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December 31, 2010

Update: 15 more bars staying open past 2.a.m New Year's Eve, including Pazo, Bad Decisions, Elliott's Pour House

The list of bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve has been updated again: new additions include Bad Decisions, the wine bar Vino Rosina, Leon's, Pazo, Eden's Lounge, and ten others. The list now includes nearly 40 different bars that are staying open late on 2010's last night.

It also now includes bars that will be close early, such as Charles Village Pub and Pratt Street Ale House. 

The full list is here

For Midnight Sun's guide to 11 last-minute party ideas, go here

And remember, if you're taking Tipsy Taxi, the wait time may be 45 minutes. MTA services are free until 2 a.m. and the Charm City Circulator will be working until 1 a.m. 

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:07 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: New Year's Eve 2010

December 30, 2010

Tipsy? Taxi! spokeswoman: You may have to wait up to 45 minutes for your cab

When it was announced that the Tipsy? Taxi! service would return to Baltimore on New Year's Eve, several readers responded with complaints.

Even though the service is free on New Year's Eve, they said some cab drivers insisted on charging in the past. While other readers said the cabs are consistently late, and that the 1-877-963-TAXI number used for the service is always busy.

Well, AAA Mid-Atlantic, one of the sponsors of the service, reached out both to Midnight Sun and Sun blog Consuming Interests to respond.

My colleague Liz Kay has an update on those complaints here. Essentially, AAA spokeswoman Ragina Averella urges patience.

But here's a couple of other things she told me.

The service is never going to be as quick as hailing a cab, Averella said. That's because even though there will be 500 cabs working for Yellow/Checker Cab New Year's Eve, the company will also be conducting their regular business.

As a result, "the expected wait time is 30-45 minutes" for Tipsy Taxi, she said. In other words, plan accordingly.

Patrons should also expect wait times to reach the service's operators, Averella said. Yellow Cab only has two employees at their call center to answer Tipsy Taxi calls. However, she pointed out, the 1-877-963-TAXI number is used only for this service. 

"At times, it can ring busy, especially at peak times, when bars are closing," Averella says. "If a caller receives a busy signal, we encourage them to call back and not hang up if they are placed on hold."

As for the complaints that some cab drivers insist on charging, Averella points out that those wishing to take advantage of Tipsy Taxi must call in advance for a pick-up, not just hail any random Yellow or Checker cab. 

Scheduled pick-ups will always be free, and if a cab driver still insists on charging, Averella urged patrons to call Yellow Cab at 443-573-3416 to file a complaint.

Again, these are some of the service's other caveats: it's only open to those over 21; patrons must be picked up at a city bar and taken only to their homes; and patrons will pay the balance of rides exceeding $50. (Averella said it's only open to adults because the sponsors "don't want to encourage underage drinking.")

Calling ahead for a cab and having to wait 45 minutes for it to arrive might have discouraged people from using the service before; Averella said between only nearly 100 people used it New Year's Eve 2009.

But, she pointed out the service is a only supplement to existing public transportation options available to impaired drivers.

Readers are right to be upset by this, considering that those free rides from the MTA and the Charm City Circulator only last until 2 a.m. and 1 a.m., respectively, even though bars are likely staying open until dawn. Still, it's also important to remember that it is a free service. 

Averella said that if riders have other problems with the service, they can call her directly at 410-616-1900, ext 61152, or Yellow Cab general manager Dwight Kines at 443-573-3416. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 5:08 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: News

New Year's Eve 2010: Eleven last-minute parties, including Bourbon Street, The Paradox, Golden West Cafe

PX00175_9.JPGThe Man knows you’re going to drink yourself into a stupor on New Year’s Eve.

Why wouldn’t you?

December 31 is the year's biggest get out of jail free card. The one day of the year when you can drink yourself numb and you won't have to answer for your actions the next day. And why? Because by the time you regain consciousness, it’ll all be in the past.

By Jan. 1, it’ll be a new you, the 2011 you: more responsible, more in shape, optimistic, armed with resolutions to face a new year that, as always, you’re certain will be better than the last. Last night's debauchery? That was the old you.

And because local government knows all this, it has taken a few steps to make sure you party as safely as possible. Just consider the Maryland Transit Administration partnership with MillerCoors to offer free bus, metro, subway and light rail services from 8 p.m. Friday until 2 a.m. Saturday. 

In addition, the MTA also partnered with Yellow Cab and AAA Mid-Atlantic to comp cab rides under $50 from any city bar to residents’ homes, a service that may not work perfectly, or even very well, but that's just another alternative to the surplus of transportation options available to residents Friday.

Even state legislators want you to have a good time. About 70 years ago, they approved Article 2B of the Annotated Code of Maryland, a law allows only cbars in the city to keep their doors open until 2 a.m. Jan. 2, said Stephan Fogleman, chairman of the city’s Board of Liquor License Commissioners.

And still, all these things have had the desired effect of tempering celebrations, so that residents have fun, but don't go overboard. Fogleman says New Year’s Eve is one of the quietest times of the year in terms of complaints. Maybe this is why Baltimore is 37th among the country's drunkest cities.

With so many bars staying open past 2 a.m., there will be no shortage of options to properly say good riddance to 2010. Here are just 11 of them:

11. The 13th Floor at the Belvedere, 1 E. Chase St.: The annual Top of the World party at the World Trade Center is 100 bucks. For half that, and almost as good a view, there’s this. Admission also buys you a dinner buffet and a champagne toast. Maryland-based band Slagz will perform. Doors open at 9 p.m. and close at 2 a.m. For tickets, call 410-332-1000.

10. Bourbon Street, 316 Guilford Ave.: Organizers are calling this party a carnival; that's because in addition to performances by bands Ballyhoo! and Bandfish, it will feature “stilt walkers, fire breathers, jugglers, go-go dancers and a ringmaster.” And, they boast, it will also have Baltimore’s biggest balloon drop. $20 admission.

9. Washington: In D.C., bars are allowed to stay open only one flimsy extra hour past last call. Pity. Still, if you’re going in that direction, check out the Walkmen at the Westin Hotel, 1400 M. St N.W. Tickets start at $99. Cheaper is U Street Music Hall’s party, where kings of moombahton Nadastrom will spin. Tickets are $10. Doors open at 9 p.m.; the club is at 1115 U Street N.W.

8. Howard County: At Second Chance Saloon, 5888 Robert Oliver Place in Columbia, the Maryland-based, six-member, all-female group Wicked Jezabel, will perform. Tickets are $30, and include a champagne toast. Nottingham’s Tavern, at 8850 Stanford Blvd, and Sonoma’s Bar & Grille, at 7284 Cradlerock Way, will also have parties with live music.

7. Sheraton Baltimore City Center: Thrown inside the Sheraton’s ballroom complex at 101 W. Fayette St., this party features eight themed rooms and music by bands the Reagan Years, the Betty Ford Dropouts, Hyjinx and a finalist from TV show “America’s Got Talent.” Doors open at 9 p.m, close at 3 a.m. Tickets, which start at $99 and include drinks, are sold at

6. Golden West Cafe, 1105 W. 36th St.: The Hampden cafe describes its party this way: “Chicks, dudes, dancing, tequila, pinball, beach balls, late night, no rules.” This no-rules bit should be the whole night’s motto, in fact. In addition to the beach balls, The Matrimonials, the Baltimore four-piece rock band, will perform. Doors open at 10 p.m. There is no cover.

5. Gay-friendly parties: At the Hippo, 1 W. Eager St., vocalist Zna. Queen will perform and DJ Aisle K of the Get Down’s gay party Peer Pressure, will spin. Cover is $10 all night long. At Grand Central, 1001 N. Charles St. it’s $15. Both should close about 4 a.m. South Baltimore’s gay-friendly Rowan Tree, 1633 S. Charles St., is open all night long.

4. The Paradox, 1310 Russell St.: While city bars are rejoicing over being able to stay open past 2 a.m., that’s already commonplace at the Dox, which stays open until dawn most weekends. On New Year’s, one promoter said, "We going till the sun comes up." Doors open at 9 p.m. Cover is $15 before midnight.

3. Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place: All Power Plant Live venues will be open past 2 a.m. But only at Rams Head will Baltimore rock ‘n’ rollers J. Roddy Walston and the Business and goofy rapper Mickey Free perform. Tickets are $20.

2. The Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St.: The Charles Village bar has a little bit for everyone: Upstairs, DJ James Nasty of the Moustache party will be spinning until at least 2 a.m. And it’s free. Downstairs, the bar’s owner Craig Boarman plans on playing his signature Lady Gaga-Madonna-Prince mash-ups until Simon Phoenix and Cullen Stalin of the TaxLo party take over at midnight. Admission is free after 1 a.m.

1. New Year’s Eve Spectacular: At the Inner Harbor, the annual party kicks off at 9 p.m. with the Motorettes performing at the amphitheater. Expects mobs; admissions is free. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will be on hand for what the city is calling the largest fireworks display in the region, which starts at the stroke of midnight. More information at : 1-877-BALTIMORE or

 The list of bars that are open past 2 a.m. is here, and is still growing (More names to be added today and tomorrow throughout the day).

Other New Year's Eve events are on FindLocal's guide.

Photo: Fireworks at the Inner Harbor, 2009 (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:03 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Live!, Local music, New Year's Eve 2010

East vs. West electronic music throwdown tonight at Metro Gallery

2010-battle-eclectic-web.jpgEast coast and West coast members of the artists collective Cytoplastik will perform at Metro Gallery tonight in their annual electronic music face-off.

The battle, which is really more of an excuse for a dance party, will pit the Baltimore-based trio Megadrives against another trio, Intergon, the Los Angeles-based makers of "intelligent electronica". Also performing will be Florian Mosleh (there as duo English), DJ Infinity, Free Sauce and VJ Chroma, among others.

Organizers have added live video accompaniment to the live music performances. They're calling it an "acoustic performance art experience."

My favorite part of this thing are the directions to attendees: "COLD hooping, spinning, etc. encouraged ON THE DANCE SIDE ONLY, NOT ON THE GALLERY SIDE!D respect the artwork on display PLEASE!"

Yes, respect the artwork. Please.  Anyway, it's the official start of New Year's Eve celebrating.

Mosleh, actually, is responsible for the collective's most well known track, "Wax Music Box," which was featured in an early episode of "The Wire." If you think the performers' names above are "Tron"-esque, you're not alone. Blake Leyh, the show's music supervisor, was flummoxed himself.

"Cytoplastik’s ideas are so deep, their mission so obscure, their Web site so labyrinthal, and their server so slow," he wrote, "That I can’t quite figure out if they are unrecognized geniuses, the ultimate technodorks or both."

It's the fifth year for the East-West battle, which last year was held at Talking Head, and where Comeback Ranch, Glass Knife, and others performed. Cytoplastic has posted MP3s from their battle royale of 2008 here. (There are tons of others downloads posted through the website - play with it, it's just as trippy as their work.)

Tickets are $5; $3 drink specials between 9-10 p.m. Also: Metro is hosting a canned food drive. The event's Facebook listing is here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Get Out, Local music

Mickey Free, the artist formerly known as Bow 'n' Arrow, to open for J. Roddy Walston

J. Roddy Walston and the Business aren't the only locals performing at Rams Head Live Friday night.

Michael Freeland, the rapper who's been working in the city for the last decade as Mickey Free and earlier as Bow 'n' Arrow, will open the venue's New Year's Eve party.

The gig follows a November party at Golden West Cafe for his new album, his first as Mickey Free.

Freeland has been performing in Baltimore since he was 18, when he was still a pizza delivery boy. Most often, he collaborated with Dan Keech, another white rapper he met in high school who goes by the name Height.

He gave up delivering pizza five years ago, and in that time has performed by himself and toured with members of Wham City and indie rock bands, like his brother Chris Freeland's Oxes. 

Still haven't heard of him?  Freeland - who's more goofy than 92Q - posted his new album in its entirety on his website

The 13-track album features Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner on "Never Enough," Height on "The Unnies" and Arboretum's guitarist, Dave Heumann.

Freeland's emix of Wye Oak's "That I Do" is also available, and free. The rest of this side story is here.

Video: Below, Height, Freeland, and others performing at the Rap Round Robin.

Baltimore Rap Round Robin, August. Height and Friends clocks in at 1:51:

Photo: via bmore musically informed

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

December 29, 2010

Baltimore ranked last in list of America's drunkest cities

The Daily Beast, the listicle website that also sometimes runs articles, has ranked the drunkest cities in America.

Coming in at No. 1 is Milwaukee. Philadelphia is ranked at 20. Because this is a list you can trust, Las Vegas is ranked at 38.

And Baltimore? Baltimore is ranked at 37. This, in a list of 40. Not to sound petulant, but: as if.

What happened Daily Beast, haven't you heard of Baltimore's endless New Year's Eve? We're the only city in the whole darn state of Maryland where bars can stay open for 40 consecutive hours starting 10 a.m. December 31.

At first, I thought the list had been written by Richard Florida, one of America’s top 10 hack statisticians, and the man responsible for "Best Christmas Cities for Kids" and "Best Cities for trick-or-treating." But, no, his fingerprints are nowhere near this steaming traffic-bait.

But maybe the high placement on the list just means Baltimore can hold its liquor. 

Still, next time you put one of these together guys, take a tour of Charm City first. I'll take Tina to Rodos - Fells Point's frat house - myself.

(Update: Richard Florida did come with a sesonal listicle, and it's the "Best Cities to be single on New Year's." Baltimore-Towson is No. 4 on the best cities for single men.)
Posted by Erik Maza at 3:24 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: News

Starscape Festival 2011 tickets to go on sale in January

starscape.JPGTickets for Starscape, the overnight, electronic and dance music festival that takes place on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in June, will go on sale in January, organizers just said.

The festival, which takes place at Fort Armistead Park June 4, will begin at 2 p.m. and end at 6 a.m. 

Organizers won't announce a lineup until February, but Chromeo, Disco Biscuits, and the Bridge performed in 2009; hip-hop pioneer Slick Rick performed the year before.

The festival has been growing since it began 12 years ago. In 2007, some 7,000 people attended. And organizers say 2010 was the first year tickets sold out.

Credit that with the early ticket sales. 

In 2011, the festival will have an all-night main stage, a dance tent, a bass tent, and even a beach stage for dub step acts, organizers said. 

Tickets will go on sale January 5 at the festival's website, General admission is $52.50, and VIP admission is $142.50. 

Photo: Last year's Starscape (Starscape official website)

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:54 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local music, News

J. Roddy Walston on 2010, Leon Russell, and "lifeless rock"

J. Roddy Walston and the Business have been together for six years now.

And still, critics, sounding more like movie producers, routinely refer to them as a mixture of rock standard-bearers: Jerry Lee Lewis meets AC/DC, AC/DC meets Lynyrd Skynyrd, and so on.

If Leon Russell and Elton John hadn't come together to record "The Union" this year, critics might have used them next to refer to the Business' new self-titled album.

After this year though, that might change. The band has had a remarkable 2010.  

While it took them nearly three years to sell 6,000 copies of their first album, the self-released "Hail Mega Boys," they've sold more than 4,000 copies of their new one since its release in February, according to Nielsen Soundscan.

And though they've always toured extensively, the success of the new album got them booked at more than 180 venues, many much larger than the small clubs where they got their start, like Baltimore's Talking Head.

(On Friday, the band will headline Rams Head Live's New Year's Eve party)

The rest of my interview with Walston, where he touches on leaving Baltimore to record their new self-titled album, Leon Russell's early work, and how recording on tape is more authentic than not, is here.

After the jump, the band's "Don't Break the Needle" video:

"Don't Break the Needle:"

Photo: J. Roddy Walston and the Business (Algerina Perna/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:08 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Live!, Local music, New Year's Eve 2010

Asia, Franken-band consisting of former members of the Buggles and Roxy Music, to play Annapolis in May

Asia, the band cobbled together from the leftovers of Roxy Music, Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and the Buggles, will perform at Rams Head on Stage May 3, the venue announced this week.

Making up the band are guitarist Steve Howe, formerly of Yes; multi-instrumentalist John Wetton of Roxy Music; drummer Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake & Palmer; and keyboardist Geoff Downes, formerly of the Buggles, who collectively, are a who's who of progressive British rock. 

The original members formed  Asia in 1981 after those bands disbanded, broke up a few years later, and re-united in their original incarnation in 2006 for a 25th anniversary tour and greatest hits package.

