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February 28, 2011

Two former police chiefs and a former Maryland U.S. attorney among those to review Select Lounge shooting

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Friday the members of a panel to review the events that led to a January shooting outside Select Lounge.

The announcement came just three days after some 100 family members and friends of one of the victims of the shooting, officer William H. Torbit, Jr., protested City Hall demanding the investigation be sped up. 

Though at the time of the incident, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said the investigation would take three weeks, six weeks later nothing as of last week had been finalized. 

The mayor's announcement may assuage the concerns of the victims' family.

The members of the panel include two respected former police chiefs and a former U.S. attorney for Maryland, Justin Fenton reports:

They are: 

Darrel W. Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association at the Johns Hopkins University's Division of Public Safety Leadership program. Stephens is a former chief of police in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Newport News, Va.; and served as executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum. Stephens did not return a message seeking comment.

Hubert Williams, president of the Police Foundation, a Washington think tank with a reputation for progressive policing tactics. He is a former police director — the equivalent of police chief — in Newark, N.J., and is a founding president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Officers.

In 1992, he was the deputy chair of the Los Angeles Police Department's review of riots there. In Baltimore, he led the effort that selected Thomas C. Frazier to be the city's police commissioner in 1993. Through the Police Foundation, he declined to comment.

James K. "Chips" Stewart, former director of the National Institute of Justice. He is a senior fellow at the Center for Naval Analyses' Institute for Public Research, which provides consulting on domestic policy issues. In that role, he has worked on reviews of police use-of-force incidents in Oakland, Calif, where he was a former police commander, and Tampa, Fla.

 The full story is here.

The homicide unit' own investigation into the shooting is still ongoing; final autopsy reports have not yet arrived. 

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

The Strokes to headline yogurt restaurant's music festival at Merriweather

The Strokes will perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion this summer.

They will be the headliners at Sweetlife, the second music festival by salad and yogurt restaurant Sweetgreen. So far, the band, which will release their new album in late March, are the only announced performers. Organizers say the full line-up and ticket information will be announced soon.

The festival takes place April 30.

Meanwhile, Western Connecticut State University announced that Weezer and Snoop Dogg will headline their annual B.O.M.B. Fest, which runs May 28 - 29. Wiz Khalifa, Against Me! and Titus Andronicus, who will appear at Rams Head Live March 7, will also perform.

Tickets for that festival go on sale at its website Friday.

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:52 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Feb. 28 - March 6 in nightlife: Celebration, "Putty Hill," Novo Festival and Big in Japan

Novo2011_20211.jpgThe five-day Novo Festival starts Tuesday, ensuring that there will be at least one musical performance almost every night this week. Elsewhere, there are parties for "Putty Hill" and Celebration, and one for both on Saturday night upstairs at the Ottobar. 

On Monday, DC DJ Billy the Gent spins at Metro Gallery's No Rule party. 1700 N Charles St. Starts at 10 p.m. Free.

On Tuesday, The Out of Your Head Collective kicks off Novo, the all-instrumental music festival that's now in its second year. Doors at the Windup Space, 12 W North Ave, open at 9 p.m. Free. The festival's schedule is below.

On Wednesday, Sidebar will host the last Bent party in three months as the DJ, Josh Jaworsky, goes on tour with Abiku. 218 E. Lexington St. Starts at 9 p.m.

On Thursday, Dan Deacon and Jimmy Joe Roche host a $5 screening of "Beetlejuice," the fourth edition of Gunky's Basement at the Charles, 1711 N. Charles St. Also: four female-fronted punk bands - The Creepshow, Dead End Lane, The Revelevens, and the Firecrackers - perform at the Sidebar. Doors open at 8 p.m. $10.

On Friday, Deep in the Game returns to Hippo, 1 West Eager St. City Paper had a great profile of Adam Schwarz, one of the party's DJs, last week. Schwarz has a new album coming out, called, "Deep in the Game," natch. The first single can be downloaded here. $5 after 11 p.m. Over 21 only. Also: Dustin Wong performs at a party for "Putty Hill" at Metro Gallery. $5 or free with movie ticket stub.  

On Saturday, Celebration releases its first album in three years, "Hello Paradise," at 2640 Space, 2640 St. Paul St. Future Islands and Arbouretum, out with their own new album, will open. Show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets, at $10, can be bought at missiontix or at Red Emma's and True Vine. Katrina Ford will spin at the Ottobar later that night at a joint Celebration and Putty Hill party. Starts at 10 p.m. Admission is free.

