four Loko did not make an appearance:

Four Loko is not downloadable - if only! - but Girl Talk's new album is. The Park Bench opened in South Baltimore, sans Wii and Four Loko. Carrie Underwood might have flown over 1st Mariner in a blue pick-up truck looking like a West Virginia Elphaba, but she did it, presumably, without the influence of Four Loko. Four Loko will not be available at the new Flying Dog brewery tours. But then again, maybe the tours themselves won't be either. Joanna Newsom has not had Four Loko with her groupies.   Sam Herring of Future Islands doesn't know if Four Loko is dead, but he thinks CDs are. Four Loko will not be allowed at the Midnight Sun Mix-off. Rams Head Live will not sell Four Loko over Facebook, you must have gotten the wrong message. It will only sell concert tickets.  Just like Four Loko, "Ace of Cakes" was canceled, but an episode with Stephen Malkmus will still air. Hey, you might be out of 4Loko, but, at least you're not any of these guys

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:49 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Roundup

November 19, 2010

Exclusive: Rams Head Live to sell tickets on Facebook, among first venues nationwide to do so

rams%20head%20tickets.JPGRams Head Live today started selling tickets on Facebook.

The service puts it ahead of Live Nation, the country's leading concert promoter that also runs Ticketmaster, the leading ticket seller.

Rams Head Group, which runs the Baltimore venue and five others in the area, and ShoWare by VisionOne, Inc., the e-commerce company that developed the Facebook app, also claim it is the first venue in the country to offer such a service.

Erin McNaboe, Rams Head Group vice president, said the service is a recognition of the growing importance of social media for promoters, ticket sellers, and artists.

"Social media has become a huge part of business," she said. "People aren't using it just for day to day interaction with friends, but to figure out where they're going on the weekend."

With this service, McNaboe said, Facebook users can see what concerts their friends are going to, and buy tickets accordingly. 

The service, available on Rams Head Live's fan page under the tab "Buy Tickets," is open to anyone with a Facebook user name. 

It's not clear what effect this will have on business, but the decision to offer tickets on the social networking site rather than just online, or via telephone, suggests the company sees it as a growing market.

At the very least, the nearly 10,000 Facebook fans the venue already has won't have to leave the website to buy tickets anymore.

The concept of selling tickets on Facebook is a new one. It was just last month that ShoWare partnered with Sparkart, a California digital agency, to sell tour tickets for an upcoming tour on the social networking site.

None of the major ticket sellers or promoters - Stubhub, MissionTix, Ticketfly, California promoter Golden Voice, Ticketmaster (and its parents company, Live Nation) - offer such a service.

And it seems like other ticket sellers don't either, at least according to one expert at Pollstar, the concert industry trade magazine. "I've never heard of anything like this," the person said.

(The person was not authorized to speak on the record for the magazine; Gary Bongiovanni, editor in chief, was unavailable for comment). 

McNaboe said Rams Head approached ShoWare to develop the app a month ago after the vendor and Sparkart partnered.

She said Rams Head Group intends on extending the service to its other venues. 

Update 4:05 p.m.: Rams Head Group just released a press release.

Update 2: Just talked to Frank Remesch, general manager at 1st Mariner Arena. He congratulated Rams Head for thinking of a new way to sell tickets, but he doesn’t think it will have an impact on sales.

“Is it better for the customer? It seems like it removes an extra step,” Remesch said. “Will it drive sales or push them over another venue? In my humble opinion, I don’t think so.”

More updates to follow Monday. 

Photo: Rams Head Live Facebook 
Posted by Erik Maza at 3:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: News

New bar The Park Bench opens in South Baltimore, replacing Boomer's

South Baltimore has a new bar called the Park Bench.

The place where Boomer's on the Hill used to be officially re-opened November 6 without much fanfare or even a sign.

It had been under renovation for a year. 

Owner Stephen Gronowski, who's also a manager at Don't Know Tavern, said he hopes the place will become "a nice little neighborhood spot."

The bar carries a small beer selection and sits about 40 people, Gronowski said.

Boomer's, which was well known for its Wii, closed in November 2009. Gronowski took over a couple of months later. 

Park Bench has 8 beers on tap - including Heavy Seas and Guinness. Gronowski said he wants to have ten bottled beers soon. He also plans to add food early next year.

Alcohol is moderately priced. Calls are $6 and drafts are in the $4-$5.50 range, Grownoski sai. 

There's still work to be done: a sign hasn't yet been posted outside, and the name is still somewhat undecided on; Gronowski has gone back and forth between The Park Bench and just Park Bench. (He also doesn't know if or when there will be a grand opening; this is his busy season at Don't Know.)

But "there's definitely room for growth," the owner said.  

Grownowski spent a year renovating the space with a couple of friends, as he worked his day job at Don't Know.

Though he was business partners with Jason Zink of No Idea and Don't Know, for a year and a half, it's his first solo project.

"I was looking to do something on my own," he said.

The Park Bench is at 1749 Belt St. It is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Photo: Sam Sessa

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:02 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Royksopp announce new tour dates

Royksopp announced new North American tour dates Thursday.

The Norwegian duo will tour in March to just four American cities, but luckily, it includes Washington D.C. They will perform at the 9:30 club.

Torbjorn Brundtland and Svein Berge are probably best known for "What else is there?" the 2005 existential electronic-pop tune that featured The Knife's Karin Dreijer.

It'd be easy to think they would be sedate on tour, but Marc Hogan over at Pitchfork had this to say about its live album, "Royksopp's Night Out:" their "live set is much better and more raucuous than hunching next to the speakers at yer local Crate & Barrel."

Tickets are now on sale. 

Full dates after the jump: 

Royksopp tour dates:

18/3/11: The Guvernment Toronto, Canada

19/311: Club Soda Montreal, Canada

21/3/11: Webster Hall New York NY

23/3/11: 930 Club Washington, DC

24/3/1: Masquerade (Heaven Stage) Atlanta G

25/3/11: Ultra Music Festival Miami, FL

Tickets, at $25, are on sale here.  

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:09 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Music News

Future Islands on its new song, touring with Lonnie Walker and why CDs are dead

Future Islands, the Baltimore-by-way-of-North Carolina trio, is four years old.

Until last year, the group wasn’t even signed to a proper label. And its new album, “In Evening Air,” has sold only 3,000 copies, according to Nielsen Soundscan.

Yet keyboardist J. Gerrit Welmers, bassist William Cashion, and vocalist Sam Herring are on the road more than a bunch of Bible salesmen.

Just in the past year, Herring said, they’ve done 130 shows.

“I’m tired. I’m pretty sure I speak for everybody,” Herring said.

If only for that, they have been looking forward to Saturday, when they play the Ottobar in one of their last gigs in the foreseeable future. (Thrill Jockey says they will likely a new album in late 2011).

Since the beginning, Future Islands has been more prolific than late-period Woody Allen. The band has released close to 13 vinyls, split 7-inches, cassette tapes, CD-Rs and albums, and toured extensively, including on Wham City’s Round Robins.

The most recent blitzkrieg of shows started early last year when the group went on tour to promote its album “Wave like Home” and road-test the songs that would become this year’s “In Evening Air.” The touring didn’t stop until November, after a total of 150 shows.

The pace this year has been equally relentless, Herring said. After he had knee surgery in February, the band went on the road again to support the new album. And no sooner had that tour ended,  it recorded a split 7-inch — a vinyl single shared by two artists — with North Carolina band Lonnie Walker and went on the road again for an 18-city marathon, a "mini-tour" in their book. 

The two bands had talked about doing a split 7-inch for years. Cashion and Lonnie Walker frontman Brian Corum have known each other since high school. "We were in a band," Cashion said. "We used to play a lot of record stores.” Later they shared a house, and Cashion sometimes played bass at Lonnie Walker shows.

They wanted to share space on vinyl because of the the product itself.

 “Along the way to downloading, something was lost,” Cashion said. “I think there’s something special about doing a limited vinyl.” To recover that, more bands, are distributing their music now on cassette tapes, vinyl, CD-Rs instead of through MySpace or iTunes, he said. It's something Future Islands itself did for years.

“I don’t buy CDs anymore,” Herring said. “They’re kind of obsolete to me. A record is a more of a piece of art than a CD.”

He’s still in the minority about that, but vinyl record fans are growing in number. Digital sales have taken a big bite out of CD sales, while vinyl sales, improbably, have been steadily increasing, topping at 2.1 million in 2009, up 35 percent from the year before, according to Nielsen.

Lonnie Walker’s label ended up not being able to produce the split 7-inch. But, after the local blog Bmore Musically Informed invited Future Islands last November to record a live session, the label didn't matter anymore.

The session, recorded in Cashion’s Mount Vernon living room over a portable organ and Natty Bohs, inspired the idea for a vinyl-only label, Friends Records, which blogger Brett Yale and Sound Garden manager Jimmy MacMillan founded in April. Future Islands was one of the first bands to sign up.

Herring said the band wrote their half of the split, called “The Ink Well,” in June and recorded it over three days in early July in Charles Village. Herring, who looks young but has the jaded, gravelly voice of someone who’d be complaining about knee surgery, said the result is a “beautiful article.”

“I definitely wouldn’t buy a three-song CD,” he said. “But a three-song split 7-inch is special.” Only 1,000 copies of the peach-colored vinyl were made, and they’re sold at Sound Garden and at Friends Records’ website.

At the Ottobar, Future Islands will follow Lonnie Walker’s half-hour set with 50 minutes of everything from “In Evening Air” to “Wave like Home” to some of their other split 7-innch and CD-Rs.

It’s also touring with a new song, called “On the Water,” which is the only song the group has had time to write since it went to Europe on tour in August.

The group planned on recording some other new songs to road-test, but, this one was the only that didn't end up in a trash bin. And it was recorded, in what’s become standard procedure over the past couple of years, in just a day.

"We were in the living room at Gerrit's. I was just singing," Herring said. "William was working on a bassline, and Gerrit came in and just started playing a couple of simple lines on the keyboard." 

Baltimore - the penultimate show on the tour - means they're just a day away from returning to that.

“This year’s been about hard work. That’s the natural progression of things. You make something, you tour as hard as you can to support it, and then you go back out and write more songs,” Herring said. “We haven’t done any creating this year. I’m really excited to get off the road and start writing again.”

If you go: Future Islands, Lonnie Walker and Winks perform Saturday at the Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St. Doors open at 10 p.m. Tickets, at $7, are sold at the door or at

Photo: EyeBodega

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Live!

November 18, 2010

Mickey Free to release new album at Golden West Cafe Friday

Mickey Free aka Michael Freeland aka Bow n' Arrow will release his new album at Golden West Cafe Friday.

For 10 bucks, you get the album and admission to the show. 

Free, who has been working steadily in Baltimore for the last six years - most often with rapper Height - produced the album as he did a flurry of other gigs this year.

Sure, there was the performance at Whartscape and Rap Round Robin at Floristree, but, just listen to his atomizing remix of Wye Oak's delicate "That I Do" for proof 2010 has been especially good to the rapper. Al Shipley also notes his Beat Babies studio has been churning out records for locals The Art Department and Sri Aurobindo.

The new album, which has 13 tracks, can be heard online.

"Never Enough," which features Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner, and "The Unnies, which features Height, are free downloads. (Arboretum's guitarist, Dave Heumann, is also featured).

Maryland Morning interviewed Free and his producing partner Dave Barresi Tuesday.  

AK Slaughter, Nuclear Power Pants, and Barresi née Secret Weapon Dave will also perform Friday night.  (via bmore musically informed)

Golden West Cafe is at 1105 West 36th Street. Doors open at 10 p.m. Regular admission is $5.

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Bartender Ginny Lawhorn launches new charity event at Johnny Rad's

PX00244_9.JPGIf you've been to the Landmark Theater in Harbor East, you might have seen and tasted some of the movie-inspired drinks bartender Ginny Lawhorn makes.

There have been "Mad Men" drinks, "Star Trek" and "Harry Potter," and soon, there will be a cocktail for the tackiness explosion that will surely be "Burlesque."

Tonight, Lawhorn will bartend for free at Fells Point's Johnny Rad's to launch the first of an event she's created called "Tend for a Cause."

 Every month, Lawhorn will bartend at some local independent bar and donate her tips to a charitable cause.

She created the event after she won City Paper's Readers Poll for best bartender because, Lawhorn said, she wanted to put the award to good use.

Tonight's tips will benefit local artist Sylvia Ortiz' breast cancer treatment. And much like Boozin for Boobs, is as good a reason as any to get blotto tonight, not that you needed one.

The event starts at 8 p.m. at Johnny Rad's, 2108 Eastern Avenue. 

Photo: Johnny Rad's (Monica Lopossay/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:52 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

UPDATE: "Ace of Cakes" meets Pavement, Stephen Malkmus

In an unprecedented collision of the worlds of baking, reality TV and Stephen Malkmus, Pavement will appear on an upcoming episode of "Ace of Cakes."

It's not clear how this happened. Perhaps this is the show Malkmus chooses to pig out to those nights after a bad show. 

Or maybe Duff  Goldman is just a big fan.

But the show taped the episode in September in New York.

The Chicago Reader, which has been following the band on tour, blogged about it Wednesday in a post reminiscing about the band's recent string of shows. Pitchfork got the confirmation from the band's label.

Those who want to know when the show will air, or if Goldman made an edible statue of Stephen Malkmus, as no doubt obsessed fans would like, will have to wait. I will update when I get word from Charm City Cakes.

The idolized 90s band reunited earlier this year for their first world tour in 11 years. In September, it performed at Virgin Mobile FreeFest right after Matt & Kim. 

Update:  Charm City Cakes manager Mary Alice Yeskey confirmed the Pavement episode will air January 20. She said the cake was inspired by the artwork of one of the band's albums, but wouldn't say which one. Guesses?

Update 2: "Ace of Cakes" has been canceled, but the new season, including the Pavement episode will still air in its entirety.

Photo: Jeremy Lemos/Chicago Reader
Posted by Erik Maza at 1:09 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

Maryland takes out Four Loko

PX00076_9.JPGMaryland becomes the latest state to put the kibosh on Four Loko.

On Wednesday, Comptroller Peter Franchot convinced two Maryland trade groups to stop distributing the alcoholic caffeinated drink to its members, The Sun reports this morning.

Franchot cited the death of Courtney Perry, who Midnight Sun told you about Monday, as a motivating factor in the move.

The Maryland Beer Wholesalers association, a group of 22 businesses that distributes most of the alcohol in the state, agreed to stop importing the drink.

As did its board, which represents about a third of Maryland's roughly 6,000 licensed alcohol stores and bars.

The move comes after the Food and Drug Administration issued letters to beverage makers labeling caffeine as an "unsafe food additive" to alcoholic drinks. And warned the government could seize their products unless the manufacturers pull them or prove their products are safe. 

Proving they're safe or unsafe might be difficult to do, seeing as scientists haven't reached a conclusion themselves. For one there's no evidence these drinks are any more unsafe than caffeinated drinks like Red Bull, according to a study by the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.

And even in that study, researchers said "the relationship between energy-drink use and increased risk of alcohol abuse is not entirely clear." They also acknowledged "causality may go in either direction."

The Maryland trade groups' agreement doesn't force liquor stores to immediately yank the product from their shelves. But prepare to start seeing poorly written "We stop selling Four Loko" signs popping up in stores and bodegas around town.

If you don't know what Four Loko is:  "The often fruity drinks are popular among the young, who say they like the way the caffeine mitigates the soporific effects of the alcohol."

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:09 AM | | Comments (21)
Categories: News

November 17, 2010

Announcing the Midnight Sun Mix-off

When I wrote about Maryland Bartending Academy last week, a big debate erupted in the comments over who's better, a bartender with school training, or someone who's had real-life experience.

Some commenters said bartending is all about attitude and character, and training counts for diddly squat.

While Mark Russell, who runs the bartending academy, argued the school gives budding bartenders a primer on the trade.

So who's right? To settle the debate, Jason Zink, manager of No Idea and Don't Know taverns, proposed a contest, a mix-off.

Well, after calling Russell up, I'm happy to announce: It. Is. On.

The mix-off will consist of both a speed and a taste test to be judged by three impartial judges. Zink will volunteer Don't Know tavern, and agreed none of his bartenders would participate. All contestants will have the same ingredients and will make the same drinks.

Russell will pick three contestants from all his graduates.

And for the "School Sux" team (tentative name!), Midnight Sun is now officially recruiting participants.

Anyone is invited to throw their hat in the ring just as long as they don't have any school training. Though, remember, it is my prerogative to choose who the three final contestants will be.

We haven't settled on a date yet, though it will probably be after Thanksgiving or in early December.

Why is this worthwhile? Well, for starters, that primer Russell talks about costs $540, and it doesn't guarantee a license (there isn't such a thing as a bartending license) or a job (though the school promises to help students finding employment).

The mix-off won't just settle once and for all the debate, but it might also help budding bartenders figure out if going to school is better than just training in the real world.

Photo: Jed Kirschbaum/Baltimore Sun 

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:31 PM | | Comments (40)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Review: Carrie Underwood at 1st Mariner Arena, November 16

PX00223_9.JPGSix songs into her show at 1st Mariner Arena Tuesday night, Carrie Underwood pulled out all the stops and brought out the vegetation.

After she’d steamrolled through “Wasted” and “Quitter” – two songs that nicely showed off a brassy attitude – the stage was bathed in green lights.