They are now touring with a new album, "Omega." Tickets for the Rams Head show are $75 and are now on sale at the venue's website. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:50 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Music News

Midnight Sun's 50 most read posts of 2010

If I was to write Midnight Sun based on page views, the blog would be lingerie football and Justin Bieber all the time.*

At least that's what this roundup of the 50 most clicked-on posts of the year tells me about Midnight Sunners' reading habits.

Out of the total 1,000 or so items that ran on the blog this year - reporting on topics as varied as crime, local music trends, business developments and nightlife - it's something of a mystery how these ended up being most read.

After all, some items that included lots of reporting were overlooked, while others that were just a few paragraphs were highly read. Other items benefited from being linked to by Andrew Sullivan, and some others simply generated lots of debate in the comments.

But, in 2010, it seems readers were most interested in breaking crime news, music festivals like Virgin Mobile FreeFest, and the Charm City Circulator. Bieber, of course, interested locals a lot too - though it may not be something they admit to - as did scantily-clad football players. Shocker, that last one.

The posts here are divided in two sections: January to August, when Sam Sessa wrote the blog, and September to December, since I've been at the helm. 

Overall, though, it was a big year for Midnight Sun.

In fact, in terms of audience, there was a 15 percent jump in page views from last year, making 2010 our most read since the blog's inception three years ago. And for that, we want to say: thank you for reading.

December - September, 2010:
20. Weekend Crime: Man beaten outside DC9 club; police officer Brian Stevenson killed in Canton

19. Review: Vampire Weekend at Merriweather Post Pavilion, in which I upset whiny Vampire Weekend Fans. Incidentally, I've been vindicated.

18. I survived Justin Bieber at the State Fair. Now, if only Bieber's fragrance hadn't.

17. Recording Industry: Here's a handy guide on best websites for stealing music Service journalism!

16. Introducing Gameday Warehouse, a new Ravens bar, here likely thanks to the best Ravens bar story.

15. Review: Wayne Mahaffey's Bistro Rx: This review generated a lot of debate, with Mahaffey even writing his own defense.

14. A fourth Charm City Circulator route considered

13. U2 to play Baltimore in 2011, maybe: Interestingly, the confirmation that the band would actually play, wasn't as well read. Still, the U2 show led to this 1A story.


12. Girl Talk's new album posted online as a free download, includes Rye Rye sample: Baltimore loves Girl Talk, and free things. Mostly free things.

11. Maryland takes out Four Loko, which pointed you towards the amazing sentence, "The often fruity drinks are popular among the young, who say they like the way the caffeine mitigates the soporific effects of the alcohol."

10. Girl Talk announces 40-city tour

9. America loses its mind over Four Loko: Thanks Atlantic, Reason, and Andrew Sullivan!

8. Concert review: Lady Gaga at Verizon Center

7. Crime: Thirsty Turtle liquor license revoked

6. Trent Reznor's 'Social Network' soundtrack online for free: Yes, movie was good. But the free MP3s were better.

5. With slots approved, Rams Head Live discusses plans for Arundel Mills venue: David Cordish was among the most polarizing figures in Baltimore this year, as was his campaign to install slots at the mall.

4. Review: Roger Waters' The Wall Live at Verizon Center in Washington DC. Waters gave Sessa nightmares.

3. Stabbing Thursday night at Power Plant Live: Another startling crime scene, at the massively attended kickoff party.

2. Four Loko banned in college campuses; Maryland schools respond: Maryland students were curious to see how their schools would handle "blackout in a can."

1. Virgin Mobile FreeFest schedule: post included updates on T.I.'s up-in-the-air performance and a printable PDF of the official schedule, but mainly, it was most seen because Midnight Sun posted it first. It was the most read post about Virgin FreeFest all year, and the third most read post overall.

August - January, in descending order:

30. The vodka eyeball post: the drinking meme that preceded Bros Icing Bros. 

29. Concert review: Phish at Merriweather Post Pavilion: Sessa let a publicist write this after the dude commented on an old Phish review.

28. My rocky Vince Neil run-in: (several days after Sessa pressured the "sober" Neil about the glass of tequila in his hand on his latest album cover, Neil was arrested for DUI)

27. O.A.R., Zac Brown to play Preakness InfieldFEST

26. Deadmau5 collapses at 9:30 club: a short item with big news for fans of the DJ.

25. Dru Hill reunites, plans new album, reality TV show: who knew Sisqo still had so many fans?

24. Corkboard: Who has the best Cinco de Mayo specials?: Corkboard, a feature that should make a comeback next year.

23. Concert review: Muse at 1st Mariner Arena

22. Facing lawsuit, Ottobar holds benefit: One of the too-few cases of a club owner taking responsibility for an unfortunate incident and turning it into a positive fundraiser.

21. Concert Review: Black Eyed Peas at Verizon Center

20. Rumors: HFStival to return to Merriweather: rumors begin...

19. Third Eye Blind, Billy Idol to headline HFstival: and then they are confirmed.

18. Insubordination Fest pits promoter, fans against Sonar: Chaos erupted at the two-day festival; the post was one of the most commented of the year.

17. Minus5 ice bar & lounge coming to Power Plant Live: A cool idea which didn't last the fall.

16. 2010 Virgin Mobile FreeFest line-up announced

15. Baltimore's best places to watch the fireworks on July 4:

14. Liquor board finds Bourbon Street not guilty

13. Virgin Mobile FreeFest 2010: What bands would you like to see? Nearly 200 people answered.

12. Confirmed: HFStival to return to Merriweather Post Pavilion: '90s music lovers let out a collective sigh of boredom at this aging, largely irrelevant lineup.

11.  1st Mariner Arena named best arena of its size in the U.S.

10. Lingerie football is coming to Baltimore: There's no shame in traffic bait.

9. Woman mistaken for Justin Bieber: a dumb person brings TMZ to Ocean City

8. Concert Review: John Mayer at Verizon Center: Contributor Patrick Gavin reviewed the show, where Jennifer Aniston was not mentioned once.

7. Virgin Mobile FreeFest to return to Merriweather

6. Brewer's Art will can Resurrection Ale in May

5. Concert review: George Strait, Reba McEntire, and Lee Ann Womack at 1st Mariner: Beating Gaga, Bieber, even the Black Eyed Peas as the most read review of the year on Midnight Sun.

4. The Bros Icing Bros post: in which Midnight Sun put to the test an Internet fad. Hilarity ensued.

3. Racially charged sign posted outside Sid's Tavern: The bizarre story of Sid's Tavern. Sessa got a tip at 10 p.m. one weeknight about this, and sprung to action! Justice was eventually served, depending on who you ask.

2. Introducing Tiki Barge, South Baltimore's new tiki bar: Popular thanks to thousands of Google searches from people wondering "Where/what the heck is this place?"

1. Pickled Parrot Owner arrested: a short item on a drunken brawl in Canton ends up generating a big debate over the bar, crime, and the neighborhood, which nicely sums up several of the interests of Midnight Sun. It was also the most read post of the entire year.

(For the Baltimore Sun's Year in Review, click here). 

Photo: Jed Kirschbaum/Baltimore Sun

*Having said that - much like Bea Arthur Mountains Pizza, football lingerie and Justin Bieber sounds like a great tumblr. 

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

December 28, 2010

Last Night's Photo: Hoop dancing at Red Maple

hoopdancing.JPGElectric Marmalade, Red Maple's weekly Monday night dance party, photographed earlier this month by flickr user fwredelius, a regular contributor to Last Night's Photo. Join him, won't you? I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd like to see local photographers other than him and the great @photoskip on here. Contribute your nightlife, bar and concert photos by joining the Midnight Sun flickr pool.

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Update: More bars staying open past 2 a.m.

The list of bars that are staying open past 2 a.m. has been updated. New additions include: Down the Hatch, The Laughing Pint, Cat's Eye Pub, Don't Know and No Idea, which is staying open from 10 a.m December 31 through 2 a.m. January 2, just like state legislators intended. (Don't Know, incidentally, is hosting the Midnight Sun Mixer next month - come!) B&O American Brasserie is staying open past 2 a.m Friday, but only for an after party, which has already been sold out. The full list of bars is here, ready for your barhopping pleasure.
Posted by Erik Maza at 12:26 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: New Year's Eve 2010

Witch house begets slut-wave. Thank Katy Perry

Even before this year's fake music memes totally died, someone's gone ahead and anthologized a new one. Just as you were starting to read about witch-house and chill-wave, popular tumblr Hipster Runoff went ahead and coined the term slutwave earlier this year to describe the collective works of, ahem, sexually assertive singers Katy Perry, Kesha and Rihanna. Rolling Stone picked up on it and called it fake music genre of the year earlier this month. Well, this was inevitable. Now, something called Complex has made a  list of the 25 greatest slutwave songs ever. Not one to judge, I salute you traffic-baiting Complex bloggers. The list goes back as far as 1982, and, clocking in at number one? Kesha's "Blah Blah Blah." Indeed.

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:29 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Music News

Liz Phair to perform at Rams Head Live in January

After performing in Washington D.C. earlier this month, it turns out Liz Phair will stop in Baltimore as well. 

She'll play Rams Head Live January 25, when Brooklyn four piece Harper Blynn will open. 

Phair announced the East Coast tour dates earlier this month. Tickets for the Baltimore show are now on sale.

The singer, who's just released album "Funstyle," credits Keith Richards for sending her back on the road. 

Famous for having stage fright, she said his memoir made her excited about performing live again. Earlier this year, she wrote a great review of the book for the New York Times.

Fans will be happy to know she isn't skipping "Exile in Guyville" at her live shows, or at least she didn't at the 9:30 club show earlier this month. Though those who like her early output are warned "Why Can't I" is also in the rotation.

Next year's tour dates follow:

Liz Phair Tour 2011 dates:

Denver, CO Bluebird Theater - Tue Jan 18 / 11

Minneapolis, MN Fine Line Music Cafe - Thu Jan 20 / 01

Milwaukee, WI Turner Hall Ballroom - Fri Jan 21 / 11

Chicago, IL Metro - Sat Jan 22 / 11

Pittsburgh, PA Rex Theater - Mon Jan 24 / 11

Baltimore, MD Rams Head Live - Tue Jan 25 / 11

Brooklyn, NY Music Hall/Williamsburg - Wed Jan 26 / 11

Norfolk, VA The NorVa - Thu Jan 27 / 11

Atlanta, GA Variety Playhouse - Sat Jan 29 / 11

Nashville, TN The Mercy Lounge - Sun Jan 30 / 11

Columbia, MO The Blue Note - Mon Jan 31 / 11

Photo: Liz Phair official Facebook

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:45 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

December 27, 2010

Explainer: How come Baltimore bars can stay open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve?

Thank the state legislature, says Stephan Fogleman, chairman of the Baltimore Liquor Board. File this under 'fun facts,' or 'random trivia': It was state legislators that signed a law allowing bars in Baltimore, and only here, to stay open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve. The liquor board has been honoring the law, it seems, "forever." "It's been around for as long as the liquor board has been around. At least 70 years," Fogleman says. "We don't want to mess with tradition."

New Year's Eve is the only time of the year when extended hours are permitted, and the exemption only applies to bars that have six- or seven-day 2 a.m. liquor licenses. Thanks to the exemption, bars can open their doors on December 31 and not close until 2 a.m. January 2. So far, few Baltimoreans have complained about the extended hours. Says Fogleman,"It's one of the quietest times of the year in terms of complaints. Maybe residents expect there will be more fun, or maybe it's because people can go home when they want to."

Earlier: bars that are staying open past 2 a.m. this year.

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:57 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: New Year's Eve 2010

Free New Year's Eve cab rides return to Baltimore thanks to Tipsy Taxi

tipsytaxi.JPGFor the third year in a row, Baltimore residents will get free cab rides on New Year's Eve.

Yellow Cab Baltimore, AAA Mid-Atlantic and the State Highway Administration with the Maryland Transit Administration, have partnered to offer the Tipsy? Taxi! program this Friday to residents who've done just a little too much celebrating.  

From midnight until 4 a.m., cab rides under $50 originating in the city will be comped by the program. 

The Maryland Transit Administration will make an official announcement Tuesday at a press conference at the Inner Harbor.   

The cab rides are the third free transportation option residents will have on New Year's Eve this year. The MTA partnered with MillerCoors to offer free services until 2 a.m. that day, and the Charm City Circulator will extend operating hours until 1 a.m.

Tipsy? Taxi! aims to "deter impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel," said Lora Rakowski, a spokeswoman for SHA.

It's been offered on New Year's Eve in the city since 2008, when at least 110 residents took advantage of it. And was also on hand earlier this year on other drinking high holidays like St. Patrick's Day, the Fourth of July and Halloween.

To get picked up by Tipsy? Taxi!, call 1-877-963-TAXI.

The program, though, does come with a few provisos: residents can only be dropped off at their homes, not other bars or restaurants. And, confusingly, they must be 21 or older. Because minors who drink illegally totally don't need free designated drivers.

The balance on rides exceeding $50 will be paid by the riders themselves.

And beware, at least one resident has complained about the service's timeliness in the past.

Photo: SHA

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:44 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: New Year's Eve 2010

What Washington D.C. pundits love listening to: Sleigh Bells

Figures, seeing as the sound they make collectively is ear-splitting noise that only occasionally makes sense.   Ana Marie Cox (the Wonkette and now a Washington correspondent at  GQ) asked non-music reporters and politico types to pick the stuff they listened to the most last year, and besides agreeing that John Boehner cries too much, they all liked the musical stylings of Kanye West, Arcade Fire, and, like our Jay Hancock, Superchunk. Seems even pols and pundits have a soul, if you can call liking Pitchfork's choices for 2010's best music having a soul.

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

Teena Marie at her best: performing on "Soul Train" (Video)

R&B singer Teena Marie died Sunday. Didn't know who she was? or thought she was a novelty act from the 60s? Here's all you need to know: "Ooo La La La."

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

The Baltimore bars open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve

6015546-29094127.jpgEveryone's doing something special for New Year's Eve. The MTA will offer free public transportation until 2 a.m. and the Charm City Circulator will work until 1 a.m.

At the Inner Harbor, the city will have its annual fireworks spectacular. 

Parking meters will be free on New Year's Day. 

And, most importantly to Midnight Sun readers, many Baltimore bars will stay open past 2 a.m. (not that the MTA got that memo.)

In the interest of service journalism, here is a working list of those bars that are extending operating hours. 

Most places don't have a set closing time - when called to confirm hours, bartenders usually answered with a variation of "whenever people stop getting bombed," which is 4 a.m. (Ale's Mary's) at some places or 6 a.m. (Dionysus) at others, depending on their clientele.

Several bars will even offer complimentary champagne toasts, while others - like Brewer's Art, for example - will just be open their regular hours. B&O American Brasserie is staying open past 2 a.m. for an after party, but all tickets have been sold out.

New Year's Eve is the only day of the year when bars can stay open past 2 a.m.

Bars can do this thanks to a state law that applies only to the city. Stephan Fogleman, of the Baltimore city liquor board, explains the law's history here.

Bars closing at 2 a.m.: Pratt Street Alehouse, Mama's on the Half Shell, Funky Buddha's bar, Explorer's Lounge, the Dizz, Birds of a Feather (closing at midnight), Brewer's Art, Nacho Mama's, Charles Village Pub.

Baltimore bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve*:

Ale Mary's will close around 4 a.m. No cover. 1939 Fleet St. 

Bad Decisions will likely stay open until 5 a.m. free champagne at midnight. 1928 Fleet St. 

Butt's and Betty's Tavern: Reporter: when are you closing? Bartender: "We're not." 2200 Gough St. 

Cat's Eye Pub will stay open "until people start drinking water," said a bartender, probably around 3:30 a.m. 1730 Thames St.

Club Charles will close at 5 a.m.  No cover. 1724 N. Charles St.

Club Hippo is offering $10 cover all night long. Doors open at 10 p.m., close between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., though depends on the crowd. 1 W. Eager St. 

Dionysus is planning on staying open until 6 a.m. Again, no cover. 8 E. Preston St. 

Don't Know will close at 4 a.m. and re-open at 10 a.m. for bowl games. The bar has an all you can drink offer from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Shots are $3. 1453 Light St.

Down the Hatch is open all night. 1157 Haubert St.

Eden's Lounge will close at 6 a.m. 15 West Eager St. 

Elliott's Pour House kicks off its NYE at 8 p.m. and won't close until 10 a.m. Special: Unlimited drafts all night long with $30 champagne flute. 3728 Hudson St. 

