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January 31, 2011

Today's Photo: the Polar Bear Plunge 2011; Pauly D nowhere to be found

Tons of Marylanders participated at this year's polar bear plunge at the Sandy Point State Park over the weekend. Above, Anna Gloth, 17, runs out of the Chesapeake Bay. Pity Pauly D's didn't join in. A gallery of pictures from the event is here.*

*I grabbed an image from this year's plunge picture gallery that was two years old. Mistake fixed.
Posted by Erik Maza at 3:30 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

John Waters introduces Nicki Minaj on Saturday Night Live digital short "The Creep"

John Waters appeared on Saturday Night Live this weekend to introduce Andy Samberg's latest digital short. Samberg and the other two guys in "The Creep" video sported natty Waters-esque outfits: skinny suits, pencil-thin mustaches and "Revenge of the Nerds" glasses. Nicki Minaj made a guest appearance. The Sun's Mike Sragow got Waters to talk about the video.
Posted by Erik Maza at 1:08 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

Ottobar selling annual passes to most music shows

On Friday, the Ottobar started selling a limited number of annual passes that grant access to most shows from February through December.

It's a decision prompted to boost attendance amid growing nightlife competition, says owner Craig Boarman.

"I think the economy is still affecting attendance at shows and events. And, there's a lot of competition in Baltimore these days with regards to live music," he said. "We felt it's something great we can offer customers to keep the Ottobar name in the public's eye."

The annual passes are a first for the club, which like others, is trying what it can to goose ticket sales and attendance. Rams Head Live now sells tickets via Facebook.

The passes, though, are particular only to Ottobar. Competing venues like Sonar and Rams Head Live do not sell similar seasonal passes, and have never before; Rams Head occasionally given them away as prizes.

At Ottobar, the passes had only been available at its annual Otto Lotto party.

The passes, which cost $75, went on sale Friday on Only 50 of them were up for sale, and most of them have sold already, Boarman says. The rest can be bought by emailing the venue and paying via paypal. 

The passes will grant access to most shows, though the venue acknowledges some will not be eligible due to contractual obligations with some artists.

Boarman says this will rarely happen; the last time it happened was for Animal Collective.

Shows that sell out will still be available to annual pass holders if they email beforehand.
Posted by Erik Maza at 1:04 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

The week in nightlife: Jan. 31 - Feb. 5, Girl Talk, Natty Boh keg tapping, and a salvia crash course

Natty%20Boh%20Tapping%20of%20the%20Keg%20-%20POSTER.jpgFinally the week is here when we get to taste Boh on draft. If only it happened earlier in the week. Elsewhere: there's comedy at the Ottobar, cheap cherry bombs at No Idea, and a crash course on Miley Cyrus' drug of choice.

On Monday, Jillionaire, Major Lazer's favorite DJ, spins at the No Rule party, celebrating over a year at Metro Gallery. 1700 N Charles St. Free. Big show: Girl Talk at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place.

On Tuesday, Robyn performs at Rams Head Live. Also: Monthly comedy night Chucklestorm returns to the Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard Street. $5.

On Wednesday, No Idea Tavern turns six. Cherry, grape, orange bombs are a buck all night long. Starts at 5 p.m. at 1649 S. Hanover Street. At Sidebar, 218 East Lexington Street, the monthly Bent party features hardcore techno. 

On Thursday,  Nacho Mama's taps the first keg of Natty Boh in 15 years. 2907 O'Donnell Street. Starts at 6 p.m.

On Friday, remember a Times magazine story on sissy bounce, the New Orleans rap sub-sub genre? One of its main practitioners, Vockah Redu (and his backup dancers, the Cru) comes to Hippo's Deep in the Game. 1 West Eager St. $5 cover.

On Saturday, Cults, the young lo-fi pop band, perform at the Maryland Institute College of Art Bbox Theater, 1601 W. Mount Royal. Baltimore's Secret Mountains and InEveryRoom will open. Free for MICA kids; $5 for public. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

On Sunday, learn more about the next parent-disapproved drug at the salvia presentation at Tarantula Hill Esoteric Library, 2118 West Pratt Street. Johns Hopkins assistant professor Matthew Johnson will be among the presenters. Starts at 2 p.m.

Photo: from Pabst Blue Ribbon
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:11 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

January 29, 2011

The week, reviewed: Jan. 23 - 29, Baltimore police sued, Natty Boh returned on draft, mini-snowpocalypse

The big news of the week? Snow and Natty Boh. And people complaining about the snow. Couldn't they just drink some Boh? Jeez. They were plenty of bars open. So here's what happened: Pabst Blue Ribbon, owner of Natty Boh, announced it would bring Boh on draft for the first time in 15 years in a bid to expand the brand's footprint in the region. The good news was only slightly tempered by the snowstorm that paralyzed Baltimore and much of the East Coast. The week kicked off with a big profile of up and coming Baltimore bands Lower Dens, Future Islands, Weekends and Lands & Peoples, some of which have been covered in Midnight Sun, and some totally new ones. On Monday, the Baltimore police department was sued for $420,000 by three men who allege they were arrested without cause. Early in the week there were also high profile concert announcements for the area: Elton John and Lil Wayne will both play 1st Mariner arena, though sadly not together. But the biggest of all was Lauryn Hill, who announced she would play Rams Head Live just two weeks before the show. Later in the week Taylor Swift, and indie acts the Mountain Goats and Hunx and his Punx also  also announced upcoming shows. The Highway to Nowhere area got its own music festival. The Bacon Brothers were interviewed. No Rule celebrated 1 1/2 years at Metro Gallery. Robyn talked about her plans for future albums, and Girl Talk said his shows are as anarchic as ever. We'll have to see when he stops by Rams Head Live this Monday night.

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:00 AM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Roundup

January 28, 2011

Baltimore Police sued for $420,000 over "unlawful arrest" by Don't Know Tavern chef, two others

The Baltimore Police department was sued Monday for $420,000 by three men who allege they were "unlawfully" arrested outside South Baltimore's Don't Know Tavern last year. 

The lawsuit, filed with the Circuit Court for Baltimore City January 24, also names two officers, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the Baltimore City Council.

The plaintiffs, which include Don't Know's executive chef Chad Novak, seek $210,000, plus $70,000 each in damages.

Baltimore police declined to comment on the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, police officers, including Andre Smith and Stephen J. Sloan, turned up at Don't Know around 7:50 p.m. in late January of last year to respond to a call.

Novak, a chef at Don't Know for nearly two years, said in an interview Smith and Sloan were questioning his 13-year-old brother.

When Novak tried to ask if his brother was in trouble, he was brushed off by the officers, he said.

One of the officers, Novak can't recall which, told him it was none of his business and demanded he step inside the bar.

"I made it ten feet, and I heard officer Smith say, 'just get him," Novak recalled.

As Novak was being handcuffed, plaintiff James Kowatch stepped out of the bar and was arrested himself, according to the complaint. The officers told him they were under orders to arrest the next individual to walk out of the bar.

Police then arrested plaintiff Kieron McNelis, who was inside the bar taking pictures of the situation, according to the complaint.

From there the men were taken to central booking, and hours later - Novak said between six and seven - were released without being charged, or an explanation for the arrest. 

In the suit, the plaintiffs say they were arrested "without probable cause" and allege the defendants acted "with malice, ill will and bad intent."

Baltimore police did not elaborate on the lawsuit, citing standard practice to not comment on pending litigation, said detective Kevin Brown.  He did not know if the officers named in the suit are on active duty. 

Novak and the other two men filed complaints with the Civilian Review Board, the department's office for dealing with complaints, within weeks of the incident, but he said they were not addressed.

Now, they're charging the department with 21 counts of unlawful behavior, including false arrest, and seek damages that total $420,000.

A year ago, when he filed the complaint with the review board, he said he just wanted a formal apology.

A trial date has not been set.

Photo: Don't Know Tavern (600block)

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:20 PM | | Comments (98)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

January 27, 2011

Update: Taylor Swift to perform at Verizon Center in August; Trey Songz, Mountain Goats also announce shows

It's been a big week for concert announcements, with Lil Wayne, Lauryn Hill, and Elton John all announcing nearby dates.

Add another one to the list: Taylor Swift

She's kicking off a long international tour in February, in Singapore of all places. And will play Verizon Center August 2 and August 3.

In related touring news, Hunx and his Punx, the new punkish girl group from Gravy Train!!!!'s Seth Bogart will play Golden West Cafe April 19.

Update: Two more upcoming shows have been announced: The Mountain Goats and Trey Songz. Songz, who opened for Usher in December at 1st Mariner Arena, will headline his own show at DAR Constitution Hall on February 12.

And the beloved indie-rock band the Mountain Goats will perform at the Ottobar April 14.

Taylor Swift tickets go on sale February 4 on; Trey Songz is already on sale there. Mountain Goats tickets are also already available, on
Posted by Erik Maza at 5:57 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Baltimore's bars and clubs unaffected by snowstorm; offering snow day specials tonight

Last night's snowstorm disrupted air travel, shut down some schools early, and generally made it a dogfight to get home, even if you lived inside the city.

But, as always, if there was one sector that was seemingly unaffected by the multiple inches of snow it was nightlife. Few venues closed, and others even offered snow day specials.

That will continue tonight, when it seems the only the only canceled nightlife-related engagement is the Liquor Board hearing. 

On Wednesday, the only show I saw canceled was O Pioneers!!! at Charm City Art Space, which notified attendees via Facebook a half hour after 3 p.m. But Red Maple was closed, Club Hippo also canceled its bingo night, and in Columbia, Victoria Gastro Pub closed early.

Still, Joe Squared, Mothers, the Falls, Rocket to Venus, Roy's, Talara and Crush all stayed open.In Hampden, Golden West status updated: "Open for all your thundersnow burrito needs."

In Bolton Hill, people still flocked to the Tavern. And in South Baltimore, Elliot's Pour House wrote on Facebook: "Snow makes us all feel like boozin.'" Crude, but true. 

No Idea's Jason Zink tells me only Restaurant Week was hurt because of canceled reservations.

"Last night was good," he writes. "Most of the bars were open and pretty crowded."

For tonight, here's a list of some of the bars offering specials and venues that are staying open: 

Bars and venues staying open despite snow:

Cat's Eye Pub has its regular 3 - 7 p.m. happy hour. 1730 Thames St.

The Charles will host a screening of "Alien" for Gunky's Basement. 1711 N. Charles St.

Charm City Art Space will be open, and host the awesomely named Irish band Chewing on Tinfoil. 1729 Maryland Ave.

Elliot's Pour House has $2 domestics; ladies get half-priced drinks. 3728 Hudson St. 

The Get Down is hosting Crush, a no cover dance party; $3 Miller Lites and $3.50 Smirnoff cocktails

Less than Jake will still play Sonar. 407 E. Saratoga St.

Mother's is offering $2 Bud and Miller Lite; $3 Blue Moon and Heineken. 1113 South Charles Street.

No Idea is offering $1 drafts all night long, and three drafts for $7. 1649 S. Hanover St.

Rocket to Venus will hold their regular 5-7 p.m. happy hour: $3 for three glasses of beer, excluding Brewer's Art Resurrection. 3360 Chestnut Ave.

Ottobar is offering $4 snowball shots, which consist of "Bailey's, a splash of Vanilla Vodka and a splash of Rumpleminze," write owner Craig Boarman. 2549 N. Howard St. 

Got any others? E-mail me, or tweet me @midnightsunblog. Will be updating the list through the night and into tomorrow if there are more snow day specials.