Rain sound effects started playing over the speakers, and an enormous fake tree branch descended from the ceiling with a swing set hanging from it, making the arena look like the forest in “Fern Gully.”

She didn’t just deliver her next number, “Just a Dream,”already a schmaltzy love song, wearing a ruffled, Pepto-bismol-pink, floor-length skirt, she did it while swinging from that tree branch.

Usually, such images don’t exist outside straight-to-video Disney movies, but Underwood returned to them again and again Tuesday night, marring what would have otherwise been a solid showcase of her voice. A remarkable singer with five Grammys to her credit and a string of hits after winning “American Idol” in 2005, she has two performance registers: cheesy and defiant, pivoting between rowdy numbers - usually written by the great songwriter Hillary Lindsey - and fluff like “Just a Dream.”

While she hit all her notes, emoted on cue, and sparkled nearly as much as Ryan Seacrest’s highlights during all 21 of her numbers, it was only during those moments of pent-up abandon (“Last Name,” “Quitter”) that she was at her best.

Underwood took the stage a little after 9 p.m., straddling a red divan and sporting a Gothic trench coat and a gaudy choker. (Her openers were Billy Currington and Sons of Sylvia, who, at least judging by an autograph line that rivaled the one to the women’s room, were a hit with the crowd. )

Performing before a mostly sold-out arena, she kicked things off with three rousing kiss-off songs, “Cowboy Casanova,” “Wasted” and “Quitter” that showed off an attitude fit for her big voice.

She was excellent in “Wasted,” written by Lindsey, leading rather than keeping up with her energetic seven piece band.

Though she didn’t really move, overact, or, in fact, leave her red couch during these first few numbers, she’s a powerful enough singer that she still registered the cockiness the songs demand. Her back-up singer was left with not much to do but dance beside the fiddle player in the top hat.

She switched gears for the next portion of the show, slowing things down with “Just a Dream,” the kind of song that sounds ripped from a Hallmark musical greeting card.

And then delivered a spiel she’s no doubt already recounted before many an award show: how she slept on the back of her mom’s car on her way to the “American Idol” audition, how she watched awards shows as a little girl, how she first heard the demo to “Jesus, Take the Wheel” while cleaning her bathroom.

“The last five or six years have been pretty awesome for me,” she said, the giant tree branch hanging behind her, looking sadly out of place, as fake as all the sentiment on stage.

Songs like “Temporary Home” and “Change” – both a series of mawkish vignettes of stock characters who’ve fallen on hard times – were meant to play like sincere ballads, but sounded anything but. It didn’t help matters she sang the latter song behind an LCD dress that displayed images of rainbows and shooting stars.

She also misfired with John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Instead of playing it like the earnest ode to Americana that it is, she did it while riding a flashy blue pick-up truck that didn’t look like it had ever been taken out of the dealership, let alone been in West Virginia.

Only when she performed her duet with Randy Travis, “I Told you So,” did she strike the right tone on a ballad. Love songs don’t have to be overdone; they don’t have to come with a cloying montage of wedding photos – like “Mama’s Song” did – they can be stripped down and simple. With Travis performing on video, it was her most honestly country moment in an otherwise pop-ified set.

Thankfully, for the finale, she played three tunes that played to her strengths. On “Last Name,” also written by Lindsey, she sounded sassy and defiant; a performance fit for a bachelorette party. And on “Songs like This,” she sampled Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”

“Wanna find some boy/ rip his heart right out/First man I see, gonna take him down/It ain't the Christian thing/to do, they say/But someone, somewhere's gotta pay.”

It was an appropriate mashup that showed that, like Beyonce, Underwood sounds best when she’s on a rampage.

See photos from the show.

 Set list:

1. Cowboy Casanova
2. Quitter
3. Wasted
4. I know you won't
5. Some Hearts
6. Just a dream
7. Temporary Home
8. Someday When I Stop Loving You
9. All American Girl
10. So Small
11. Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver cover)
12. This Time
13. Undo It
14. Jesus, Take the Wheel
15. What Can I Say (duet with Sons of Sylvia)
16. Change
17. I Told You So
18. Mama's Song
19. Last Name


20. Before he Cheats
21. Songs like This

Photo: Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun
Posted by Erik Maza at 3:23 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Concert reviews

Last Night's Photo: Open 24 Hours

Fells Point's the Sip & Bite, by flickr user photoskip. To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join the flickr pool.

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Photo gallery: Carrie Underwood at 1st Mariner Arena, Nov. 16

Our photo gallery of Carrie Underwood's performance at 1st Mariner Arena Tuesday night.

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:59 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Concert Photo Gallery

Joanna Newsom on groupies, her band, and 'Have one on me'

Joanna Newsom has reached a place where she has groupies.

They’re not the Penny Lane types or have her likeness stiched on throw pillows. She’s a harpist, after all. She has groupies the way Sarah Vowell has groupies.

“I don’t know if they would call themselves groupies, but there are people that follow me from town to town,” said, before adding the requite, “It’s very sweet.”

Six years after the release of her first album, “The Milk-Eyed Mender,” Newsom has gone from playing small venues like San Francisco’s Du Nord café to playing Rams Head Live, where she’ll perform Sunday.

Her new album, “Have one on me,” debuted in 7th place on Billboard’s independent charts.

At this point, her fans can recite all ten minutes of “Emily,” from her last album, “Ys” and just as easily pivot to one of the small symphonies in the new one.

Newsom inspires breathless devotion, the way people treasure things they don’t think others will appreciate. When she picked the songs on the 90-minute show - a quarter from “Mender,” a quarter from “Ys” and the rest from her new album, “Have one on me” – she did it with her groupies in mind.

“I want to make sure they hear as many songs as possible,” she said. “I believe every song gets played at some point during the tour.”

The show she’s touring with is not unlike her music: complicated, full of unfamiliar sounds and references, and only deceptively brittle.

Though they may sound like gossamer love songs on record, Newsom “shreds” her harp live, as the Village Voice put it after a recent New York show.

And behind her, she’ll have two violinists, a drummer, and a multi-instrumentalist who plays, among other things, a tambura, a sitar-like string instrument.

“I do a few solo songs, but I choose ones that are more dynamic and more instrumentally varied to take advantage of this band I have with me.” The effect is to dispel the notion that just because she plays the harp, hers is chamber music.

“Bearing in mind that people are sitting in their seats, I want there to be as much energy as possible,” she said. “Theres a lot happening musically. It’s not a hushed show in general.”

If you go: Joanna Newsom will perform Sunday at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place in Power Plant Live. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $27.50. Call 410-244-1131 or go to

Also see:

Photo: Pitch Perfect PR

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:35 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

Early Review: Carrie Underwood, Sons of Sylvia at 1st Mariner Arena, November 16

PX00221_9.JPGCarrie Underwood played a two-hour show Tuesday night at 1st Mariner Arena that flitted between frivolous love songs and defiant pop anthems.

On singles like "Temporary Home," where she laid the schmaltz thick, she faltered, drowned out by the over production and the melodrama.

But on others, like "Last Name" she got to show off her strengths: her pipes, and a touch of attitude that fits her big voice.

The Grammy winner played 21 songs in a total, including her duet with Randy Travis, "I Told You So." On "What Can I Say" she was joined on stage by openers Sons of Sylvia.

A full review will come later today, along with photos from the show. Update: Full review is here.

Underwood's set list is below:

Carrie Underwood set list:

1. Cowboy Casanova
2. Quitter
3. Wasted
4. I know you won't
5. Some Hearts
6. Just a dream
7. Temporary Home
8. Someday When I Stop Loving You
9. All American Girl
10. So Small
11. Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver cover)
12. This Time
13. Undo It
14. Jesus, Take the Wheel
15. What Can I Say (duet with Sons of Sylvia)
16. Change
17. I Told You So
18. Mama's Song
19. Last Name


20. Before he Cheats
21. Songs like this

Photo: Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun

Posted by Erik Maza at 6:00 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Concert reviews

November 16, 2010

Not so fast with those Flying Dog brewery tours

After I followed up on a Washington City Paper blog post reporting Flying Dog Ales was getting ready to start public tours of the brewery again, CEO Jim Caruso reached out to me: not yet.

Caruso said there was a tour of the facility last week, but that it was only an experiment to see if it would be possible to start the tours in the future. 

"We’re studying how we might organize tours if we did open the brewery to the public," Caruso said. But, "No decision has been made to open the brewery to the public."

Flying Dog closed its tap room and ended tours a year ago over a Maryland law that allows licensed breweries to offer only 6-ounce beer samples to visitors who've completed public tours. 

State breweries, including Flying Dog, have protested the law in the past, and expressed interest in bringing the tours back.

To explore that possibility, Caruso said, the brewery invited two groups of around 30 people - retailers, journalists like the writers from City Paper, and "friends of the brewery" - to tour their Frederick brewery last Thursday.

After the tour, City Paper reported the brewery would be able to bypass the Maryland law by simply dividing the brewery into parts, and offering samples after visitors have toured each section instead of after one seamless tour. But Caruso said it's still to early to reach that conclusion. 

"We’re evaluating what we learned from that experience," he said. "We have no specific plan to open the brewery to the public at this time."

Photo: Flying Dog's Frederick brewery, via The Lagerheads' Facebook.  They got a tour last week.
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Brewing News

The Beatles, unknown Brits, finally added to iTunes

beatles.bmpDo you feel different? is your step a little lighter? Apple boasted Monday today would be a day "you'll never forget." Could it be a half-priced iPhone? One with pitch-perfect reception? Well? Well?

At 10 a.m. today, the company made the announcement: after much speculation, Prince William finally proposed to Kate Middleton. Holy Cow! Well, I'll never forg--. Wait, what? The Beatles on iTunes? So easy to confuse Brits making headlines.

Apple today succeeded in convincing the surviving members of the band, the wives of the dead ones, and EMI, the band's record company, to sell their music on iTunes. 

The move is a major coup for Apple, which had wooed The Beatles for years only for talks to disintegrate over trademark disputes and pricing.

For the band, which like some of its contemporaries will likely continue to make more money from CD rather than digital sales, it's a recognition of the importance of digital sales going forward.

It's not clear yet how the deal came together, if Steve Jobs had to promise Yoko Ono to cut off his pinkie toe or what. Presumably, it involves a lot of dollars. The New York Times notes one likely sticking point was pricing, with the band members wanting to charge more than the 99 cents Apple usually charges for songs.

Just as they did in its heyday, and later in the 80s when their catalog was reissued on CD - solidifying the emergence of that technology - The Beatles have lately been itching to again play a key role in the evolution of music. Last year, they signed off on the release of The Beatles: Rock Band, the popular video game they sanctioned as an official part of their canon.

All 13 Beatles albums are on iTunes now, with the box set clocking in at $149 and most individual songs sold at $1.29. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:11 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Music News

Robert Plant to skip Baltimore in new 2011 tour

Robert Plant announced Monday a new 15-city tour that will include a stop in Washington D.C.

The former Led Zeppelin frontman will perform at DAR Constitution Hall February 1. The announcement is surely good news for fans in the metropolitan area, but raises the question: what gives?

As I've been posting 2011 tour dates for the last couple of weeks, the clear trend emerging is major headliners scheduling shows in DC and sometimes Philadelphia, and almost invariably skipping Baltimore. Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, the lady from Lilith Fair - all will stop by our neighbor cities and spurn Charm City.

When referring to the back-to-back U2 and Sade concerts next year, mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said 2011 would be "a real statement" for Baltimore. But two headliners does not a statement make.

I have already reported on the difficulty area stadiums have had in booking major acts, something that's occurring nationwide. But the schedule at our mid-sized venues isn't that much encouraging. Ozzy Osbourne and Usher will both play 1st Mariner Arena in the next month. But after that the biggest star on the venue's calendar from now through June are the Harlem Globetrotters.

Pier Six hasn't posted shows for 2011 yet. Here's hoping both venues pick up the slack otherwise, it's going to be a long wait until the various summer concert series  start again.

Tickets for Robert Plant go on sale Friday on Ticketmaster.

Addendum: Let me add a couple of clarifying points to the post. Yes, headliners have passed over the city in the past, but what remains debatable is the why: is it residents, Live Nation, the city? There are actually several possible answers, which is why I posted this. Seth Hurwitz, founder of promoter I.M.P., has said in the past that a big reason headliners bypass Baltimore is the city's 10 percent amusement tax, which stipulates that  10 percent of all ticket grosses must go to the city. Live Nation is another major obstacle, because it too often directs acts to its other venues (Jiffy Lube Live) or just to A-list markets like Washington. What are some of the other reasons? Commenters have mentioned some others below.

Now, in the past five years, Hurwitz and Frank Remesch, the big honcho at 1st Mariner Arena, have done a tremendous job in courting major talent to the area, succeeding with Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, even Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (two years ago at Merriweather Post Pavilion).

The 2011 tour announcements that have been made so far perhaps suggest an early reversal to that trend. We'll only know if it changes as headliners announce their tours over the coming months. (Pier Six Pavilion won't make its summer concert series announcement until the Spring.)

Full Robert Plant dates after the jump: 

Robert Plant tour dates:

1/18   Asheville, NC   Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
1/19   Pittsburgh, PA   Peterson Events Center (University of Pittsburgh)
1/21   Ann Arbor, MI   Hill Auditorium
1/22   Toronto, ONT   Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
1/25   Boston, MA   House of Blues
1/26   Upper Darby, PA   Tower Theatre
1/28   Mashantucket, CT   MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino
1/29   New York, NY   Beacon Theatre
2/1   Washington, DC   DAR Constitution Hall
2/2   Raleigh, NC   Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2/4   North Charleston, SC   North Charleston Performing Arts Center
2/5   Atlanta, GA   Fox Theatre
2/7   Charlotte, NC   Ovens Auditorium
2/8 and 2/9   Nashville, TN   War Memorial Auditorium 

Photo: Robert Plant official page 

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Music News

November 15, 2010

Flying Dog Ales to re-start public tours at Frederick brewery

Flying Dog Ales will resume public tours at its Frederick brewery  starting this Winter.

The manufacturer closed the tap room of its brewery a year ago over Maryland liquor laws that prevented them from freely dispensing samples to visitors. 

But Washington City Paper reports CEO Jim Caruso has found a loophole that will allow the company to bring back sampling Saturdays and do tours of the facility.

The news comes after last week's announcement the company has more or less discontinued the 21-year-old brand Wild Goose, which they had owned since 2006. 

Maryland law stipulates a brewery may only serve one sample of up to 6 ounces to anyone of legal drinking age who has taken a tour of its licensed facility.

Flying Dog and other breweries have protested the law in the past. But this Winter, they will bypass the law by simply breaking up their tour into different sections. This will allow visitors to take their 6-ounce samples after each section they complete, rather than after one seamless tour, and to get blotto way faster. 

City Paper doesn't say how many tour sections there will be, and Ben Savage, vice president of marketing, hasn't gotten back to me for comment. Will update when I know that information, the start date of the tours, if there will be a cost, and if the company is already taking reservations.

 Flying Dog Ales has owned the Frederick brewery since 2006. Two years later they closed their Denver brewery and moved all 82 Flying Dog packages to Maryland, leaving little space for Wild Goose or any of the company's other beer commitments.

The public tour news comes via the tireless Beer in Baltimore, who must have his ears to the walls of Jim Caruso's office for all the tidbits he's churning about the company. (Or maybe he just has a Google alert).

Photo: Flying Dog's Frederick brewery, via The Lagerheads' Facebook.  They got a tour last week.

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:05 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Brewing News

Girl Talk's new album posted online as free download, includes Rye Rye sample

DJ Gregg Gillis, better known as Girl Talk, posted his entire new album, "All Day," online as a free download today.

The hour-long album -- which can be downloaded track by track or as a seamless MP3 -- features 12 tracks that sample everyone from Lady Gaga ("Bad Romance") and Willow Smith ("Whip My Hair") to Neil Diamond ("Cherry, Cherry") and Bananarama ("Cruel Summer").

Rye Rye's "Bang" is sampled on track "Get it Get it" around the 1:55 mark (36:59 on the seamless track).  (Thanks to reader gothaggis for noticing)

Gillis will perform at Rams Head Live January 31 as part of a 40-city tour he'll embark on at the beginning of the year.

To download the album, go to (Warning: website seems to be loading slow).


Posted by Erik Maza at 1:02 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Music News

Nick Cave's Grinderman to play 9:30 club; Linkin Park announce Spring tour dates

Tonight Grinderman, the band headed by troubadour Nick Cave, will play late night TV after kicking off its 12-city tour a couple of days ago. 

But tomorrow, the four piece will be in D.C.

Despite looking like the staff of a Michigan funeral parlot, Grinderman  is the side project of four of the members of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. They're touring with their new album, "Grinderman 2," which, despite coming from four grizzled musicians cracked the Billboard Top 40 in September.

How grizzled are these guys? Look at 'em. They look more crotchety than Robert Duvall in "Get Low." 

Grinderman will perform at the 9:30 Club Tuesday. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are sold at (Also, at some point, make it your beeswax to watch "The Proposition," which Cave scored. You can trick your girlfriend into thinking you're going to watch "The Proposal.")

Update: In other news, Linkin Park - ancient in their own way - have announced Spring tour dates, including a stop February 10 stop at Verizon Center

Update 2: Apparently it's a big day for tour announcements. My Chemical Romance will play at the 9:30 Club May 10, Warner Bros. Records announced today. Swedish singer Lykke Li will stop in the area in May.