The Get Down will open at 9 p.m. and close at 4 a.m. Cover for its party is $65. The bar will host DJ Joe Maz and an open bar from 9 p.m. - 1 a.m. 701 S. Bond St. 

Golden West Cafe hosts several bands, including the Matrimonials, for its party. Doors open at 9 p.m., close at 4 a.m. Cover is less than $5. 1105 W 36th St.

Grand Central will open at 9 p.m. and close at 4 a.m. Cover is $15 after 11 p.m.  1001 N Charles St.

The Horse You Came in On Saloon will stay open until 9 a.m. Tickets - $15 in advance, more at the door - include champagne and buffet. Loose Cannon Trio will perform. 1626 Thames St.

Joe Squared will stay open until 4 a.m. Its kitchen should close by 1 a.m. 133 West North Ave.

Kooper's Tavern will close at 2 or 3 a.m. 1702 Thames St. 

Leon's will likely close at 2 a.m., unless there's a crowd. 870 Park Ave. 

The Laughing Pint - Baltimore's no. 1 bar! - will stay open all night long, "as long as we can stand," said a bartender, which normally means 9 a.m. 3531 Gough St.

Looney's is surprisingly closing at 4 a.m., not later. 2900 ODonnell St. 

Mahaffey's will close at 3 a.m. Bartender Jamie promised free jello shots at midnight. 2706 Dillon St. 

Maisey's will play it by ear, said a bartender. 313 N. Charles St. 

Max's in Fells Point is open until 5 a.m. 735 S. Broadway.

Midtown Yacht Club has no idea when it will close; no earlier than 3 a.m., said a bartender. 

Mist: 92Q will host its official NYE party here. Doors open at 9 p.m., close at 5 a.m.Cover is $20. 124 Market Place.

Mt. Royal Tavern will stay open until 4 or 5 a.m., depending on the crowd. As always, there's no cover. 1204 W Mount Royal Ave.

No Idea will open at 10 a.m December 31 and close at 2 a.m. January 2, just like the the state legislature intended1649 S. Hanover St.

One Eyed Mike's is planning on closing at 7 a.m. 708 S. Bond St.

The Ottobar opens at 8 p.m. and will close at 4 a.m. Downstairs, there's no cover after 1 a.m. Taxlo's Cullen Stalin and Simon Phoenix will spin there from midnight until 4 a.m. Upstairs will host the Moustache party by DJ James Nasty. It stays open until 2 a.m., though it may stay open longer. There's no cover there all night long. 2549 N. Howard St. 

The Park Bench will stay open pat 2 a.m. depending on the crowd. See The Sun's review here. 1749 Belt St.  

Pazo will stay open past two depending on the level of business; in prior years it's closed around 3 a.m. 1425 Aliceanna St. 

Rams Head Live will be open until 3 a.m. J. Roddy Walston and the Business and Mickey Free will perform at its party. Tickets for the show are $20. 20 Market Place.

Red Maple will close at 6 a.m. 30 N. Charles St. 

The Rowan Tree, the gay friendly bar in South Baltimore, is open all night. 1633 South Charles St.

Tony's Diner will close at 4 a.m. DJ Booman will spin. Free admission. 8 Park Avenue. 

Turp's closing time depends on the crowd; "2-ish," said a bartender. 1317 N. Charles St. 

Vino Rosina will close at 2:30 a.m. 507 S. Exeter St. 

Note that this is a working list, and I'll be adding more names to it over the course of the week. Got other suggestions? Send 'em in.

(In addition, our FindLocal events database has a list of other New Year's Eve events.)  

*All bars are in Baltimore unless otherwise noted. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (23)
Categories: New Year's Eve 2010

December 25, 2010

The week, reviewed Christmas edition: Dec. 18 - Dec. 25

Ah, the holidaze are here. Merry Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza and, whatever it is that Wiccans celebrate, to all. Let's take a quick reindeer sparkulator ride through the last seven days of news. Maryland became the only state where a fake Willow Smith concert was sold. The Waterfront Hotel said it would switch management next year, but will keep its name. We found out Beach House plays for Team Coco. The MTA offered free public transportation on New Year's Eve until 2 a.m.; too bad many bars will stay open 'til 4 a.m. Wale flipped out on 92Q over D-list rapper Bossman's disses. I checked in with Midway Bar, the Block's only bar, to see how they were coping after the fire. Verdict? Just ok. 2640 will host not just Celebration, but Future Islands and Arbouretum next year. Flying Dog ended up not dumping Wild Goose, just selling it to the highest bidder, a small DC brewery that doesn't even have a website. Trombone Shorty spoke about David Simon and Lenny Kravitz. The Baltimore Bass Connection Xmas party was reviewed.  After 30 years in business, it was time to reappraise Rodos. Yep, still a frat house. The Virgin Mobile FreeFest topped the list of the best Baltimore live music shows of the year, despite M.I.A. Lessons were learned at the first DuClaw beer brunch. R&B singer Mario made his first appearance since his mother dropped criminal charges against him.  I looked for the best Wiz Khalifa tweets. Now, go back to ignoring your relatives and stuffing yourself with Christmas food. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Roundup

December 24, 2010

Wiz Khalifa brings his "Waken Baken" tour to Rams Head Live

Most stars would deal with a drug bust by apologizing, fleeing to rehab, or appearing before Oprah for some major PR repair.

Wiz Khalifa bragged about his. Again and again.

"When u get this high, sometimes tha veggies get low so be smart about finding refills," he tweeted earlier this month.

Later he followed up with, "Real g's smoke when they want," and, "waken...baken...smelled it in my sleep."

All of which suggests a couple of things. One, that someone should really compile Wiz' top ten best tweets. And, that one drug bust is not going to hurt his career, instead, it'll probably enhance it.  Notice that with his tweets, he's also plugging his Waken Baken Tour.

Soon after his arrest for pot possession in November, he sold out two shows at Rams Head Live, where he will perform Monday and Tuesday.

As I blogged earlier this month, Rams Head has no plans to schedule a third show. So if you weren't one of the lucky ones to grab tickets, maybe you should get started with that top ten.

Photo: publicity handout
Posted by Erik Maza at 12:53 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Review: Rodos is still Fells Point's frat house 30 years on

In September, when I asked readers their thoughts on the best bars in Baltimore, no establishment was more polarizing than Fells Point's Rodos.

Some called it "disgraceful" and "gross." One said it was only popular with "underage girls from Dundalk" and "unemployed Greek sailors."

Said another: "Rodos is a great place to either be groped, or have your significant other get in a brawl because the troglodytes won't stop groping their lady friend."

Still, many others sang its praises, with at least one person exclaiming, "Rodos for president."

The reaction is to be expected. Strong opinions are what you get when you've been in business for more than three decades.

On this, its 33rd anniversary, it's a good time to reappraise the old standby.

After all these years, Rodos is decidedly old-school. It's not just that it looks like it hasn't gotten more than a cursory renovation since Gerald Ford was in the White House. It doesn't even have a website (though, surprisingly, someone's made it a skeleton Facebook profile).

Even if you haven't heard of the bar's reputation for rowdiness, its exterior suggests it. There are two intimidating bouncers outside its entrance on South Broadway. Inside, security cameras are installed in several places, including two above the bar by the entrance, watching over bartenders who look like they were hired after a wet T-shirt contest.

The rest of the review is here.

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:34 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 23, 2010

Flying Dog sells Wild Goose brand to DC brewery

Flying Dog Ales has sold the Wild Goose brand for an undisclosed amount, the company announced today.

The buyer is the DC-based Logan Shaw Brewing Company.

Flying Dog, which inherited the popular 21-year-old Wild Goose brand in 2006 when it purchased its Frederick brewery, discontinued the line earlier this year as it made more room at the brewery for Flying Dog product.

Ben Savage, vice president of marketing, said in November there was no room at the brewery to produce both brands.

"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."

Savage said then the company was looking into ways of keeping the brand alive somehow, and would even consider reviving it if there was a demand.

But it won't have to. Today it convinced start-up brewery Logan Shaw Brewing Company to purchase the brand.

It's not clear how much Logan paid, but it couldn't have been much. The start-up doesn't even describe itself as a microbrewery, but as a "nano-brewery."

In October, it was still looking to find a home somewhere in the Logan Circle or Shaw neighborhoods in DC. It is now based in the suburbs of DC, according to the release. The company is owned by Jeff Harrison, the former owner DC liquor store Modern Liquors, and his partners Ed Anderson, Dan Forsyth, and Loren Leroy.

According to the press release Wild Goose will be paired with the company's flagship beers - In Session Pale Ale, the Appropriation Golden Ale, and the Bureaucrat Brown Ale - in mid 2011, though it is not clear when it will begin production or distribution.

The company expects to launch its own product in the next 18 months, according to the release.

"As a resident of the Chesapeake Bay Area, I jumped at the chance to buy the Wild Goose brand," said in the press release Loren Leroy, Logan's head of production. "It has always been one of my favorite beers, and it's exciting to have the opportunity to grow such an iconic craft beer brand."

Savage hasn't responded to follow-up questions, and Logan Shaw's website is inactive.
Posted by Erik Maza at 4:14 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Brewing News

Wale fires back at rapper Bossman in six-minute rant

Did you hear the one where Wale delivered a six-minute rant on a Baltimore radio station? It is a doozy. The rapper was in town for a show at Rams Head Live  - where he also collected food for charity - and called in for an interview on 92Q. But off the air, he blew a gasket over a diss track called "Nail in the Coffin" by Baltimore rapper Bossman. After pulling an "I don't even know who this guy is" move, he rebutted the local rapper's track with an obscenity-laced verbal clock-cleaning that left the hosts speechless. "I'm trying to do this s*** for the people," he said. "All this bull**** dragged out right now is counterproductive. It's some middle-school s***." Oh, snap. Thankfully, a local blogger posted the whole (warning: NSFW) exchange. (via)

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:26 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music

Today's Groupon? The Ottobar

ottobargroup.JPGWant $15 for $30 worth of beer? Here's Groupon's pitch for some local bar called The Ottobar:

"Seeing live music can be a transcendent mind-body experience, akin to getting a tattoo underwater, or making out during an eclipse. Transcend boredom with today's Groupon."

NB to Groupon's copywriters: those two things aren't transcendent. They're just wet.

Still, a pretty good deal. So far, 162 people have bought it. The coupon is only good for one person and for one bill. It expires in a year.

And, with MillerLite offering free bus service on New Year's Eve, you can actually get to the bar for free.

Too bad the Ottobar will be open 'til 4 a.m. that day.  Oops MTA.

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:29 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Ice Cube to play Baltimore in March

Looking at Bourbon Street's schedule for next year, there's this bit of news: Ice Cube will play there next year.

Ice Cube's show is scheduled for March 7. Tickets, sold at $25, are already on sale at Ticketmaster.

The founding member of N.W.A. is taking a break from doing kiddie road movies and generally being rap's answer to Steve Martin. He released a new album in September and is coming off a co-headlining tour with Snoop Dogg. He last performed in the area in July, at Jiffy Lube Live, with Limp Bizkit.  

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:08 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

2640 Space to host a night with Celebration, Future Islands and Arbouretum

2640 will host a powder keg of a show on March 5.

Not only will Celebration perform, so will Future Islands and Arbouretum

The show will be the official release party of Celebration's new album, "Hello Paradise," which Friends Records will release on vinyl in January.

The space is located at the old church on 2640 St. Paul.  Doors open at 8 p.m.

 Tickets are already on sale at Red Emma's will also start selling them January 3.

Seven of the tracks on "Hello Paradise" are available as free downloads on the band's website.  Song "Battles" premiered on WICV just last month.

Photo: via Bmore Musically Informed
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:25 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Checking in with Midway, the Block's only bar, after the fire

midway2.jpegThe Sunday after a devastating fire consumed The Block, I went to grab a couple of two dollar Bohs at Midway Bar to see how the city’s beleaguered red-light district was coping.

It had just been two days since the area was re-opened to the public, and signs of the fire were everywhere. The street was still blocked, and police tape cordoned off the Gayety Show World bookstore, which stood gutted.

But there were also signs that the area’s bars and clubs were slowly getting back on their feet.

As I walked down the street, guys in overcoats peddled free tickets to various strip shows as shamelessly as they had before.

“No cover here tonight,” one of them yelled. “C’mon, naked women!” As I quickly passed him, he re-focused his pitch: "Naked men?"

For years, Midway has been the only place on the Block that’s a bar and nothing else.

Yet, even if there aren’t strippers dancing inside, the bar is unmistakably of its surroundings. The walls are decorated with decades-old, hand-painted portraits of burlesque dancers from The Block’s glory days. They didn’t so much look like the glamour shots of dancers as those of Depression-era MGM starlets.

And strippers still make up a bulk of the its clientele, popping inside between shifts to buy soda and Utz potato chips and to make a phone call away from the all the clubs’ ruckus.

Vicky Brandt, who’s worked as a bartender here for 28 years, told me she was on her way to work the day of the fire when her manager called her not to come in. Apparently, the smoke inside Midway was so thick he couldn't even see the cash register in front of him.

Brandt has big, poufy hair, its red only slightly faded by the years, and what Dan Rodricks would call an unmistakably South Baltimore face. She was born and grew up there way before it became Federal Hill.

A former waitress, she's chatty, and though I was only there at midnight, she seemed like she'd be just as quippy at 3 a.m. 

She told me she'd only been offered to work as a stripper once, but that she preferred to work behind the counter. "This job is better. It's not like I'm on stage all day," she said.

When I was there, she told me business was dead. Since then, it's slowly come back to life, especially after the police barricade was taken down and people realized the Block was finally open to the public.  “More and more people are coming in,” she told me earlier this week. “I don’t know if it’s because of the holidays.”

It's still not back to pre-fire days, though. “There are a lot of people who lost jobs in the fire that don't haven't found new ones yet," she said.

Still, she's bullish on recovery, if only because she has to be. “I hope it picks up,” she said. “It's my income.”

Photo: Midway decorates for the Holidays (Maza)

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:56 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Review: Spank Rock, Death Set, Devlin & Darko -- the 2010 Baltimore Bass Connection Xmas Party

spank rock mc naeem juwanFrom Midnight Sun alum Sam Sessa:

There's a reason they call it the Baltimore Bass Connection.

Wednesday night at U Street Music Hall, the low end was loud enough to flatten the hairs on the back of your neck. (My ears are still ringing.) Indie rappers Spank Rock, deviant punks the Death Set and Baltimore Club DJs Devlin and Darko had the underground club banging for several hours straight.

The Baltimore Bass Connection's Xmas Celebration, which comes to Sonar tonight, has become a yuletide tradition in these parts. Spank Rock's Naeem Juwan (pictured), a Baltimore native and the event's enigmatic ringleader, has turned the Sonar show into one of the year's most anticipated throwdowns. Hundreds of 20-somethings squeezed into the U Street Music Hall for the DC show --  a sneak preview of what's in store for tonight -- organized by Brightest Young Things the BBC.

While the Death Set and Spank Rock both brought the house down, some questionable lineup choices sapped the night's momentum.

There was absolutely no reason why Death Set should have gone on around 11 p.m. -- before Ninjasonik and Spank Rock. Death Set's vicious, screwy songs are like two-minute lightening storms, and in response, the audience even started moshing (as much as hipsters can mosh, that is).

Death Set, a trio from Australia that's now Brooklyn-based, played over backing tracks of themselves, which seemed oddly un-punk. No matter; their set whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Then we had to wait another two and a half hours for Spank Rock.

Granted, Ninjasonik put on a solid set ("Somebody Gonna Get Pregnant" was as hilarious and bumping as ever), and DJs Devlin and Darko didn't disappoint, but the show lost some steam in the hours before Spank Rock's set. On a side note, Juwan, who was supposed to be hosting the gig with Emily Rabbit, was absent most of the night.

Spank Rock took the stage after 1:30 a.m. and delivered a red-hot set of cuts from their head-turning debut as well as a few newer tracks. Juwan, the MC, knows how to work a crowd, and DJs Devlin and Darko kept the beats coming. So far, none of Spank Rock's newer material can top the first album.

"Rick Rubin" was a stomper, and "Backyard Betty" was raunchy in all the right ways, though at times, Juwan's vocals were drowned out by the suffocating bass. Juwan even brought out Midnight Sun favorite Rye Rye for a tune, and pulled up enough girls from the crowd to get lost on stage. Any ill feelings about the lineup were instantly forgotten.

All apologies, Santa, but that's a Christmas celebration I can get behind.