Photo: Mother's (via twitter)

Posted by Erik Maza at 5:22 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

January 26, 2011

Q&A: Kevin Bacon and Michael Bacon of the Bacon Brothers on Fleetwood Mac, "El Blurto," and their 16th anniversary

Before their sold-out performances at Rams Head on Stage Friday and Saturday, the Bacon Brothers spoke with contributor Benjamin Opipari about Fleetwood Mac, writing without electricity, and how acting influences songwriting. "Footloose" was not mentioned once.

Kevin Bacon is most well known as an actor, and his brother Michael as a composer - he's scored twelve feature films and hundreds of hours of prime time television. But they are also respected songwriters who’ve toured the country for sixteen years and put out six albums as the Bacon Brothers, whose music was described by the New Yorker as “sharply executed rock that has a blue-collar, rootsy edge."

The brothers take their songwriting seriously. But their other careers do influence their creative process: songwriting for them does not exist in a vacuum.

Midnight Sun: How do you compose your lyrics: pen and paper, or computer?  Kevin: Pen and paper for me. I just don’t type very well.  If a lyric is coming, it’s got to get down, and it’s got to get down fast.  I need to be able to scratch it out or make easy changes.  It’s a big mess, which is how I like it. My handwriting is horrible, but there’s something, ironically, that looks too organized when lyrics are on computer.    

How disciplined are you as a writer?   Kevin: I ‘m not disciplined at all. I wait for the song to come to me.  Right now I’m experiencing writer’s block and it’s a weird feeling to just stare at my guitar.  I pick it up and play, but I end up playing someone else’s songs or one of our old songs.  I definitely do not have the discipline to say, “Every morning I’m going to spend two hours writing.”  

Michael: Since I’m a composer, my whole day is spent working with music.  Picking up a guitar and going into songwriting mode when I am done with that is kind of hard, but I find if I am away from my office or studio, I can be very productive. We have a camp up in the Adirondacks with no electricity, and I find that it’s one of the most fertile places for me as far as songwriting, because there isn’t much to do.  Kevin and I have written a lot of songs up there.

MS: Michael, how does your career as a composer influence your songwriting?  Michael: Even though theoretically being a composer and being a songwriter are the same thing, in my brain they are completely different. When I am in my composing mode, I go into my studio and turn that part of my brain on like a faucet.  And when I finish, I turn it off.  But with songwriting, that process is much more elusive.  I describe it as art that lies between poetry and compositional technique, but is neither.  

MS: How is songwriting different from composition and poetry?  Michael: What makes it different than being a composer or a poet is that it’s an amalgam of the words and the music.  And it’s hard to figure what makes great songs great. The example I always give is Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop.” The chorus is just perfect, especially where they sing the line “Don’t stop thinking’ about tomorrow.” The lyrics and melodic beat fall into this infectious world that people can’t resist.  Unfortunately, even though I understand it, I can’t duplicate it.  Songwriters have a much more difficult struggle than composers do.  It’s also dependent on moods that are equally elusive.  You sit around for two days strumming your guitar and get nothing.  Then you get an idea in the middle of the night, and that turns into a song.  I’ve been doing it for close to 40 years, and it’s still a mystery to me.   

MS: Obviously, Kevin, you are an actor. How does that influence your songwriting? Kevin: If you’re acting and playing a part, you’re often emotionally connected to what it is to be an actor or the part you are playing, and that can inspire something that you want to say in a song.  And you may be having some kind of experience physically that you want to explore through songwriting.  

MS: When you sit down to write, do you start with a topic, or do you let the music guide what the song is going to be about?  Kevin: I’ve read about people who have some lick or chord progression that stands alone, and it takes them a while to figure what they lyrics are going to be.  Or about people who have bundles of lyrics lying around.  But that’s never really happened for me. I may get some kind of lyrical idea that I jot down, but pretty quickly I start to play the guitar around it to figure it out.  That’s not to say that the melody stays that way; I may throw it out and start again.  But for me the lyrics and music tend to come simultaneously.  It’s not a separate process.   

MS: Jack Tempchin, a songwriter for the Eagles, told me once that he and Glenn Frey would sit down with a guitar and just start spewing nonsense words and syllables until real words finally formed.  They even called that voice “El Blurto.” Do you ever start with gibberish?  Michael: In my other life as a composer, I do a similar thing.  Right now I am working on a documentary about Gloria Steinem, and the melody reflects the rhythm of her name.. It’s a way to get started when it comes to creating a melody. I love the name “Stella McCartney.” It’s a beautiful name the way it rolls off the tongue.  A couple of years ago I wrote a cello concerto and used that as the basis for the rhythmic and melodic structure of the main motif of the cello part.

MS: When it comes to songwriting, do you have any literary inspirations?   Michael: I get more response from song lyrics than poetry, but I got into Robert Lowell’s poetry when I did a film about him. I admire when people can write one line, and to write it any other way would mean stretching that idea into a novel.  He was the only poet I connected with the way I would a James Taylor song or Joni Mitchell song.

MS: How have you matured as songwriters over the years?  Michael: Before we put the band together, we though we should get into a room and write a song for some purpose, for someone else to record or maybe for some popular trend. I was a staff songwriter for Combine Music Publishing in Nashville for seven years.  I’d sit around with a groups of friends, with a Yamaha piano and a tape recorder and crank out songs.  Usually we started with a title.  We’d flesh out a title and make it into something.  Then Monday morning we’d go in and see who was recording, like Kenny Rogers might be looking for a country pop up tempo song.  If you had that song, another guy would take it and make a tape and send it off to the producer.   

MS: And how does that inform your process today?   Michael: I did not have a lot of success with that model.  Kevin and I didn’t have a lot of success that way either.  It’s not for lack of trying, but we started to channel the more personal songs that we were writing on the side when we were trying to write something more commercial.  We realized that our strength was in writing about our own life experiences.  Most of our songs are snapshots of something in our lives, of something personal that happened.  We do that now, instead of working off a cool title or some rhyme that we heard.  

The Bacon Brothers will perform at Rams Head on Stage Friday and Saturday. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. both nights of the show. 

Ben Opipari interviews writers and songwriters on his blog, Songwriters on Process. He has written for the Washington Post and academic journals. He last interviewed Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band for this blog. Erik Maza edited this post. 

Photo: Bacon Brothers Facebook
Posted by Erik Maza at 9:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Music News

January 25, 2011

Baltimore's next music wave: Lower Dens, Future Islands, J. Roddy Walston and the Business, Weekends, Lands & Peoples

PX00062_9.JPGFor Sunday's paper, I profiled several local bands, none more than five years old, that are poised to become Baltimore's next breakouts.

There's Lower Dens - which despite being about a year old, and only possessing some 20 songs in their repertoire - was one of the most sought-after bands at the CMJ Music Festival last year. Their first album, "Twin-Hand Movement" - a set of 11 spare rock tracks - has sold a remarkable 3,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

There's also Future Islands, the North Carolina art-pop trio that relocated to Baltimore in early 2008, and whose new album, "In Evening Air," also sold 3,000 copies last year.

Adam Lempel and Brendan Sullivan, both 24, started Weekends in 2008 by playing small venues like Charm City Art Space and the Copy Cat, where Sullivan lived. But next month, they'll release their first label album, "Strange Cultures," via Friends Records. Other bands featured: rock 'n' rollers J. Roddy Walston and the Business  - which reformed in Baltimore in 2004 - and Lands & Peoples, who makes understated, atmospheric pop.

(Incidentally, Lower Dens and Weekends, along with another young band, Secret Mountains, just announced a show on February 23 at D.C.'s Subterranean A, 1432 R St. NW)

The story focuses on both the young bands that had the most successful year, but also those that have moved here to live and work. They say that it was the city itself that made it possible for them to flourish in 2010.

The full story, along with a photo gallery and selected videos, is here.

Below, a full list of the band's upcoming regional shows:

Lower Dens will perform March 11 at the Black Cat, 1811 14th St NW Washington. The band just released a new 7-inch featuring single "Batman."

Future Islands will perform February 26 at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave. and on March 5 at 2640, 2640 St. Paul St.

Weekends will have their album’s release party February 12 at Golden West Café, 1105 W. 36th St.

Lands & Peoples will perform February 10 at the Talking Head, 407 E. Saratoga.

Listen to the bands at their websites by clicking on their names: Lower Dens, Future Islands, J. Roddy Walston and the Business, Weekends and Lands & Peoples.

Photo: Lower Dens (Jed Kirschbaum/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Lauryn Hill to perform at Rams Head Live in February

PX00015_9.JPGHere's some big concert news for Baltimore: the reclusive Lauryn Hill will perform here in two weeks.

Hill has made few live appearances since the release of "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" over a decade ago.

But she recently launched what was billed as a mini-tour.

She performed in New York in late December, and was announced as one of the headliners at Coachella. 

Since then, the mini-tour has only added more and more dates.

Today it was confirmed she would also come to Rams Head Live on February 10.

Tickets officially go on sale Wednesday, but fans can start buying tickets now at by using the password "MsHill2011."

Hill last performed in the area in August at the Rock the Bells concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion. 

She was two hours late.

Not much has changed since then apparently. When Hill performed at Music Hall of Williamsburg on December 29, she was again two hours late, prompting several fans to hand-write signs that read "This is Insulting" and "You Just Lost One."

She is currently scheduled to take the Rams Head stage at 11 p.m. Thursday February 10.

Photo: Lauryn Hill in 2006. (Getty Images)

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:45 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Music News

The week in nightlife: Jan. 25 - Jan. 30, Liz Phair, The Bridge, Pratt Libraries' Black and White Party

It's a busy week at Rams Head Live, starting with tonight's Liz Phair show. Then following Anberlin on Wednesday, and the Bacon Bros. over in Annapolis Friday, the venue will host the release party for locals the Bridge's new album, "National Bohemian" on Saturday. Elsewhere there are options for both metalheads (see O Pioneers!!!) and preppy dressers (Black & White Party).

On Tuesday, Liz Phair performs at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place. The "Flower" singer said the show will be heavy on "Guyville" not "Funstyle" tracks.

On Wednesday the Toronto by way of Texas metalheads O Pioneers!!! perform at Charm City Art Space, 1731 Maryland Avenue. Doors open at 7 p.m. Important message from the venue: "In case you're wondering, yes, CCAS has heat."

On Thursday Stillwater Artisanal Ales hosts a $60 beer dinner at Alonso's, 415 W. Cold Spring Lane.  Brewer Brian Strumke will be present. Begins at 6 p.m. Gunky's Basement returns to the Charles with Ridley Scott's original "Alien." Gainesville's veteran ska-punks Less than Jake perform at Sonar.

On Friday Deep in the Game's Adam Schwarz spins at the Use Your Illusion party at Club Phoenix, 1 West Biddle. The Bacon Brothers perform at Rams Head on Stage in Annapolis. Be on the look out for our Q&A with Kevin and Michael. 

On Saturday locals The Bridge will release their new album, "National Bohemian," at Rams Head Live before going on tour. Over at Bourbon Street, Dutch DJ Angerfist headlines a hardcore techno dance party. $20 in advance. Pratt Libraries host their annual Black and White Party at the Central Library. Tickets are $60.

On Sunday there's little happening. Best stay in and rest for Monday's epic Girl Talk show.