Full Grinderman, Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance tour dates after the break:

Grinderman tour dates:

2010-11-13 House of Blues Cambridge MA
2010-11-14 Nokia Theatre Time Square New York NY
2010-11-16 9:30 Club Washington DC
2010-11-18 Variety Playhouse Atlanta GA
2010-11-19 Cannery Ballroom Nashville TN
2010-11-20 Minglewood Hall Memphis TN
2010-11-22 The Riviera Chicago IL
2010-11-23 First Avenue, Minneapolis MN
2010-11-27 The King Cat Theater Seattle WA
2010-11-29 Warfield Theatre San Francisco CA
2010-11-30 The Music Box Los Angeles CA
2010-12-01 House of Blues San Diego CA

Linkin Park tour dates (tickets on sale November 20):

Jan 20 Sunrise, FL @ Bank Atlantic Center
Jan 22 Tampa, FL @ St Pete Times Forum
Jan 23 Atlanta, GA @ Phillips Arena
Jan 25 Detroit, MI @ Joe Louis Arena
Jan 26 Chicago, IL @ United Center
Jan 28 Minneapolis, MN @ Xcel Energy Center
Jan 29 Kansas City, MO @ Sprint Center
Jan 31 Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center
Feb 1 Boston, MA @ TD Garden
Feb 4 New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden
Feb 7 Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre
Feb 8 Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre
Feb 10 Washington, DC @ Verizon Center
Feb 11 Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun
with The Prodigy: Feb 15 Houston, TX @ Toyota Center
Feb 17 Dallas, TX @ American Airlines Center
Feb 19 Las Vegas, NV @ MGM Grand - Garden Arena
Feb 20 San Diego, CA @ Viejas Arena
Feb 23 Los Angeles, CA @ Staples Center
Feb 25 Salt Lake City, UT @ Energy Solutions Arena
Feb 26 Denver, CO @ Pepsi Center

My Chemical Romance tour dates (tickets go on sale November 17: 

APRIL 1st Portland, OR Roseland Theatre
2nd Vancouver, BC Center for Performing Arts
3rd Seattle, WA Showbox Sodo
5th Edmonton, AB Edmonton Event Centre
6th Calgary, AB MacEwan Hall
8th Salt Lake City In the Venue
9th Denver, CO Fillmore
10th Des Moines, IA Val Air Ballroom
12th Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
13th Milwaukee, WI Eagles Ballroom
15th Chicago, IL Aragon *
17th Cleveland, OH House Of Blues
20th Montreal, QC Metropolis
22nd New York, NY Terminal 5
MAY 5th Boston, MA House Of Blues
6th Philadelphia, PA Tower Theater *
7th Sayreville, NJ Starland Ballroom
10th Washington, DC 9:30 Club
11th Atlanta, GA The Tabernacle
17th West Palm Bch, FL Revolution
18th Orlando, FL House Of Blues
20th Houston, TX House Of Blues **
21st Dallas, TX House Of Blues **
24th Phoenix, AZ Marquee


Photo: Grinderman MySpace

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:30 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Music News

America loses its mind over Four Loko; drink now blamed for "hallucinogenic frenzy," 21-year-old Courtney Spurry's death

In today's fun headlines, here's this winner from WJZ-TV: "Alcoholic Energy Drink Made Md. Woman 'Lose Mind'"

The station is of course talking about Four Loko, the caffeinated alcoholic drink with the catchy slogan ("Blackout in a can").

Their story comes after a 21-year-old woman died in Easton November 7 when she crashed her Ford pick-up truck on two utility poles. Reportedly, Courtney Spurry of St. Michaels had been drinking with girlfriends before the accident. 

An autopsy has yet to be conducted, nor have police filed their report on the accident, but by Friday, Channel 13 had found the culprit in the caffeinated alcoholic drink.

Not only had Four Loko gotten the young woman drunk, it had also made her "lose her mind." The station came to its conclusion after it spoke with friends and relatives at the young woman's Thursday vigil. 

"She changed that night," said Abby Sherwood, a friend of the victim. The girl's uncle also chimed in. 

"Courtney, she was a little peanut. She was 4' 8", weighted 100 pounds," Lewis Spurry said. "So you can imagine drinking a couple of these drinks and all of a sudden she has no control of herself."

So this is new. On top of all the terrible effects that have been attributed to the energy drink, it can now also trigger someone's psychotic breakdown. It's not just a canned drink anymore, it's a devil serum.

It's official: we have now reached Four Loko hysteria saturation. America is having a collective freak-out over those 23.5-ounces of booze. Governor David Paterson told the manufacturer he doesn't want the drink in New York; four states have banned its sale; at least one media outlet has employed the phrase "war against Four Loko; and "We don't sell Four Loko" signs have quickly become a Tumblr meme.

Four Loko stories are beginning to sound like a scary movie's viral campaign. Next we'll hear it made a 75-year-old woman faint in a theater somewhere. It's a shame Steven Slater had his meltdown in October, he could have waited and just blamed Four Loko. You got a crazy story? Just peg it on Four Loko; it's all the rage.

WJZ isn't the only station going nuts over Four Loko. In Philadelphia, another CBS station reported the drink caused a suburban dad's "hallucinogenic frenzy."  

As everyone rushes to condemn it, the drink is only becoming more fetishized among its target audience: college students. Over the weekend, CNN interviewed students at University of Maryland College Park who said they'll keep chugging it down despite the risks.

At least Maryland schools are having the right attitude about it. In separate interviews last month, four university representatives told Midnight Sun they are avoiding a knee-jerk ban that would only encourage more consumption and are instead urging moderation.

An extra challenge for commenters: report back with locations - or better yet, pictures - of any local bodegas or liquor stores that have posted "We have no Four Loko" signs.

Photo: AP

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (19)
Categories: News

November 12, 2010

Flying Dog Ales to discontinue Wild Goose beer

wildgoose.JPGRest in peace Wild Goose. Flying Dog Ales confirmed today it will no longer produce the 21-year-old brand, which it has owned since 2006.

Ben Savage, vice president of marketing, said their Frederick brewery has run out of space to produce both Wild Goose and Flying Dog.

"The bottom line is we only have so much capacity here at the brewery and the market is demanding Flying Dog as our main push," he said. "There's no room to produce Wild Goose anymore."

The company will continue to produce Wild Goose IPA into the 1st quarter of 2011, Savage added. But the IPA's future is unknown beyond that point.

The Wild Goose Snow now in stock is the last batch the brewery will make.

Beer in Baltimore, which had been chasing the Wild Goose rumor since earlier this week, has a solid history of the brand up.   

Flying Dog's Frederick brewery, which has a capacity of 80,000 barrels, had produced just Wild Goose until 2008, when the company shut down its Denver facility and moved operations to Maryland.

While they ran side by side for two years, Wild Goose's popularity declined and Flying Dog's market share increased, Savage said. The brewery now produces 82 different packages of Flying Dog there, and may soon add more.

The company had been inching towards shutting down the brand for a while.

"Over the past two years, we've headed towards this decision because Flying Dog is our focus," he said. 

Savage acknowledged Wild Goose had a pretty good fan base, but he also said Flying Dog had a bigger one.

Commenters - agree?

Beer in Baltimore notes Flying Dog made attempts at keeping the brand alive - such as a re-introducing the original yeast strains, and a packaging redesign. But, solidifying production in one location might have been the brand's final straw. 

 Savage said the company won't shut down the door on the brand entirely and may bring it back if there is demand.

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:41 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: News

I went to bartending school and all I got was a fuzzy navel recipe

watkins.JPGThe customer’s order was simple: “I’d like a fuzzy navel, please.”

Simple for anyone with even a passing familiarity of a home bar kit. Simple, in other words, for anyone but the guy behind the bar: me.

“Uh, what’s in that again? Vermouth?” I asked.

I was sitting in on a course at the Maryland Bartending Academy, where, as part of the first day’s lecture, students make drinks for their classmates.

No notes or recipe books — just novices and lots of booze. My customer was Katie Vachon, a 22-year-old from Anne Arundel County, who was also on her first day.

When she ordered, I had a bar behind me stacked with dozens of bottles, lined up like a boys choir in a United Colors of Benetton ad. I didn’t know what a fuzzy navel was (A highball? manhattan? Chick’s drink? What’s a highball, anyway?), what was in it or where to find the ingredients if I did manage to figure them out. I might be a prodigious consumer of drinks. But I’m a shoddy bartender. Why try, when there are Brendan Dorrs out there whose concoctions are alcoholic Sistine Chapels?

But I am alone in this. When I sat in on the academy’s two-week course, the 11 students there were of all ages — as young as 18 and as old as 57 — and backgrounds. There was a go-go singer, a suburban mom, a couple of 20-year-old guys, several young women in ponytails and a grandmother recuperating from a March heart surgery.

They’re taking the class for as many different reasons as there are whiskeys — bucket lists, first and second careers, fun. But they were all there with hopes of landing a job.

The school, located in Glen Burnie, has been around since 1980, and its two-week course costs $540, which includes tuition and books.

“With this economy, they’re looking for extra income, especially part time, and also a job that’s fun,” said Rose Kaspar, a raspy-voiced instructor at the school.

People here also took the class because bartending is a a little illicit, a little dangerous. It sounds almost like too much fun to be a job.

When she got divorced five years ago, Susan Watkins, a 57-year-old redhead from Tennessee, put it on her bucket list along with walking on a glacier and driving a snowmobile at Yellowstone National Park. “I wanted to do this for a long time,” she said. “But life passes by very quickly.”

Watkins didn’t look like she would know how to make a margarita, let alone make one in under three minutes. But by her sixth day of the course, she could — nearly as fast as young co-eds down shots of tequila — and narrated every step of the way.  “Jose Cuervo” and “Triple Sec” never sounded as quaint as when pronounced by her brittle, grandmotherly coo.

Depending on which bar you frequent, Tamarkia Little, a 30-year-old singer who lives in Baltimore’s Waverly neighborhood, was either terribly attired for the class, or awesomely so. She was a vision in pink: pink-purplish eyeshadow, phosphorescent pink top, big crimson lips and a bejeweled bow on her hair.

When she started the course, she was as clueless as I was. “I didn’t know clear from dark, rum from tequila,” she said.

Just eight months before, she had graduated from a medical assistant program at a local technical school but didn’t find a job. She’s hoping bartending might become her new part-time gig to support her two boys.


After just a day at the course, I won’t be able to make a margarita as well as Watkins, or identify all the bottles behind the bar in under five minutes like Little now can.

I just learned a few things: The jigger is the larger cup of a double-sided measurer; the pony is the smaller cup. A hi-ball always carries an ounce of alcohol and two ounces of an additive. Carbonated drinks (gin & tonics, vodka tonics) get an automated lime garnish; incidentally, don’t eat the garnish at the bartending school — they’re most likely fake.

For first-timers, Kaspar recommends word associations to remember recipes. “Very old city” for a Madras, or vodka, orange juice and cranberry juice.

Though for their final exam students must make 20 drinks in 10 minutes to get a diploma, as a sit-in I only had to make one fuzzy navel. Here it goes:

1. Take a highball glass -- typically an eight-inch glass that's between the old fashioned and Collins glasses -- and fill it with ice.

2. Remember "pissed off": peach schnapps and orange juice. Pour an ounce of the  schnapps using the pony, or count one "Mississippi" for each half ounce. Fill the rest of the glass with orange juice

3. Add straw, and voila: fuzzy navel.

By the end of the class, the bar was littered with half-made drinks in opaque color combinations; I also made a Madras and a Double O Seven. I didn’t throw the shaker in the air like Tom Cruise in “Cocktail,” and I didn’t get on top of the bar like one of the ladies in “Coyote Ugly.”

I was just happy to have made the darn drink, which would have worked out well — if I was a 1980s bartender and people still ordered fuzzy navels at bars.

 Photo: Susan Watkins (above, right) works on her shaker technique at the Maryland Bartending Academy. Ethan Harden (above, center) practices making a cocktail (Jed Kirschbaum/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:56 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bar stories

Before playing The Ottobar, Maps and Atlases talk "math rock," art school, Roy Orbison

Contributor Ben Opipari interviewed Maps and Atlases before their Sunday show at The Ottobar.

Dave Davison resists the label “math rock” that some people have pinned on his band Maps and Atlases, which is now touring with their album, "Perch Patchwork."

Though the label has stuck because of their complex rhythmic structures and unconventional time signatures, that’s not what Davison hears in their music.

Math rock the music, like mathematics the subject, after all, requires a “coldness and calculation" he said they don't have.

Midnight Sun: So what is math rock, and are you comfortable with that label?

Dave Davison: From what I understand, math rock is music that involves fast tech guitar playing and drumming, with a lot of time signature changes and drastic key changes. It’s very theory based. But that’s not really how we describe ourselves. We like some elements, but I wouldn’t say that’s what we are.

MS: Then what would you call yourselves?

DD: I guess progressive or experimental pop. We don’t dislike the term math rock, but one reason why we don’t embrace the label is that there’s an element of coldness and calculation when I think of math rock. Part of our desire as a band is to make interesting, new and challenging music, but an equally big part is that we want to make fun, meaningful and exciting sounds that people can relate to. And there are aspects of playing mathematical music that can sometimes be over people’s heads.

MS: You all met at the Chicago arts school Columbia College in Chicago. [ed. Davison majored in cultural studies, guitarist Erin Elders and drummer Chris Hainey were film majors, and bassist Shiraz Dada majored in sound engineering.] How did your experience there affect your songwriting?

DD: I’ve been interested in all types of creative writing since I was young, but most of that stems from writing music. I do think the film aspect there helped us. I love films.

MD: How do you mean?

DD: Erin and I met in a film class, so I do think that had an effect on our collective style and perspective on songwriting. Our songs don’t really fit with a traditional narrative approach, so we think a lot about the cinematic qualities of our music, more about the visual aspect and how it’s fast cut from scene to scene. It’s not necessarily a traditional linear narrative approach. Even though we’ve branched out into more narrative approaches in our songwriting, we still have that fast paced quality to our music.

MS: Who is an artist that your fans would be surprised to know influences the band.

DD: We like listening to a lot of 90s alt rock, but that’s not really surprising given our ages. One would be Roy Orbison. We listen to a lot of hip hop, and we all love reggae. But if I had to pick one, it would be Otis Redding. We listen to him all the time. He’s a huge influence who definitely has an effect on my singing.

MS: How does Roy Orbison influence you?

DD: He’s helped when I’ve had writer’s block. One of my college professors told us to lower our standards when we have writers block. A lot of times now I try to write songs that are outside of our genre or style, in another type of music. Like I’ll start writing something as a country song and explore where it goes. Take the song “The Charm” on our new album. I love Roy Orbison and was listening to his song “It’s Over” all the time and thought it would be fun to write something like it; a heartbreaking song. It ended up taking on a different shape, of course, but it started out like that.

If you go: Maps and Atlases will perform at The Ottobar Sunday. Doors open at 8 p.m. Advance tickets sold at

Ben Opipari interviews writers and songwriters on his blog, Writers on Process. He has written for the Washington Post and academic journals. Erik Maza edited this post. 

Photo: Maps and Atlases MySpace

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:18 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Music News

Hanson: We're not Justin Bieber

hanson.JPGYears after hit song “MmmBop,” Hanson returns to compete with a new generation of young pop stars.

Before Justin Bieber, before the Jonas Brothers, before even ‘Nsync, there was Hanson.

In 1997, the three teens from Tulsa, Okla., were more ubiquitous than Guess Jeans or stories about Princess Di.

Thirteen years later, they’re still around. And they’ve continued to sell albums, if not as many as back then, then as consistently.

Brothers Zac, Taylor and Isaac have sold nearly 7 million albums in the United States, according to Nielsen Soundscan, not including their eighth and newest studio effort, “Shout it Out.”

Zac, the youngest brother, said they have no intention of competing with the Biebers of the world, nor do they want to.

“Unfortunately, in a lot of cases — Bieber, for instance — the similarities diverge at the connection with young fans and having amazing breakout success,” he said. “As far as the music, and the influences, we differ a lot. I hope they have a vision for what they’re doing.”

On Saturday, Hanson will be Baltimore for the second time this year for a performance at Sonar.

When Hanson first appeared on the scene with “Middle of Nowhere “ (the album with “MMMBop”), their audience was the most fickle of all: tweens who drop their favorite artists as carelessly as Menudo once went through members.

By their second album, they had already lost gobs of fans; “Snowed In” sold 3 million fewer copies than “Middle of Nowhere.” And 2007’s “The Walk” peaked at 53,000, according to Nielsen.

But Zac said that through all that, they retained control of their destiny, which has allowed them to keep touring and recording. Unlike other artists, they weren’t managed to sound more marketable, and they didn’t depend on “a million writers and producers.”

“It’s always been organic for us,” he said. “No one’s writing our songs. A lot of young artists end up in the tabloids or in rehab because oftentime there’s a big machine behind them. They’re running away from who they’ve been.”

Who are those artists? Zac didn’t want to say. “Call it the Disney machine,” he said.

Though they started with a similar corporate push behind them, in the early 2000s the Hanson brothers grew unhappy with their label, Island Def Jam.

And in 2003, the brothers started their own label, 3CG Records, and released an album, “Underneath,” that sold 120,000 copies — a respectable number for an indie outfit.

Going at it alone has its risks though, Zac said.

“I think for us, being in a label is more about changing with the times. We didn’t see a lot of stability at Def Jam,” he said. “The advantage is that there’s no middleman, there’s no one to share the profits. But there’s also no one there to share the expenses.”