(Cell phone photo by Sam Sessa)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:55 AM | | Comments (23)
Categories: Concert reviews, Local music

December 22, 2010

Second incident at New Haven Lounge

More bad luck for the New Haven Lounge.

After City Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr. was killed there in a robbery in 2008, the popular jazz club has been linked to another criminal incident.

Ellison McCall Jr., a part-time bartender there, may have been killed in a Saturday morning fire by some men he ejected from the club the night before.

Little is known about the incident, but a friend of McCall described the situation to The Sun and police sources said it was consistent with an investigation into the man's killing. 

It's an unfortunate death for McCall's family. And also a shame for what's widely described as one of the city's best jazz bars, which keeps getting unintentionally linked to neighborhood crime.

Owner Keith Covington was most recently in the news after he testified at the trial of Councilman Harris' killers. 

Crime reporter Justin Fenton couldn't reach Covington for comment on the bartender's death, and I haven't any luck either. It's possible he wants the club to avoid being associated with another death.

It's unclear if the club will schedule a vigil for the bartender, but will keep you posted.

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

Waterfront Hotel to switch management, sources say

The Waterfront Hotel will switch management next year, two people with knowledge of the situation said. 

It's not clear right now who the managers will be, but here's what I've found out so far. 

After a reader wrote this morning the tavern might close, I called them up.

An employee who declined to be named said that's not the case. But that new management would take it over in January. 

A representative for Red Star Land Holdings, LLC - whose owners are involved with Waterfront, according to property records - confirmed that new management would take over the bar at the end of January.

The reason is that the current lease, held by Benjamin Greene, is up.

Red Star's owners would not be involved after that, the person said. "It will be run by entirely new management," the person said. 

The representative is not authorized to speak on the record on the company's business.

No one else at Red Star could be reached for comment. Benjamin Greene could also not be reached for clarification on what happened to his lease.

I'll update this post as soon as I  hear from them. 

The bar will close in January, but it will only be on January 3 and 4 for a previously scheduled cleaning. 

The person at Red Star also confirmed that the bar will keep its name after January.

"It would be a shame if it didn't because it's one of the popular bars in Fells Point," the bar's employee commented.  

Waterfront is most well known for its appearances in the TV show "Homicide." It was 29 on our list of the best Baltimore bars

Photo: Waterfront Hotel (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun) 
Posted by Erik Maza at 1:23 PM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Trombone Shorty on Lenny Kravitz, David Simon, and being the lone horn player at the Virgin Mobile FreeFest

trombone.jpgBefore the year got under way, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews was a New Orleans music star on the rise.

The 24-year-old trombone and trumpet player had toured with Lenny Kravitz and was the youngest person ever featured on the poster of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

But by year's end, he had guest-starred on David Simon's HBO show "Treme," garnered a Grammy nomination for his new album, and performed at the Virgin Mobile FreeFest.

The rapid success was unexpected — not because he was young, but because he's a horn player. At a time when traditional jazz has fallen out of favor with young listeners, he was the lone trumpeter who commanded his own stage at the rock- and dance-heavy Virgin FreeFest.

"I didn't see 2010 coming. I just had shows in mind, just getting better and touring," he said. "It's just been a blessing."

Though he's been touring for years, the level of attention he received this year has resulted in booking some 200 performances at clubs bigger than he's ever played before.

On December 30, he'll perform at Rams Head Live, where the local band The Bridge will open for him.

New Orleans is full of musicians, and Andrews grew up in one of its better-known musical families. His grandfather, Jessie Hill, scored a popular hit in the 1960s with the song "Ooh Poo Pah Doo," and an uncle, Prince La La, wrote the classic "She Put the Hurt on Me."

The full preview of Andrews' show is here.

Photo: Handout
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:45 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Live!

December 21, 2010

R&B singer Mario makes first appearance tonight since criminal charges against him were dropped

R&B singer Mario has been keeping a low profile since his mother dropped criminal charges against him in November.

But tonight he'll make his re-appearance here in Baltimore.

What pulled him out? His own foundation. The Do Right Foundation the singer created in 2007 to help the children of drug addicts will host a fundraiser tonight.

The singer will even perform at the event.

The fundraiser begins at the Legg Mason Tower at 7 p.m. Tickets are $75, and will be donated to the charity. 

The singer began the foundation in honor of his mother, Shawntia Hardaway, who has battled heroin addiction in the past. 

In October Hardaway accused him of assaulting her, but later recanted her story, admitting before a Baltimore district court she was intoxicated at the time she made the accusations.

William "Billy" Murphy Jr., Mario's attorney, blamed the criminal charges on his mother's addiction.

"It was clear from the beginning that Mario never touched or struck his mother," he said then. "She was under the influence of drugs when she gave her statement to police. To her credit, she corrected her statement in court today."

Murphy also said the singer remained committed to helping Hardaway battle her drug problem. 

It's not clear if she will be at tonight's event, or if she's gone back to rehab. Representatives for Do Right did not respond to requests for comment. 

Proceeds from tonight's fundraiser will go to the foundation's initiatives at Westport Academy in Baltimore, according to the event's poster.

Photo: Mario Do Right Foundation
Posted by Erik Maza at 3:25 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: News

Beach House perform on Conan O'Brien

Beach House, occasional makers of holiday music, went back to their regular bag last night. The duo performed "10 Mile Stereo," incidentally one of my favorite tracks from last year, on Conan O'Brien's show on TBS. Conan noted "Teen Dream" has been landing on a bunch of year-end best-of lists. Meanwhile, on music connoisseur's George Lopez's show? Xzibit. TBS: very funny. Video of Beach House's performance after the jump: (via)
Beach House on "Conan:"

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

MillerCoors pays for all MTA services New Year's Eve; Circulator offers extended hours

Drink that eggnog with abandon.

The Maryland Transit Administration* will offer free services on New Year's Eve thanks to beer conglomerate MillerCoors.

The MTA and Miller partnered to provide free bus, metro subway and light rail service on New Year's Eve throughout the Baltimore region - the first time residents have had free public transportation over the holiday.

The free services begin at 8 p.m. December 31 and will last until 2 a.m January 1. 

Kim Marotta, an executive at Miller Coors, said the freebie is to help Baltimore residents plan for safe rides home from New Year's celebrations. They're calling the program Miller Lite Rides, a name they've actually trademarked. 

Miller has offered the free rides for 23 years across the country on different holidays, but this is the first time it's been offered in Baltimore.

A spokeswoman for the company said it began talks with the MTA in mid-July to offer the free rides here. The company hopes to offer more of them in the future during different holidays, as it already does in other cities.

Still, that means there'll be a surplus of free public transportation on New Year's Eve.

The Charm City Circulator will work until 1 a.m. that day, and until midnight on New Year's Day.

For a schedule of the Miller Lite rides, call 1-800-free-rides, text RIDEMTA to 30364, or visit or

For a list of New Year's Eve parties and bars that are staying open late, see The Sun's FindLocal NYE guide

*Corrected from Maryland Transportation Authority

Photo: Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:51 AM | | Comments (21)
Categories: New Year's Eve 2010

Is a beer brunch worth it? Lessons from the DuClaw beer brunch

DuClaw had its beer brunch Sunday. I was there.

It becomes just the latest craft brewer to offer one of these things. During Baltimore Beer Week, there were a whopping 49 beer breakfasts, brunches, lunches or dinners. 

Are they worth it? What's the point? What I've learned so far is that brewers see many more uses for these events than just a bargain meal for their customers.

The brunch was held at Arundel Mills at 9 a.m., a time so early mall power walkers hadn't even made an appearance yet. A few new ones would appear with each passing meal.

Still, the company's storefront was filled. 

Most beer meals consist of several courses paired with the brewer's beers. DuClaw's included six brunch courses. 

Sweet potato pancakes were served with the Sawtooth Belgian white, which, as DuClaw president Dave Benfield, explained, was made with bitter orange peels and coriander. Later, a bloody beer-marinated steak was served with Devil's Milk barleywine.(Full menu below)

Benfield and brewmaster Jim Wagner explained the menu was designed by playing with the ingredients in the beer and those in the breakfast food. The idea of this thing is that one should bring out the flavors in the other.

For instance, the 31 Munich Dunkel was spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg to accentuate the pumpkin waffles it was paired with.

On the other hand, the steak had been marinated with barleywine for a day and a half to highlight that beer's flavor. 

When the pairing is good, though, it works both ways. The steak was very popular with the crowd, as was the Devil's Milk (I can't disagree, though I'm biased as a fan of barleywines.*)

So the brunch made clear a couple of things.

For the people there, it was, more than likely, just a good deal. Forty five dollars for a six course meal and unlimited beer? A bargain.

But, as I'm reporting a story on food-beer pairings, I'm learning that the brewers see a lot of potential for craft beer in these events.

For one, it shows off their product. And, more importantly, by serving beer in different settings - brunch, dinner - they are are also highlighting the variety in styles and uses of craft beer.

This is important for them because even though there's a lot of craft beer culture today, it's still not held in the same esteem as wine at nice restaurants. At most places, you might have several varieties of Pinot Blancs and Syrah wines, but just your basic bottled beers.

But, for Wagner, if the brunch proved anything, it's that with so many styles, "beer is much more versatile than wine with food."

At the very least, the gambit is proving popular with the company's clients. This first brunch sold out. And, Benfield said if the second one does too, it might become a regular thing for them. 

DuClaw's full beer brunch menu: 

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

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

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

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:12 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 20, 2010

Fake Willow Smith show advertised in Maryland

willowsmith.jpegAn ad in Friday's paper had some great news for local fans of Willow Smith: her first show in the state.

But as if you couldn't tell from the picture to your right, the show is a fake. Label RocNation confirmed none of the members of the Smith family have any shows scheduled in Baltimore or anywhere in Maryland in the foreseeable future.

You're still invited to whip your hair in the comfort of your own home, though.

The ad in the Live section of the Sun was tellingly rudimentary: just eight lines in different fonts - including Comic Sans - on a five-by-five black background.

It didn't include the concert's location, or the day.

It said the show would be produced by the conveniently vague North American Concerts N.A.

Naturally, the ad did include the cost of tickets - $25 in advance or $50 on the day of the show. How reasonably affordable! 

Tickets could be purchased by e-mailing, which if anything, sounds like one of those great Baltimore hair salon names.

So far, e-mails to that address have gone unanswered When asked for more information, someone at that e-mail address wrote details would be announced soon.*

Smith's label, RocNation, confirmed the show is a hoax. She is scheduled perform in Europe next year, but has no plans to visit Maryland, said label spokeswoman Jana Fleishman.

The ad likely appeared looking to cash in on an official announcement earlier this month that Smith would tour with Justin Bieber.  

Smith, the ten-year-old daughter of "Wild Wild West" star Will Smith, began a music career this year with the release of the massively popular single "Whip my Hair."

Take this bit of news in stride Willow. A scam concert is the scuzziest sign you've truly arrived.

Update*: Just got a response from "Details Coming Soon. How many tickets would you like?"

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:38 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Music News

The top ten Baltimore concerts of 2010: Usher, Drake, Erykah Badu, Virgin FreeFest

Beware: it's best-of week here at Midnight Sun headquarters (I like to think of the Sun building as Midnight Sun headquarters, with a a newspaper under it).

There'll be a top ten of the best tracks of 2010 and one of the best albums. Today, it's the best live music shows of the year.

Sure, a bunch of headliners passed through town in 2010 - Usher, Snoop Dog, Smashing Pumpkins.

But in the end, the best concerts of the year were those that packed a bunch of them under a tent.

Summer Spirit Festival gave us Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu, Whartscape had Nadastrom and the Get 'Em Mamis. And at Virgin Mobile FreeFest, you could have shuttled between M.I.A. and LCD Soundsystem. (For my money, the best tent was at the dance forest, where Neon Indian, Chromeo and Sleigh Bells performed so furiously they made it feel more like a dust bowl.)

This year's top ten goes back as early as January and as late as last week. It features some surprises  - see Sam Sessa's choice for No. 9. - but covers all genres - there's country! and hip hop! - and local acts.

Don't see your favorite show from last year? (Lower Dens at the Ottobar in October? Justin Bieber at the State Fair?) Post it in the comments, and I'll post the list's top ten snubs according to readers later this week.

The top ten list is here

Photo: LCD Soundsystem at Virgin Mobile FreeFest (Josh Sisk/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:47 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Music News

December 17, 2010

Power Plant Live getting a permament outdoor stage; Rams Head will book shows

Cordish Cos. announced today an $11 million upgrade of Power Plant Live that includes the construction of a permanently covered outdoor stage.

Rams Head Live, which had booked summer concerts at the complex's outdoor plaza in the past, just confirmed to Midnight Sun it will continue to book them.

"Overall, our feeling is that anything that expands the Power Plant Live facilities adds to what we're doing," said Erin McNaboe, Rams Head Group vice president. 

Christ Furst, spokesman for Power Plant, said the new stage, which will be covered by a 50-foot-high glass canopy, will enable Rams to offer shows year-round.

"It will drastically improve the concert experience," he said. "It will be more climate-friendly."

The stage will also allow the venue to book bigger acts than it has before for outdoor shows, he said. 

He said the venue has already booked national acts for three straight weeks next year, from Preakness through Memorial Day.

He declined to say who those acts are, but this means construction might be finished as early as May. 

Furst added the concerts will continue to be free. 

The expansion, the complex's first since it opened in 1999, will also include the addition of some new bars, like the country-themed PBR Baltimore.

The Baltimore Comedy Factory may also move there from Burke's Restaurant downtown, though no one at Cordish or the Factory would confirm a deal.  

Photo: Handout photo / December 17, 2010

Posted by Erik Maza at 6:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: News

Jersey Shore's Pauly D to appear at Polar Bear Plunge event

photo%201.JPGBecause nothing says bear plunge like smudged spray-on tan. 

Pauly D, one of the guidos in "Jersey Shore," will appear at the Polar Bear Plunge on January 29 as a DJ.

According to the press release from organizers, he will "do two (2) DJ sets - one pre-Plunge and one post-Plunge - inside the Rams Head Ice Lodge," a heated entertainment tent that's set up for the event.

Sadly, the release notes, he will not "do the Plunge himself," as that would totally mess up his hair.

For $500 a pop, he will also be available for meet and greets.

Money raised from that and the plunge will go towards Maryland Special Olympics, which has been organizing the event for 15 years as a fundraiser. 

The plunge will take place at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis. Registration is open at

Photo: Maryland Special Olympics
Posted by Erik Maza at 4:40 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: News

New track from Arbouretum's upcoming album

Bmore Musically Informed just posted a new track from Arbouretum's upcoming album. "Destroying to Save" will be the third track from "The Gathering," the album the band will release in February via Thrill Jockey. The album's inspiration? Carl Jung. How dreamy.
Posted by Erik Maza at 1:21 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Philadelphia bar/restaurant may take over DuClaw's Fells Point location

DuClaw's shuttered Fells Point location may soon have a new tenant.

Ladder 15, a Philadelphia bar/restaurant, is in negotiations to open its first Baltimore location.

John Durkin, a Mad River Bar & Grille owner and a part owner of Ladder 15, said nothing is set in writing, but that they're near a deal.

DuClaw closed its bar and restaurant on the corner of Thames and Bonds streets in December after five years on the spot.

President Dave Benfield told Midnight Sun then business had been slow.

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

Disagreements with the building's landlord and the smoking ban also added to the company's frustrations with the location.

But Durkin and his partners think they might strike gold where DuClaw didn't. Durkin, who describes Ladder 15 as "a gastro pub with an industrial chic design," said there aren't any many other places like it here.

"We looked [at candidates for a new Ladder 15 location] and saw that in the Baltimore and DC area there was a need for it," he said.

Originally, they were looking at Harbor East, but they were made aware of the Fells Point opening and have been pursuing it for the past three months. 

Durkin, who's also an owner at Mad River Bar, said the two concepts are different. Ladder 15 calls itself "upscale yet unpretentious" on its Philadelphia website. It serves New American cuisine and offers nine wines in the $7-$11 price range. 

Its Philadelphia location has 12 draft beers. Durkin said the Fells Point location would be similar to Philly's but with a Baltimore twist, such as serving several local craft beers.

Durkin said they haven't sealed the deal yet to lease the location, but that "it's close."

Already, though, the Ladder 15 owners have filed a liquor license application with the board of liquor license commissioners for Baltimore City.

(They didn't have to buy it from DuClaw because the beer company had surrendered it to the board last year, Benfield told me.)