Photo: The Bridge Facebook

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:31 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

January 22, 2011

The week, reviewed: Jan. 16 - 22: the return of Damian Bohager, free concerts, and 2011's first Midnight Sun Mixer

A short week meant a way too hectic week. But we survived. Meanwhile, a liquor board inspector was caught in a sticky situation after he admitted consulting for the club that might herald Damian Bohager's return. Sugarland was announced as Merriweather Post Pavilion's first headliner of the year. A little later in the week Katy Perry joined them. After much debate, the former Taps, and former Catherine's Pub, and already for sale Delia Foley's finally opened. Wonder how long it'll take before everyone stops calling it new Taps. Future Islands and Arbouretum announced a couple of free shows, on February 26 and February 13, respectively. Midnight Sun toured the Heavy Seas brewery for a print story on regional brewery tours. Dope Body performed at the Ottobar, and we had the pictures. Liz Phair's upcoming show was previewed. As was the one by Gainesville's very own Animaniacs, Less than Jake. And, after all that, the week thankfully culminated with beer and shots at the first Midnight Sun Mixer of the year, which, I also managed to survive none the worse for wear. Now all that's left is to pick the date for the next one. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Roundup

Touring regional breweries Heavy Seas, DuClaw Brewing, Dogfish Head, and 16 Miles

For Friday's Live section, I wrote about the increasing popularity of brewery tours. Here's the top:

On a recent Saturday afternoon, a man addressed a crowd of about 50 at a brewery right outside Baltimore and said, "Let us pray."

He raised his arm, looked over his flock and solemnly intoned: "Our lager which art in barrels, thy will be drunk, at the Heavy Seas Beer Tour. Give us this day our foamy heads, and forgive us our spillages, as we forgive those who spill against us."

The man wasn't a tipsy priest, but Hugh Sisson, founder of Heavy Seas, who delivers the same speech before the two or three tours that pass through his brewery almost every Saturday.

The crowd was there to learn about beer — its variety, its creation, its consumption. Such tours are not commonplace in Maryland, but as craft beer culture has entered the mainstream, that's changing.

The DuClaw Brewing Co. in Abingdon also offers them, as does the Brewer's Art in Mount Vernon. And Delaware has established a website dedicated to its wine and ale trail. In Pennsylvania, Yuengling offers free public tours.

Sisson has been leading his tours for 15 years, but it's only in the past two that they have become weekly events, drawing crowds of 50 to 75.

"This has become a real happening," Sisson said.

The rest of the story is here.  

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Live!

January 21, 2011

Midnight Sun Mixer: the morning after

DSC_0385.JPGThis is today's first post. No, it's not the mixer's fault, like some of you guessed. Not entirely anyway.

Despite two beers, two shots of mysterious components, and a pickle back, I still made it early to work this morning.

But all day I've been finishing up a story for Sunday's paper about Lower Dens, Future Islands, Weekends and other young Baltimore bands.

I definitely needed more coffee than usual this morning, but I had worse hangovers in grade school. 

I got to Don't Know a little bit after seven last night. Evan, of The City that Breeds, and Jason Zink were already there drinking with Sessa. I checked into foursquare, and from then on, I must have gotten drunker, or just really enjoyed the conversation, because it was my last check-in of the night on any social media.

By the time I had swapped my Blue Moon for a Loose Cannon, Ryan, of Quarterlifeparty, had shown up. So had Alexander D. Mitchell IV (whose pictures you see above), Cyclops' Andy Rubin (pictured on the right), friend and coworker June Torbati and Angela Devoti, formerly of Atlas bar, sporting a leopard-print trench. Tif Saleem showed up later, with his wife Micki. At some point Evan iced Sessa in revenge.

There were about 20 people in all (maybe more?); it was hard to tell who was there for our shindig or to hang out. Idea for next time? Name tags.  Also: snacks.

Thanks to everyone else who came. If I didn't say hello, it's because, unless I'm knocking on your door looking for a quote, I'm usually pretty shy.

The night at the tavern ended around 10:30, from what I remember, with some very minty shots. From there, Devoti, Evan and Ryan took me to Idle Hour to try my first pickle back. The place is classier than Bryan Ferry . I'll come back soon for the Chartreuse.

Having survived my first mixer, I have only one lingering question: when's the next one?


Photos by Alexander D. Mitchell IV

Posted by Erik Maza at 5:50 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

January 20, 2011

Future Islands to play free show at the Patterson; Katy Perry, the Pretty Reckless, and the Foals also add local dates

Future Islands will perform a free show at the Patterson on February 26.

That free show will come before another one on March 5 at 2640, where they will perform with Celebration and Arbouretum. (Tickets for that show are on sale at Red Emma's and

 The band is coming off a highly successful year where they played some 130 gigs, and sold over 3,000 copies of "In Evening Air."

At the Patterson, they will play a short acoustic set in the gallery and a standard set at the theater. 

In related touring news, Katy Perry becomes Merriweather Post Pavilion's second announced headliner this summer; Sugarland will perform in May.

The singer will stop by June 15 with her California Dreams tour, which is hysterically sponsored by Schick Quattro for Women. General tickets go on sale January 29.

Joan Jett manqué Taylor Momsen, also known for "Gossip Girl," will return to Baltimore on March 15 with her band the Pretty Reckless. They last played Bourbon Street in October.

On the punk side of things, the Brits the Foals also announced a new massive tour that includes Baltimore. They will perform at the Ottobar May 7.

Below, Future Islands tour dates: 

Future Islands tour dates:

February 17 - Columbus, OH @ The Summit (w/Ed Schrader's Music Beat)
February 18 - Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern (w/Ed Schrader's Music Beat)
February 19 - Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle (w/Ed Schrader's Music Beat, Wumme)
February 20 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Brillobox (w/Ed Schrader's Music Beat)
February 26 - Baltimore, MD @ Creative Alliance Free Show! 2 sets: Acoustic in Gallery + Electric in Theater
March 3 - Raleigh, NC @ Kings (w/Ed Schrader's Music Beat, NAPS)
March 4 - Raleigh, NC @ Kings (w/Ed Schrader's Music Beat, Lonnie Walker)
March 5 - Baltimore, MD @ 2640 Space (w/Celebration, Arbouretum)

Photo: Future Islands Facebook

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:48 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

Liquor Board inspector accused of consulting for Damian Bohager's newest club

PX00075_9.JPGSo late last week a small brouhaha rightfully erupted at the liquor board meeting.

Pigtown residents brought to the board's attention that one of the agency's inspectors was consulting for a proposed bar, a no-no according to the city charter. The agency immediately began an investigation into the matter.

So far, as Investigative Voice has reported, the inspector, Don Fitzgerald, has been assigned to desk duty.

But speaking to chairman Stephan Fogleman recently, there's this update: Fitzgerald has decided to take a personal, unpaid leave for a week or two.

And Fogleman said the investigation should be wrapped up by the end of next week.

The problem started at a Pigtown community hearing  for a proposed 5,000-square-foot club called Ambrosia that's partially owned by the controversial Damian Bohager, formerly of Fells Point's defunct Bohager's, and one of Maryland's top 50 tax scofflaws last year.

Bohager owed the state nearly $600,000 in unpaid taxes. 

At that meeting, veteran inspector Fitzgerald said he was consulting for Ambrosia to help them navigate the tricky process of opening a new club, the residents said. 

Residents then presented video of the meeting to the liquor board last Thursday, which began an internal investigation that resulted in Fitzgerald's assignment to desk duty the following day. 

By Tuesday morning, Fogleman said, the inspector had decided to take time off on his own dime until the investigation was completed. Executive Secretary Samuel T. Daniels Jr. and chief inspector Ralph Gilliam are conducting the probe.

The board will have to wait on the conclusion of the investigation to vote on Fitzgerald's future, which could include dismissal or a suspension, or, as likely, a slap on the wrist.

Though the city charter forbids inspectors from working with bars that hold licenses, it's not legally clear if it applies to bars that haven't yet received them, like Ambrosia.

In any case, Fitzgerald has retained an attorney to represent him during the investigation, Fogleman said. Fitzgerald couldn't be reached for comment.

While the chairman declined to comment on the specifics on the case, or the discussions that have already taken place, he was equally vague about the investigation's possible outcome, just saying, "It's always disappointing when an accusation of impropriety happens."

The return of Bohager's?

Of course, the other interesting aspect of this story is the return of Bohager, who has been without a megabar of his own since his namesake bar, famous for its college nights and foam parties, closed in 2004.

Back when he quit, to make way for a pricey apartment complex, he told the Sun a megabar  - Bohager's held about 1,250 people - wasn't in his future.

But Ambrosia - where he is one of three prospective owners - would occupy a massive chunk of real estate on the 700 block of Washington Boulevard in Pigtown. And its description sounds like vintage Bohager's: it would have a staff of 15, a full menu, live entertainment, and off-duty police for security.

Residents are concerned the neighborhood will be overwhelmed by its patrons and have been circulating e-mails protesting the club.

The latest came on Wednesday, when the Washington Village Development Association, in an e-mail forwarded by the neighbors' group Pigtown Public Safety, asked residents to write letters of opposition against an Ambrosia.

Sounds like Bohager hasn't lost the touch for controversy.

Photo: Damian Bohager outside Bohager's in 1998 (Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:15 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The Midnight Sun Mixer is tonight at Don't Know Tavern

It's been a damn long week, even though it was actually a damn short work week.

With deadlines pushed up, tons of print stuff to get done in a shorter time, interviews to conduct (Girl Talk, among them, you'll be happy to hear), it's been manic around Midnight Sun HQ.

I hardly even had time to rile up anonymous commenters, though, apparently, I somehow accomplished that too.

So, for that, I've been looking forward to tonight's mixer, and a very tall pitcher at tonight's mixer, all week long.

Hopefully you all have too. I've already met some of you, and I'm looking forward to meeting the rest.

There's no agenda for tonight - just conversation, swapping stories, and answering questions if you're sober enough to ask them.  

We will be at Don't Know Tavern, 1453 Light St., starting at 7 p.m. 

Owner Jason Zink is offering complimentary cocktails to Midnight Sunners who get there between 7and 8 p.m.

This is the first mixer of the year, and I'm certain, not the last. If you can't make it tonight, I'll see you at the next one.

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:55 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

January 19, 2011

Today's Nightlife Photo: Skaters at Ruintown

ruintown.pngTwo skateboarders posing at Ruintown, a multi-purpose studio space in the outskirts of Hampden. Shot  earlier this month by flickr user  fwredelius. To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join our flickr pool or e-mail me directly.
Posted by Erik Maza at 3:17 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Coachella line-up announced: Lauryn Hill, Kanye West, Animal Collective, among them

Coachella revealed the line-up for this year's festival Tuesday night. About the only acts with Maryland connections are Animal Collective and Rye Rye. But! some of the other bands will be passing through the area in the months before heading to Southern California in April, among them: Robyn (will perform at Rams Head Live on February 1), Twin Shadow (Feb. 24 at Ottobar and April 1 at the Black Cat), Titus Andronicus (March 7 at Rams Head Live, and March 8 & 9 at the 9:30 club), Chromeo (Feb 5 at the 9:30 club), and Jimmy Eat World (plays the 9:30 club Feb. 13) . Some of the other major names performing at Coachella: Kanye West, Arcade Fire, and, after a characteristically iconoclastic performance in New York, Lauryn Hill. The full line-up is here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 8:30 AM | | Comments (23)
Categories: Music News

January 18, 2011

Today's Nightlife Photo: Dope Body, We are Hex, Buildings, and Hume at the Ottobar

Dopebody2.jpgDope Body's David Jacober and Andrew Laumann performing at the Ottobar Sunday, where Buildings, We Are Hex and D.C.'s Hume also performed. Dope Body recently came out with their first non-cassette release, an LP that can be previewed here. Photographer Joy D. sent in this image. To see your photos featured on Midnight Sun, e-mail me directly, or add your pictures to our flickr pool.

D.C.'s prog-pop band Hume:



Posted by Erik Maza at 3:30 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Delia Foley's, the new Taps, is officially open

Delia Foley's, whose development Midnight Sun has been watching closely since it took over Taps' former space in August, is officially open.

Blog The City that Breeds checked it out over the weekend, and came away impressed with the new decor and the menu. 

Chris Reda and Ropewalk Tavern's Marc MacFaul bought the nearly 5,000-square-foot property, which used to house the notorious Taps, in August for $450,000.