But unlike the competition today, Zac said, they don’t have to run away from their early hits. Their new single, “Thinking ‘bout somethin,’” retains much of the upbeat DNA of “MMMBop.”

“It’s still a representation of us,” he said. “It’s just us when we were young.”

And on their tour, which is hitting 15 cities on its third leg, they’ll even be performing a cappella midway through, because it’s something they did when they started out. Not straying from what first made them stars is a winning strategy for the band. The new single debuted in second place on the Billboard independent charts.

In June, when the trio and the rapper Drake appeared at a free concert in New York, organizers expected a few thousand to turn up. Instead, at least 20,000 did, and the concert had to be suspended for safety reasons.

Many were there to see the rising rapper, but the double bill suggests Hanson still retains plenty of good will with audiences and might even be riding a wave of ’90s nostalgia.

“It was the combination of it all,” said Zac. “Drake has a huge record this year. We’ve always had a huge concentration of fans in New York. You combine a beautiful day and two strong fan bases, and it’s a firestorm of good things.”

Though they have declined in numbers and ferocity, Hanson’s fans have grown up with them.

“Fans who were 12 are now 25. A lot of them are ladies; some guys, too,” Zac said.

Running away from the aw-shucks positivity of “MMMBop” would only disappoint those loyal ones who’ve stuck with them through the years.

“We’ve had such a strong connection with our fans,” Zac said. “It’s a dynamic not everybody has an opportunity to have — having a relationship with your fans since we were pre-teen.”

If you go:  Hanson performs Saturday at Sonar, 407 E. Saratoga St. All ages admitted. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. Call 410-783-7888 or go to

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:53 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Live!

November 11, 2010

Maryland Bartending Academy on the most common mistakes of first-time bartenders

PX00194_9.JPGEarlier this week, I sat in on a class at the Maryland Bartending Academy, the 20-year-old Glen Burnie school that offers a $540 two-week bartending course.

I'll tell that story tomorrow, but for now, I asked Rose Kaspar, one of the instructors there, to itemize the most common mistakes of first-time bartenders and how to avoid them.

Most home bartenders are used to learning drinks from watching "Mad Men" or from hearing more experienced drinkers order fancy cocktails at bars.

"Most people don't know what's in the drink they're drinking," she said. But, the bartender also doesn't need to know that much.

His or her goals are simple: Make nice tasting cocktails to entertain, or better yet, impress. This is how to do it.

For starters, forget tasting every drink on the bar. “You don’t have to know what all of these are,” Kaspar said, pointing to the dozens of bottles behind her bar. “You just have to know the ratios.”

Mistake 1: Remembering ingredients. While hi-balls are relatively easy to make, when you get into manhattans and things called “millennium martinis,” the ingredients pile up.

How to avoid: Kaspar recommends making flashcards, just as if you were trying to remember Spanish verb conjugations.

Mistake 2: Serving too much alcohol.

How to avoid: use a double-sided measurer, or count one “Mississippi” for each half ounce as you pour.

Mistake 3: Finding the ingredients How to avoid: Bars have dozens of bottles, but most of the set-ups are similar: Whiskeys are often on the left-hand corner, liqueurs are in the middle, and vodkas are to the right. House are rail brands are usually on the speed rack below the bar.

Kaspar said other common mistakes include leaving a bottle on the bar (customers will take it), and not filling the glass with ice (if you know which of the 20-some different glasses to use).

“It’s all practice,” Kaspar said. “The more drinks you make, the easier it’ll get.”

Photo: Tamarkia Little, a 30-year-old student, pouring beer at the school.

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:02 PM | | Comments (60)
Categories: Bar stories

Sarah McLachlan to play DAR Constitution Hall in January

Sarah McLachlan announced today 23 additional dates on her new tour, including a stop in Washington D.C.

The Canadian folk pop singer, who earlier this summer headlined the female-driven music festival Lilith Fair, is now touring with a show called "Sarah and Friends" that also features Butterfly Boucher and Melissa McClelland.

McLachlan will appear at Constitutional Hall January 10. Tickets go on sale Friday through Ticketmaster.

McLachlan had a tough time over the summer with Lilith Fair, which had to cancel ten dates over low ticket sales amid what organizers described as a difficult concert season.

Full dates below:

New Sarah McLachlan tour dates:

Fri, Dec 31 Atlantic City, NJ @ Caesars Atlantic City – Circus Maximus
Sat, Jan 1 Mashantucket, CT @ MGM Grand Theatre
Sun, Jan 2 Concord, NH @ Capitol Center for the Arts
Mon, Jan 3 Kingston, ON @ K-Rock
Wed, Jan 5 Akron, OH @ EJ Thomas Performing Arts Hall
Thur, Jan 6 Buffalo, NY @ Shea’s Performing Arts Center
Fri, Jan 7 Windsor, ON @ The Colossium at Caesars Windsor
Sat, Jan 8 Pittsburgh, PA @ Heinz Hall For The Performing Arts
*Mon, Jan 10 Washington, DC @ D.A.R. Constitution Hall
Tue, Jan 11 Boston, MA @ Opera House
Wed, Jan 12 New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre
Tue, Mar 1 Victoria, BC @ Save on Foods Memorial Center
Wed, Mar 2 Kelowna, BC @ Prospera Place
Thur, Mar 3 Prince George, BC @ CN Centre
Fri, Mar 4 Edmonton, AB @ Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Sun, Mar 6 Calgary, AB @ Jack Singer Concert Hall
Mon, Mar 7 Regina, SK @ Conexus
Tue, Mar 8 Winnipeg, MA @ MTS Center
Wed, Mar 16 Hamilton, ON @ Hamilton Place
Thur, Mar 17 Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall
Mon, Mar 21 Moncton, NB @ Coliseum
Tue, Mar 22 Halifax, NS @ Metro Centre
Thur, Mar 24 Montreal, QC @ St. Denis

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:18 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Alleged drug smuggler DJ Darrin Ebron's music still available on his website; "proceeds go to UNICEF"

Darrin Ebron, a Baltimore DJ with tenuous Hollywood connections (he once played Eddie Murphy's wedding!) has been named in a federal complaint as part of a drug ring that transported hundreds of pounds of cocaine from Los Angeles to Baltimore.

In the complaint, which the Washington Times reported Tuesday, Ebron is accused of conspiring with eight other men to transport 100-plus pound loads of cocaine in private planes, which sometimes carried loads totaling as much as $1.2 million at a time.

The complaint, which is posted after the jump, says Drug Enforcement Agency agents heard Ebron and an associate discuss a purchase for which the DJ would owe $900,000. Later, he was spotted at Los Angeles' Jerry's Famous Deli discussing another shipment worth $50,000.

Ebron, who has not been located, is feared to be a flight risk, and federal agents have requested his detention.

Though he is described lavishly on his website - it says he "was trained in four instruments" and worked at major record labels, "from BadBoy [sic], Def Jam Rocafella [sic]" - Ebron has no paper trail. He's never appeared on the pages of Baltimore City Paper or The Sun despite having grown up here and playing "at events which grew to several thousand people."

(I've put out calls to several established local DJs - Ultra, BooMan - to see if they've heard of this guy, but haven't heard back;will update when they do.)

(The Washington Times reports he was an independent contractor for Edmonds Entertainment; his website lists him as a vice president of marketing.)

Whether or not he was a successful DJ, you can still purchase his music on his website. "One hundred percent of proceeds," it says, "will be donated to UNICEF for relief efforts in Haiti." 

In addition to being a DJ, Ebron runs a "casual luxury" clothing company called Goodlife American Clothing that sells $50-64 t-shirts. See some of Ebron's beauties after the jump:

Ebron's beauties sporting some $200 worth of "casual luxury":


Ebron's website, which name-checks Tibetan Buddhism and personal healers, describes the Goodlife lifestyle thusly: "At Goodlife, a positive synergy between our corporate, creative, sales and retail partners permeates everything we do. We also believe in giving back—and contribute a portion of our online sales to our favorite charity partners."

The federal complaint detailing just how good the DJ had it is below:

djebron [Photo]

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:28 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: News

John Butler Trio on being Australia's Dave Matthews Band

johnbutler.jpgIn Australia, the roots band John Butler Trio are as massively popular as Dave Matthews Band is here.  In the country that actually gave birth to Dave though, he might be lost among the glut of imitators.

But founder John Butler, who has already opened for Dave Matthews several times, said their three albums should hold an appeal beyond fans of the popular jam band.

“We just want to play to anybody who wants to listen,” said leader John Butler. “We don’t really have personal borders when it comes to music.” 

On Sunday, Butler, drummer Nicky Bomba and bassist Byron Luiters will perform at Rams Head Live to promote their new album, “April Uprising.”

The band, which specializes in upbeat songs that straddle reggae and alt rock, has been together since 1998 in one form or another, and have two platinum albums to their name in their native Australia.

They’ve been touring America since the early 2000s, where they have found support in headliners like Matthews and John Mayer. Before coming to Baltimore, they’ll even open four shows for for Matthews.

Though they have found limited commercial success here — their highest selling single is 2004’s “Sunrise Over Sea,” which sold 128,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan —they’ve been highly popular on the American festival circuit.

Butler said crowds here are easier than back home.

“Americans are pretty enthusiastic right from the get go,” he said. “Australians take a little bit more warming up, but Americans are always ready to go.”

The trio played Lollapalooza last year, and Austin City Limits twice in the past. In June, they played Bonnaroo to promote their new album.

Butler started working on “April Uprising” in April of last year and finished it three months later. He said he had lofty ambitions for the track "Revolution," which went through four different choruses before settling on a composition he described as “anthemic and personal.”

“That song succinctly sums up the world as I see it today,” he said. “There’s a lot of going down in the planet at the moment and I thought I’d capture those moments in one fell swoop.”

If you go: John Butler Trio performs Sunday at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place in Power Plant Live. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30. Call 410-244-1131 or go to

Photo: Big Hassle Media

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Music News

November 10, 2010

Recording Industry: Here's a handy guide on best websites for stealing music

In response to an inquiry from the federal government trade czar, the Recording Industry Association of America released Monday a filing itemizing "notorious markets" across the globe.

Notorious markets are physical places and websites "driven by the illegal sales or downloads of unauthorized music." 

Unfortunately for them, the filing inadvertently doubles as a primer on the best websites for stealing music. If you didn't know what The Pirate Bay was, you will now thanks to the geniuses at the RIAA. 

"This is an important and new opportunity to shine a spotlight on notorious markets and websites that provide unauthorized access to U.S. content," said Neil Turkewitz, EVP, International in the association's statement.

Of course, music piracy has a deep impact not just on content providers, but on artists selling their music independently and non-corporate music stores.

Highlighted in the filing are physical markets in Asia, Europe and Latin America. And, file-sharing websites like The Pirate Bay, Rapidshare, and Isohunt.(via p2pnet)

After the jump, the full filing:

From the RIAA (emphasis mine):

November 4, 2010


Kira Alvarez Stan McCoy Office of the United States Trade Representative 600 17th Street NW Washington, DC 20508 USA

Re: 2010 Special 301 Notorious Markets Review

Ms. Alvarez and Mr. McCoy:

Please find the submission of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in response to the federal register notice in the above-captioned matter. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Our members are the music labels that comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In both the physical and online environments, there are pirate “destinations” where piracy is both open and notorious, and where consumers go to acquire infringing materials. In both settings, there are businesses who either directly profit from the sale or other distribution of infringing materials, or who profit from facilitating such theft—in many cases through the sale of advertising space. We greatly welcome this Federal Register notice designed to shine light on these businesses. We highlight that being a “notorious pirate market” doesn’t mean that everything that is done in that market is connected with infringement.

For example, there are vendors in Mexico’s Tepito market, or in Argentina’s La Salada, who sell legal merchandise. But the fact that some vendors may be selling legitimate materials doesn’t change the responsibility of the state, or the relevant market owners, to take responsible action. Similarly, many of the online sites that we identify may conduct some legitimate activities, but they fail to address their own conduct in facilitating the theft of intellectual property and therefore deserve to be identified as notorious pirate markets. Some of these sites wear that badge intentionally—see for example The Pirate Bay. Others like Baidu or vKontakte operate network services that include features that intentionally and effectively induce infringement. These services deliberately gain market share by providing access to infringing materials—launching music services without any form of licensing.

RIAA members are excited about the potential of the internet and other communication technologies to provide an efficient means of distribution to music lovers globally. Regrettably, this potential remains largely unrealized—mired in a morass of piracy. We hope that the information provided herein will be helpful in illuminating the practices of some of the worst actors in global markets, and that by addressing these markets, we can take a big step towards creating greater accountability that will expand opportunities for legitimate commerce.

Respectfully submitted,


Neil Turkewitz Executive Vice President, Intermational Recording Industry Association of America

Physical Markets

La Salada Market - Buenos Aires - Argentina

“La Salada” fair is a huge market located in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, and well known for its diverse pirating activities that include retail sales, wholesale distribution and replication labs. La Salada is made up of four markets – Punta Mogotes, Urkupiña, Ocean (indoor fairs) and La Ribera (open-air fair)– built up on the Riachuelo shore. It is a sprawling area with about over 30,000 stands selling everything from music to bags, and it provides pirate and counterfeit merchandise to retailers and re-sellers from Argentina and neighboring countries.

La Salada is a worldwide emblem of the commerce and production of illegal merchandise. Sold products are mostly illegal copies of European or American brands (as reported by the EC) Nike shoes, Prada bags, Puma jackets, at less than one-fifth their original price. But illegal CD’s are the products consumers most look for when visiting the fair.

This market opens twice a week –on Wednesdays and Sundays– at changing times but mostly at midnight, and is visited by approximately 1 million people each day. The total volume of sales in 2009 amounted to U$D125million, of which around 10% came from counterfeit music CDs and film DVDs.

Even after several illegal music CDR and DVDr raids have been conducted, with 1 million physical formats seized, “La Salada” continues to be the most popular distribution center for pirate music in Argentina, and more robust and continuous government support is needed.

Poland – Border markets with Germany

A market survey was conducted in the summer of 2009 of the ten main Polish border markets situated at major crossing points at the border with Germany. The markets surveyed were located at, Gubin, Halle, Kostrzyn, Leknica, Slubice, Swinoujscie, Szczsecin x 2, Wroclaw and Krakow.

The markets sell a variety of produce from food stuffs to commercial goods and clothing. They are operated by Polish nationals and are primarily aimed at the German tourist market. (The exception to this is the market in Krakow (Market Balice), which is outside the tourist area of the city). Organised coaches visit the markets daily from Germany together with visitors in cars. While brand name luxury goods can be found, without doubt the main infringing articles for sale are music CD’s and DVD’s containing film content.

All the counterfeit music CD’s were on CD-R recordable format and found openly for sale at the markets (in some cases the discs were hidden in a nearby store). The repertoire is primarily a mixture of American and German current titles sold for between five Euros for a single to ten Euros for a double CD. The printing quality of the artwork is average and it is obvious the product is not genuine.

Some of the larger markets, (600 + stalls) were found to have up to fifty vendors’s openly selling music with two to three thousand units on each stall. No legitimate music content was seen on any of the markets.

Police patrol some of the markets and appear to assist with parking on busy days but no enforcement action is apparently undertaken and the product is openly on show.

Intelligence from Polish law enforcement (Border Guards) indicates that the markets are principally operated by organised crime syndicates who control the music, film and counterfeit tobacco sales at each venue.

Tepito There are an estimated 100 million pirate music units in Mexico goes through an estimated 50 thousand sales points around the country. Tepito, located in Mexico City, is by far the single biggest market. It is located in a section of town known as Colonia Morelos and covers an area of approximately 4 square kilometers. Films and music are found in the streets of Matamoros, Aztecas, Eje Uno Norte and Peralvillo Streets. Some estimates put the music pirate activity in Tepito at about 30 percent of all sales in Mexico. The main reason for this high level of sales is that distributors of pirate product of surrounding major cities such as Puebla and Queretaro also come to Tepito for merchandise. They can also find raw materials such as blank CDRs, DVDRs, burners and covers in the same location.


BAIDU: China

Baidu is a NASDAQ traded Chinese company. Baidu is the Chinese leader in providing search services in China, but by its own admission owes much of its popularity to a dedicated music service in which it assembles deep links to infringing materials. Indeed, few if any of the links provided by Baidu connect the user to legitimate versions of copyright-protected materials. It is undoubtedly one of the largest distributors of infringing music in the world. While the infringing materials may or may not be stored on Baidu’s servers, it is clear that Baidu’s music service is wholly premised on inducing infringement through the provision of access to infringing materials. And its own SEC disclosures highlight the material risk to the company if it is ever held to the same standards related to inducement as those articulated by the US Supreme Court in Grokster. On January 22, 2010, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate Court decided that Baidu was not liable for copyright infringement. The appeal was heard in October 2010, and the decision is pending.