Readers - could Ladder 15 succeed where DuClaw didn't?

Photo: DuClaw's Fells Point location (Sam Sessa)

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:59 PM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Rye Rye returns to Baltimore after solo, M.I.A. tours

It's likely that when Rye Rye performed in Miami earlier this month no one in the crowd knew who she was.

It's been a while, after all, since she disappeared to have a kid. 

It's even possible that, with her spandex onesie and lopsided blonde wig, the crowd took her for a hometown girl.

So halfway through the set, she took the time to remind the crowd who she was:  ""I go by the name Rye Rye," she said." R-y-e R-y-e."

The rapper's been touring since the beginning of the year - first with M.I.A. and later on her own - to do more of that: re-introducing herself to audiences who might have forgotten her as she prepares to release her first, long-delayed album "Go! Pop! Bang!" in February.

Yes, I was in South Florida earlier this month at the blotto art fair known as Art Basel and saw the rapper do a high-energy show that likely previewed her show at Bourbon Street Saturday.

For the haters, there must be more local fans of her than just me: the gig is sold out. 

My full preview of the Bourbon Street show, along with details of her set in Miami, is here

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:50 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Local music

December 16, 2010

Beach House get into the Christmas music racket

Haven't had enough Christmas music? Maybe you're a glutton for punishment. Well, here's a new one, from Beach House of all people. It's called, "I do not care for the winter sun," and, despite some jingle bells, it sounds exactly as ethereal as you would expect Beach House's interpretation of Christmas to sound like. They're calling it a "winter/holiday" song that's a gift to their fans. The track is posted as a free download on their tumblr. (via)

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:55 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

Going to see Wale next week? Bring canned vegetables, baked goods

Wale and Rams Head Live are partnering on a holiday food drive next week.

When he performs December 22, the rapper wants ticket holders to bring canned vegetables and boxed baked goods with them.

The food will be donated to the Maryland Food Bank the day after. 

According to the press release, Wale's been in the spirit to give back lately. In November, he and Washington Wizards collected canned goods for a Thanksgiving food drive.

Rams Head Live's talent buyer Mark Mangold said the drive is a good combo of music and charity. "This time of the year people are in need, so if we can get together to hear some great music, then we can get together and collect some food for those who could really use it."

In related news, WKYS reported earlier this week Wale could leave his current label Interscope. But, like their list of the top ten black cartoons of all time, take it with a grain of salt.

While their headline suggests he may sign with Rick Ross, their source in the rapper's camp suggests Wale is only looking to collaborate with the producer.

Photo: Wale's official website

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:28 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music

Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg sued for enabling drunk driving

The family of a 10-year-old girl who was killed two years ago by a drunk driver sued Gaithersburg's Dogfish Head Alehouse Monday holding the bar responsible for the accident.

The plantiff's attorney said the goal is not extract damages from Gaithersburg-based JMGM Group, which runs the bar. But instead to change Maryland law, which exempts bars from being held legally liable for serving drunk customers. 

The drunk driver who started all this is a Michael Eaton. Two years ago, he came to the Gaithersburg bar and over six hours accumulated a long bar tab that included 17 bottles of Corona, two "Lemon Drop" shots, and a shot of tequila, according to police records. (He purchased drinks for himself and others, according to police).

He sped out of the bar on his Range Rover and smashed into a Jeep, killing the 10-year-old girl in the back, Jazimen Warr.

He eventually plead guilty to vehicular manslaughter and is now serving an eight-year sentence. 

But on Monday, the Warr family filed a multi-million lawsuit in Montgomery County Circuit Court charging the company with enabling Eaton's heavy drinking.

The family's attorney, Andrew Bederman, told the Washington Post that in Maryland bars cannot be held responsible for the actions of their customers after they've left the bar.

But he hopes the lawsuit will create an avenue for the families of victims of drunk driving to  make such claims in the future. (via)

Post updated for clarification. Photo: Dogfish Head Ales.
Posted by Erik Maza at 9:33 AM | | Comments (30)
Categories: News

Update: Magooby's Joke House plans 81-hour standup marathon

Magooby's Joke House in Timonium plans to host a 55-hour stand-up marathon on January 18.

The comedy club wants to beat the Guinness world record for longest continuous stand-up show, which was 50 hours long.

Owner Andrew Unger said they're not doing the marathon to drum up publicity for the club, which  just opened in September. But for charity. Proceeds from tickets will be donated to Special Olympics Maryland.

Granted, though the publicity won't hurt. 

The marathon will start at Tuesday Monday at 2:30 p.m. with co-owner Marc Unger, and will continue through Thursday with other comics alternating sets.

In order to beat the record, they'll have to perform for 55 hours straight while keeping a minimum of ten spectators. That's almost two days of fart jokes. Yay!

Cost of admission hasn't yet been determined. The club's press release asks those interested in going to call Magooby's for more information: 410-252-2727.

Update: The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles beat Magooby's to the punch. Last week, the club hosted an 80-hour continuous stand-up marathon that shattered the Guinness record. Marc Unger said over e-mail they only found out about this today, as it happened last week. "We are now figuring out if it's possible to break that record as well," he wrote.

Update 2: Marc Unger just e-mailed to say they'll still try to beat the record by starting the marathon on Monday, which would allow them to beat the record by an hour.

Photo: Andrew Unger at the new Magooby's (Chris Lewis/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 15, 2010

Last Night's Photo: Carl Filipiak's electric thoughts

Above, Baltimore guitarist Carl Filipiak performing last year. This is the kind of photo I'd like to highlight more on the blog: local musicians at work, non-locals performing in Baltimore, neighborhood bars after dark. If you go to a concert, photograph the performers and add your pictures to the flickr pool. Same goes for your pictures of your favorite bar. Photo above is by flickr user photoskip. To see contributors' other pictures, go to (and join!) our flickr pool
Posted by Erik Maza at 4:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Alice Cooper, master of "crotch rock," inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Alice Cooper has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2011. Neil Diamond, Tom Waits, Dr. John and Darlene Love are the other inductees.

Cooper, who I interviewed in October when he performed at Merriweather Post Pavilion, released his first album with the band of the same name in 1969.

Still, he said, he's doing his best shows now.

"A lot of bands today get together, play, make an album, break up and form another band. There's no bands staying together," he said then. "My generation seems to have a different work ethic. I always thought, 'Do 25 albums.' I'm a lifer."

He said his success is due in part to his songwriting sensibilities -  "When I learned how to write lyrics, I was listening to Burt Bacharach, Paul Simon, Brian Wilson, Gershwin" - and his sense of frivolity.

He added, "A lot of hard rock today sounds joyless. Bands forget to have fun. Rock should be played from the crotch not the brain," a phrase that's now stitched on my fluffiest throw pillows. 

Kevin Eck, reviewing the MPP show in October, wrote of Cooper, [He's] both ring master and narrator. He gives you a story line that tied the songs together, complete with characters, costume changes and props."

Photo: Cooper in October at MPP (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:07 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Heavy Seas offering free brewery tours

Flying Dog Ales* hasn't yet decided if they'll re-start public tours. But here's something I found out about yesterday: Heavy Seas Beer does public tours every weekend.

The tours of the company's Halethorpe brewery are free and open to all ages, though samples are, obviously, only for those over 21. Usually, there are 50 spots open.

It's a shame, though, I only found out about this Tuesday because all four tours for this Saturday are full. And the brewery won't be doing them over the next couple of holiday weekends. 

The tours should start again January 8, the brewery says. To participate, keep an eye on Heavy Seas' website.

*In related news: I'll be going on a tour of Flying Dog's Frederick brewery later this month for an upcoming column. Will report back with notes soon.

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:32 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Brewing News

Will BWI offend Das Racist too?

Here's your shot of outrage for the week: A British Airport detained Das Racist for eight hours Monday over problems with their visa.

The New York mock-rap duo are not taking it lightly. On their website they posted their detention papers, and complained about the treatment they received at the hands of airport agents. 

"We were held in a room with books, prayer rug and compass, television and remote, and these horrible sandwiches," they wrote, appalled.

The visa problem?  Flying while Indian? Their bogus politics, as the two first suggested?

Nah, it was "because of some sticklerism on the part of UK Customs regarding paperwork," they wrote.

Word of advice to the next airport that receives them: lay off the full-body scans. That airport? Good ol' Baltimore-Washington International. The rappers are playing a show at Sonar on January 13.

News of the detention was all over the interblogs yesterday, but I've been in the process of scheduling an interview with them to preview the show, and so I asked their flack if the rappers had any messages for local TSA. Sadly, I haven't yet gotten a sassy answer back. 

Maybe they'll have something more to say at Sonar.

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:40 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

December 14, 2010

Video: new from Weekends, "Totem"

Local band Weekends will release their first LP, "Strange Cultures," next year. (It's already available as a digital download at Friends Records). The album was to have been released last summer, but will instead appear in vinyl in January. Only 500 copies are available. For the new song "Totem," Friends Records commissioned artist/singer Alice Cohen to create a stop-motion animation video. Below:

Weekends "Totem" from Friends Records on Vimeo.

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

No plans for a third Wiz Khalifa show at Rams Head Live

Just got Rams Head Live's schedule through January 14 and noticed both Wiz Khalifa shows are sold out. Rams Head says there are no plans to add a third. Originally, the venue scheduled one show for December 28, but that one sold out within a week of going on sale October 27. A second show was added for December 27, but that one sold out as well within a week of going on sale November 30. Guess fans will have to rely on eBay, Craigslist, or else if they want to get to the gig.

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Update on Midnight Sun Mix-off: announcing the Midnight Sun Mixer

The Midnight Sun Mix-off is this week! Or was, actually. Since blogging about the mix-off last month, I've been looking for volunteers to play for both the Skeptics of Bartending School, or BS team, and for the Believers of Bartending School team. 

But I haven't found enough of them.

After I wrote about Glen Burnie's bartending academy, some readers suggested these schools are a waste of money, and challenged the owner of the school to a contest, a mix-off really, to see who are the best bartenders. Brendan Dorr offered to participate! Jason Zink volunteered Don't Know tavern! It was very exciting. 

Originally, Mark Russell, the owner of the Bartending School Academy, was going to provide the players for the Believers team, but he got cold feet, or whatever this comment was. And while several people volunteered for the BS team, only one kind volunteer stepped up (cheers Danny!) for the other.

A three against one, UFC-style contest might have been fun, but not fair.  Ergo, change of plans!

I still think a mix-off is a great idea, if only to gather a lot of local talent under one roof, and to introduce myself to readers. So, instead of a mix-off we will have a Midnight Sun mixer in January. Sam Sessa used to do these often, and it's time to revive it.

We can all even take the circulator  sparkulator there. Mark the date: January 20, 7 p.m. at Don't Know Tavern.

Here's the Facebook event listing.

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:53 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bar stories

"Tron"? We, Golden Globes, love Cher more

Golden Globes, I spit on you. Shutting out "Tron: Legacy" but nominating claymation musical "Burlesque"? You might as well be the CableACE Awards. Anyway, here are the nominees for best original song: "Bound to You" from "Burlesque"; "Coming Home" from "Country Strong;" "I See the Light" from "Tangled;" "There's a Place for Us" from "Chronicles of Narnia: The Dawn Treader;" and "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" from "Burlesque." Here's to hoping Cher won't be re-animated to sing the last song at the show. In the score category, Daft Punk was passed over for Trent Reznor's score for "The Social Network." Meanwhile, a person with lots of time mashed up 270 of this year's movies for a six-minute YouTube video set to the music of Kanye West, Ratatat:

YouTube person saw 270 movies, put together this video:

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:07 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Music News

Catherine's Pub, the new Taps, listed for sale, renamed

Catherine's Pub, the new Taps, hasn't even opened yet, but it's already up for sale.

Has been for sale, actually, since November.

And it won't be called Catherine's Pub anymore, said property owner Chris Reda. Until someone buys it, it'll be known as Delia Foley's.

Judging from their actions, the new owners never intended to keep the two-story bar. 

The bar at 1439 South Charles Street was Taps until Reda and Ropewalk Tavern's Marc MacFaul bought it in August for $450,000.

Two weeks ago they started to renovate it with the intention to re-open in January as Catherine's Pub.

That's still the plan, Reda said. But the owners have always had an eye on selling the nearly 5,000-square-foot property.

They started listing it on Craigslist just three months after they bought it.

And for an additional $75,000. 

A reader noticed a post on Craigslist yesterday, but the Chris Reda Team had actually already listed it two other times, in November and early December.  

The renovations to the bar also suggest the new owners are keen on making the property more attractive to prospective buyers.  Reda has said these will be reserved to the exterior, plus some cosmetic changes to the inside.

The new price is $525,000, including the bar's liquor license. 

But Reda said they're "not actively" selling the bar. "We would sell if someone was interested," he said Monday when I spoke with him.

He also said they changed the bar's name from Catherine's Pub to Delia Foley's. 

The new place, being renovated in the picture on the right, is still scheduled to open in January, or perhaps by New Year's, Reda said.  Gary Morse is leasing the bar for the time being.


Photo: Taps under renovation (Alexander Mitchell IV)

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:53 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 13, 2010

Congress Financial looking to lease historic Marble Bar

The owners of the Congress Hotel are looking to lease the historic Marble Bar.

Congress Financial LLC., which just bought the hotel-turned-apartment building in September for $2.35 million, listed the bar Friday.

JBL Real estate, which is leasing the west side property, did not disclose how much it will charge to rent.

"We're looking for offers," said Henry Deford, a sales associate at JBL. 

In its heyday in the 70s and 80s, the Marble Bar was Baltimore's CBGB, hosting everyone from Iggy Pop to Thee Katatonix.

Before that, it was one of the city's great hotels when it was built in 1905. In 2001, it was converted to apartment units by an affiliate of developer Struever Bros., which spent $7.2 million to restore the building.

In February, the affiliate, Eccles & Rouse, defaulted on a $2.8 million loan, and the note was purchased by Congress Financial, a group of investors with roots in the area.

Congress Financial bought the property in September at auction

All 36 units in the building are currently leased as apartments. Deford said the new owners wanted to also revive the bar, which has been sitting vacant.

Deford said the cost to lease is negotiable. He did not want to disclose a minimum rental rate.

The bar, located on the basement of the Congress Hotel, is 6,000-square-feet, and comes with its namesake 70-foot marble bar.

The new manager would have to find a liquor license, buy it and apply to transfer it to the Marble Bar, as the bar hasn't had an active license in years, according to the Baltimore Liquor Board.  




Any physical changes to the bar would have to adhere to the standards of rehabilitation of historic properties, according to the Maryland Historical Trust. 

Deford didn't know if the new managers would have to sound-proof the bar, or if apartment tenants would have to approve the bar's new hours of operations.

The property is at 306 West Franklin Street. The listing is here.

Photo: Marble Bar's August 1980 calendar Accelerated Decrepitude; center photo courtesy of JBL Real Estate.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:13 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The better Christmas songs: Mariah Carey out, Kirsty MacColl in

Last week, even holiday album maker Aaron Neville complained about the sheer number of Christmas-themed songs. There are still too many of them, but The Awl today has a round up of the better ones. Mariah Carey does not make an appearance. "Fairytale in New York," naturally, does.
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff

Frisco Tap House opens in Columbia

Frisco Tap House is officially open in Columbia. 

The former Frisco Grille and Cantina, which has been working on a new, larger location for most of the year, had a soft opening last Wednesday.

Owner Adam Carton said the new space is three times as big as the Grille. "It's not nearly as cramped," he said.

The new location also has a brewery on site, a larger bar that will seat about 40 people, and a community-style table that sits 20. It will also have a lounge and more parking.

As far as beer goes, it has 50 taps - hence the name - including 10 dedicated to Belgians. 

Since Wednesday, all taps have been operational; Carton said its basic menu is also being served.

A couple of new features haven't come online yet. Its lounge area still needs cocktail tables, and the brewery won't be active for another six months. Carton said it's also going to be at least three weeks until the bar can start serving pizza. 

But, they decided to open their doors anyway because the soft opening  went "gangbusters." He added they'll eventually schedule an official grand opening party.

The new location is at 6695 Dobbin Road Columbia. After the jump, video of the new location:

Baltimore Beer Guy has video from a soft opening Tuesday night:
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:15 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Update: Hanukkah, Christmas beers face off at Max's

jewbelation.pngSo who would win in a battle between Hanukkah beers and Christmas beers?

What's a Hanukkah beer anyway?