They have since re-listed it for sale on Craigslist, for $525,000. Reda has said they're "not actively" selling the bar, just taking a look at offers.

Credit that with the major makeover the location has received. Judging from the early review, the owners haven't just renovated the exterior, as Reda had said, but added new murals and updated the bathrooms.

The two-story bar was originally going to be called Catherine's Pub, and carry eight taps. But in December, Reda said the name had been changed to Delia Foley's.

It's been under renovation since early December, and opened Saturday. It is located at 1439 South Charles Street.

Expect a Midnight Sun review in print within two weeks, when the bar's had some time to settle into the Riverside, where it joins new neighborhood watering holes  the Park Bench and the upcoming Barfly's Pub.

(Photo via)

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:21 PM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Update: Arbouretum to perform free show at the Ottobar

Arbouretum%20159.jpgArbouretum will perform a free show upstairs at the Ottobar in February, it was announced Monday.

The February 13 show is the official release of their new album, "The Gathering," which will be in stores two days later.

You might have listened to a preview of it here last month.

Though Dave Heumann's guitar solos are still a hallmark of the new album, as seen in that track, the band's normal instrumentation has also been altered. One of the guitars was replaced with Matthew Pierce’s keyboards and percussion.

The album is said to be inspired, quizzically, by Carl Jung. 

The show will be upstairs at the Ottobar. Doors open at 10 p.m. The great local freak-folk five-piece Secret Mountains will open. 

Admission is free, but on a first come, first served basis, Ottobar manager Craig Boarman says. 

Arbouretum will also perform March 5 at 2640 with Future Islands and Celebration for the latter's new album release party.

The band will then tour the United States in February and March before heading to Europe.

Update: North American tour dates below:

Arbouretum tour dates:

Feb 13  Baltimore, MD   Ottobar Upstairs w/Secret Mountains
Feb 17  San Diego, CA   TBA w/Endless Boogie
Feb 19  Santa Cruz, CA  105 Pioneer w/Endless Boogie
Feb 20  San Francisco, CA       Hemlock Tavern w/Endless Boogie
Feb 22  Vancouver, BC   Biltmore Cabaret w/Endless Boogie, Nathan Wheeler
Feb 23  Olympia, WA     Northern w/Endless Boogie, E. Tapestry
Feb 24  Portland, OR    Mississippi Studios w/Endless Boogie, E. Tapestry
Feb 26  Seattle, WA     Comet Tavern w/Endless Boogie, E. Tapestry
Feb 28  Oakland, CA     TBA w/Endless Boogie
Mar 5   Baltimore, MD   2640 Space w/Future Islands, Celebration

Photo: Arbouretum (Thrill Jockey)

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

January 17, 2011

Sugarland to play Merriweather Post Pavilion; Thank You also announce tour

Merriweather Post Pavilion's first concert of the year will be by Sugarland, the country music duo.

Sugarland will perform May 22. Tickets go on sale January 21.

The duo, Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles, just won a shiny new Country Music Award last year. They are currently on a multi-city tour that is scheduled to end in August at the Iowa State Fair.

Merriweather is their only regional date so far. 

The show, the venue's first for 2011, was announced via Twitter Friday afternoon. Little Big Town and Matt Nathanson will also perform. 

In related touring news, Baltimore's Thank You also announced a tour last week. The post-punk band will released its third LP, "Golden Worry," January 25 via Thrill Jockey Records.

Below: Thank You's tour dates and a new video.

Thank You tour dates:

Jan 25  Brooklyn, NY    Glasslands w/Daniel Higgs, Soft Circle
Feb 10  Easthampton, MA Flywheel
Feb 11  Troy, NY                51 3rd Street
Feb 12  Brooklyn, NY    Death By Audio w/Double Dagger
Feb 13  Philadelphia, PA        Younglove's w/Dustin Wong
Feb 16  Charlottesville, VA     Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar
Feb 17  Chapel Hill, NC Nightlight
Feb 18  Raleigh, NC     Berkeley Cafe
Feb 19  Charlotte, NC   The Milestone
Feb 20  Charleston, SC  TBA
Feb 21  Knoxville, TN   The Pilot Light
Feb 22  Chicago, IL     Empty Bottle
Feb 23  Ann Arbor, MI   TBA
Feb 24  Toronto, ON     Teranga
Feb 25  London, ON      TBA
Feb 26  Providence, RI  The Soft Approach
Photo: Sugarland Facebook
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

The week in nightlife: Jan. 17 - 23, free MLK events, We Used to be Family, Chris Webby at Sonar

A week that starts with a day off work is a good week. Today, there's a bunch of stuff happening in honor of the holiday, and the rest of the week isn't half bad either, with a comedy night, a couple of shows at Metro Gallery, and, of course, the Midnight Sun mixer. 

On Monday, the American Visionary Museum is free in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Abu the Flutemaker and Batala Washington are scheduled to perform. Museum opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. The AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring will show free screenings of "King: a filmed record" at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Also: chamber ensemble Opus Nine performs at An die Musik, 409 N. Charles St.

On Tuesday, Wham City inaugurates its monthly comedy night at the Zodiac. $5 tickets sold at the door. 1726 N. Charles St.

On Wednesday the B-52s perform at the 9:30 Club. Let's hope Fred Schneider wears a gold lame jacket.  Tickets, at $45, are sold at

On Thursday, come to Don't Know Tavern for the first Midnight Sun mixer of 2011! 1455 Light St.

On Friday, the punk rock n' rollers the Fishnet Stalkers perform at Sidebar. Tickets are $7 on Instrumental band We Used to be Family performs at Metro Gallery, 1700 N. Charles St. Tickets are $8. And the tiny Charm City Art Space hosts Baltimore's Eureka Birds, Maryland's Weird Feelings, and a couple of out of state bands: New Brunswick's the Ugly Club and Philadelphia's the National Rifle. 1731 Maryland Ave. DuClaw Brewing has a double dry hopped Black Locust Venom for its Friday Firkin event, available at the Bel Air, Bowie and Arundel Mills locations. Also: Baltimore restaurant week begins today.

On Saturday, Metro Gallery favorites Sick Sick Birds perform. Doors to the pop-punk show open at 8 p.m.

On Sunday, College MC Chris Webby plays Sonar, 407 E. Saratoga St. Tickets are going for $14 in advance. Catch a preview here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

January 15, 2011

The week, reviewed: Jan. 9 - 15, Select Lounge, the new Rafters, Coppola and Deacon

The week began on a tragic note, with a shooting near Select Lounge, a bar that had dubbed itself an upscale destination for Baltimore. Liquor Board chairman Stephan Fogleman and Councilman William H. Cole IV warned the deadly incident would likely culminate in yet another round of talks about downtown safety. On Friday, the club planned to open for the first time since the shooting. In lighter news, Francis Ford Coppola tapped local goofball composer and musician Dan Deacon to score his upcoming Gothic romance. Columbia's strip mall bar Frisco Tap and Brew House was reviewed, positively. Coldwave returned to Club Phoenix; read here for a brief history lesson on the sub-sub-genre. The new owner of famous formstone bar Rafters said when it returns in two months, it'll be called Barfly's Pub, and it won't have much of the formstone. Ten ideas were floated to beat the Justin Bieber singing constest. The local rapper Height tipped us to his massive tour. Also in touring news: pop divas Kylie Minogue and Janet Jackson announced DMV shows. The B-52s Fred Schneider confirmed the band will stick to touring in the near future. Hey, at least he didn't compose one of the worst scores of all time.
Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Roundup

January 14, 2011

Last Night's Photo: Das Racist at Sonar

midnightsun-7.jpgJoke-rap duo Das Racist performed at Sonar Thursday night. Photographer Shawn Smallwood sent in these pictures. The rest of his work can be seen here. To see your photos featured on Midnight Sun, e-mail me directly, or add your pictures to our flickr pool.

Himanshu Suri Victor Vazquez, one half of the duo, fondles a boot, apparently:



Hype man Dap sporting some fine long-johns:


Posted by Erik Maza at 12:57 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Cullen Stalin, Katrina Ford spin at new 'coldwave' party at Club Phoenix

bs-ae-midnight-rail-0114.jpgClub Phoenix is a dumpy two-floor bar in Mount Vernon that’s forgotten for most of the week, even by the crowd of older gay men that frequent its downstairs regularly.

But on weekends, it’s become known for hosting well-attended dance parties on its rickety, unvarnished upstairs floor.

Most Saturdays, a bunch of MICA students serve as DJs for the Dance Your Ass Off party.

And this Friday, it will host, for the second time, Ice Age, a monthly party dedicated to obscure, atmospheric music that marries Goth rock and New Wave — something that might sound like a cut from the Cure’s “Seventeen Seconds.”

It’s DJed by, among others, Cullen Nawalkowsky — aka Cullen Stalin — and this Friday, also by Katrina Ford, of the Baltimore band Celebration

The artists the DJs will play are largely unknown or have become cult figures only recently, Nawalkowsky said. The playlist will run the gamut from proper industrial to “dark” punk to almost-poppy New Wave.

At the first Ice Age, in December, he namechecked these guys in the Facebook invite: "Neon Judgement // Thomas Leer // Mark Lane // Men/Eject // Alien Sex Fiend // Damned // Pink Military // Negativ Magick // Industrial Records // Factory // 4AD // Wierd."

The term that’s used most often to describe this music is “coldwave,” which was associated with underground bands like the Asylum Party and the Belgians Twilight Ritual. Minimal guitar sounds mixed with raw drums are more of a hallmark of the sub-sub-genre.

Lately, it's enjoyed something of a revival in the United States thanks to the small New York label Wierd Records.  Dancing is not discouraged, Nawalkowsky said, but “people shouldn't expect to hear banging and thumping tunes."

Still, when I went last time, there was dancing, and lots of it. The normally desolate bar was crowded, no doubt drawn by the music, but also the cheap booze: $2 Natty Bohs and $3 for rail liquors.

The turnout can also be credited to the city's appetite for a party that avoids the usual fare, even by indie standards, Nawalkowsky said.

“The last party had a great cross-section of people dissatisfied with what's currently on offer, stylistically, in Baltimore's dance-night scene,” he said. “And hopefully, this party will grow as a magnet for the disaffected.”

Ice Age begins at 10 p.m. today Friday upstairs at Club Phoenix, 1 W. Biddle St. No cover before 11 p.m., $2 after.

Photo: Cullen Stalin (Josh Sisk/Special to the Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Live!

Rafters, renamed Barfly's Pub, to open within two months

PX00195_9.JPGRafters, the South Baltimore bar famous for its formstone facade and interiors, will re-open within two months, new owner Michael Leeds said.

It will then be called Barfly's Pub.

Leeds is planning on a full renovation, and a big wine list.

The new bar, he said, will be "an upscale dive bar. "That's why I named it Barfly's."

Leeds started leasing the in November, and is now in the process of renovating the space and acquiring the liquor license.  

After Rafters closed in August, it was supposed to have been taken over by a Red Hill Tavern. But that deal never came to fruition, Leeds said. 

A former partner  at the Federal Hill and Bel Air Sean Bolans, Leeds had been looking for a place of his own. 

He settled on Rafters because he said he sees a future in its location - the Fort Avenue-Riverside neighborhood.

He started the renovation with a couple of friends a month ago, and he suspects it's going to take some time. "We could be open by the end of February, but more realistically early March," he said. 

Rafters, he said, needed a "face lift." He'll redo the bathrooms, add new light fixtures, resurface the bar, and perhaps, most surprisingly, cover up some of the formstone the former owners were so proud of. 

The old Rafters, he said, had a "unique" interior. He wants the new place to look different, but retain a reminder of the old tenants.

"A lot of people make a big deal out of the formstone so I want to keep some of it," he said, adding, however, "it's going to look a lot different."