VKontakte: Russia

VKontakte is the most popular online social network in Russia, though it is available to a wider international audience in many languages including English. It currently ranks in the top 40 most visited sites in the world according to VKontakte’s full ownership structure is not publicly known, but Russian internet company has plans to increase its 24.9% holding to 39.9%. The site’s music functionality is specifically designed to enable members to upload music and video files, hundreds of thousands of which contain unlicensed copyright works. It’s dedicated content search engine enables other members to search and instantly stream infringing content, giving VKontakte the edge over other social networks that do not offer free access to unlicensed material. As more members upload infringing content, more new members are attracted to the site, and yet more infringing files are uploaded. With some 93 million registered members the scale of damage to right holders is significant. In addition, third party software developers have distributed apps that enable non-Vkontakte members to search and download the content available on the site. The developer of the Mulve app has been subject to criminal action in the UK, but similar apps remain available and appear not to be blocked by VKontakte, which takes no proactive measures to prevent copyright infringement on its service. Clones

After was taken down, a number of copycat sites have sprung up in Russia and Ukraine to take its place, in many instances apparently under the same or related ownership. These sites, many of which are serviced by major credit card companies such as Visa or MasterCard, claim licenses from known rogue collecting societies who have no authority to issues such licenses. These sites are illegal pay-per-download sites, and are organized to operate in the same fashion as legitimate sites such as iTunes. This is nothing short of direct commercial piracy, and there is no justification for the failure of the Russian and Ukrainian Governments to criminally prosecute the principals behind these sites and the rogue collecting societies with whom the sites operate a continuing criminal conspiracy.

The following music payment sites are hosted in the Russian Federation GoldenMp3 Mp3ninja

The following sites are hosted in Ukraine

Mp3fiesta Mp3panda

The Pirate Bay

Like IsoHunt, The Pirate Bay is also a Bittorrent site with a global scope. The site was previously operated from Sweden, but having obtained criminal convictions against the four founding individuals there in April 2009 (currently on appeal), the individuals thought to be responsible for the operation of the site have left the country. The individuals claim the site is now owned by a company based in the Seychelles although no evidence of a sale has been provided. In October 2009 the Swedish District Court granted a preliminary injunction against two of the site operators, based on the “complicity in copyright infringement” found by the criminal court. The individuals have appealed and the application is still pending against a third individual. In August 2009, an injunction was also obtained in Sweden against an ISP which had provided internet service to The Pirate Bay (also on appeal). Despite the successful litigation to date in Sweden, the site is still active and thought to be the most popular Bittorrent site in the world, with a total count of over 30 million users and the world’s most popular films and music can be instantly downloaded via the service. Rights holders have therefore been turning to ISPs for co-operation and have so far obtained blocking orders through the courts in Denmark, Italy and Ireland (with an unsuccessful application made in Norway), to have ISPs block their subscribers’ access to the site.

RMX4U is hosted in Luxembourg. The site is a forum used by members of the site to share pre-release music content. The majority of the music that is made available on the site is obtained via phishing emails and Trojan files sent to artists/producers and record label employees by the members of the site. Over the past year, the site has been the first place we have found pre-release content for major recording artists.


Rapidshare is a German One-click hosting site that operates from Switzerland but whose main servers are based in Germany. Rapidshare allows anyone to upload files of up to 100MB. The user is then supplied with a unique download URL, which locates the file and enables anyone with whom the uploader shares it to download the file. Rapidshare users post those URL’s on blog sites in an effort to induce those who come to the site to infringe by downloading the file. Many of the files posted to lockers whose URLs are then displayed on blogs are pre-release content. RapidShare is among the 100 most visited sites in the world.


IsoHunt is a Bittorrent site operating out of Vancouver, Canada, with a global scope. With the actions against The Pirate Bay (Sweden) and Mininova (Netherlands), isoHunt in now one of the largest bittorrent site in the world, with millions of users monthly and most of the world’s most popular music and films available for instant download. In December, 2009, a US federal district court found isoHunt liable for massive copyright infringement, finding that isoHunt’s “business model depends on massive infringing use.” The US court cited unrebutted evidence that 95% of the files traded through isoHunt's sites are likely infringing. In May of 2010, the US Court issued an injunction that IsoHunt has thus far ignored. Criminal contempt proceedings have been initiated. In Canada, by contrast, isoHunt sued the rights holders, in order to have the court declare that they're perfectly legal under Canadian law. As the Canadian newspapers said, it's a case of man bites dog. The isoHunt case illustrates how the law is so uncertain in Canada that file-sharing services are suing the rights holders. It's no wonder that Canadian internet users don't know what's right or what's wrong, or that Canada has the highest rate of unauthorized file sharing of any OECD country according to the OECD. Poland indexes over 100 million one-click download links for music, film, games, software the vast majority of which is infringing content. Users access the content by conducting searches which display results based on the search term. Due to the large volume of links indexed by the site, there are usually hundreds of copies for each album or song title available via this file-sharing search engine. Industry reports links to the site operator but the speed of the takedowns cannot match the speed at which new links are added., Ukraine is a private member only site used to share copyrighted material via the Bittorrent file-sharing protocol. Like the other Bittorrent indexing sites (thepiratebay and Isohunt) only the torrent file is hosted on the site. The site has over 300,000 members and there are over million titles (music, films, software and games) being indexed by the site. Over the past four years, the site has been shut down a number of times through cooperation with the hosting companies and when required law enforcement agencies. The current host provider will not remove the site.

The administrator removes torrent links but it can take many days for the links to be removed. On average each torrent is downloaded thousands of times before it is removed and on most occasions if a torrent is removed a new copy is added within hours. Swedish domain registrant, Luxembourg ISP is one of the world’s largest forum sites offering illegal material including music, films, tv shows and software. There are tens of thousands of postings on the site offering the latest pre-release album and back catalogue titles, for the more popular titles there will be multiple postings to ensure users can download the content. The content is stored on one-click download sites like and The site operators have ‘scripts’ which check the status of the download links, if the links are removed the user is prompted to post new download links. We have on occasions removed multiple copies of the same album as the user has re-posted new links within minutes of the links being taken down.

The site has over 2million registered users and there is a total of 36,000 postings within the music section of the site. The site is currently hosted in Luxembourg and the hosting company refuses to shut down the site. New Zealand domain registrant, Hong Kong ISP indexes postings from forum sites offering music, film, games, software and e-books. In the music section there are over 40,000 postings including pre-release titles. Users search for a specific title and then click on the matched results which takes the user to the forum site offering the title. This allows over hundreds of thousands of users daily to access a vast network of forum sites from one site, making it more likely they will find the music title they want. : Russian domain registrant, Swedish ISP has thousands of pre-release or recently released music titles available on the site. For each title there are multiple one-click download links known as ‘mirrors’. Having mirror copies of a title ensures that if one link is removed there is still a working download link available. Users will post mirror links which can result in there being tens of copies of the same title available on the site and this can continue for weeks and months after a title was first added to the site. Due to the speed of which content and mirror links are added, this site enables users to download pre-release titles quickly but also request new links if older links have been removed. Vietnamese domain registrant, US ISP indexes over 98,000 music titles made up of newly released and older ‘popular’ song titles. For most titles there are multiple download links so the total number of links offered by the site is closer to 500,000. The site lists the top 20 charts for the biggest music markets (US, UK, Germany etc), most popular songs and the latest songs added to the site. All these facilities are designed to attract new users and make it easier for users to find new titles. Users can also download a ringtone version of the songs and lyrics all from unauthorised providers. India (US hosted) is the largest download site for Bollywood repertoire, with other 100,000 album titles indexed by the site. Users can download individual songs or the whole album which is offered in low quality (smaller file size) for users with slow Internet connections (mainly for the local Indian market) and high quality (larger file size) for users that have a fast connection speeds. There are also English, Tamil, Malay and Korean titles available on the site, which helps attract a large volume of traffic. Ukraine is a file-hosting site in Ukraine used to store and share audio, image and video files. Users upload content onto the site which is then indexed for other users to search and download. Users that are members of the site, search for music titles within the audio section of the site and then select the files they want to download.

This is the largest service in Ukraine and the vast majority of the Internet users in Ukraine use the site to download music and film content. None of the content made available on the site has been authorised by the copyright owners and the site operators are unresponsive to takedown notices as a result there are thousands of music titles available on the site.


Sohu/Sogou engages in the business of providing hyperlinks directly to infringing music files situated on third party sites. Through the Sohu/Sogou site, users may by various means find unauthorized copies of sound recordings. Record companies sued Sohu and Sogou on 4 February 2008 at the Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court. On 22 Jan 2010, the Court found that Sohu and Sogou were jointly liable for infringement in respect of only a few specific tracks that had not been removed following the right holder notices. However, the judges did not find Sohu and Sogou to have the requisite knowledge to determine whether the linked sound recordings were infringing so that Sohu and Sogou was not generally held liable in respect of its unauthorized music deep-linking service.

Appeals were filed to the Beijing Higher People’s Court against this decision. Sohu/Sogou has also filed cross-appeal. Appeal hearings were conducted on 25 October and 2 November 2010. The appeal decisions for these cases are pending.


Xunlei operates an unauthorized deep-linking service called “Gougou” which is similar to the Baidu and Sogou music deep-linking services. Users can use Gougou to search for deep-links for music files and torrent links. There are Gougou buttons embedded in to the software client that easy access to the deep-linking service. Furthermore, Xunlei provides a software plugin called “Xunlei Ting Ting” to the Xunlei software client. “Xunlei Ting Ting” provides music charts and allows users to stream and or download the music files through this unauthorized service. Legal actions were filed against Xunlei at the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court on 25 June 2009, the Court hearing was held before Shenzhen Intermediate Court on 19 July 2010. The judgments are still pending.

Rather than a conventional Bittorrent indexing site, is a “meta search engine” (i.e. an aggregator) of over 25 third party Bittorrent sites, including The Pirate Bay and BTJunkie. Independent market research has shown it to be particularly popular in key markets such as the US, UK, Australia and France. The site boasts indexing of over 30 million live torrents across 1,200 live Bittorrent trackers. No details are provided on the site as to the identity of those controlling the service or where it is physically located, but it has been operating on up to four different IP addresses simultaneously, spread across a range of hosting providers, we assume in order to make enforcement action difficult as well as any technical specification benefit derived from hosting the site in this way. The site is currently hosted by Swedish and Dutch ISPs and a letter has recently been sent by right holders to the former, although no response has yet been received.

BTJunkie is a Bittorrent indexing site, akin to The Pirate Bay and Demonoid. Independent market research has shown it to be particularly popular in Italy, Australia and the US. The site does not operate its own tracker but instead utilises the various public trackers available, such as the OpenBittorrent tracker. No details are provided on the site as to the identity of those controlling the service or where it is physically located, although it is currently obtaining internet service from a provider in Sweden. Right holders recently wrote to the Swedish host provider requesting that it terminate the service provided to the site.


Blubster is a music-dedicated P2P service run out of Spain, previously estimated to have up to 200,000 concurrent users. The service was created by Pablo Soto, a young Spanish programmer whose express intention was to create a network for 'sharing' music. A statistical analysis confirmed that the vast majority of music being shared on the service is infringing. Blubster has a decentralised structure and no central indexing server, but it is operated by a group of companies and is not open source. The operators generate income through advertising and through sales of advertising-free client software. The Spanish music industry brought proceedings in April 2008 against the operators of the service. The principal aim of the proceedings was to stop infringement, whether by having the network shut down or otherwise (e.g. filtering), and damages of €13m, based on the estimated extent of infringement, were also claimed. An application for an interim injunction was subsequently made in October 2008, which was heard in December 2008. The judge indicated in November 2009 that he needed one further month to make his decision. In April 2010 the judge was suspended from the judiciary for his delays in delivering decisions and this suspension was lifted in October 2010. No judgment has yet been delivered.

BaixedeTudo -

Brazilian blog site dedicated to distributing infringing music content. Only available in Portuguese and very popular in Brazil for infringing downloads, estimate more than 1.3 million unique users per month. The site is part of a network called “Web ring” made up of 11 blogs in total offering music and other types of infringing content (films, software etc).

Rede Download -

Popular infringing blog offering unauthorized downloads of music, tv series, films, games and e-books. Users are mainly from Brazil – 91% and Portugal 6.5% and the estimation of unique users per month is more than 1.1 million. The content is made available via one-click download sites organized in different sections of the blog.

Ba-k –

Forum site with more than 1.4 million registered users, content is posted on multiple one-click download sites to distribute infringing music, tv series and film titles especially pre-release and newly released titles. The majority of the traffic is directed at the music section of the site as this section has more than 55,700 postings. Most of the site is public but to access the premium content (such as pre-release titles) the user must register an account.

DirectorioWarez -

One of the largest forum sites offering Latin music titles. The content is made available via one-click download sites and users must register to view the postings. The site provides users with information of the most recent postings and the most viewed postings, ensuring that the more popular titles are accessed and downloaded by the majority of the users on the site. Tipete - Forum site with over 10,000 music titles made up of pre-release and popular album or song titles. The content is posted on one-click download sites and there are multiple copies for the more popular titles. Frequent uploaders are rewarded by the site in the form of free merchandise.



Posted by Erik Maza at 3:09 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Music News

Maryland State Fairgrounds threatens to end Oktoberfest event after double stabbing; suspect's trial has not been set

After a double stabbing at Maryland State Fairgrounds during Oktoberfest, fairground officials have threatened to end the event if promoters don't take more safety precautions.

In early October, a 27-year-old man stabbed two others near the Timonium fairgrounds where Oktoberfest was held soon after the event had ended, police said. 

The attack was unprovoked, but police believe it started during the beer event. Baltimore County Fire Department director Glenn Blackwell also told Midnight Sun then the suspect, 27-year-old Nicholas Atkins, had been drinking. (He did not know then if a breathalyzer was administered).

At the time, officials were concerned Oktoberfest's promoters, the Trigger Agency and Brewer's Association of Maryland, didn't take enough safety precautions.

And on Tuesday, reported they had taken the extra step of asking Oktoberfest organizers to submit a formal proposal that includes steps on preventing future criminal incidents.

 "My people are very concerned," fairgrounds president Howard Mosner told Patch. "They want to look at what you propose to do to keep these kinds of events from happening in the future, if we allow you to come back."

Oktoberfest has been held at the fairgrounds for ten years, Patch said. This year, it was scheduled to coincide with the glut of events of Baltimore Beer Week

Local breweries, for which Beer Week functions as trade show and promotional event, are concerned moving Oktoberfest elsewhere might hurt them.

Hugh J. Sisson, founder of Heavy Seas Beer, defended the event to Patch, saying the Brewer's Association pays for security every year.

Instead of moving the event elsewhere, Sisson said one possibility is to cut back the event to five hours to avoid problems.

It should be noted the stabbing didn't take place during Oktoberfest, but after, when police said Atkins was walking to the Light Rail with his companion, who he slashed unprovoked.

Atkins later entered the Cow Palace at the fairgrounds and slashed another man, a 53-year-old, until he was restrained by an off-duty police officer, Blackwell told Midnight Sun then. The victims were transported to nearby hospitals with non-threatening injuries. 

 Atkins is being held at Baltimore County Detention Center on a high bond, his attorney Jeffrey Harding told me. He was indicted on November 1 on a count of attempted murder and two counts of assault.

Dates for arraignment or trial have not been set.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:37 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: News

Review: The Black Angels at the 9:30 Club, November 7

First-time contributor Ben Opipari reviews the Black Angels show at the 9:30 club November 7.

Sunday night shows are often a tough sell. Are they part of the new work week, or a continuation of the weekend? Do I get ready for Monday morning, or chill out?

Bands like the Black Angels make such questions irrelevant.

At the 9:30 Club Sunday night, the Austin five-piece put on a psychedelic haze of a show that made me scoff at anyone who'd think twice about going to see a band they like just because work is a night away.

The band, which is currently on tour with Black Mountain, formed in 2004, but their sound and look is straight from the 60s.

Their name comes from a Velvet Underground song; one of their songs was featured in a History Channel documentary on Charles Manson; and they once toured with the unheralded kings of the genre, Blue Cheer.

You don't have to look much further than the bendy lines on the cover of their new album, "Phosphene Dream," to see the influence of the decade. Even the name of the album sounds retro.

That those references have resonated with fans was evident at the 9:30 club, where there were a good amount of people who probably listened to Jefferson Airplane before the Black Angels co-opted their sonic psychedelic flair.

But the Mamas and the Papas they are not.

At a time when there’s so much lo-fi, breezy indie pop, where hushed notes often reign supreme, the Black Angels were refreshingly loud. As someone who grew up on 80s metal—the good stuff, not the hairy kind— I’ve longed for a band who would once again make conversation at a show impossible.

The Angels were Black Sabbath and Judas Priest loud.

Drummer Stephanie Bailey, despite barely moving her shoulders, pounded on her kit with a ferocity I hadn’t seen in a while. Heck, they even brought an extra tom-tom for her for a few songs just to underscore that ear-splitting effect. She was the exact opposite of John Bonham or any of those flailers.

And yet, despite the loud volume, despite the reverb and distortion that drenched every song, the sound was remarkably clear. Frontman Alex Maas’ vocals were not lost in the mix of fuzzy guitars. On its lighter songs, like “Telephone,” his screams channeled his inner Eric Burdon.

For the most part, the band stuck to heavier numbers with a steady, consistent tempo. Songs like “Bad Vibrations” and “Entrance Song” kept heads swiveling. And through all that, Bailey was the most compelling performer on stage, so much that it was impossible to take my eyes off her powerful drumming. Her strength can be overlooked on the bands’ three releases, but not live.

Paired with smoke drenched in red spotlights and the album’s psychedelic cover blown up behind the drum kit, Bailey's peerless drumming made for one trippy evening, even if it was just a late Sunday night with work just around the corner.

Ben Opipari interviews writers and songwriters on his blog, Writers on Process. He has written for the Washington Post and academic journals. Erik Maza edited this post.