The guys over at Max's Taphouse are extending the Jewish holiday through Tuesday night with a little contest to answer that very question.

Hanukkah will be represented by beers from the He'brew beer line of San Francisco-based Shmaltz Brewing.

And on the Christmas side? Not sure, though presumably Scaldis Noel will be part of the line-up.  (Update: below, the full line-up of Christmas beers)

The event is actually organized by Shmaltz, whose founder,  Jeremy Cowan, has just published a new book about the unlikely success of a kosher beer microbrewery from San Francisco.

Cowan founded the company 13 years ago, and in that time has launched six brands under the He'Brew line - Genesis Ale, Messiah Bold, Origin Pomegranate Strong Ale, Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A., Rejewvenator, and Jewbelation- as well as the non-kosher Coney Island Craft Lagers line.

Every year he has puts together the Hanukkah vs. Christmas contest, and this year it's part of his book tour for Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah (ha ha, get it? 13 years?).

Max's is one of two Maryland bars chosen to host the tongue-in-cheek event; Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia is the other. 

Representing the Hanukkah team this year are eight recipes of Shmaltz' Jewbelation. In the past, Scaldis Noel, Moylan's White Christmas and Telegraph Winter have "played" for the Christmas team.

The event starts at 6 p.m. Call Max's to reserve tickets in advance. In addition to the contest, Cowan will be signing copies of the book.

Fun fact: So what makes beer kosher? Well, certification by the Kosher Supervision of America for starters, duh. But actually, most beer is already kosher, as it is made from water, barley, yeast and hops.

Photo: Shmaltz Brewing  

Here's the eight beers that will be playing for the Christmas team:
Ridgeway Santa's Butt
Nogne O Winter
Corsendonk Christmas Ale
Mahr's Christmas Bock from Germany
Haandbryggeriet Bestefar
Thirez Biere de Noel
Jolly Pumpkin (Artisan Ales/Stone Brewing)
Ridgeway Reindeer Droppings
Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 11, 2010

The week, reviewed: Dec. 5 - Dec. 11

Let's take one long, slow ride on the Charm City Circulator to review the week's events. First, yes, it is possible to barhop on the thing. Though only if you're willing to have just one drink at a bar, something I wasn't able to do. Larry Flynt's Hustler Club, Club Pussycat and others closed its doors temporarily after a fire devastated The Block; miles away, the Gentleman's Gold Club also had a tiny fire, but still trashed Hustler Club's clientele.  Usher sweated a lot at his show at 1st Mariner; Trey Songz just disappointed. Bill's Lighthouse Inn didn't sell at auction, but the owner won't close the 30-year-old South Baltimore bar. I got fed up with holiday albums, so did holiday album maker Aaron Neville. Two dollar drafts at Grumpie's are on hold for a while; the new owners closed the bar for renovations. Rye Rye abruptly announced new tour dates, including a stop in Baltimore next weekend. Flying Dog Ales announced plans for a movie festival, but forgot there was already one that needed money.  Wye Oak released a new track, and announced tour dates with Lower Dens, who also performed a new song. Justin Bieber met John Waters, hilarity ensued. The Ottobar will revive its Underground party, not that you'd be able to take the circulator there. Maybe instead of a fourth route, the Department of Transportation should just add a route to a neighborhood where people might actually use it.

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Roundup

December 10, 2010

Update on the new Taps, Catherine's Pub

DSC_3042.JPGIt was just two weeks ago that renovations started at the new Taps, Catherine's Pub. How are things going?

A reader, Beer in Baltimore's Alexander Mitchell IV, sends in this picture at right.

Just like Chris Reda said, the new owners are sticking to exterior changes, and pretty big ones it seems. Let's see if the January opening ends up happening.

Catherine's will be an Irish Pub; Reda said hours of operations haven't been decided on yet, and neither has a bottled beer list.

(He and Marc McFaul bought the 4,000-square-foot property and the business for $450,000 in August, after Taps, which had been there for two years, closed.)

Posted by Erik Maza at 5:18 PM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The Charm City Circulator bar crawl

PX00239_9.JPGI barhopped on the Charm City Circulator. Nevin's Cross Street Station, The Hill, Peter's Pour House. I was supposed to have gone to two more bars, but by the time I left my third, the circulator was approaching its curfew.

So, yes, it is possible to barhop on it, you just have to limit yourself to one drink a bar if you want to actually make it to more than three in one night.

That was my original plan anyway. And it was in the crapper pretty much as soon as I stepped inside Nevin's, where I did a quick succession of Blue Moons, Irish car bombs, and Lithuanian liqueurs.

But I knew that was going to happen. For one, passengers and transportation activists had complained about the short hours in Monday's story about the circulator.

And two of my fellow passengers further underscored the complaint when we got off the bus at Cross Street Station. Their exchange: 

Lady 1: "All right, that was awesome."

Lady 2: "Maybe we take it back?"

Lady 1: "Yeah, maybe. If we can get wasted before 12 a.m."

So what else did I learn during my bar crawl? The Hill is about as authentic as a vintage armoire at Restoration Hardware. Go to Peter's Pour House to see suburban dad garage bands do R.E.M. covers.

And Nevin's is for lovers. At least lovers of karoeke, Irish car bombs, and barbacks who look like Grandmother Willow. (Read: me). 

The full dispatch is here. A stop-by-stop guide to barhopping on the purple and orange circulator follows:

The Orange Route guide was partly put to the test in January by a group of Baltimore residents who dubbed their sprawling crawl the "sparkulator."

Stop 218: Pratt & Eutaw Streets

Frank & Nic's West End Grille, 511 W. Pratt St.

Sliders Bar & Grill, 504 Washington Blvd.

Pickle's Pub. 520 Washington Blvd.

Stop 220: Pratt & Calvert streets

Tir Na Nog Bar & Grill, 201 E. Pratt St.

Stop 223: Harbor East Circle

James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant, 616 President St.

Taco Fiesta, 618 Exeter St.

Stop 225: Central Avenue & Bank Street

Mustang Alley's, 1300 Bank St.

Stop 201: Lombard & President Streets

Power Plant Live, 328 N. Charles St., including bars, Luckies, Mex, Mosaic, Rock Bar.


The Purple Route will get you from Pennsylvania Station to South Baltimore: 

Stop 305: Pleasant & Charles Streets

Mick O'Shea's, 328 N. Charles St.

Maisey's, 313 N. Charles St.

Stop 309: Biddle & Charles streets

Brewer's Art, 1106 N. Charles St.

Club Phoenix, 1 W. Biddle St.

Stop 310: Lyric/Pennsylvania Station

Turp's, 1317 N. Charles St.

Mt. Royal Tavern, 1204 W Mount Royal Ave.

Stop 323: Cross Street Market

Nevin's Cross Street Station, 31-33 E. Cross St.

The Hill, 1017 S. Charles St

Metropolitan, 902 S. Charles St.

Stop 303: Light Street

Water Street Tavern, 102 Water St

Peter's Pour House, 111 Mercer St.

Photo: Riding the circulator at night (above, right); South Baltimore's best barback, Linda Diehly (center). (Amy Davis/Baltimore)

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:16 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bar stories

Video: Lower Dens' "Batman"

Lower Dens have been touring non-stop all year. At CMJ Music Marathon they played 11 different shows. And just this week, it was announced the band would join Wye Oak on four tour dates next year.

Yours Truly has a new video of the band performing their new song, "Batman."

Yours Truly Presents: Lower Dens "Batman" from Yours Truly on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, their album, "Twin-Hand Movement,", has been popping up in several year-end "best of" lists. (via)

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:23 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

The Ottobar to revive Underground party

PX00018_9.JPGThe Ottobar will revive its Underground party next month.

The first one will be on January 8, and once a month after that. 

Underground started in 2001 as a monthly  britpop/indie/new wave/soul party. Ottobar owner Craig Boarman called it "the father of all [city] indie DJ nights/parties".

Hard to gauge how true that is, but the party did a City Paper Readers' Poll award in 2004. 

"We were doing 400-500 people every month for years," he said. "Even the most jaded hipster or coolest rocker came out and danced." At right, the party in 2005.

Boarman canceled the party in 2006 when crowds got smaller. "We were doing about 200 people and we felt the night was getting stale."

In the time since, the bar has tried different monthly parties -  "AUTOMAT!C" a few years ago, and a monthly "2-4-Tuesday" night downstairs, he said - but nothing took off. Only their retro music parties have been popular. 

Boarman figured there was a renewed demand for a party with an established name, and decided 2011 was the year to bring Underground back. 

"We're not delusional in thinking we'll be doing 400+ people each month and the energy level will be what it was back in 2001," he said. "We just want to throw a party for fans of these genres of music."

Boarman and Matt Walter will DJ. The party will be monthly, but he hasn't decided on a set day of the week for it. "The dates will vary as we'll book it around what dates touring bands need," he said. 

Underground will take place January 8 downstairs at The Ottobar. Cover is free before 10 p.m.; $6 afterward. 

Photo: Underground party in 2005, courtesy of The Ottobar

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Are there too many Christmas albums?

Every week, there's a new one in my mailbox. Annie Lennox's "A Christmas Cornucopia," "Christmas with the Rat Pack," "Christmas with the Chipmunks."

The last straw came with "Now that's what I call Christmas IV."   

Even Aaron Neville, who's made two holiday albums, says in today's Live! there are too many of them. He prefers to listen to Marvin Gaye during the holidays. 

The problem with the genre, if we can call it that, is that it rarely offers anything new.  The albums consist of songs that have been covered so much even Santa would blanch.

Mariah Carey's new one, "Merry Christmas II You," includes only four original songs besides the umpteenth versions of "O Holy Night" and "O Come All Ye Faithful."

Yet, they keep getting made, which means that people love them, or they just need stocking stuffers. Here's just hoping I won't get "Christmas with the Hasselhoffs" any time soon.

Update: Alternatively, NME has posted ten free Christmas song downloads, by people like Sufjan Stevens.   Not sure this is any better, but hey, it's free.

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:42 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Live!

December 9, 2010

Rye Rye announces new tour dates

Rye Rye just announced seven new tour dates, including a stop in Baltimore.

The local rapper just finished a tour with M.I.A. in October. And she's been touring on her own non-stop since. 

Last weekend, she played two shows in Miami during Art Basel. 

She's getting ready to release her album, "Go! Pop! Bang!" in February.

She'll play Bourbon Street next Saturday, December 18. 

Rye Rye, of course, was was one of the first artists signed to M.I.A.'s vanity shingle at Interscope, N.E.E.T.Records.

Tour dates after the jump: 

Rye Rye tour dates:

12/8 Los Angeles, CA House Of Blues Foundation Room
12/9 Salt Lake City, UT W Lounge
12/10 Las Vegas, NV Rain @ Palms Hotel
12/11 Atlanta, GA MJQ Concourse
12/13 Chicago, IL Debonair Social Club
12/15 Brooklyn, NY Public Assembly
12/18 Baltimore, MD Bourbon Street

Photo: Rye Rye at a 2008 performance (Josh Sisk)
Posted by Erik Maza at 4:35 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music

Last Night's Photo: Nighttime clutter at the Cat's Eye

The bar at Cat's Eye Pub in Fells Point. Photo by flickr user photoskip. To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join our flickr pool

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Andy Cook's new photography book chronicles past five years of Baltimore nightlife and music

andycook2.JPGAndy Cook has two new photography books out.

Cook is a Towson-born photographer who two years ago began a documentary series that profiled Americans who'd lost work during the recession. But, since before that, he'd also been chronicling local nightlife and music.

The new books, "Sound of Fire" and "In the Air," were released in October; I just got copies this week. The pictures in "Sound of Fire" are from the past five years, and feature Beach House, Dan Deacon, and Celebration, among others.

Both books were self-published through They can be purchased here.

After the jump, a preview:
Beach House and Sri Aurobindo (right) performing at the Baltimore Round Robin in 2008: andycookbeachhouse.JPG

The crowd at the Baltimore Round Robin at Sonar in 2008:


Wye Oak at Aural States Festival at Sonar in 2009: andycook3.JPG

Height with Friends performing in 2008:


All images courtesy of Andy Cook. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:44 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Local music

Review: Usher, Trey Songz at 1st Mariner Arena December 8

Sun reporter John-John Williams IV reviews Usher and Trey Songz, who performed Wednesday at 1st Mariner Arena.

* See pictures from the concert

One is on the short list of entertainers who could replace Michael Jackson as the king of pop.

The other has dominated airwaves with sexually charged lyrics boasting of his sexual prowess.

Both, Usher and Trey Songz, used their sexual appeal Wednesday night to wow a largely female audience at 1st Mariner Arena as each performed a slew of chart topping hits.

First up was Songz, who has made a living with sexed-up hits such as “Neighbors Know My Name” and “Invented Sex.” His lyrics were the biggest attraction here, but Songz also teased the audience with various stages of undress. (The adoring fans loved that..) He didn't embellish the performance much, he basically stood on the stage and sang, which was plenty. His voice was phenomenal, especially when he used his falsetto range.

Still, there was no real dancing per say, and Songz seemed incapable of doing anything other than putting on a striptease. The minute Usher took the stage after Songz's near-hour set, it became obvious that he was the more complete entertainer.

He emerged from the back of the audience on a rectangular piece of metal, soared above the awestruck crowd and descended onto his futuristic-looking stage. (Think "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome")(ed. Please say he looked like Tina Turner).

From there, a bungee-corded Usher performed a series of gravity-defying, "Matrix"-esque moves. At least,the visuals kept the focus off of a God-awful sound system that completely ravaged his first two songs, making them almost unrecognizable. The problem was corrected by the third song, "Yeah," which got the audience amped.

Usher and his phenomenal female dancers tore up the stage with precise steps, and unmatched energy. (They really earned their paychecks last night.) The dancers even did a little acting during his performance of the ballad "You Remind Me," where he portrayed a playboy with a wandering eye. The skit was a little corny and dated (insert Tiger Woods joke here), but played up Usher's showmanship.

The singer paid homage to pop music's ultimate showman-- his idol Michael Jackson -- during a minute-long tribute where Usher mimicked a number of Jackson's dance moves, including the crotch-grabbing pelvis thrust and the "Moonwalk."

Usher quickly returned to his own material with familiar ballads such as "You Make Me Wanna," "Mars vs. Venus," and "Nice and Slow." He started to build a romantic mood, and slowed down the tempo. For Usher that means that on the song "Trading Places," he picked out a fan from the audience, brought her on stage and began to simulate sexual acts on her.. (How proud her parents must have been.)

I guess it was an appropriate transition to his song "Lil' Freak," which was originally recorded as a duet with Nicki Minaj. Thoughts of the absent rapper were quickly eliminated by Usher's female dancers who were seductively crawling over the stage. The singer picked up the pace with "Hot Tottie," arguably his best number of the night. The choreography was particularly stellar, and the crowd really got into the song.

Usher then fired off a series of ballads including "There Goes My Baby," "Burn," "Bad Girl," "Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home), among others. To finish out the night, he performed the high-energy "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love." He pulled out all the stops with this performance.

His background dancers waved glow sticks against the black lights used on stage, which created a rave feel to go along with the dance hit. After a quick exit, Usher encored with mega hit "OMG." Dressed in a white sports jacket, black hat, tank-top, and jeans, he personified cool. He glided across the stage with a fluidity that only true performers posses, and he worked the heck out of the crowd - all while singing.

Many consider Usher the heir apparent to the king of pop. Last night, he made a pretty good case for why he should at least be considered for the distinction.

Usher playlist:
She Don't Know
U Remind Me
U Don't Have To Call
You Make Me Wanna
Mars vs. Venus
Nice and Slow
Love 'Em All
Trading Places
Love In This Club
Lil' Freak
Hot Tottie
There Goes My Baby
Bad Girl
Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)
Confessions, Part 2
My Boo
I Need a Girl (Part One)
Lovers & Friends Caught Up
DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love

John-John Williams the IV is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He has previously contributed to Midnight Sun. Erik Maza edited the post. 

Photo: Baltimore Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron. See more photos from the concert.

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:36 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Concert reviews

December 8, 2010

The last of Karma, at Brewer's Art tonight

Lovers!! It's Karma Ward's last night at the Brewer's Art. She's hanging up her church-key after 11 years, most of them in the downstairs bar. She will be missed. She's moving her cupcake business into a partnership with the Stone Mill Bakery people.