He'll also expand its beer and wine selection. 

The old Rafters used to serve "Buggy Bombs," its own version of Irish car bombs. Leeds said he'll install eight taps, and carry about 40 wines, to be sold $8-10 by the glass, and $30 by the bottle., between 8 and 10 by the glass, and 30 by the bottle.*

Barfly's Pub will be at 620 E. Fort Ave.

Photo: Rafters in 2005 (Elizabeth Malby/Baltimore Sun) 

*Post updated for clarification

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:55 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

January 13, 2011

What are the best and worst scores by pop musicians?

The news that Dan Deacon would score a new Francis Ford Coppola movie follows a time-honored tradition of pop musicians scoring motion pictures. That trend hit something of a peak last year, with Trent Reznor scoring "The Social Network" and Daft Punk scoring "Tron: Legacy." Gutter magazine compiled a list of the best and worst scores by pop musicians. In the worst category? A surprise: the Alan Parsons Project's score for "Ladyhawke," a Michelle Pfeiffer movie by the guy who made "Lethal Weapon" about a lady who, duh, turns into a hawk. No doubt Deacon can live up to their legacy. Gutter's list is here.

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:40 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff

Ten ideas for winning the Justin Bieber singing competition

Justin Bieber's new movie won't be released for another month, but it's already getting a local promotional boost.

On Friday, Z104 and Paramount Pictures - the studio behind "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" - will hold a singing competition for 50 local teens between the ages of 13 and 17, it was just announced

Only the first 50 teens who register starting at 5 p.m. at the Hard Rock Cafe will get to perform before a three-member panel of judges.

Out of those 50, only one will get a chance to travel to Los Angeles for the movie's premiere, and meet Da Bieber himself. 

So kids, here's a bunch of half-baked ideas on how to distinguish yourself from all the other rugrats who love Justin Bieber:

1. Wear his fragrance. You have your pick of wristbands and dog collars.

2. Don't just sing, perform a re-enactment of Bieber's dramatic acting work on "CSI."

3. Be bold. Rap like Justin Bieber. 

4. Wear an adorable bowl haircut. That seemed to work for this guy. 

5. Don't cut your hair like him. No one likes an obsequious fan, but also: you might attract the cops

6.  You might as well show up with a drawn-on mustache, if only to honor his appreciation of John Waters.

7.   You're only allowed to sing one of three songs - "Baby", "Never Say Never" or "U Smile" - but I say, mash one of them up with that one Willow Smith song; the two are touring together.

8. According to the radio station: "No visible tattoos are allowed. The same goes for clothing bearing a celebrity's image, or logos for clothing designers or sports teams." Respect. 

9. Don't sing on top of a table

10.  And of course, an interpretive dance is sure to wow the judges. If you're a goofy looking dork, or little, adorable Abigail Breslin.

 Registration begins Friday at 5 p.m. at the Hard Rock Cafe, 601 East Pratt Street.

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:29 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Music News

Review: Frisco Tap and Brew House in Columbia

PX00233_9.JPGColumbia's Frisco Tap and Brew House opened in December to what owner Adam Carton called "gangbusters" business.

The bar, which is located in a strip mall, is the new, larger home of Carton's Frisco Grille and Cantina, which remains open in Columbia as well*.

It's three times as big as the old location, has 30 more taps, and expanded parking.

Last week, I went to review it. Here's the top of the review:

The strip mall bar is maybe a rung below the outlet mall bar and just a couple of notches above a dive on U.S. 40.

From the outside, Columbia's newest watering hole, the Frisco Tap and Brew House, doesn't inspire much confidence. It's sandwiched between a furniture store and a BMW motorcycle showroom. At the end of the strip, there's a Batteries Plus.

Frisco looks handsome — wide windows and a tastefully designed facade — just the way a Chipotle can look handsome. But the first hint that this might not be your average, anonymous strip mall tenant is its name. This isn't just a casual carrier of taps, it's a taphouse; one might even say a small temple — a tap-ernacle, if you will.

The rest of the review is here. A video tour of the bar is below:

Video tour of Frisco Tap and Brew House, via:

Photo: Frisco Tap and Brew House (Colby Ware/Special to the Sun) *The old location closed in December, Carton confirms; due to a miscommunication, this post indicated otherwise earlier.

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:52 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

January 12, 2011

Today's Nightlife Photo: Ami Dang at Hippo's Deep in the Game

AmiDang6.JPGMusician Ami Dang performed at Hippo for her album's release party last week. Photographer Joy D., who blogs here, sent in this image. To see your photos featured on Midnight Sun, e-mail me directly, or add your pictures to our flickr pool.

Ami Dang's album, "Hukam," can be previewed here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 5:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Dan Deacon to score new Francis Ford Coppola movie, delight Val Kilmer

Dan Deacon, Wham City founding member, local goofball, will score an upcoming movie by Francis Ford Coppola, noted filmmaker of "Bram Stoker's Dracula."

And some little-noticed Italian mobster movies. 

Deacon, who was classically trained at SUNY Purchase, will score Coppola's "Twixt Now and Sunrise," a movie starring Val Kilmer and Elle Fanning that will be released later this year, Pitchfork Media reported.

How this meeting of minds happened is not known. I've e-mailed Deacon for a response; Pitchfork credits a press release with the announcement.

Maybe Papa Coppola started listening to "Bromst" on his time off at the vineyard. Though, in all honesty, Deacon sounds more like Val Kilmer's bag, something to rock out to at his ranch.

Interestingly, no Coppola movies are on the schedule for Deacon's Gunky's Basement revival movie series. A suggestion? Screen the deliciously cheese Dracula movie.

Update: Francis Ford Coppola and Dan Deacon explain how they met. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:14 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local music

Weekends to play Golden West Cafe, release new album in February

Weekends, the New York by way of Johns Hopkins/MICA duo, will release their debut LP in February on Friends Records.

The record label just posted an item announcing the band will perform at Golden West Cafe February 12.

Also performing will be Raindeer, Winks - which consists of Weekends' Adam Lempel and Ineveryroom's Chase O'Hara - and Holy Ghost Party, which is not to be confused with the pithier Holy Ghost!.

Weekends' "Strange Cultures" LP, which is available as a digital download already, features "Totem," whose video was created by artist Alice Cohen. It can be seen here.  Winks' upcoming cassette, "She's Done," can be previewed here. (via)

Tickets for the Golden West Cafe show are $5 and can be sold at
Posted by Erik Maza at 3:57 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Rapper Height to start multi-city tour at Golden West Cafe

Height with Friends will go on a 45-day tour next month, starting with a kick-off show at Golden West Cafe.

The Catonsville rapper Dan Keech, also known as Height, has 25 shows already booked, with several more to be confirmed soon, he said.

Keech, who started performing with another young white rapper, Michael Freeland - who performs as Mickey Free - when they were both in elementary school, has racked up a solid track record here in Baltimore.

He performed with the hip hop group Wounds, and has several EPs and albums to his credit.

Last year Wham City Records Friends Records released his "Bed of Seeds," which can be previewed here.

Free released his own album last year too, and performed at Rams Head Live's New Year's Eve party. 

Along with Lord Grunge and Brendan Richmond, the two are also collaborating on a new project, Shark Tank, who have a handful of dates starting later this month as well. A track from their debut album is available on the group's website as a free digital download.

 The show at Golden West is February 25. Tickets, at $5, are on sale now at

A full list of Height with Friends and Shark Tank dates is below:

Height with Friends tour dates:

2/5 - Frederick, MD - Nola
2/25 - Baltimore, MD - Golden West
2/26 - Charlottesville, VA - Magnolia House
3/1 - Greenville, NC - Live
3/3 - Charlotte, NC - The Milestone
3/4 - Charleston, SC - Andolini's
3/5 - Savannah, GA - Hangfire
3/10 - Athens, GA - Farm 255
3/11 - Asheville, NC - The Get Down
3/12 - Knoxville, TN - The Pilot Light
3/15 - Little Rock, AR - ACAC
3/16 - Tulsa, OK - Soundpony
3/18 - Houston, TX - Super Happy Fun Land
3/29 - San Francisco, CA - Al Lover House
3/30 - Oakland, CA - Lobot Gallery
3/31 - Portland, OR - Ella Street Social Club
4/1 - Olympia, WA - Midnight Sun
4/2 - Seattle, WA - The Josephine
4/4 - Denver, CO - Rhinoceropolis
4/6 - Chicago, IL - Ball Hall
4/9 - Toledo, OH - Ottawa Tavern
4/10 - Cleveland, OH - Roc Bar
4/13 - Youngstown, OH - Royal Oaks
4/15 - Pittsburgh, PA - Garfield Artworks
4/16 - Shepherdstown, WV - Blue Moon Saloon

Shark Tank tour dates, via:

1/21 - Atlanta, GA - The Tabernacle w/ Girl Talk
2/10 - Philadelphia, PA - Danger Danger
2/11 - Baltimore, MD - Windup Space (Record Release Party)
2/12 - Pittsburgh, PA - 31st Street Pub

Photo: Height with Friends Facebook

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:10 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music

B-52s' Fred Schneider rules out "Funplex" follow-up; says they're primarily a touring band now

The B-52s were nearing the end of another one of their annual New Year's Eve shows when, right after "Roam," they were asked to stop for the countdown, champagne toasts, and balloons.

After midnight, it might have been 2011, but the band finished the night just like they would have 30 years ago, in typical garb — Schneider a gold jacket, the gals sparkly mini-dresses — and with a couple of classics, "Rock Lobster," and "Love Shack."

That they're still playing them is further proof that the Athens, Georgia veterans have yet to overstay their welcome, their music as defiantly optimistic as it when "Rock Lobster" first charted.

The new year finds them in the mode that may very well last the rest of their career: Out of the recording studio, touring tons, and playing sets that are split between "Funplex," their 2008 comeback, and material from before 1992, the last time they released new original material.

Singer Fred Schneider confirms a new live album might appear soon, but that there are too many obstacles to do a "Funplex" follow-up — age, the declining music industry — and that they prefer picking worthwhile gigs, like Baltimore's Rams Head Live last year.

"It's a crazy time if you want to make a living in music," he said. "We are lucky to have a big fan base and that we can support ourselves doing live shows."

On Wednesday, they'll perform at the 9:30 Club.

The rest of the interview with Schneider is here

During the interview, Schneider also talked about his side project, the Superions, which played one of their only live shows at the Visionary Art Museum last year. The museum let them shoot the video for "Who threw that ham at me?" there.

He said he doesn't get to spend that much time with the band because the B-52s are still his full-time job, and the other members, Noah Brodie and Dan Marshall, live in Orlando, Fl., he said.

But that when he does, they usually get a lot of stuff done. Their "Destination... Christmas" album, which was released in October, was finished in just three weeks at Brodie and Marshall's Florida homes. 

"The first EP I sang everything in the bathroom," he said. 

The songs, like the single "Fruitcake," are goofy - like wackier, DIY B-52s cuts - but they've got an audience. The album landed at No. 13 on the Billboard comedy chart.

He doesn't plan on touring with them - though, he notes, they've gotten offers - at least until they put out a full-length, proper album. 

For now, they're working on a Halloween album, for which they've completed a song called "Bat Baby."

Below, the Superions' homemade video for "Santa's Disco":

Photo: B-52s Handout photo

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:18 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Live!, Music News

January 11, 2011

Select Lounge to re-open Friday; club's attorney releases statement

Select Lounge, the site of two fatal shootings Sunday morning, will re-open Friday, manager Alex Wolde said. 

The club has been closed since Sunday. 

On Sunday morning, the club was the site of multiple shootings that left two men, a 33-year-old police officer, William H. Torbit Jr., and 22-year-old Sean Gamble, dead, and four others wounded.