Photo: Black Angels MySpace

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Concert reviews

November 9, 2010

Max's Belgian beer fest 2011 dates announced

Max's Taphouse has scheduled next year's Belgian beer festival for Feb. 18 through the 20th.

Beer in Baltimore has the draft selection, which is 40 percent finished, cellarmaster Casey Hard says. 

The Belgian fest is an annual tradition at Max's now going into its seventh year.

Last year, it was mobbed as early as 10 a.m. 

Normally, it's held around Valentine's, but this year they've changed it up to a little later in the month. Not that it still won't be in the middle of winter, as writer Alexander D. Mitchell notes.

At the fest, Max's will have 102 Belgian beers on draft and 175 on bottle, with more to be added still.

The list in progress after the jump:

The Belgian fest beer list, via Beer in Baltimore:

De Struise Red Haired Jeanne
De Struise Black Albert
De Struise Black Damnation Mocha Bomb 2
De Struise Pannepot Reserva
Het Alternatief Ambetantrik
Het Alternatief Bitter Truth
Hof Ten Dormaal Blonde
Hof Ten Dormaal Amber
Alvinne Kerasus
Alvinne Morpheus Wild
Alvinne Bathazaar
Alvinne Melchior
Alvinne Gaspar
Alvinne Undressed
Alvinne Bolleville
Alvinne Caper Fumatis
Alvinne Extra
Jandrian V
Jandrian V Cense
De La Senne Taras Boulba
De La Senne Stouterik
De La Senne Zinnebir
De La Senne Equinox
De La Senne Zinnebir
De Proef /Terrapin Monstre Rouge
Smisje Catherine The Great
Smisje Guido
Smisje Blonde
Smisje BBBourgondier
De Dochter Noblesse
De Dochter Embrasse
De Dochter Noblesse XO
De Dochter Courage
De Dochter Bravoure
De Hoevebrouwers Toria
De Hoevebrouwers Toria Triple
De Glazen Toren Jan De Lichte
De Glazen Toren Ondineke
De Glazen Toren Saison De Epre Mere
Brouwkot Vlaskappele
Brouwkot Netebuk
Brouwkot Kalle
Cezeau Saison
Cazeau Tournay De Noel
Contreras Valeir Blonde
Contreras Valeir Extra
Scaldis Cuvee Des Trolls
Gulden Draak Vintage
De Ranke Noir
De Ranke Saison
Duvel Green
Troubadour Magma
Petrus Aged Pale
Stillwater Saison Darkly

Photo: Max's (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:49 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Magician Spencer Horsman comments on Harry Houdini routine that sent him to the hospital for five hours

 PX00137_9.JPGWere you at Illusions: Magic Bar & Lounge Friday night? If you weren't, you  missed a 20-pound beam come down on 24-year-old illusionist Spencer Horsman.

Horsman told me what happened.

On Friday, 50 minutes into his magic act at the bar he runs with his father Ken in Federal Hill, Horsman started to do the old Houdini straitjacket routine for the finale. 

The routine involves escaping from a straitjacket while hanging upside down.

It was a trick he had performed 400 times already. The week before, he had hung upside down 50 feet above the ground and escaped from two straitjackets in under five minutes. 

On Friday, the house was packed, Horsman's father Ken told me later. Two minutes into the routine, Horsman was almost finished.

"I had fully escaped the jacket," Horsman said. Upside down, "I bent in half in order to unhook my ankles so I could turn myself back up."

But then, a bolt came loose from the rigging, and Horsman fell a foot. The kicker was that the beam that he was hanging from also fell about five feet and hit him on the forehead.

"I didn't realize how bad it was until I took my hand off my forehead and the blood gushed all over the straitjacket and stage," he said. 

After the jump: Horsman on recuperating, his next show, and video of the Houdini routine. 

The accident happened, he said, because he hadn't used the hanging apparatus often. And, the stage is a larger space Illusions debuted recently to accommodate more people. 

After the fall, he spent five hours at the emergency room, and came out with 16 stitches and a 2-inch gash on his forehead.

"The bruise below the cut itself has swelled up and the bridge of my nose is sore," he said. "If I yawn, or sneeze, or wrinkle my forehead, it hurts. It's bad, but I'll live."

On Friday and Saturday, he'll go back to performing at Illusions. "I won't be hanging upside down, but I'll be doing some escapes," he added.

 Below, Horsman performing the Houdini routine two years ago:

Photo: Spencer Horsman attempting the Houdini routine Friday, October 29 (Monica Lopossay for The Sun) 

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:54 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: News

Last Night's Photo: Crowdsurfing

flickrmidnight.JPGCrowdsurfing at Sonar, by flickr user joesoriero. To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join the flickr pool.

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:39 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Review: Mt. Vernon's Leon's of Baltimore

Reader Joshua Reynolds loves gay bars. Except he's straight. This makes him an oddity.Here he explains his obsession.

 When I first moved to Baltimore I didn't really set out to just go to gay bars. It just sort of happened. How? It went something like this : I live in Mount Vernon. I like to go to bars. Mount Vernon has a lot of gay bars, ergo, I go to a lot of gay bars.

My favorite gay bar to go to in Baltimore used to be The Drinkery. It will always have a place in my heart. It's not every day you see a someone who is a dead ringer for Santa Claus sitting at the bar drinking Coors Light.

But the best gay bar in Baltimore that I've been to has to be Leon's, a bar with lots of history that may be the oldest gay bar in the city.

We (my girlfriend and me) were at Leon's for the first time during the February double blizzard. It wasn't all that busy but the people that were there were partying like lunatics. There were about 15 guys who had their shirts off  and were dancing and sweating for hours. Everyone was extremely loaded and my girlfriend took someone else's shoes by mistake. There was no big commotion over the mistaken shoe robbery. It's that kind of place. The attitude here is, just grab a cheap beer and start talking with the always conversational patrons.

Sundays are *the* time to go to Leon's. Two words: happy hour. Make it five: really, really cheap happy hour. All domestic beer, rails and call are two for one between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. By 6 p.m. on a recent Sunday, the bar was packed. And here lies the beauty of Leon's: Yeah, people were  drunk and smoking outside, but it never got loud and rowdy to annoy the neighbors. And there wasn't a horrible mess left by patrons when they either left or went back inside. How many bars can you say that about?

The bartenders at Leon's are also attentive. I don't know his name, but there's one mustachioed bartender who's excellent at paying attention to the patrons and being aware of when they need a drink. (The bar also recently added late night fare and Sunday brunch at their new Triple L.)

While there's not much room to get around the oval bar when it's crowded -- requiring close and personal contact with others when walking around just to the jukebox or or the john -- Leon's is still a comfortable atmosphere that's welcoming even to the occasional straight interloper.

Joshua Reynolds is a regular reader of Midnight Sun. He is a 36-year-old bartender who's worked in Portland, New York, and now Baltimore's The Bullpen. Erik Maza edited this post. 

Photo: Leon's (Chiaki Kawajiri/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bar stories

November 8, 2010

Review: La Roux, Far East Movement at Rams Head Live, November 7

PX00003_9.JPGContributor Christeen Roden reviews the La Roux and Far East Movement shows at Rams Head Live Sunday night. 

La Roux's songs have been so effectively plastered all over the Internet and TV, that Elly Jackson is her own worst enemy when performing live.

We're all so familiar with the tunes -- which have been excellently remixed by Major Lazer, among others -- that we expect her to deliver something new in person.

Unfortunately for the duo, and the duo's fans at Rams Head Live Sunday night, theirs was a short, uninspired and bland performance. Fortunately, Far East Movement was there for some levity.

La Roux's set was perfectly competent and in keeping with the album's sound, but that was precisely the problem. There was no spontaneity or newness to the performance, which is sort of the whole point of paying money to go hear someone play the same songs you can hear for free on your iPod.

This was a missed opportunity for Jackson and Ben Langmaid.  Perhaps it would have been too much to expect totally new renditions, but it would have been more interesting for all parties involved if the songs had been reinvented even half as well as a second-tier Major Lazer remix.

Especially disappointing, given Jackson's impressive voice and range, was how diluted she sounded on stage. She was so generally quiet as to sound like she was singing underwater.

I wasn't the only person underwhelmed with the performance. After Far East Movement finished their set, the shift in audience energy was palpable.

Maybe Jackson was having an off night, or maybe last night’s show was simply the result of a young, inexperienced performer who hasn’t really gotten comfortable with her stage skin yet. But maybe this is the inevitable fate of the endlessly remixed musician. After a while, there's nothing new to see.

Having only recently been exposed to the auto-tuned club anthem “Like a G6,” I had vague expectations for Far East Movement. Maybe they would be Black-Eyed-Peas-ish.

But their energy and showmanship did not disappoint. At least, they jumped around (in button down shirts and ties, mind you) for far longer than La Roux. While their songs were indistinguishable from one another, they were at least amusing: all three members came on stage in glowing space invader-type helmets and were later joined by a large costumed, Pokemon-esque character.

Maybe if I had been more familiar with, or at least able to understand the lyrics, their set might have felt like more than an intermittent drone of indecipherable yelling. As it was, the only song that I was able to separate from the rest was the previously mentioned hit. (This was also the only song on which Dev, the Ke$ha clone supporting female vocalist, made an appearance.)

Still, I wished Far East Movement had been able to bang out a few more mindless romps, if only because they had a heartbeat, where La Roux had none.

La Roux Set List:

New song (perhaps It's Easy Now?)
As if by Magic
I'm Not Your Toy
Growing Pains
Under My Thumb (R Stone's Cover)
Colourless Colour
In For the Kill

Christeen Roden maintains her own blog about Baltimore and has written for Erik Maza edited this post.

Photo: Elly Jackson of La Roux performs at the Glastonbury Festival 2010 (Reuters)

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:54 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Concert reviews

Part tribute show, part "Divas Live!" Experience Hendrix brings Brad Whitford, Jonny Lang, Susan Tedeschi together to honor Jimi Hendrix

Jonny Lang and Susan Tedeschi are two accomplished musicians, with several Grammy nominations to their credit (even a win, for Lang).

Brad Whitford of Aerosmith, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, veteran guitarists Ernie Isley and Steve Vai, and metal band Living Colour, are no spring chickens either. Each could headline their own show with their own material. 

But when they play the Hippodrome Theater on Thursday, they won't be playing their stuff. They'll play Jimi Hendrix's.

They're just some of the performers on the Experience Hendrix tour, a traveling revue-style concert that gathers some of the country's better-known musicians to perform two hours of Hendrix's catalog.

It's part tribute show and part VH1 "Divas Live!" but with Gibsons and Fenders instead of Arethas or Mariahs.

The full story is here

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Early review: La Roux at Rams Head Live

Contributor Christeen Roden reviews the British pop chanteuse's show at Rams Head Live Sunday night. A full review will come later.

It's hard not to have a lot of affection for La Roux. The combination of Elly Jackson's persona (that ginger hair, for starters) and the way the soulfulness of her voice is juxtaposed with the cold, synthetic nature of the duo's music is incredibly endearing. 

But their show Sunday night at Ram's Head left me underwhelmed. Seeing them perform was like listening to the duo's namesake album underwater.

Jackson's powerhouse vocals never shed their trepidation long enough to fill the packed house. Instead, they felt smaller than the already tenuous, if not shrunken, limitations of the album.

And, I'm still not quite sure how to approach the astounding horror that was the second opening act. More on that later. 

Set list after the jump.

La Roux Set List:

New song (perhaps It's Easy Now?)
As if by Magic
I'm Not Your Toy
Growing Pains
Under My Thumb (R Stone's Cover)
Colourless Colour
In For the Kill

Christeen Roden has an English degree from University of Maryland at College Park. She maintains her own blog about Baltimore and has written for Erik Maza edited this post.

Photo: La Roux MySpace

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:14 AM | | Comments (5)

Peer Pressure returns to The Get Down; new gay party takes aim at Grand Central, Hippo

Dustin Sugar-Moore is fed up with Baltimore’s gay scene. The Hippo? Grand Central? Totally passe.

“It’s always the same 50 or 100 people who seem bored with what they’re doing anyway,” the 27-year-old promoter said. “They don’t change their DJs. They play the same stereotypical gay anthems every weekend. It’s gotten old.”

Sugar-Moore is the promoter of a new monthly gay party, Peer Pressure, which will return to Fells Point The Get Down Wednesday. He said he launched it for young gay Baltimoreans looking for something other than “Donna Summer dance parties."

While Peer Pressure welcomes everyone regardless of sexual orientation, Moore said it's the first party catering specifically to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. 

On Wednesday, resident DJs Aisle_K and Steve Lemmerman, rapper Rye Rye’s former DJ, will spin, as will Antonio Harper and James Nasty of The Ottobar’s weekly Moustache party.

It’s common practice for gay youth to complain about their city’s clubs. But in Baltimore, they may have some more ammunition than most. Anyone who’s done that Saturday night commute to Washington in search of better crowds and music is likely to sympathize with Moore.

Moore and Lemmerman both said it didn’t always used to be this way. There were regular warehouse parties, and for many years, Sonar’s weekly Taxlo party attracted a mixed crowd that played gay-friendly artists like electronic musician Peaches.

But warehouse parties have slowly died out, and two years ago, Taxlo stopped being held regularly.

When the Get Down approached Moore about starting a new party night, he came up with Peer Pressure to reclaim their space.

Moore’s description of Peer Pressure makes it sound like a hybrid: There will be some Top 40, but Lemmerman will also play underground acts like hardcore house act Boyz Noise and local DJ Blaqstarr.He will also spin live instead of just playing remixes.

At the first party, the DJs played new music by the rapper M.I.A., who played Virgin Mobile FreeFest, and the house anthem, “World, Hold On” by Bob Sinclair. It was sparsely attended, but 21-year-old Lemmerman said it doesn’t matter.

He echoed Moore’s assesment of the scene. “Baltimore gays seem bored with everything,” he said. “They hear the same music every weekend. They’ve been itching for something new.”

The Get Down will offer $3.50 Svedka Vodka specials for the party.

Peer Pressure takes place Wednesday nights at The Get Down, 701 S. Bond St. No cover. 21 and up only.

Photo: Steve Lemmerman spinning (Josh Sisk)

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:00 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

November 5, 2010

Ethnic music stores like Kentrikon, Don Pedro’s, and Koko Market struggle to keep up with economy and Internet

From outside, Don Pedro’s Musica Latina on Broadway looks like anything but a music store.

You might guess it’s a country Western emporium. Maybe even a second-hand Sports Authority. Inside its display window, there are soccer balls, wool leopard-print comforters, and dozens of piled up sneaker boxes.

But it's behind all that where its real product lies: some 200,000 CDs from everywhere in Latin America.

For years, Baltimore’s ethnic music stores like this one were spared from the digital music revolution that consumed their American counterparts because cusomters came to them for music they couldn't find at the mall. But recently, the economy has siphoned away the lowly-paid immigrant customers they have long relied on.

Owners of music stores across nationalities - Hispanic, Indian, Arabic and Greek - are not buying music the way they used to. Some have sold off their collections, and others are considering closing up shop.

“My customers are just dropping by now to say goodbye,” said Carlos Morales, the owner of Juquilita, another music store on Eastern Avenue. He’s considering closing up shop permanently when his lease is over in December. “When they’re the most affected people by the recession, what the hell am I supposed to do?”

If these stores stop selling music, as La Guadalupana on Wolfe Street already has, it won’t just be a loss of inventory for the regulars.

“It would be a huge blow for those of us that can’t afford a computer,” said Carolina Portillo, a 35-year-old El Salvadorean customer at Don Pedro’s. “Music is how I stay connected to my country. Don Pedro’s is the only place where I can find music from El Salvador.” 

For the full story, click here.

Photo: At Don Pedro's Musica Latina, manager Sandra Rivera talks with musician Benedicto Fernandez, center, as Alberto Macia looks over a new CD. (Jed Kirschbaum, Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:34 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: News

Girl Talk announces 40-city tour in 2011, including four stops near Baltimore

DJ Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, announced a new 40-city tour for next year that will stop in Baltimore and Washington D.C. 

The tour kicks off in Nebraska next week and will end in March 2011. Girl Talk is known for compositions that are all samples, sometimes containing dozens of them in one three-minute song.

His shows are no crazier than a night at the Thirsty Turtle, without the stabbing. His signature schtick is toilet papering the audience and flouting copyright law. 

His area stops include Rams Head Live and the 9:30 club.

Update: Tickets will be available on Girl Talk's Facebook page starting this weekend, says Pitch Perfect PR.   