Okay, eleven years is not exactly forty, but Tio Pepe's Paco Lobo never wore a pair of denims like Karma Ward. Go wish her well with Le Tout Baltimore.
Posted by Richard Gorelick at 6:36 PM | | Comments (9)

DuClaw Brewing Company schedules second beer lunch

If you were one of the beer geeks who missed out on the first DuClaw beer lunch - and there were a bunch - you're in luck. The brewing company has scheduled a second for January 9, this time at its Bowie storefront. Tickets  go on sale December 15 on the company's online store. And, at $45, they're cheaper than for the Arundel Mills lunch, which will take place next Sunday. Again, there are only 50 seats available. The menu is after the jump:

The menu for the January lunch is the same as for the December lunch:

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


Posted by Erik Maza at 3:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Brewing News

Update: Bill's Lighthouse Inn doesn't sell at auction

Bill's Lighthouse Inn was auctioned today in South Baltimore.

But owner Adele Wedemeyer, who took over the bar when her husband William died, rejected the high bid of $475,000.

Wedemeyer had previously listed the property on Craigslist at $775,000.

Up for auction were the four buildings that comprise the property, the bar's liquor license, and the bar/restaurant's equipment and furniture.

About 20 people turned up for the auction, which took place today at 11 a.m., said auctioneer Nick Luciani, of Alex Cooper Auctioners. He said they hadn't settled on a new listing price yet.

But, "It's still available," he said. 

William Wedemeyer owned the bar for nearly 30 years before he died last year. Adele couldn't be reached for comment. 

Update: Just spoke with Adele Wedemeyer. She said the bar won't close any time soon. 

"It'll stay in business until I get a buyer down the road," she said. The bar will soon be re-listed for $625,000, though she said she would consider offers.

She said the highest bid at the auction wasn't enough for her.

"I didn't want to give it away because it is successful," she said.

Photo: Alex Cooper Real Estate Services 

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:06 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Update: Listen to new Wye Oak track

Wye Oak have been getting ready to release a new album, "Civilian," next year. Yesterday, they released a free download of the title track. It can be found here. The duo, which last performed at the Ottobar in November and at a Springfield Farm fundraiser in September, will also been tour with the Decemberists. Tour dates after the jump.

Update:  Merge Records just announced Wye Oak's full tour dates; they will be joined on four of them by Baltimore's Lower Dens.

The Decemberists and Wye Oak tour dates:

1/24 Beacon Theater New York

1/25 Beacon Theater New York

1/28-29 House of Blues Boston

1/31Olympia De Montreal Montreal

2/1 Sound Academy Toronto

2/2 Royal Oak Music Theater Royal Oak

2/4 Riviera Theatre Chicago

1/24 - 26 New York, NY Beacon Theatre *

1/28 - 29 Boston, MA House of Blues *

1/31 Montreal, QC Olympia de Montreal *

2/1 Toronto, ON The Sound Academy *

2/2 Royal Oak, MI Royal Oak Music Theatre *

2/4 Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre *


Wye Oak tour dates; Lower Dens performs at shows marked with #:

3/11 Washington, DC Black Cat #

3/12 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506 #

3/13 Atlanta, GA The Earl #

3/15 Norman, OK The Opolis #

3/21 Tucson, AZ Solar Culture

3/22 San Diego, CA Casbah %

3/24 Los Angeles, CA The Echo %

3/25 San Francisco, CA Bottom of the Hill %

3/27 Vancouver, BC Media Club %

3/29 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios %

3/31 Nampa, ID Flying M Coffee %

4/1 Salt Lake City, UT Kilby Court %

4/2 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge %

4/3 Omaha, NE Slowdown Jr %

4/4 Iowa City, IA The Mill %

4/5 St. Paul, MN Turf Club %

4/6 Appleton, WI Lawrence University %

4/15 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda's


Posted by Erik Maza at 10:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music

Grumpie's closed for renovations

Picture%201.pngForget those $2 drafts at Grumpie's Pour House for the time being.

The Federal Hill bar was closed for renovations last week.

Manager Sarah Clark said the bar's last night was Thanksgiving eve.

MaGerk's owners, who have managed the property for eight years, plan to expand the bar into the building next door. 

That building, which the managers bought last year, used to be the Federal Hill Lounge. 

Clark said the new owners "chose to wait" a whole year to pursue an expansion. It was approved in late September.

She said the plan is to break ground on the expansion next week. It should last three to four months, at least, she said.

It will include renovations to the interior, though, asked what those would look like, Clark was circumspect.

"it's going to be a surprise," she said. "It's not quite press-ready."

She also said it hadn't been determined yet if new draft lines would be added. "Everything is still in the air," she said.

Clark, who until now managed both MaGerk's and Grumpie's, said the re-opened Grumpie's would have a new manager as well.

"Grumpie's was a simple set-up," she said. "The new place will be a bigger business, so we're going to have a separate manager."

The property at 25 E Cross Street, which is nearly 1,000 square feet, is valued at $116,700, according to property records.

Photo: Grumpie's Pour House, via 600block

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

December 7, 2010

Trey Songz to appear at Sound Garden Wednesday

If you want face-to-face time with Trey Songz before he opens for Usher at 1st Mariner Arena Wednesday night, the singer will appear at Sound Garden at 3 p.m. He will be signing copies of his CDs. The record store has been giving out bracelets to fans who want to reserve a spot in the autograph line. Space is expected to be limited.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:02 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Music News

Flying Dog Ales plans film festival

flying%20dog.JPGFlying Dog Ales wants to launch its own film festival next year.

The company has been sponsoring movie screenings lately - the second one is Thursday - but hopes they will lead to a full-fledged festival next Fall. 

"We are doing these monthly screenings to build momentum and a fan base of local filmmakers, artists," said vice president of marketing Ben Savage.

The screenings and the festival would serve to promote the brand, and also, Savage noted, "local creativity."

The festival would focus on independent films, he said. 

"Mostly local work if there is enough, but I would like to have others be able to submit as well. It should serve as both an outlet for expression and inspiration - so non-local has value." 

I asked Savage if it wouldn't be wiser to direct the money towards money-starved existing festivals, like the comatose MicroCineFest, or even a retrospective series like Gunky's Basement, which depends on sponsoring from non-profits. 

He said that's under consideration too.

"We are looking into sponsoring existing and defunct film festivals as well. We have never done this before," he said. "Baltimore has a ton to offer with regard to art in its broadest sense. This would just be another effort on our part to make those things more accessible to people."

The screening Thursday is "Todd P goes to Austin," which follows promoter Todd Patrick on his way to a Texas music festival and features, according to the press release, "unforgettable live performances from Baltimore-rooted artists like Dan Deacon and The Death Set." It starts at 7 p.m. at the Landmark Theater in Inner Harbor.

The screening is the same night as Gunky's Basement, Deacon and Jimmy Joe Roche's retrospective movie series at the Charles Theater. It is $10; the Charles, which will screen "Repo Man," is $5. 

Flying Dog Ales has owned a brewery in Frederick since 2006; it recently discontinued the popular Wild Goose Beer. 

Photo: via Flying Dog Ales 
Posted by Erik Maza at 12:38 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Brewing News

A fourth Charm City Circulator route considered

A fourth Charm City Circulator is being considered by the Baltimore Department of Transportation.

After Monday's story on the circulator's potential for barhopping, some readers wondered what was in the cards for the bus. 

Jamie Kendrick, deputy director of the Transportation Department, said the green line, which was supposed to have launched this September, should come online next spring.

The green line would connect City Hall, Harbor East, Fells Point and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Kendrick also added that a fourth line connecting downtown to Locust Point - Fort McHenry is under consideration to be launched in 2012 to coincide with the bicentennial of the War of 1812. 

With a patriotic nod, it is being internally called "the red-white-and-blue line."

Kendrick said there are currently no plans to extend hours for any of the lines, though occasionally, they are extended for special events.

Photo: Jeff Wile getting off a circulator at the Inner Harbor (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:01 AM | | Comments (29)
Categories: News

December 6, 2010

Club Pussycat, Larry Flynt's Hustler Club closed tonight, to re-open Tuesday following fire on The Block

A massive fire on the city's hub of strip clubs has shut down business for the night on The Block.

At least two of the major clubs, Larry Flynt's Hustler Club and Club Pussycat, will be closed for the night.

The rest of the 18 or so strip joints in the neighborhood will likely remain closed as the Fire Department continued to fight a blaze that engulfed at least four buildings on the 400 block of East Baltimore Street. Several streets have also been closed

The Hustler Club, which is nearly in front of 404 E. Baltimore - where the fire is believed to have originated - even had smoke inside, said general manager Joe Stinelli.

He said the club will re-open tomorrow again. 

At Pussycat, there won't be cheap lap dances tonight or g-strings on display. But the eight dancers who were inside when the fire broke out were still waiting for their marching orders when I called this afternoon. 

"I'm still waiting for the Fire Department to call me back to find out what I'm doing with all these girls," said a man who works at the club but declined to give his name.

It will re-open tomorrow, he said.

Steve Yeager, a filmmaker who made "On the Block," a 1990 film set in the area*, said any damage is regrettable.

"I hate to see fire destroy even one of the buildings because there's only one block as it is," he said.  "If a building is destroyed, who knows if they'll be replaced."

Area clubs Norma Jean's, Two O'Clock Club, Club Chez Joey's, Flamingo Lounge, and Oasis Nightclub couldn't be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, strip clubs outside The Block watched the fire from their windows and TV sets with little interest, certain it wouldn't affect their business.

The Gentleman's Gold Club treats a "classy clientele," said Cara, the general manager who declined to give her last name, so The Block's customers aren't likely to flock there.

(Incidentally, they had their own small fire this afternoon. As downtown burned, the dumpster behind the club caught fire.  "It was just smoldering but it was still ablaze," Cara said this afternoon. "The firefighters' truck is still here.")

At Scores, business went on as usual, said general manager Sean Lewis. "I could see the fire from the lap dance area," he said. But he didn't expect a bump in foot traffic. 

"I think The Block has a different clientele than what we have," he said.

There will be a fire special tonight though: the hot wings they offer every Monday night.

(*"On the Block" is a feature film, not a documentary. This post has been corrected.)

Photo: Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:10 PM | | Comments (30)
Categories: News

Video: When Justin Bieber met John Waters

You know what Justin Bieber really wants? Not loads of teenage fans, or his own fragrance, which, by the way carries hints of Frankincense & candy corn. Justin Bieber wants facial hair. Like most boys his age, he's impressed with anyone who can grow it, even if that hair is waifer-thin and on John Waters' face. Visiting the "Graham Norton Show" last week, Bieber gushed to Waters, "Your 'stache is the jam," before tossing his bangs. And John Waters, being awesome, retorted by asking the teen to sign a bottle of Proactiv, of which Bieber is a spokesman. NB to a studio executive somewhere: that remake of "Cry-Baby" you wanted? You just found your new Johnny Depp. Video of Waters, Bieber, and Norton in their historic meeting, our generation's Yalta Conference, after the jump. The 'stache line clocks in at 3:08.

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff

Forget iTunes, this is the only way to listen to the Beatles

If you ever wanted to see a modern-day's Dionne Warwick's "Psychic Friends" lip-sync the Beatles's "Let it Be" - and have I ever - the Interwebs have your back. Actually, a Norwegian TV series that celebrates has-been stars has your back, but the Internet made it viral. Appearing in the video? George Wendt (TV's Norm from "Cheers"), Jason Alexander ("Seinfeld"), David Faustino ("Married with Children"), and the Goot himself, Steve Guttenberg. Video after the jump.


(via The Awl)

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:39 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff

Indies score over half of Grammy nominations for first time

More surprises from the Grammys. Arcade Fire wasn't the only indie band to snag a Grammy nomination last week. In fact, the Canadians' nomination for best album of the year was one of 273 indie artists and record labels received, the first time independent releases have taken up over 50 percent of the nominations. A2IM, a trade group that follows the independent music industry, perceptively pointed out the landmark last week. At least in this regard, the Grammys reflect an actual industry trend: the passing of the major record labels. Maybe this makes up for Janelle Monae, Big Boi and Sade being (mostly) ignored.
Posted by Erik Maza at 12:18 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

Barhopping on the Charm City Circulator: the official numbers

Does anyone use the circulator to barhop?

When I asked a couple of weeks ago, a few of you said it stopped working too early, and then others said some South Baltimore people already refer to the purple line as the “Brewer’s Art Shuttle.”

Take a look at my story this morning. The Baltimore Department of Transportation tells me there actually are a small fraction of circulator riders who use it after 6 p.m.

On Fridays and Saturdays, they are 26 percent of total ridership for the day. In the story, several riders talked about the circulator’s benefits (it’s free!) and their frustrations with the service (we can't get drunk by midnight!), and how sometimes, if you leave early enough, they can take it to hit 12 different bars in one night and call it the “sparkulator,” like some locals did back in January.

DOT officials like Jamie Kendrick and Barry Robinson also commented. And Nate Payer, director of the Transit Riders Action Council, spoke about the importance of expanding the circulator's hours because it would help the city's nightlife industry, especially in neighborhoods like South Baltimore.

The circulator would take out the need for more parking there, he said.

“It will get more business that you otherwise would because there’s only so much space that can be allocated for parking,” he said, in a quote that didn’t make it to print. “It is about the environment to a degree, but what it’s really about is increasing economic viability.”

The full story is here.

My column about my recent bar crawl using just the circulator (stops included Nevin's, and Peters pour house, among others) is in the paper this Friday.

The Department of Transportation’s breakdown of ridership is after the jump:

Data is provided by Baltimore Department of Transportation*: 


*As soon as I finished putting my grade school Excel skills to use, I quickly realized this chart should have been snazzier, like this. Will try for more pizzazz next time.

Photo: Parham Farahat uses the Circulator to get to Federal Hill's pubs. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:32 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bar stories

December 4, 2010

The week, reviewed: Nov. 28 - Dec. 4

Ozzy Osbourne played an awesome show at 1st Mariner Arena last week. But would it have been better if he'd drank Four Loko? Now, there's a frightening combination: Ozzy on Loko. Sadly, the devil swill was killed again before he got a hold of it. No one in Canton had a hard time getting a hold of the "Joe Flacco special" - two hot dogs and cheddar wrapped in puff pastry - on gameday. Ted Leo considered retirement last week, but instead decided to just scale back shows. South Baltimore's The Park Bench opened and was reviewed. But the new Frisco Grill hasn't yet opened and hasn't been reviewed. Though they do have a snazzy a 9-minute video tour. We wondered if it'd be possible to barhop on the Charm City Circulator. The Grammy nominated young and old: Chuck Brown and Justin Bieber, a slightly crazier combo than Ozzy and Four Loko. Hudson Street Stackhouse added 12 new draft lines, possibly beating Mahaffey's to be Canton's best beer bar. And Reverend Peyton commented on the wonders of the washboard, and the horribleness of T-Pain. In better news: Max's Taphouse kicked off the Holidays early with homemade Christmas lights. And MySpace did the same by posting a preview of the Daft Punk-scored "Tron" soundtrack.

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:23 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Roundup

December 3, 2010

Ted Leo on the Ottobar, retirement, and "Living with the Living"

When Ted Leo and the Pharmacists comes to Baltimore, the band usually performs at the Ottobar. They have performed there so often, some of the band members even know the bartenders by name.

"Its one of my favorite places in the country to play," said Leo, who knows his venues; the band does on average 200 gigs a year.

But on Tuesday, when the four-piece group swings by Baltimore, it won't be performing at the Charles Village hangout. Instead, they'll perform at the Gspot on the outskirts of Hampden. It's a fitting move for a band that lately, after a momentum-undermining album three years ago, has been in the mood to hit the reset button.
"It's one of those things," he said. "Maybe there's a change of scenery we could experience."

The band has been on an incredible streak since their start at the end of the 1990s,releasing album after album of spitfire punk. With singles like "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?" Leo and company managed to sound both defiant and exuberant.

But then the band released 2007's "Living with the Living," an album that was more political than usual, and that was more interested in making statements than delivering hooks. The song "Bomb. Repeat. Bomb." was as overbearing as it sounds, and others, like "The Unwanted Things," were too dense for their own good, often relying on too-long choruses.

Said drummer Chris Wilson: "'Living with the Living' was sprawling. It was a bit too much for some people."

For the rest of this story, which is in today's Live section, click here

Midnight Sun's original announcement of the Gspot gig is here.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:10 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Live!

Q&A and video: Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band on Warped Tour, T-Pain, and rural Indiana

Contributor Benjamin Opipari interviews the Reverend Peyton, of the American blues band Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, before his performance Saturday at the 8X10. Also: video of the band in action.