Police have confirmed that no civilian weapons were fired that day, and that five police officers shot a total of 41 rounds at what they described as a chaotic scene.

Wolde said he was inside the club when the shootings happened, but that, at this time, he couldn't address any other questions unrelated to the club's business.

He said the club has been closed since Sunday out of respect for the victims of the shooting. The club, which opened in late October, has a seven-day liquor license, records show.

Earlier today, the club's attorneys, the Gardner Law Group, released a statement:

"Because this case involves an active ongoing investigation, any comment on the specific facts would be inappropriate at this time. Until more information becomes available, it is our hope that no conclusion will be drawn or judgment made about Select Lounge, especially since the incident took place outside of Select Lounge. In the meantime, we solemnly join the grief that has descended on Baltimore as we attempt to understand what happened and why."

Select will re-open Friday at 5 p.m. for business as usual. Wolde said there are no vigils or commemorative events planned, though the club is considering donating the weekend's earnings to the victims' families.

The club will also open Saturday and Sunday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

In light of this latest tragedy, city officials have called for renewed discussion about security at city nightlife spots.

Before, the Velvet Rope, Suite Ultralounge, and Club Choices were among the other nightlife venues that had been linked to violent incidents. 

The shooting at Select lounge also followed increased violence downtown. In December, a man and a woman were shot near The Block, on the 400 block of Water Street, within days of two other shootings in the area. 

Photo: Select Lounge Facebook

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:28 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The week in nightlife: Jan. 10 - Jan. 16, Das Racist, Baltimore burlesque, and the Ravens's "World War III"

Here is your guide to the week in nightlife: joke-rap, Tim Burton tributes, and free parties, all before an epic three-day weekend and a totally low-key football game that some people, oh, are just calling "World War III."

On Tuesday, i.e, today, Heavy Seas brewery founder Hugh Sisson hosts a release party for their Siren Noire at Alonso's & Loco Hombre. Begins at 6 p.m.

Wednesday? Nah, it's Friendsdayz. DJ Derek James hosts this party upstairs at the Ottobar. Free for 21 and older. Here's a preview of the last one. In Fells Point, the monthly gay party Peer Pressure returns to the Get Down. Also gratis.

On Thursday, joke-rap duo Das Racist and hype man Dap play Sonar. They will be disappointed to know, as I was, there's precious few Taco Bells in the city, much less one combined with a Pizza Hut. Also, so far: no reported problems at BWI.

Friday is a chilly night. Celebration's Katrina Ford spins at Cullen Stalin's second Ice Age party at Club Phoenix. $2 after 11 p.m. The Seldon Plan will perform at their new album's release party at Metro Gallery. And at Power Plant Live, Angels Rock Bar hosts a Tim Burton tribute party.

On Saturday, hit your favorite Ravens bar for the epic Steelers game. Elliott's Pour House has $2 domestics. Or, for a totally difference scene, Sticky Buns burlesque presents Infernoland at the Windup Space, named way before Terrell Suggs called the Steelers game the Ravens' "Armageddon." $13 cover.

On Sunday the legendary Afrika Bambaataa perform at U Street Music Hall. And remember, no work the next day.

Photo: Sticky Buns burlesque Facebook
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:03 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

Kylie Minogue announces North American tour, plays Virginia two days after kickoff

Kylie Minogue will kick off her second North American tour ever on April 28.

Two days later, she will perform in Virginia at the GMU Patriot Center.

Minogue is touring to support her newest album, "Aphrodite," a hit internationally if less so stateside. She's a regular presence, though, on the Billboard dance and club charts. 

With 12 stops in the United States, this tour far exceeds Minogue's first tour, which went to just six cities. 

Full tour dates after the jump:

Kylie Minogue tour dates:

April 28 Montreal Bell Centre
April 29 Boston, MA Agganis Arena at Boston University
April 30 Washington DC GMU Patriot Center
May 2 NYC, NY Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom
May 3 NYC, NY Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom
May 6 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre
May 7 Fort Lauderdale, FL Bank Atlantic Center
May 8 Orlando, FL Hard Rock Live Orlando
May 10 Houston, TX Verizon Wireless Theatre
May 12 Mexico City Sports Palace
May 14 Guadalajara, Mexico Auditorio Telmex
May 16 Monterrey, Mexico Arena
May 18 Dallas, TX Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
May 20 Los Angeles, CA Hollywood Bowl
May 21 San Francisco, CA Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
May 22 Las Vegas, NV Colosseum at Caesars Palace

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

January 10, 2011

Maryland Bartending Academy grad lands a steady gig

In lighter news, Susan Watkins, a graduate of the Maryland Bartending Academy I interviewed two months ago, writes that she's found a job.

As a bartender no less. 

The 57-year-old took the bartending class after her marriage of 30 years ended. She hoped for a new, late-in-life career. 

She had worked a few private parties since graduating in November, but hadn't landed a job until early last month, when looking at, of all places, she saw an opening at a bar.

She offered to mix a margarita, and has been bartending at The Lanes of Fort Meade's lounge since Friday. The next day, she was running the bar by herself.

The bartending school didn't help her find a gig, but Watkins says it gave her a crash course on mixing. She beams in her e-mail, "I guess you never get too old for something new."

Related to the controversial bartending school: the Midnight Sun Mixer, inspired by my story, is coming up January 20

Photo: Susan Watkins in November (Jed Kirschbaum/Baltimore Sun) 

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:03 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Random stuff

Janet Jackson to perform in Washington D.C. in March; plus tour news from Of Montreal, Twin Shadow, the Go! Team

Janet Jackson will perform in Washington in March, it was just announced. 

The date is part of her Number Ones, Up Close and Personal tour, her first since 2008. 

The tour finds Jackson performing from her newest greatest hits compilation CD, "Number Ones," and in smaller venues than before.

She will perform at DAR Constitution Hall on March 22. Tickets go on sale Friday.   

The complete list of tour dates are below. 

Of Montreal just announced today they will perform at Washington's 9:30 club on April 28. The Athens, Georgia psychedelic hucksters will embark on a full Spring tour later this month. Tickets have yet to go on sale.

Twin Shadow will also perform in the area soon, it was announced last week. 

The Florida-raised Brooklynite will bring his love of 80s new wave to the Ottobar on February 24 and Washington's Black Cat on April 1.

Tickets, at $10, are already on sale at Full tour dates below also. 

The British sextet the Go! Team, whose "Rolling Blackouts" is maybe the first great album of 2011, will also swing by Washington in the Spring. The group will perform at the 9:30 club on April 13. Tickets are not on sale yet.

Janet Jackson tour dates:

March 7,8 - Chicago, the Chicago Theatre
March 12 - Toronto, Centre for the Performing Arts
March 16 - Uncasville, CT, Mohegan Sun Arena
March 18 - New York, Radio City Music Hall
March 22 - Washington, DAR Constitution Hall
March 25,26 - Atlantic City, Borgata Spa & Resort Event Center
March 29 - Atlanta, Fox Theater
March 31 - Saint Louis, Fox Theater
April 2 - Grand Prairie, TX, Verizon Theatre
April 6 - Denver, Wells Fargo Theatre at the Colorado Convention Center
April 8 - Phoenix, Comerica Theatre
April 9 - Santa Barbara, CA, Santa Barbara Bowl
April 14 - Los Angeles, Gibson Amphitheatre
April 19 - San Francisco, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
April 22, 23 - Las Vegas, Caesars Palace


Twin Shadow tour dates (asterisk denotes shows with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart):

Jan 11 La Sala Rossa Montreal, QC
Jan 12 The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern Toronto, ON
Jan 14 Schubas Chicago, IL
Jan 15 Motr Pub Cincinnati, OH Free Show!!!
Jan 16 Grog Shop Cleveland Heights, OH
Feb 24 Ottobar Baltimore, MD ALL AGES!
Apr 01 Black Cat Washington, DC *
Apr 02 Cat's Cradle Carrboro, NC * All Ages!!
Apr 04 40 Watt Club Athens, GA *
Apr 05 The EARL Atlanta, GA *
Apr 06 Bottletree Birmingham, AL *
Apr 07 One Eyed Jacks New Orleans, LA *
Apr 08 Fitzgerald's Houston, TX *
Apr 09 Emos Austin, TX * All Ages!!
Apr 12 The VFW Santa Fe, NM *
Apr 13 Rhythm Room Phoenix, AZ * 21+
Apr 18 The Cellar Door Visalia, CA *
Apr 19 Great American Music Hall San Francisco, CA * All Ages!!
Apr 21 Doug Fir Lounge Portland, OR *
Apr 22 The Crocodile Seattle, WA * 21
Apr 25 Triple Rock Social Club Minneapolis, MN * 21
Apr 29 Rhinos Bloomington, IN * All Ages!!
May 02 Daniel Street Milford, CT * 21
May 03 Paradise Boston, MA * 18
May 06 Webster Hall New York, NY * 18

Photo: Janet Jackson Facebook

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:52 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Music News

January 9, 2011

Councilman William H. Cole IV: law enforcement will have to rethink downtown safety after Select Lounge

Violence at downtown night clubs and lounges, including the Velvet Rope, Suite Ultralounge, and Club Choices, has been a problem for years.

It continued Sunday with a fatal shooting at the West side's Select Lounge.

Though city councilman William H. Cole IV defended the city's efforts to improve security over the years, he also said the shooting will force law enforcement and city officials to again rethink security strategies for night clubs.

"We're going to have to take a very serious look at these clubs to make sure police have resources they need and the clubs are contributing to keep their facilities safe," he said.

For tomorrow's paper, I spoke with Cole and Liquor Board chairman Stephan Fogleman about the shooting, and compiled some recent incidents of violence at the city's clubs and lounge. That story can be found here.  

In the past, Cole said, the city responded to violent incidents at downtown night clubs with padlocking, using the liquor board's enforcement arm, and demanding clubs improved their security. Police also increased security at closing times, when most problems arose, he added.

He argued the combined efforts had dampened violence problems, but that some clubs were still not on board.

"It depends on the clubs and it depends on the night," he said. "Some of them do a very good job with private security."

He said the shooting, at least, will make everyone reconsider the best way to secure nightlife spots.

"This will spark another conversation about safety and security in the downtown clubs and how well they staff their own private security," he said.

Business in the area is dependent on better security, he said. 

"I don't know if [the shooting] is going to have an effect on the nightlife business downtown," he said. "Our responsibility is to make sure these clubs are operating safely, and if that happens, the crowds will come."

Photo: Select Lounge cordoned off by police tape (Crime Beat blog)

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:59 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Six shot outside West side's Select Lounge; unclear if club will re-open

Six people, including two police officers, were shot Sunday morning outside Select Lounge, a recently opened West side club that billed itself as the "premiere [sic] destination for sophisticated club connoisseurs, savvy socialites, A-list celebrities and Baltimore's elite."

It's unclear when or if the club will re-open following the tragedy. Manager Alex Wolde couldn't be reached for comment. 

Police were called to crowd control a chaotic scene outside the club Sunday morning when, around 1:15 a.m., an altercation broke out and multiple shots were fired, police said. Eight-year police veteran William H. Torbit Jr., 33, and civilian Sean "Loz" Gamble died at the scene.

Crime Beat has a comprehensive timeline of the events. Police still haven't determined who instigated the shootings.

Select Lounge opened in October with a lavish party that was sponsored by Belvedere Vodka (grand opening flier at right). Midnight Sun reviewed it. Owners had high hopes it would attract local VIPs.

It might have been on its way. Raven Dannell Ellerbe celebrated his birthday there in December.

It's unclear when the young club will re-open, or indeed, what effect this will have in the long run. Police tell Crime Beat the club hadn't drawn extraordinary attention since it opened. But, already, some patrons are saying they won't return there.