Full dates after the jump:


Nearby dates:

Fri. 01/28/11 – Norfolk, VA @ NorVa
Sat. 01/29/11 – Richmond, VA @ The National
Mon. 01/31/11 – Baltimore, MD @ Ram’s Head
Tue. 02/01/11 – Washington, D.C. @ 9:30 Club

All dates:

Fri. 11/12/10 – Omaha, NE @ Sokol Auditorium
Fri. 11/19/10 – Buenos Aires, Argentina @ Hot Festival
Sat. 11/20/10 – Sao Paulo, Brasil @ Planeta Terra Festival
Fri. 12/3/10 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
Sat. 12/4/10 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
Wed. 01/05/11 – Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues
Thu. 01/06/11 – Columbus, OH @ LC Pavillion
Fri. 01/07/11 – Covington, KY @ Madison Theater
Sat. 01/08/11 – Louisville, KY @ Expo Five
Mon. 01/10/11 – New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues
Thu. 01/13/11 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues
Fri. 01/14/11 – Austin, TX @ Austin Music Hall
Sat. 01/15/11 – Dallas, TX @ Palladium
Mon. 01/17/11 – Memphis, TN @ Minglewood Hall
Tue. 01/18/11 – St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
Thu. 01/20/11 – Birmingham, AL @ Workplay
Fri. 01/21/11 – Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
Sat. 01/22/11 – Charleston, SC @ Gaillard Municipal Auditorium
Mon. 01/24/11 – Knoxville, TN @ Valarium
Tue. 01/25/11 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore
Thu. 01/27/11 – Raleigh, NC @ Disco Rodeo
Fri. 01/28/11 – Norfolk, VA @ NorVa
Sat. 01/29/11 – Richmond, VA @ The National
Mon. 01/31/11 – Baltimore, MD @ Ram’s Head
Tue. 02/01/11 – Washington, D.C. @ 9:30 Club
Fri. 02/04/11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
Sat. 02/05/11 – Montclair, NJ @ Wellmont Theatre
Thu. 02/24/11 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
Fri. 02/25/11 – Providence, RI @ Lupo’s
Sat. 02/26/11 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues
Mon. 02/28/11 – Portland, ME @ State Theater
Mon. 03/01/11 – Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
Thu. 03/03/11 – Royal Oak, MI @ Royal Oak Music Hall
Fri. 03/04/11 – Chicago, IL @ Congress
Mon. 03/07/11 – Madison, WI @ Orpheum
Tue. 03/08/11 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Ave
Fri. 03/11/11 – Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre
Mon. 03/14/11 – Missoula, MT @ Wilma Theater
Tue. 03/15/11 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox
Thu. 03/17/11 – Portland, OR @ Roseland
Fri. 03/18/11 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
Sat. 03/19/11 – Pomona, CA @ Fox Theatre
Mon. 03/21/10 – Los Angeles, CA @ Palladium
Tue. 03/22/10 – San Diego, CA @ SOMA
Wed. 03/23/10 – Tempe, AX @ Marquee

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:16 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Music News

At 50 miles an hour, Wham City takes comedy tour on the road

PX00073_9.JPGBen O’Brien’s stand-up includes all the standard bits. There are as many poop jokes as there are one-liners about farts.

But the 26-year-old also has an absurdist sensibility. On a recent Sunday, the skit he and three other performance artists rehearsed on the third floor of a sprawling Greenmount West loft didn’t poke fun at Christine O’Donnell, or other current event like the guys at Magooby's might have. 

Instead, it satirized Tim Allen’s seminal 1990s white-bread sitcom “Home Improvement.”

The term “performance artists” should provide the first clue that O’Brien and company aren’t your average comedians.

Mason Ross is a monologist, Dina Kelberman is a cartoonist and Caroline Marcantoni is a choreographer. They’re just a few of the members of Wham City, a Baltimore arts collective that has supported and cultivated experimental artists in all types of media since 2004. Dan Deacon, the experimental musician, is one of its founding and best-known members.

On Thursday, 11 Wham City members are kicking off their first comedy tour at the Bell Foundry and will then travel to nine cities in a vegetable oil-powered bus with a two-hour show of old and brand-new material.

Though most of Wham City’s events, like Whartscape and the Wham City Round Robin Tour, are music-centered, several of its members are also comics, or have developed pieces over the years that have a humorous bent. “Over time, as we’ve all gotten older, we’ve developed these acts. It’s the first time we can say, ‘Look at all of these things we can do,’” O’Brien said.

O’Brien, for instance, wrote a 15-minute monologue called “At the End of Infinite Rope,” where Ross plays Mister Dizisterstriss, a drunken professor who rails against the world collapsing around him.

It sounds grim, but it’s the kind of uncomfortable humor the troupe has made its specialty.

Adam Endres perfected a character called Egg Schrader who delivers his stand-up with a series of tacky egg-related puns (“I’m so eggcited to see you!”). And April Camlin performs a ventriloquist act.

When O’Brien, Ross and Deacon completed a successful tour earlier this year at several local venues, such as the Hexagon Space, they decided to take all the comics in the collective on tour.

It would also allow them to dispel the notion that the collective is just about music.

“There’s been more ambition to have a presence that isn’t just music,” O’Brien said. “This is plays and comedy. It’s a bunch of stuff.”

The show they’ll take on the road will be two hours, consisting of 18 to 22 skits that will include slapstick and uncomfortable humor. Among the bits: Cartoonist Kelberman will do a video animation of one of her comics and Dan Deacon will do a follow-up to the “Drinking out of Cups” video he made with musician Liam Lynch. Local band the Creepers will also tag along.

Though the comics have thought about it for a year, plans for the tour solidified only a month ago, when O’Brien started booking venues. The 11 members will hit 250-seat venues in cities like Chicago, New York and Cleveland, slowly making their way on a vegetable oil-powered bus.

Emphasis on 'slow.' The bus, which is owned by Deacon, can travel 50 mph and only for 500 miles a trip.

A week before the tour kicks off, nine of the tour’s players were at the Annex rehearsing the opening and closing skits of the show for the first time. They were confined to a colorful, seldom-used stage in the middle of the chilly, junk-littered loft where O’Brien and eight others live.

Scripts in hand, Ross directed them as they went through the lines, quiet enough that they didn’t disturb the fat cat making its way through the clutter or the person sleeping on a nearby couch under a grimy quilt.

Kelberman played dead on the floor, suppressing a laugh. “Are you going to laugh during every performance?” Ross asked her. “I think I will have to get really stoned,” she replied, jokingly.

Not many comics would glean fresh material out of a decade-old sitcom that probably wasn’t too transgressive to begin with. But the comics like bastardizing a piece of popular culture to suit their purposes.

“‘Home Improvement’ is exactly five minutes of a two hour-long show that’s comprised of the cheapest jokes around,” Kelberman said. “There’s no way someone wouldn’t get them.”

If you go:

The Wham City comedy tour will open Thursday, November 11, at the Bell Foundry, 1539 N. Calvert St. All ages welcome, though there might be nudity. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets, $5, are sold at the door. 

Photo: Mason Ross, Ben O'Brien and co. at The Annex in October (Gabe Dinsmoor/Baltimore Sun)

Also see:
Top 50 Baltimore bars
Weekend events: Best bets
Find: More bars and nightlife coverage

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:29 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: News

November 4, 2010

Review: Select Lounge, the West side's newest lounge

Reader Tif Saleem, a former Baltimore Sun IT analyst and frequent Midnight Sun contributor, reviews the newest lounge on the West side, Select Lounge.

It doesn't really matter if Baltimore asked for elite, they've gotten Select.

The new lounge, located where the West side meets Seton Hill, is described on its Facebook page as a "premiere [sic] destination for sophisticated club connoisseurs, savvy socialites, A-list celebrities and Baltimore's elite."

If that's what you're looking for, this may be the place for you. But the lounge's longevity will hinge on whether non-VIPs will go there on regular nights.

I went by Select Lounge last Thursday night for the grand opening, which was sponsored by Belvedere Vodka's new "Intense" drink. 

"Intense" was free the entire night, and handed out by scantily dressed ladies who paraded around with bottles of it with sparklers on the spout.

Select also had appetizers like spicy shrimp, crab cakes, bacon wrapped scallop, pork on a stick available for free.

The setup is sort of Red Maple-like with a bar and a VIP section, and way more space for dancing. Though on Thursday, while DJ Quicksilva spun Hip Hop and R&B, nobody danced when I was there. The inside is marked with beautiful stained wood and several flat screen TVs.

The staff, at least, looked spiffed up.  One of the bartenders told me the owners brought barbers the previous night to make sure their male staff looked dapper. Manager Alex Wolde said this was a one time thing, but it was a still a nice touch.

Opening night imposed table service, meaning there was no seating or bar stools unless you purchased a table. We'll see how long that lasts. (Ed. Sounds like Select owners should get in touch with Garbo's people).

The lounge has a selection of at least 20 cocktails - which rotate - and 10 bottled beers.  On Fridays and Saturdays, it hosts happy hour from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., with domestic beers costing $2.50, imported beers $3.50 and martinis $5, Wolde said. There is no tap.

While there is plenty of parking and personnel, it must be said there's not much personality. (Granted, this last sentence might revoke my VIP status if I ever had one.)

Even though I had a good time overall, the place had a distinct smell of "I'm stepping out tonight". I'm sure you'll find your favorite Raven or rapper in the house soon.  But is that something I want to do, or can afford, every night, or just once a month? How often will I frequent? I'm still not sure.

Select Lounge is located at 415 N Paca St.

Tif Saleem is a business consultant and producer of the movie "Exit Strategy," and a former Baltimore Sun IT Analyst. He's contributed to Midnight Sun before. Erik Maza edited this post, and contributed additional reporting.

Photo: Select Lounge Facebook
Posted by Erik Maza at 3:22 PM | | Comments (30)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Crime: Thirsty Turtle liquor license revoked; bar was site of October quadruple stabbing

A College Park bar with a rocky history will lose its liquor license later this month for admitting underage drinkers, Prince George's County Board of License Commissioners decided Wednesday night.

The three-year-old bar, the Thirsty Turtle, was the site of a fight in early October that resulted in four young men suffering stab wounds. But the decision by the license commissioners was the result of a separate incident from September involving underage drinkers, student newspaper The Diamondback first reported

In an interview, chairman Franklin Jackson cited the bar's prior license violations as his rationale. 

The hearing in Hyattsville last night stemmed from a September incident where two underage police aides successfully entered the Thirsty Turtle and were served beer. The students were sent by county liquor inspector John McGorty and University of Maryland, College Park Police to review the bar's admission policy.

At the hearing, the students recounted their experiences at the bar, and the bar's owners, Alan Wanuck and Tom Hall, described the incident as a "sting operation," The Diamondback reported. Jordan Reid, the bouncer who allowed them in, said it was a "lapse of judgment."

Wanuck also said the bouncer had been let go, and they implemented new security, like ID scanners in light of the incident.

But the commissioners were not swayed by their statements, and after two hours of testimony, they decided to unanimously suspend the bar's liquor license.

The decision won't be made final until November 23, when commissioners mail a letter with their final statement and reasoning. 

In a separate interview, Jackson said the decision was based on the September incident, not the stabbing. However, he also noted the bar had been cited before.

The Thirsty Turtle had been fined twice before by the liquor board, most recently in 2009, for serving an underage drinker. In October, the bar upset local law enforcement after four young men, including three under the age of 21, were stabbed outside the bar. 

"Our process is that we have a case before us, and we make our decision based on that case, which is what we did last night," Jackson said. 

Meanwhile, DC9, the U street bar where a Silver Spring man was killed after a fight with the club's employees, will remain closed for the next month.   

Lawyers for the club said their employees made a "citizen's arrest" when they tackled Ali Ahmed Mohammed on October 15.

But the Alcoholic Beverage Control board decided the bar was still an "imminent danger" and its liquor license would stay suspended until the end of the month, when the board meets again. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:11 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: News

Review: The Cult at Rams Head Live, Nov. 2; Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy as strong as they were in 1985

Midnight Sun contributor Evan Haga reviews the Baltimore show of 26-year-old British metal band The Cult.

The Cult, the long-running English outfit headed by vocalist Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy, embodies an ongoing fight between brains and brawn, between pretension and the hard-boiled ethos of heavy metal. In short, between Astbury and Duffy.

Though that dichotomy is responsible for the band’s enduring appeal, it also makes for awkward moments.

When the band played a respectably filled Rams Head Live Tuesday night, they played to both strengths.

They played "Sweet Soul Sister," an excellent, late-’80s rock anthem whose lyrics are essentially a come-on, but did it in front of projections depicting social unrest (Black Panthers, an upside-down American flag). At one point, Astbury even faced the projections and raised his right gloved fist.

He also encouraged fans to steal the band's new music if they have to, but only because it would help him "keep [his] kids out of college." And even more laughably, he dedicated the song "White" to "pagans, wiccans and Buddhists," but also to "drunkards."(Guess which demographic applauded most?) 

Irreverence and self-seriousness can be an uncomfortable mix, but the mash-up, along with strong guitars, has served the Cult well for 26 years.

It was also certainly true of last night’s 17-song set, which allowed a band that has dramatically set and followed trends throughout its career to make a remarkably consistent statement for its continued relevance. 

Everything here was given a taut, well-rehearsed hard-rock glow, yet somehow the character of the individual songs and their eras remained.

In other words, “Rain,” “Nirvana” and “She Sells Sanctuary,” released in 1985, when the Cult was a muscular new wave and goth-rock band, rocked as convincingly as songs off 1987's "Electric" -- when the band approximated a college rock version of AC/DC -- or 1989’s "Sonic Temple", when the group assumed the guise of a thinking man’s Guns 'N’ Roses.

Even sonic aberrations in the band’s catalogue—say, the alt-metal crunch of 2001’s “Rise”—melded seamlessly with the remainder of the set. New material, including the Sunset Strip throwback “Every Man and Woman Is a Star” and the ballad “Embers,” was fine. And thankfully, the uninspired ’90s were mostly passed over.

Astbury sounded solid. He admitted to having a cold, and some of his longer, more glorious recorded parts—the choruses of “Sweet Soul Sister” and “Fire Woman”—were curtailed or replaced by his stout tenor bark. But his voice continues to flaunt a signature timbre: a clear, rangy croon, full of bravado, with a might that Astbury deftly controls.

(Jim Morrison came to mind, and not just because of the voice or Astbury’s work in the reformed Doors; the singer also wore long hair and a thick beard, evoking the late-period Lizard King.)

Billy Duffy, however, was much better than on record, and even better than I last remember in a live setting. He made an airtight argument for his unsung guitar heroism, against great rock guitarists of a similar poise who have much higher profiles: Slash, Zakk Wylde, Angus Young and even Billy Gibbons, et al.

But unlike Slash or Wylde, who tend to shred non-stop through an entire show, Duffy exhibited a good deal of taste as well. On the "Love"-era tunes he returned to his Gretsch White Falcon guitar and was content to faithfully recreate those leads.

They tend to be strong, simple and melodic, where no tinkering was necessary. On the more blatant hard-rock exercises, his soloing on his Gibson Les Paul was breathtakingly fleet and fluid, and sturdily supported by rhythm guitarist Mike Dimkich, drummer John Tempesta and bassist Chris Wyse.

By the time “Love Removal Machine” sent Duffy into a windmilling frenzy, any sort of pretension or pseudo-intellectual conceit about Astbury or the band was a distant memory.

Set list:

Every Man and Woman Is a Star
New York City
The Phoenix
Sweet Soul Sister
Sun King
Spirit Walker
Fire Woman
Wild Flower
She Sells Sanctuary


Lil’ Devil
Love Removal Machine

Evan Haga is a frequent Midnight Sun contributor, and the managing editor of JazzTimes. Erik Maza edited this post.


Photo: The Cult official website

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Concert reviews

November 3, 2010

Shawntia Hardaway drops assault charges against R&B singer Mario

The mother of R&B singer Mario today dropped the assault charges she filed against her son in October, admitting she was intoxicated at the time.

Shawntia Hardaway, who accused the Baltimore-born performer on October 1 of assaulting her and trashing their Fells Point apartment, appeared before the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City this afternoon and asked for the charges to be dropped.

She has battled heroin addiction in the past.

Prosecutors dismissed all charges against the singer, whose full name is Mario Dewar Barrett.

Hardaway's attorney, Richard Woods, said she was upset when she filed the police report.

"It was much to do about nothing," he said. "I met with her, she told me what happened and there wasn't any criminal action on the part of Mario."

Barrett's attorney, William Murphy Jr.*, said her action vindicated his client.

For the full story, click here.

Photo: Central booking


*This post incorrectly stated the name of Mario's attorney; it is William H. Murphy Jr. 
Posted by Erik Maza at 4:48 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: News

Name the new Rams Head at Arundel Mills Mall

The new Rams Head that will be built at Arundel Mills Mall in the next couple of years thanks to Cordish Cos.'s election night victory still doesn't have a name.

Erin McNaboe, vice president of the Rams Head Group, said it's not known yet when it will be named, or even when the new venue will be completed. 

Before they make a call, here's your chance to name the new joint. I'm partial to Rams Head Ka-ching, and Rams Head Slots! Slots!

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:00 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: News

Who is more airbrushed in their new album covers, Neil Diamond or Liza Minnelli?

diamond1.jpgA bunch of old timers have new albums out this year. And while they say women tend to be more vain than men, I'm not sure if that's the case from just looking at the album covers from Neil Diamond and Liza Minnelli.

Diamond, whose "Dreams" is a collection of covers -- including a limp "Midnight Train to Georgia" -- looks as stiff as one of wax figures at Madame Tussauds'.

And poor Liza looks as fresh-faced as a young Rachel Maddow.

Meanwhile, Elton John and Leon Russell show off every wrinkle on the cover of their awesome new album, "The Union."

A side-by-side comparison after the jump:

Neil Diamond, looking like a life-sized tin soldier, staring into the abyss:


Wacky Liza:


Meanwhile, look at these old codgers, Leon Russell and Elton John:


Photo: "The Union" from

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:30 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Music News

After "difficult" second album, Wolf Parade returns to Baltimore with "Expo '86"

Five years ago, there was a surplus of “wolf” bands: Wolfmother, Wolf Eyes, AIDS Wolf, even Peter and the Wolf.

But thanks to the acclaimed 2005 album “Apologies to the Queen Mary,” Wolf Parade is the only one we remember.