When we tell our friends how a band sounds, we usually resort to comparing it to another band. But what if the band in question truly sounds like no one else? Consider The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band.

The three-piece, which hails from rural Indiana, consists of The Rev on bottleneck slide guitar (the oldest of which was made in 1935), his wife Breezy on the washboard, and his cousin Aaron “Cuz” Persinger on drums and five gallon bucket.

They have no need for a bass, since The Rev’s picking style allows for him to play both parts on his guitar (as he once told the band Ha Ha Tonka, “Boys, we don’t need no bass player. My thumb plays the bass.”) They record live to analog tape. And their songs are mostly true stories - yes, he does know someone whose brother was on the show “Cops;" his brother did steal a chicken from the Fort Wayne Zoo, and his mama does make the best fried potatoes.

Fresh off a slot at Warped Tour and a show at Merriweather Post Pavilion, they are now touring in support of their new release "The Wages," which entered the Billboard Blues chart at No. 2.

Midnight Sun: Your songs all tell stories. How do you consider yourself a storyteller? There are lots of different kinds of songs. There are songs that tell stories, there are songs that share emotions, there are songs that are just dance songs. I want to be diverse. I might start singing about food and end up singing about what they are doing to the water. I want to sing about everything. Songs should be about life, and life is about a whole bunch of things. I want to tell stories about regular people.So when you write a song, you start with a story in mind. Absolutely. And I like plain-speakin' songs. Not songs where you wonder what they are about. People shouldn’t need a degree in critical literature to figure out a song.

MS: And how do write songs with a washboard in mind? When it comes down to it, even slow songs are dance music. And there’s nothing more danceable than a washboard. That instrument started with regular people who didn’t have the money to afford real instruments, and by accident they found one of the most rhythmic instruments on the planet.

MS: We talked about the importance of melody the last time we met. I’ve always been struck by how much you focus on the melody of the words, not just the music. Your words can stand as melody without music. Absolutely. I think that’s why we can play in the remote parts of Italy, where they don’t speak any English, and people love it. It’s like an opera. It doesn’t matter what she’s singing.


MS: Give me an example of a song that you’ve heard with the power of melody. Once I got a hold of a Cajun song with these little French girls singing down in Louisiana about 80 years ago. It was gorgeous—the melody was so lonesome and beautiful.  I thought, “Man, this has got to be one of the prettiest things I’ve ever heard.” So I did all this research, trying to figure out what they were saying. And I found out it was an old sea shanty, about a lost ship. The crew has to draw straws to determine which one of them they are going to have to eat so that everyone can survive! It’s the least beautiful story I have ever heard, with the most beautiful melody. I thought, man that’s the power of melody.

MS: That sums up why your music is so popular, the attention to the melody. It’s why you were such a hit with the kids on the Warped Tour. One of the things about that tour was that when I was that age, music meant so much to me. I so cherished all the times I got to see live music. I want to turn those kids onto something real from the heart.

MS: And on the day I saw you at Merriweather Post, you were on right before Mike Posner. You won over a lot of his fans. That’s the hope. I have never wanted to be a museum piece throwback. I want to make music for the here and now, even though my roots are deep. Whether our fans are 16 or 60, I want ours to be “now” music, and I want those teenagers to like us as long as they are alive. I don’t want to make music that sounds like a certain era. For instance, you can hear certain songs and know immediately that it sounds like the early 80s. Like that T-Pain vocal style, where they play with auto-tune, is gonna sound so dated in five years. Even if they are good songs, they are going to be ruined by the production. I want to stay away from production fads, and that’s why we record live to analog tape, to get as organic as possible.

MS: What do you like about your old guitars? An old guitar has magic in it. As old wood and old metal ages, the sound really comes through. The most important thing is the feel, because onstage when it’s run through giant PA systems you start to lose some of the sound. But those big fat necks on those old guitars—I just love the feel of them. I started out on old, cheap guitars with big necks and high strings. Now, it’s what I’m used to. They just feel right.

MS: A few years ago you had major surgery on your hand and were told that you could forget about ever playing the guitar again. How did the injury make you a better guitar player? I thought at the time it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me, but it ended up being the best thing. It taught me a lot about myself and how to be a better person. And when you are a better person, you’re a better player. When I got my hands back, I was so much better. I was always a decent picker, but it gave me my own sound. And as far as an artist goes, that’s the most important thing.

MS: But what did it do to you physically? For whatever reason, my hands and my mind just worked better together. During that time that I couldn’t play physically, I was playing in my mind. I spent so much time thinking about it. My mind got stronger and that made my hands stronger.

MS: How does touring make you a better songwriter? That’s the nature of the business now. Playing as much as we do makes you a better musician, which makes you a better songwriter. At the end of the day, it’s about melody. I get a lot of ideas on the road.

MS: What was it like touring in Europe? We’ve been there about a half dozen times. Our music is huge over there. Regardless of what people think of Americans politically, they love our music and our culture. And our music is about as American as it gets.

MS: Any countries or cities that receive you particularly well? Probably the biggest is Vienna and Berlin. And of course London. But my favorite show was in this city called Angermunde in the eastern part of Germany. That place was about as far away from home as I can imagine. We sold out that venue, the first time it had ever been sold out. It was amazing. Hardly anyone there spoke English. But they sang along with the words, and more importantly the melodies, where there are no words. And that just proves how universal music is, regardless of the language.Catchy melodies transcend borders.

The band performing at Warped Tour:

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: Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band official website

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:17 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Review: The Park Bench, the new Boomer's on the Hill

For today's Live section, I reviewed The Park Bench, which I had blogged about recently. Here's the beginning of the review:

South Baltimore's newest bar has been open for less than a month. It's so new, it doesn't even have decorations on the wall, except a clock and an alarm box. The toilet still has a remove-before-using sticker.

So few have stepped inside, it still has that new apartment smell. When I spoke with manager Stephen Gronowski recently, he hadn't even settled on a name yet, wavering between The Park Bench or just Park Bench.

Still, I went down for an early look last Friday, and found a bar that, though short on pizzazz or notoriety, shows a lot of promise. Gronowski has said the Park Bench doesn't aim to be much more than a neighborhood bar. It isn't, but it's also much more handsome than some of South Baltimore's other recently renovated bars.

The rest of the story is here

Photo: The Park Bench (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Live!

December 2, 2010

Hudson Street Stackhouse adds 12 new draft lines, including 4 new Belgian beers

Hudson Street Stackhouse doubled its existing 12 draft lines this week.

The new drafts total puts it two ahead of nearby Mahaffey's, which has long boasted of being Canton's best beer bar.

Stackhouse has been known for its long bottled beer list since it opened two years ago. It now exceeds 100, said manager Dominic DeSantis

But, DeSantis also said "there was a lot of demand for direct beer."

The bar owners have been planning on adding new draft lines for a year.

They were finally installed on Monday, and started pouring Tuesday.

Among the new draft lines: Allagash Curieux , Dogfish Head Burton Baton, and Loose Cannon.

And there are also four new Belgian beers: Dupont Saison, Duvel Green, Palm, and Scaldis Noel.

A full list of drafts is here.  Prices range from $4.50 to $6 (a lot of the Belgians).

DeSantis also said the bar is hoping to add cask-conditioned beer within the next few weeks.

Two years ago when Stackhouse first opened, Sam Sessa wondered if it would give Mahaffey's a run for its money in terms of quality, if not quantity. It looks like now they might have caught up in terms of quantity as well. 


Posted by Erik Maza at 12:46 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Brewing News

A secret word will get you free wine at Sascha's 527

To get a free glass of wine at Sascha's 527, all you have to know is the secret word.

Owner Sascha Wolhandler will give a free glass of house wine to anyone who knows the secret word she posts to the bar/restaurant's Facebook page two or three times a week.

It's all very Pee Wee's playhouse, except with a reward of booze. 

Wolhandler, who recently expanded Sascha's to accommodate a bar after 5:30 p.m., has stepped up with her promotions. 

At happy hour - from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. - all taste plates are discounted at 50 percent, glasses of wine are $2 off, and all bottled beer is $4.  

She's been quietly doing the Facebook secret word promotion since August. "No one ever uses it," she said.

Friday's secret word, not yet posted on Facebook, is after the break:

Until now, the only way customers might find out about the secret word is by being friends with the bar/restaurant on Facebook. So far, that only included 179 people.

But slowly, Woldhandler said, customers have been picking up on it. A month ago, a couple came in and whispered to the bartender: "We want sultry," after, they had seen, obviously, "sultry" as the secret word of the day.

Other recent secret words? "Wikeleeks" and, on Wednesday, "darling."

For now, Wolhandler will stick to doing the promotion at least two or three times a week, she said. To keep up with them, the bar's Facebook page is here

And, here's some service journalism for you: the secret word for Friday, not yet posted on Facebook, is "bruno."

Photo: Sascha's 527 (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:17 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Last Night's Photo: River Runs Scarlet at The Ottobar

riverrunsscarlet.JPGPittsburgh band River Runs Scarlet performing at Flight of the Valkyries, a metal music festival for female vocalists, at the Ottobar. Photo by flickr user fwredelius. To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join our flickr pool

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Chuck Brown, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Arcade Fire pick up Grammy nominations

The last batch of Grammy nominations have been announced! And there were a few surprises. For starters, a dead person scored a nomination. That would be Michael Jackson, who is nominated for best pop performance for "This is It," a song he wrote with Paul Anka that was featured in his concert film of the same name. Also surprising: Arcade Fire are nominated three times, including album of the year. Their competition in that category? Lady Gaga and Eminem. Of local interest: go-go godfather Chuck Brown was also nominated for best R&B performance by a duo or group for "Love," a track in his new album, "We Got This." Robyn, who'll perform at Rams Head Live in February, got her first nomination for "Dancing on my Own." A full list of nominees is here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:09 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Anberlin to perform at Rams Head Live in January

Alternative rock band Anberlin announced a tour Wednesday that includes a stop in Baltimore.

The Winter Haven, Florida five-piece will play Rams Head Live January 26.

I hadn't heard of these guys until just yesterday, when Al Shipley mentioned them over narrowcast. His assessment? Catchier than the new Jimmy Eat World song, but with a look that's too "ridiculous and European boy band." In their defense, that is the offiicial emo uniform of Winter Haven, FL.

The band is enjoying some new success after eight years together. Their fifth album, "Dark is the way, Light is a Place," peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200. Tickets for the RHL show are on sale now.

Incidentally, Jimmy Eat World also announced new tour dates Wednesday. 

Tour dates for both bands after the jump:

Anberlin tour dates:
12/3 - Jacksonville, FL @ Metropolitan Park         (WXXJ)
12/4 - West Palm Beach, FL @ Cruzan Amphitheatre (WPBZ)
12/6 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE (The X)
12/8 - Providence, RI @ Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel (WBRU)
12/12 - San Diego, CA @ Viejas Arena (91X)
1/14 - Richmond, VA @ The National
1/15 - Charlotte, NC @ Amos Southend
1/16  - Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
1/18 - Sauget, IL @ Pop's
1/19 - Omaha, NE @ Slowdown
1/20 - Des Moines, IA @ People's Court
1/21 - Grand Rapids, MI @ Orbit Room
1/22 - Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
1/24 - Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart's
1/25 - Millvale, PA @ Mr. Small's Theatre
1/26 - Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live
1/28 - Rochester, NY @ Water Street Music Hall
1/29 - Clifton Park, NY @ Northern Lights
1/30 - Allentown, PA @ Crocodile Rock                 

Jimmy Eat World American tour dates:
12/4 - Dallas KDGE "How the Edge Stole Christmas"
12/5 - Houston KTBZ "Buzzfestivus"
12/6 - Kansas City KRBZ "The Night the Buzz Stole Christmas"
12/8 - Seattle KNDD "Deck the Hall Ball"
12/10 - Ventura, CA @ Majestic Ventura Theater
12/11 - Los Angeles KROQ "Acoustic Christmas"
12/12 - San Diego 91X "Wrex the Halls"
12/13 - CONAN on TBS
12/31 - Tempe, AZ @ Fiesta Bowl Block Party
1/28 - Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theatre
1/29 - Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom
1/30 - San Antonio, TX @ Backstage Live
2/2 - Tampa, FL @ The Ritz Ybor
2/3 - Fort Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution
2/4 - Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House of Blues
2/5 - Charlotte, NC @ Amos' Southend
2/7 - Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club
2/8 - Richmond, VA @ The National
2/11 - Atlantic City, NJ @ House of Blues - Atlantic City
2/12 - Allentown, PA @ Crocodile Rock Café
2/13 - Washington, DC @ 930 Club
2/14 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Zoo
2/16 - Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues
2/17 - Cincinnati, OH @ Bogarts
2/18 - Nashville, TN @ Cannery Ballroom
2/19 - Oxford, MS @ The Lyric
2/21 - Austin, TX @ La Zona Rosa

Photo: Anberlin MySpace

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:49 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Music News

December 1, 2010

DuClaw Brewing beer brunch is sold out

Wanted to go to DuClaw Brewing Company's first beer brunch? Too bad. Tickets sold out today, publicist Caitlin Mills just confirmed. The company put up all 50 tickets for sale this morning, and they sold out within 15 minutes, Mills said. Tickets cost $45 for the six-course meal. The brunch, which DuClaw announced last week, will be held December 19 at its Arundel Mills location.

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:04 PM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Brewing News

Is downtown nightlife still safe?

On Tuesday morning, a man and a woman were shot downtown, near The Block, on the 400 block of Water Street.  The double shooting was the third violent incident in the area since Saturday.

This morning, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, dismissed safety concerns about the area. 

"This is an isolated, targeted incident," he said. "The suspect and [male] victim had some issue with each other, and we're trying to find out what that is."

But as Crime Beat has reported, the double shooting comes after a police officer was wounded Saturday during an altercation with an armed man on North Calvert and East Baltimore streets. And, another man was stabbed later that day at Light and Lombard streets. 

There were two other unrelated killings downtown earlier this year - one at a Baltimore Street hookah bar and another on Light Street after a security guard tried to break up an argument.

The double shooting also happened near Market Place, where a 22-year-old man was stabbed several times in September.

Except for the stabbing at Light and Lombard streets, all these incidents happened after or around the time that bars in the area and Inner Harbor closed. 

In this morning's story, J. Kirby Fowler Jr., president of the Downtown Partnership, said the violence was relegated to the area near and around The Block, the hub of strip clubs. And it fell to business owners in the area to pay for more late-night police.  

"Last year, the partnership persuaded four clubs to pay for overtime police coverage, and, as a result, the amount of violent crime on The Block has fallen," he said. "More clubs must do the same."

So, who's right? Police are suggesting security downtown has improved, and that this most recent shooting was an isolated incident. But do you feel more safe there?  Or should businesses foot the bill for more police coverage?
Posted by Erik Maza at 12:00 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: News

Video: Preview the new Frisco Grille and Cantina in Columbia

The Frisco Grille and Cantina in Columbia has been working on a new building down the road from its current location for most of the year.

Baltimore Beer Guy has been tracking its progress for much of that time. 

A couple of weeks ago, he posted his longest preview yet: a nine minute video slash trailer that features interviews with the owner, Adam Carton. 

The new place will have additional parking, a more spacious bar, and a dining area that's further away from the bar.

This year, RateBeer, a beer review website, ranked Frisco 46th best beer bar. And! just as important, it was once a Midnight Sun mystery bar. (via)

Video follows: 

The new Frisco Grille (video):


Posted by Erik Maza at 10:58 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Merriweather Post Pavilion ranked second-best amphitheater in the country; Virgin Mobile FreeFest helped

PX00073_9.JPGColumbia's Merriweather Post Pavilion has been named the second best amphitheater in the country by Billboard magazine. 

The venue was one of the three finalists in the magazine's touring awards, which tracks the top-selling shows between October 2009 and this year. 

The second place ranking puts it behind Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl in terms of attendance and box office.

Merriweather was no doubt helped by the festivals it hosted this year, including Summer Spirit, where Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu, among others, performed. And by Virgin Mobile FreeFest, where M.I.A. and LCD Soundsystem headlined rival stages.

The venue attracts some 250,000 concert goers a year, according to promoter I.M.P, which runs the venue, along with the 9:30 club in DC.

Fun fact! Merriweather, which was designed by Frank Gehry, opened in 1967 and was intended to be the summer home of the National Symphony Orchestra.  (via Explore Howard)

Photo: Virgin Mobile FreeFest 2010 (Josh Sisk/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:44 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music
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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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