Phone calls to manager Alex Wolde haven't been returned.

And the club's frequently updated Facebook and Twitter have been silent since January 5. 

At the scene, reporter Justin Fenton writes, the club's parking lot is blocked off by police tape. 

More updates to come tomorrow.

Photo: Select Lounge Facebook
Posted by Erik Maza at 2:50 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

January 8, 2011

The week, reviewed: Jan. 2 - Jan. 8: Tipsy Taxi, Four Loko, Looney's fine

In nightlife this week, there was wide agreement Tipsy? Taxi! dropped the ball on New Year's Eve. Even Dwight Kines, general manager of Yellow Cab, had to defend his company against the criticism. Not that it helped. Wild Goose's new owners announced the popular beer will be produced again in a couple of months, just as soon as they can find someone to contract-brew it. After an East Coast comedy tour, Wham City said it will begin holding monthly comedy nights. Four Loko resurfaced again, this time as fuel for cars, causing rappers to go nuts. Actually, the rappers might have just been using this as some newfangled defense strategy. Except in DMX's case, who is probably is crazy, just this great story from the Phoenix New Times.In unrelated news, the DMV area's best rappers of the year were named. Among them? Slightly crazed Wale. Maple Lawn's Looney's was fined. Vicki Leekx dropped a new mixtape. Stillwater Ales and Mikkeller revealed a new collaboration at Max's. New shows were scheduled: Egg Babies, Dustin Wong, Surfer Blood and Trail of Dead. Sticky Rice finally got a live entertainment license. The merits of Old Dominion's Victory Amber Lager were discussed. As were the finer points of craft beer semantics. Still lingering before Sunday's Maryland-Duke game: What are Baltimore's best Terps bars?

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Roundup

January 7, 2011

Four Loko now used as gasoline. Prepare for gasoline to be banned

When several states ko'd Four Loko, the poison swill that almost hijacked the November news cycle, bottlers were forced to buy back loads of cases of the thing and other caffeinated beverages. Now, a Virginia company named MXI Environmental Services is converting all that discarded booze into ethanol. To power your car. The company will distill the ethyl alcohol in the drinks and ship it to gasoline blenders to make a powerful brew that's almost indistinguishable from ethanol made from corn. So that Four Loko now won't just taste like gasoline, it will actually be gasoline. A warning however: don't blame your ethanol-powered car next time you crash into a ditch. They might get banned too soon after. (via)

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:38 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Random stuff

Sticky Rice gets legit, granted live entertainment license

PX00189_9.JPGSticky Rice has been holding parties and music acts for some time now.

As of yesterday, it can do it legally. 

The Baltimore Liquor Board granted the Fells Point restaurant a live entertainment license. (As well as outdoor table service.)

Tonight moombahton king Dave Nada will spin at what is more or less their first legit music show.

Since it opened in September, the restaurant has hosted after-dinner DJ nights. Nada himself played their opening night party.

And Pedx hosts its "Always Dope" party there as well.

But none of those required a live entertainment license because the DJs didn't use microphones or instruments, as the law stipulates.

Owner Joey Belcher explais that they applied for a new license to be able to host karaoke nights, which will begin January 25.

Liquor board chairman Stephan Fogleman also explains that many venues can get away with not having a license if there are no complaints - as was the case here.

But it's best to pursue one to be in the clear with the city. In order to have a live entertainment license, venues must pay $250 in city fees, as well as already carry a liquor license - which costs about $1,300 in city fees, on top of its sale price - Fogleman explained.

The Nada show, which has no cover, starts at 11 p.m. Billfold will also perform. The DJ described the party on Facebook as, "moombahton madness meets club craziness."

Way crazier: sushi won't be served past 11 p.m.

Post updated with Joey Belcher's explanation for the restaurant's license application.

Photo: Sticky Rice (Kenneth Lam/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:42 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Wham City to hold monthly comedy nights

Coming off a successful East Coast comedy tour, Wham City will begin holding monthly comedy nights this month.

Ben O'Brien, who booked the tour, says the monthly event will be different in that it will consist only of stand-up.

The tour was a hybrid of stand-up, video, absurdist theater and dance.

It featured O'Brien, Ed Schrader, Alan Resnick, Robby Rackleff, April Camlin, Pete O'Connell, Mason Ross, Adam Endres, Connor Kizer, Dina Kelberman, as well as Dan Deacon. 

The first comedy night will feature Resnick, as well as some new players - A Funny Clown, Erin Gleeson, Frank Martone, Kevin Sherry, Keith Lea, and Showbiz!

O'Brien and Mason Ross will host. It's scheduled for January 18 at the Zodiac. Tickets are $5 at the door.

The next show, scheduled for February 22, features only female comics. Amy Harmon, Anna Fitzgerald, Cricket Arrison, Ellie Beziat, Liz Donadio, Lola Pierson, and Caroline Marcantoni, who choreographed the tour's dancing finale, will perform. 

O'Brien said in the future the show might include some of the other elements found in the tour. 

Picture: Wham City Comedy Night Facebook
Posted by Erik Maza at 12:59 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

January 6, 2011

Wild Goose production to resume in February; new owner Logan-Shaw Brewery relocates to Waldorf

wildgoose2.JPGLogan-Shaw Brewing company is seeking regional brewers to continue making the discontinued 21-year-old beer brand Wild Goose. 

The Waldorf-based company bought the brand in December from Flying Dog Ales for an undisclosed amount. 

But the so-called nano-brewery won't be up and running for another 18 months, president Jeff Harrison said. 

In the meantime, the company is seeking brewers in Maryland, Delaware or Virginia to continue making the brand's Amber Ale and its IPA starting as early as February or March, when the beer's last batches are expected to run out.

"It's a local beer so it would make no sense to brew it in upstate New York," he said.

Flying Dog, the brand's previous owner, began discussions to sell Wild Goose last summer, earlier than previously thought, according to Harrison.

His company is in conversations with a few regional brewers to take over production, Harrison said, but isn't ready to disclose names. 

 "An announcement has to come soon because we want to keep the beer flowing," he said.

Flying Dog inherited Wild Goose when it bought its brewery in Frederick. But the company ran out of space to produce it along its more popular Flying Dog product, according to vice president of marketing Ben Savage.

Harrison said Logan-Shaw began negotiations to buy Wild Goose in July, earlier than previously thought.  Flying Dog didn't confirm it would discontinue Wild Goose until November.Then, Savage insisted it was seeking ways to keep the brand alive.

Harrison said Logan-Shaw still can't disclose the terms of the sale, as per their agreement with Flying Dog.

He said his company bought Wild Goose in the interest of keeping "a great brand" alive.

Logan-Shaw, named after the DC neighborhood, is referred to by its owners as a nano-brewery.

"We like that term because it's more manageable," he said. "These days microbreweries are huge. We're not in that ballpark."

Right now, though, it's still a larval nanobrewery. 

The company won't even sign a lease on its home brewery in Waldorf, Maryland until later this week (The space is 4,000 square feet and will likely produce 7,200 barrels* a year, Harrison said).

And that location won't be up and running for another 18 months, or more, depending on construction delays. 

The contract brewery the company hires temporarily for Wild Goose would produce the amber and the IPA. The popular Snow Goose would come online later on.

"We would like to produce all the recipes but we'd like to start small," Harrison said.

(*Post updated: Harrison had mistakenly said the brewery would produce 30 gallons a year.)

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:49 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Brewing News

January 5, 2011

Egg Babies plan first all-covers show since July

The cover band Egg Babies has scheduled its first show since July for later this month.

They will perform along the Bellevederes, the local soul band, at the Ottobar January 29.

The band Meetwood Flack, which includes members of both Egg Babies and the Bellevederes, will also perform a series of covers of Crosby, Nash and Stills songs. 

Nah, just kidding. They'll be doing Fleetwood Mac covers, hopefully, along with a couple of Steve Nicks imitations. 

The members of Egg Babies don't perform regularly; they just get together every few months for a show. 

This will be Meetwood Flack's second show ever. Their last was in July, when they got Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner to sing lead on a bunch of songs. 

Why Fleetwood Mac? Band member Michael Ward says it always gets a big reaction. 

"Those songs are timeless and people of all ages still enjoy them," he said. The show will consist of an encore of the last show, but will include one new interpretation.  

Come see the witchy magic at 9 p.m., January 29. Tickets, at $10, will be sold at soon.

Post updated for clarification
Posted by Erik Maza at 3:00 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Local music

Nation's mental institutions now filled with rappers

It's looks like it's not just Wale who's gone crazy recently. On Tuesday, an Atlanta judge sent Gucci Mane to a psychiatric institution after the rapper pleaded "mental incompetency" to charges that he'd violated the terms of his probation. And that same day, the rapper Charles Hamilton was also referred to a psychiatric clinic to see if he was mentally fit to stand trial over an assault charge. So, what is this fun new trend, some kind of defense tactic? "I don't have substance abuse issues judge; I'm just nuts." Clever. Two weeks ago, it was DMX who was committed. After serving a month in Joe Arpaio's Tent City jail, he was committed to the jail's mental-health unit for 30 days. A judge had previously said the rapper suffered from "bi-polar disorder or some sort of mental affliction." Well, that, I believe, because DMX really is basket case.

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:30 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

What should be the standard for craft breweries?

A couple of weeks ago, when I reported that Flying Dog had sold its Wild Goose brand to something that referred itself as a "nano-brewery," an incredulous reader snapped back on twitter, "WTF is a nano-brewery?" (Hi @ryan97ou!)

Who can blame him for the confusion. In the beer world, terms like nano-breweries and microbreweries and craft breweries are often interchangeable, so that's it's difficult to know exactly how macro some of these places really are.

According to the Brewers Association, the trade group that represents mostly small breweries, the standard for a craft brewery was the maximum production of 2 million barrels.

But as of December, the new standard is 6 million barrels, which means that Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams, can continue to be considered a craft brewer. This is, in part, a case of boosterism by the craft beer industry, says trade writer Andy Crouch.

By expanding the standard, the Boston Beer Company's sales can still be included in the annual count of craft brewers' total sales. 

But Crouch says, though the new definition is a welcome step, it's not as important as technique or taste. He writes the new definition continues to exclude breweries like Goose Island Brewing that have corporate ties (to Anheuser-Busch InBev, in this case), even though it is indisputably as innovative as any artisinal, or entirely independent microbrewery.

"I can honestly say that I have visited few breweries with such a dedicated passion for producing great, flavorful beers and to pushing the edge of brewing. The brewery simply puts many other regional breweries, with all of their independent, craft brewer puffery, to shame," he writes of Goose Island. 

It seems that despite the new definition, the jury is still out on what constitutes craft. What do you think should be important, innovation, quantity, or independence?

In related news, the Washington Post reports six microbreweries are coming to Washington D.C. in 2011, including Port City Brewing Co. in Alexandria, which has a 30-barrel brew house and 60- and 90-barrel fermenters.

No mention there of Logan Shaw Brewing Company's status. (via)

If I remember correctly, Washington City Paper made a similar prediction back in October. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:52 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Brewing News

Surfer Blood and Trail of Dead to play Ottobar in May

...And you will know us by the Trail of Dead announced they would tour with Surfer Blood this Spring, despite looking like they could break the baby-faced Florida rockers in half.

The veteran Austin rock band, known for their ferocious performances and on-stage fights, is fond of unlikely pairings.

A couple of years ago band members were praising art-rockers Dirty Projectors and Yeasayer.

The band has seven albums to newbie Surfer Blood's 2010 release, "Astro Coast." They're touring with a new one, out in February, called "Tao of the Dead."

The co-headlining show will be at the Ottobar May 11. The two bands are doing 13 shows together, including one in Washington D.C.

The Ottobar doesn't know yet when tickets will go on sale, says owner Craig Boarman.