The Montreal four-piece recently released its third album, “Expo ‘86” and is on an 18-city tour to promote it that stops at Rams Head Live Friday.

Third albums tend to find bands in “return to basics” mode, normally following disappointing sophomore efforts where the band tried everything they weren’t allowed to do the first time around.

“Expo ‘86” is no different.

“We just wanted to make a record that was us making a rock ‘n’ roll record,” said drummer Arlen Thompson. “We didn’t want to get too deep into production. We wanted to keep things simple, capturing us as a band.”

Though their second album, “At Mount Zoomer” wasn’t a disappointment — it charted much higher than “Queen Mary” and garnered a 9.2 rating on — it took a year to complete, with band members working on it in fits in starts as they tended to solo projects.

“With ‘Zoomer,’ things were getting interrupted,” Thompson said. “We lost track of what we were doing. We were still satisfied with it, but it was a more difficult record to birth.”

 For the new album, the band avoided multitasking. Spencer Krug didn’t work with Sundown Rubdown; Dan Boeckner didn’t play with Handsome Furs.

“We actually sat down, and just said, ‘We’re going to focus and get it done in one go,” Thompson said. Songwriters Krug and Boeckner brought rough riffs to the band, which also includes guitarist Dante DeCaro, and worked quickly to adapt them to a sound that was recognizably Wolf Parade.

“We didn’t really sit down and talk about it,” Thompson said. “We did it live off the floor. We don’t like to second-guess ourselves.”

Some songs, like “Two Men in New Tuxedos,” came together in a couple of hours. From songwriting to mastering, the rest of the album took just four months to produce.

The sound they’ve accomplished reflects the quick turnaround. The songs are stripped down, with few bells, whistles or overdubs, and rarely lag, as though they were finished in one over-caffeinated marathon session.

Thompson said it’s in line with classic ‘70s rock, like the German band Can. “It’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get record,” he said.

At Rams Head, the band will perform some 15 songs over an hour and a half.

“We put out a lot of energy, a lot of synthesizers and electric guitars and a lot of drums,” he said. “It’s a rock ‘n’ roll show.”

Wolf Parade performs Friday at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place in Power Plant Live. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. Call 410-244-1131 or go to

Photo: Meqo Sam Cecil for Sub Pop

Also see:
This week's concerts
Weekend events: Best bets
Pictures: Recent concerts

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:30 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

With slots approved, Rams Head Group discusses plans for Arundel venue

PX00073_9.JPGOn Tuesday night, Anne Arundel County voters approved plans by the Cordish Cos. to build a new slots parlor at Arundel Mills Mall that will also include an entertainment complex featuring a new Rams Head musical venue.

Today, Erin McNaboe, vice president of Rams Head Group, commented on their plans for the new, still unnamed venue, and how it will fit into the Rams Head franchise.

When Cordish Cos. revealed plans for an entertainment complex in October, it said "Rams Head would operate a 300-seat live music venue, featuring jazz, blues and classic rock acts."

McNaboe said that's still the case. The new venue won't be very different from Rams Head on Stage in Annapolis, and will feature artists spanning the musical spectrum.

"It's going to be a seated facility where one night you might have country and the next night jazz," she said.

She said it's still not clear how entertainment will be split between all the different Rams Head venues, which also includes Rams Head Live in Baltimore's Power Plant Live. 

"Hopefully, they'll mutually work together," she said. "A lot of times we get contacted by artists who want to play Annapolis and it's already booked. This is an opportunity to bring more artists."

McNaboe said the venue still doesn't have a name, or definite completion date.

"A lot of those things are coming out in the next few days," she said, adding, "Cordish is committed to fast-tracking the whole project."

At Cordish Cos.'s election night party at Dave & Buster's, developer David Cordish said he would move forward with the project immediately and planned to complete it in the spring or summer of 2012.

Tickets at the new Rams Head will be similar to On Stage in Annapolis, ranging from $10 to $100 depending on the performer, McNaboe said.

Question A, which asked voters if a zoning ordinance allowing Cordish to build slots should stand, was bitterly fought, with proponents and opponents spending a cumulative $6 million campaigning. But voters were ultimately swayed by the developer, who won 56 percent of the vote versus the anti-slots group's 44 percent.

Below, a rendering of Maryland Live! Casino:


 Photo: David Cordish at the company's election night party (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun)
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:34 AM | | Comments (35)
Categories: News

Free Grateful Dead downloads all of November

Christmas came early for Dead Heads.

Every day in November, the Grateful Dead will give up a free download from the band's sprawling catalog on its website.

It's part of the "30 days of Dead," a month-long promotional push that started November 1. 

Most tracks are previously unreleased soundboard recordings, according to the website's press release. And they are meant to honor the "tapers who documented the Dead's concerts and trade them freely with other Dead Heads."

Tracks are available for free for one day only. Fans have already missed out on "New Speedway Boogie" and "Dark Star."

Unfortunately, the website hasn't posted the names of the other tracks they plan on releasing, effectively killing my plan of building a Grateful Dead advent calendar.

Dave Lemieux, the band's archivist, handpicked all 30 tracks.

Tracks will be available at  


Posted by Erik Maza at 10:00 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Music News

November 2, 2010

Election night parties: O'Malley, Ehrlich, Frank Kratovil, Andy Harris, and more

In about a a half hour, Maryland polls will close, leaving politicians up for election with nothing to do but pray and drink. 

Regardless of political affiliation, most will wait out the results in election-night watching parties, or, as the more confident among them call them, "victory parties." This year, there's even a ballot initiative that gets its own shindig. Others, will be in their PJs watching CNN.

Governor Martin O'Malley, who leads in most polls, will have his party at the American Visionary Art Museum. Doors open at 8 p.m. and will be open to the public. Parking is limited.

No word yet on if O'Malley's March (right) will perform, though, it's likely supporters would rather hear Bob Ehrlich do his own take of "Let the Eagle Soar."

Senator Barbara Mikulski, who is cruising towards re-election, will forgo her own hoedown to go to the AVM, as will Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Bob Ehrlich got cocky with his party, already calling it a "victory party" despite lagging in the polls.  He will be at Exhibition Hall at the Timonium Fairgrounds starting at 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, former Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Brian Murphy will be watching the election from his couch in Montgomery County. He did wish Ehrlich good luck, though. GOP Senate candidate Eric Wargotz has no events listed on his campaign website. 

Update 2: Maryland Politics has reports from O'Malley's and Ehrlich's parties; The Sun also has video from the former's party, and the Cordish Cos.' Arundel slots party.

In the congressional race, polls show Frank Kratovil and Andy Harris in a tight contest. The former spent the morning eating burgers and visiting poll stations in Annapolis and Phoenix. He will have an election-night party for "supporters and media" at the Crab Deck Restaurant in Grasonville starting at 8 p.m.

Just half a mile away, his opponent Andy Harris will have his "victory party" at Harris Crab House at the same time. The campaign website asked supporters to RSVP.

On the county side, Kevin Kamenetz will hold his election party at the Hilton Pikesville starting soon after polls close. His opponent, Kevin Holt, doesn't list a schedule on his campaign website. 

On this wacky election season, even ballot initiatives get their own parties. Both Cordish Cos. and opponents of slots at Arundel Mills Mall are celebrating. Cordish, up until an hour ago, kept the location of its party a secret. Update 1: The Cordish party started at 9 p.m. at Dave & Buster's at Arundel Mills Mall.

But the "No Slots at the Mall" coalition will gather at the Dorchester Community Center in Hanover to watch election results. 

If you go to any of these parties tonight, report back in the comments.

Photo: O'Malley's March website

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:35 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: News

Last Night's Photo: Halloween screams

Two Baltimoreans dressed as Hitchcock blondes on Halloween, by flickr user rockndroll. To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join the flickr pool.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:27 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Why U2's 2011 Baltimore show will be a one-off

When U2 plays M&T Bank Stadium next year, it will be the city's first stadium headliner in two years.

But even though it'll bring crowds and dollars to Baltimore, here's why there probably won't be a repeat for another two years.

For one, "while rock bands used to exclusively play stadiums, in the last decade the increased cost of producing a stage show has shifted the burden of making a profit to the stadiums.

"The economics of producing a stage show today are extremely difficult," said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, the concert industry's trade magazine. "To make it work, you almost have to guarantee a sellout or come close to capacity."

M&T can only now book artists who can sell all 70,000 seats, or they won't make a profit.

"If you look at the concert industry today, you're not seeing many acts playing stadium shows," said Roy Sommerhof, vice president of stadium operations. "For an act to sell a stadium now, it'd would have to be a mega act,"

That's why M&T hasn't had a concert since 2008's Kenny Chesney show, he said.

Artists themselves are realizing that they can make stadium-sized money by playing in arenas instead, which cost less to produce and sell faster. Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, even young big acts like Lady Gaga and Beyonce are playing more venues like 1st Mariner than M&T or FedEx Field.

Complicating matters for M&T is regional competition, not just from Baltimore arena's, but from the aggressive FedEx and Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

Booking a show at M&T is also a complicated dance that involves convincing promoters Live Nation they can sell tickets; the Maryland Stadium Authority, which runs the stadium; and the schedules of the Ravens, which books the shows, and the Orioles, with whom the stadium shares parking space.

Question: Since production costs have increased, ticket costs have also increased, which means stadium shows can be cost-prohibitive for fans. When U2 comes to Baltimore, will you be shelling out the big bucks to see them?

Photo: U2's 360-Degree Tour (Jasper Juinen, Getty Images)

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:39 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Music News

November 1, 2010

U2's 360-Degree Tour in Pictures

U2 will bring their colossal 360-Degree Tour to M&T Bank Stadium next year, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced this morning. This is our photo gallery of the tour, which has been on the road since June 2009.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:30 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Concert Photo Gallery

Did you go to Howard University's Yardfest?

Rick Ross, rapper Wale, R&B singer Dondria, and 80s rapper Doug E. Fresh performed at Howard University's Yardfest Friday. 

They were were just a few of the 60 that took the stage as part of the school's Homecoming festivities. 

The 6-hour event has a reputation for launching future R&B stars. Kanye West and Jay-Z have performed there; Notorious B.I.G. and Ludacris have dedicated songs to the party.

Click Track's Chris Richards was there: "Designer fragrances were whipping in the October wind while coeds sporting Crocs and pajama pants danced the two-step to a throbbing hip-hop beat."

Did any Baltimoreans go to Yardfest? Report back in the comments.

Photo: Wale at Yardfest (Josh Sisk/FTWP)


Posted by Erik Maza at 12:21 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Music News

Ozzy Osbourne, The Roots, Cat Stevens: the music at the Rally to Restore Sanity

Last week, The Roots, Jeff Tweedy and Sheryl Crow were announced as performers at Stephen Colbert and John Stewart's Rally for Sanity and/or Fear.

Turns out other major headliners joined them Saturday at the Washington Mall.

It was a day of music, politics and merchandise.

John Legend performed one the songs from "Wake Up!" his album of protest song covers with The Roots.

And Cat Stevens started to play his song "Peace Train," before being joined on stage by Ozzy Osbourne who sang his own "Crazy Train." Eventually, The O'Jays went on stage too to perform their own "Love Train." Musical puns! (Osbourne, by the way, performs at 1st Mariner Nov. 29.)

Kid Rock also performed a new ballad with Sheryl Crow, and was joined by future jailbird T.I. on video. 

Below, video of Tony Bennett and the Ozzy Osbourne-Cat Stevens-O'Jays mashup.  C-Span still has the entire 3-hour show online.

Cat Stevens, Ozzy Osbourne and the O'Jays' dueling trains:

And Tony Bennett performs "America the Beautiful:"

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
Tony Bennett - "America the Beautiful"
Rally to Restore Sainty and/or FearThe Daily ShowThe Colbert Report

The Sun had a report and video of the rally.

Photo: The Roots, Win McNamee/Getty Images

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:40 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

U2 will play M&T Bank Stadium in 2011

U2 will play Baltimore's M & T Bank Stadium in 2011, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Monday morning.

The band will bring its 360 Tour to the stadium on June 22, becoming the most successful headliner to hit the city since Bruce Springsteen played 1st Mariner Arena last year.

"Next summer is going to be a real statement for Baltimore," Rawlings-Blake told The Sun.

A week before, British singer Sade will kick off her first tour in a decade at 1st Mariner. 

Midnight Sun had previously reported rumors of the show in October, but promoters Live Nation and the stadium refused to speculate on the date. 

A source at the mayor's office confirmed those rumors Sunday. 

Blake herself made the announcement Monday morning on 98 Rock. Live Nation also announced a new St. Louis date Monday.

M&T Bank tried to book the popular band in 2009, but couldn't square a date that didn't clash with the Ravens schedule. 

This time, Roy Sommerhof, vice president of stadium operations, said they pursued the band 18 months in advance. 

"We're fortunate enough to get it next summer," he said on the show. "It's been a long process." 

For M&T, it's the biggest headliner since Kenny Chesney in 2008. They have hosted concerts like HFStival before.

Florence and the Machine will be U2's opening act. 

With U2 and Sade, Baltimore may finally be able to brush aside the impression that Washington DC gets all the big headliners.

"It will put Baltimore on the map" as a major concert venue, Rawlings-Blake said. 

U2 played FedEx Field last year, but the "Smooth Operator" singer chose Baltimore to open her first tour in a decade.

Photo: AP

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:53 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: News

Review: Celebration, Dustin Wong, Microkingdom and Sri Aurobindo at the G Spot, October 29

Nikc Miller, Midnight Sun contributor and former Dirty Marmaduke Flute Squad guitarist, reviews the Halloween show at the G Spot.

Friends Records threw its second Halloween bash Friday night at the G Spot, with a show that included a spooky ambiance and bands signed or at least distributed by the ever-growing record label.

This time the headliner was local-band-gone-somewhat-big Celebration.

The G-Spot, a weird little enclave in the mill area of Hampden, is a nostalgic venue for me, especially at this time of year. Many a-folk know the obscure “audio-visual playground” as being home-base for MicroCineFest.

In my mind it seems like blasphemy to have any event here that doesn’t have a distinct visual aesthetic. So it was a delight to see such effort put toward the ambience of Friday’s show, with slide projectors blasting the light of beautiful abstract slides onto every free inch of wall space.

Friends Records ally, Dustin Wong, started the evening early and on a high note. As patrons trickled into the concert space, Wong played what seemed like 15-20 songs using just his guitar, a loop pedal, and at times a simple drum machine.

These songs, starting from simple riffs and building toward complex electronica, tended to stop abruptly before immediately switching to something new.

At one point I heard someone from the crowd say, “Yeah, it’s cool but it just sounds like some kid jamming with his gear.” Which is true, but also underscores Wong’s appeal. Watching someone jam this well, while creating several albums full of blissful song ideas on-the-fly is something to behold.

And at the very least, it’s nice to see someone making this kind of music while sitting behind just a guitar instead of the latest piece of synth technology.

By the end of Wong’s set, the majority of what would become the crowd for the evening was in place, bouncing between the G-Spot’s gallery area and the performance space. A quarter of the people were costumed: an awesome Teen Wolf and a bearded executioner mingled with the crowd, while a slew of scenesters teetered on the line of dumb couture vs. legit Halloween costume.

Microkingdom took to the stage to perform what seemed to be a mind game with the crowd. Whatever beautiful noise Wong previously released into the atmosphere was quickly deconstructed and thrown back in the face of the audience.

The title of Microkingdom’s release, "Three Compositions of No-Jazz," perfectly describes the "Lost Highway"-soundtrack noise coming from this five-piece. It wasn’t that much fun to watch, but since my only live music experience of the week was seeing smooth jazz legend Chuck Mangione blow his flugelhorn at a Mercedes dealership in Ellicott City, “No-Jazz” was more than welcome to my ears.

Later Sri Aurobindo performed a set of off-tempo psych rock. The crowd seemed more relieved to hear some music with vocals rather than being genuinely pumped for the band. It’s tough to be blazed all the time, but that’s what Sri Aurobindo expects from you when they belt out Orange-amplified tunes like, well, “My Love Is Stoned.”

But instead of elation, the vibe at was getting more stuffy and uncomfortable. Many people, including myself, had to step out into the gallery just to cool down.

The anticipation built until just after 11pm when Celebration took the stage stage. Not a single straggler remained in the gallery area. And that entire communal feeling you would come to expect from a concert thrown by a group called “Friends” manifested itself, finally.

Celebration is the real deal, spinning their own web of world music into magnificent anthems. That crowded and sweaty feeling I had before vanished in light of what was happening on stage. The projections on the walls came to life as someone from the back of the room turned the light toward the stage, creating a dynamic backdrop to the music.

If I had to describe Celebration’s sound it would be called something like “American Afro-Beat.” It’s, first, rhythmically present, but also has all the melody and dreaminess that Beach House is praised for. Performing tunes for almost an hour while playfully interacting with the audience in between, Celebration encored with a song called “Battles” from their forthcoming album "Hello Paradise" which, I have to guess, will be an epic Friends Records release.

If there is such a complaint as “too much atmosphere” the Friend’s Records gang are totally guilty. Fortunately for them, in this city and at this time of year, the complainers would be few and far between.

Nikc Miller, former guitarist for Dirty Marmaduke Flute Squad, still writes the band's blog, and he has written for Microfilmmaker Magazine. Erik Maza edited this post.

Photo: Chris Day/Bmore Musically Informed 

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Concert reviews
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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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