The rest of the tour dates, and a Trail of Dead Video, after the jump.

Trail of Dead/Surfer Blood tour dates, via:

04-29 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
04-30 Boston, MA - Middle East
05-01 Montreal, Quebec - Le Tulipe
05-03 Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace
05-04 Detroit, MI - Magic Stick
05-05 Columbus, OH - Basement
05-06 Lansing, MI - The Loft
05-07 Chicago, IL - Bottom Lounge
05-08 Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop
05-10 Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel
05-11 Baltimore, MD - Ottobar
05-12 Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church
05-13 Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Bowl

Trail of Dead on "Late Show with David Letterman:"

Photo:  Trail of Dead Facebook

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Music News

January 4, 2011

Old Dominion's Victory Amber Lager to be released at Rams Head restaurants

Old Dominion's seasonal Victory Amber Lager will be released at several Rams Head restaurants Thursday, the Rams Head Group announced.

In a unique marketing partnership between the brewer and Rams Head, the beer will receive a simultaneous release at four of the group's restaurant locations. 

The restaurants that will hold the release are the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis, the Tavern Savage Mill, Rams Head Roadhouse in Annapolis, and the Rams Head Shore House in Stevensville.  

The beer is  described as a "full-bodied and unfiltered steam beer" that is "reminiscent of a beer our country's forefathers drank in colonial taverns."

It currently has an overall 38 rating at

The event will last from 4 to 6 p.m. at all locations. (via)

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:30 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Brewing News

Dustin Wong, and Real Estate's guitarist to perform at Golden West Cafe in February

Matthew Mondanile will perform at Golden West Cafe in February, alongside local Dustin Wong, it was just announced. 

Mondanile is the guitarist of critically beloved New Jersey band Real Estate. He'll be performing with his side project, the ambient-pop band the Ducktails, who are on tour promoting a new record that will be released later this month.

Wong will open for the band. The guitarist released a new album last year, "Infinite Love," (video below), and performed around town scores of times. Midnight Sun reviewed his show at the G Spot in November.

The show at Golden West, where band Woods will also perform, is February 8. Tickets, at $8, are sold via (via)

Dustin Wong, "Infinite Love:"

Dustin Wong - Infinite Love preview from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:56 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

On New Year's Eve, Tipsy? Taxi! dropped the ball

From the moment the Tipsy? Taxi! service was announced, readers slammed its past performance.

This year, it didn't do much better.

Yellow Cab, which operates the service, missed about 18 percent of all calls received on New Year's Eve, the company tells Sun blog Getting There.

Dismayed by complaints from residents, the State Highway Administration is now planning on investigating the free cab rides. 

In the end, the combination of unreliable phone lines and long waiting times proved to be discouraging to most Baltimore residents. (Ragina Averella, a spokeswoman for Tipsy? Taxi! sponsor AAA Mid-Atlantic,  had already told Midnight Sun last week that the expected waiting time for the cabs would be 45 minutes.)

Only 92 rides were provided by the free cab service Friday, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic's preliminary count.

Averella promised to do a better job next time. "We will be looking at how we can possibly improve that service," she told Getting There.

In a separate e-mail to Midnight Sun, she defended this year's numbers, saying it was consistent with other years. In 2007, she wrote, when the service lasted from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., the service provided 114 rides. And in 2009, it provided nearly 100 rides.

Overall, she wrote, the sponsors were "pleased that patrons in Baltimore continue to take advantage of the Tipsy? Taxi Service."

But the SHA is not as pleased. In a statement to Getting There, it said it's planning on investigating problems with the service next month: "The three partners - SHA, AAA Mid-Atlantic and Yellow Cab are working together to determine what can be done differently in the future and will be meeting together in the next month."

The SHA and the service's program should start to wonder why a free cab ride isn't more popular with residents. 

It's not just dropped calls and long waiting times, if they want to improve use, they should make other changes. 

For starters, the service should be open to underage drinkers, who will drink despite the law, and need designated drivers as much, if not more, than adults who've already drinking for years.

Averella had also told Midnight Sun last week Yellow Cab would only have two phone operators dedicated to Tipsy? Taxi calls and that the cab provider would also be conducting regular business on New Year's Eve.

The sponsors should also recognize that a free cab ride on one of the year's drinking high holidays is going to be popular and is going to require more than just two operators.

These changes are important because, as Mike Dresser has already written, it makes no sense to tout a valuable service, even if its free, if it isn't going to be reliable.

Photo: Tipsy? Taxi! announcement press conference last week (Algerina Perna/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:03 AM | | Comments (40)
Categories: New Year's Eve 2010, News

January 3, 2011

Stillwater Ales and Mikkeller to debut new ale at Max's Taphouse Tuesday

Baltimore's Brian Strumke and Denmark's Mikkeller brewery will debut a new collaboration at Max's Taphouse Tuesday.

Called "Our Side," the ale will also be released at three other locations in the country, Washington D.C., Virginia, and New York.

"Our Side," which the brewers are calling a collaborative gypsy ale, is a mix of Stillwater Artisanal Ales' Stateside Saison and Mikkeller Stateside IPA.

According to Max's, it is packed with "piney, resinous hops, and backed by the esters of a farmhouse yeast strain." 

"Our Side" was brewed at Strumke's home base brewery, DOG Brewing Co. in Westminster, MD. It the brewers' second collaboration, is called a collaborative gypsy ale because Mikkeller is Denmark's answer to Strumke. The local brewer is regularly called a gypsy brewer because he doesn't have his own brewery and instead rents space and equipment to make his product.

Strumke said in a follow-up e-mail he will head to Denmark soon to work on another collaboration, but that it won't surface in the United States until late Spring. 

Strumke won't be at Max's for the tasting; he will be at D.C.'s ChurchKey.

The tasting at Max's begins at 6 p.m. (via)

(Post updated) 

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:40 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Brewing News

New free music from M.I.A., Justin Timberlake, the Decemberists

It's a new year, so some music people figured you need new stuff to listen to. M.I.A., hoping to start 2011 on a promising note after a disappointing 2010, released a new free mixtape that includes tracks she'd quietly released online before, like "Steppin' Up" and the Blaqstarr-produced "Let Me Hump You." The 19 tracks can be downloaded here. Rick Ross has a new free mixtape himself; it is called "Ashes to Ashes." The Decemberists' new album, "The King is Dead," won't be released until mid-January, but NPR is streaming the whole thing gratis at its website. The Daily Swarm think it's spotted a leaked new track by Justin Timberlake. It is called "Take You Down" (Update: leak debunked; singer is actually a Rasmus Thude).  Lady Gaga has some new material out too; you'd think it was a song off her upcoming album judging from all the online hollering of her little monsters, but nope, turns out it's just a new picture of her butt, which most paparazzi can already draw from memory.

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:13 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

WKYS: DMV's hottest rappers of 2010 include Wale, Phil Ade

Radio station WKYS released its top ten list of the most successful area rappers of 2010 last week, and  - surprise, surprise - Wale lead the pack.

The rest of the list includes Phil Ade and Kingpen Slim. 

For us, the most important question is: who's missing?

The DC-based, hip-hop radio station came up with its list after polling musicians, producers, record store owners, and bloggers of the metropolitan area.

They were asked to vote on the rappers who "made the most noise inside and outside the D.C. area by way of buzzworthy shows, tours, videos..." and other things that kept them visible throughout the year. 

Wale is at the top of the list, the radio station says, because "before him there wasn’t as much interest from the outside world" on the area.

That seems like something of a stretch, but Wale did have a pretty good year. He went on an East Coast tour that stopped in Baltimore last month, released a new video for "Pretty Girls," and, with Uncalled 4 Band, was the official band of the MTV Video Music Awards, a measure of commercial success if nothing else.

Last month, he had some bad press, but even more Google mentions, when he went on a six-minute rant on 92Q over Bossman, a Baltimore rapper.

The rest of the station's list features only one female rapper - RaTheMC - and mostly D.C.-based artists.

They include, in descending order (includes links to NSFW videos, so put on your speakers earphones!): Fat Trel, of the Board Administration; Boobe, whose single "My Way" features Raheem Devaughn; Garvey The Chosen One; Bear Witnez, whose "I'm a Hustler" was one of the station's most played songs of the year;  Kingpen Slim is on the list for his mixtape "The Beam Up 2: So Cinematic;" Tabbi Bonney is included for his epic single "Nuthin' but a Hero;" Diamond District and Phil Ade.

The rest of the list is here

Any top ten list is inevitably incomplete. It seems a missed opportunity to not have included, as Baltimore writer Al Shipley would probably have liked, two local mainstays, Los or Dirt Platoon, who both returned to form this year with "Shooter" and "Deeper than Dirt," respectively.

Who else is missing from the list?

Photo: Wale's official website

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:18 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Local music

Nightlife Pocket Guide: Jan. 3 - 9: Golden West Cafe, Sidebar, Greene Turtle

You asked for it, and here it is: a guide to the week in nightlife. Call it the Midnight Sun Nightlife Pocket Guide: small enough to print out, and carry in your snuggest back pocket. On Monday, Red Maple's weekly free Electric Marmalade party moves to 9 p.m. Maybe a belly dancer will show up. On Tuesday, Second City does Baltimore. Show by the comedy troupe is on until Feb. 20. At the Greene Turtle in Columbia, 22-ounce Coors Light drafts are $1.99. The bar calls it Beer Pong Tuesdays. On Wednesday, one half of noise duo Abiku DJs a new party, "Bent," at Sidebar. Expect grainy video accompaniment. $3. On Thursday, more free trash at Windup Space's Mondo Baltimore. On Friday, go to 851 Hollins St. for the first Lith Hall "Twist & Shout" dance party of the year. $5. Also: Deep in the Game returns to Hippo. No cover before 11 p.m. On Saturday, the king of moombahton Dave Nada spins at Golden West Cafe for TaxLo DJ Simon Phoenix's birthday party. $5. On Sunday, no Lucky Dragons show like January 2, but emerging R&B singer Ledisi performs at Bourbon Street. $30. If you've got suggestions for next week, e-mail me at


All other entertainment events are listed at FindLocal, the Sun's venue and events database.
Posted by Erik Maza at 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music, Nightlife Pocket Guide

January 2, 2011

The week, reviewed: Dec. 26 - Jan. 1

Happy New Year Baltimore! And what a year it's a been. Just take a look at our most-read posts of the year. The whole week has been been building in anticipation of NYE.  To help you out, Midnight Sun compiled a list of all the bars that were planning on staying open all night long Friday. (The expanded hours are possible because of a state law that's nearly 70 years old and that applies only to the city of Baltimore). Thanks to that list, some of you might have spent the whole night celebrating, the same ones that might still be nursing a hangover today. You could have also spent the night at one of the 11 events listed in our New Year's Eve guide. Among them was the party at Rams Head Live where J. Roddy Walston and the Business performed. In this interview, Walston talked about the influence of Leon Russell, and the benefits of recording on tape. Rapper Mickey Free, who's had a great year himself, opened for the band. If you didn't see him there, here's a video of him performing last month. Celebrating on New Year's was made easier by free public transportation thanks to a beer conglomerate, and to the Tipsy? Taxi! program, though that one may not have been as useful given the 45 minutes expected waiting time. Elsewhere this week, an electronic music showdown went down at Metro gallery, and we looked at some concerts coming up in the new year, Starscape festival, Liz Phair, and Asia, among them. Still unclear is who'll perform at Starscape, or who'll show up at Liz Phair's concert, the pop princess or the Keith Richards fan. Also unclear: did anyone actually use Tipsy? Taxi! How was it? Timely? Useful? And, the most important question of all, did Baltimore live up to its reputation as the 37th drunkest city in the country? Anyway, here's to a great 2011.

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