On Sunday, Lower Dens perform at the Ottobar. The band is out with a new 7-inch, featuring a cover of Mayo Thompson's "Dear Betty Baby." $8. Doors open at 9 p.m.

Novo Festival schedule, from their Facebook event listing:

The Out of Your Head Collective featuring guest artist Andrew D'Angelo

Star FK Radium
Of The West
Deaf Scene

Susan Alcorn
Chris Farmer (formerly of Breadwinner)
Decapitated Hed

Big in Japan
Do You Need the Service
Gifts From Enola

Omoo Omoo
Dead Drums
Teenage Souls

Tickets are $5 Wednesday and Thursday and $8 Friday and Saturday.  The Windup Space is selling advance tickets as well as a $20 package for all five days of the festival.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:54 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

February 25, 2011

Review: Lady Gaga at Verizon Center February 24

The idea that Lady Gaga cribs from the Madonna songbook is a crock.

At Thursday night's show at Verizon Center, she also cribbed from Elton John, Queen, Guns n' Roses, Klaus Nomi, even Tim Burton, all for a show that was upbeat, hysterical at times, and as shamelessly frivolous as the best pop spectacles should be.

The show opened at 9:25 p.m. with a lopsided silhouette performing "Dance in the Dark" from behind a white scrim, much like Madonna opened "Express Yourself" at the 1989 MTV awards.

Was it Gaga back there, or some kind of animatronic?  With Gaga, it's always a combination of both. The figure tried different poses in place, earning ecstatic cheers from the mostly filled-out arena for each new one. 

When the scrim finally went up, Gaga was revealed in a big purple onesie and exaggerated Klaus Nomi-esque (or, if you want, Margiela-esque) power shoulder pads. Also on stage: a small flotilla of dancers in ripped leggings and leather vests, and a beat-up green car, the second automobile to make a stage guest appearance in the last year after Carrie Underwood's flying pickup truck.

Some kind of memo must have circulated at Live Nation last year. Only Underwood's car didn't also double as a piano, like Gaga's did, one she put to use during a mainly subdued "Glitter and Grease."

"Just Dance" revved things up. To offset Gaga's spirited if kicky, aimless dancing style, she was backed by some 20 dancers, all on stage for the first time. Where she poses more than she gyrates, they're supposed to fill in the gaps with suggestive calisthenics.

But dancing's never been Gaga's strong suit;  Robyn put on a more coordinated performance on that front at Rams Head not long ago. Her assets are her singing voice, and the spectacle she inspires in even the oldest fans. One needn't look further than the crowd here, which was a cross-section of young and old, gay and female, many decked out in their best duds and pink wigs from Party City. There were even septuagenarians in silver jackets and face masks, a Ga-Ga sisterhood, if you will.

There's also her sense of humor. Though she didn't crack a smile all night, Gaga's best moments are inspired by kitsch and a Dada sensibility that appreciates double entendres, irony and the absurd. Witness her piano car, "bluffin' with my muffin,' an engorged claw for a glove, or her off-the-cuff banter with the crowd.

"I don't if you've heard D.C.," she told the crowd, "but I've got a tremendous [***]," a reference to probably self-created rumors a few years ago that she was intersex. 

For "LoveGame," Gaga altered the set only slightly, replacing the vintage car for a subway headed towards 42nd street and "Glitter Way." The show's story line, something out of "Rocky Horror Picture Show," had Gaga and her gaggle on their way to the Monster Ball.  

Her costume here - a play on a Richard Prince nurse - was quickly shuffled out for "Telephone," which ushered us into the leather portion of the evening, and her, perhaps, best moment of choreography. She showed off her potent singing voice on new ballad "You and I," pure vintage Elton, that she played on a burning piano.

She dedicated it, in so many words to LGBTQ activists, a poignant moment that came days after President Obama asked the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act. Surprisingly, she didn't make note of it - maybe she's saving that speech it for her second single. 

Over two hours, she played a set-list that was a virtual carbon copy of the one from September, and featured just a couple of new songs off the new album.  The rest of her set list showed off some of her less known songs - "Teeth;" "So Happy I Could Die," as good a pop ballad as Gwen Stefani's "Cool," here sung in an angel costume with moving wings and halo.

Unlike Madonna, who endlessly remixes her songs for concerts, none of Gaga's songs showed much variation from their album or radio counterparts.  

She finished the night with three of her best known singles - "Poker Face," "Paparazzi" and a soaring (and shiny) "Bad Romance."

For the encore, she starting singing "Born this Way" acappela with her three back-up singers, and then switched to the version that's ubiquitous on top 40 radio now. She calls it an anthem for the disaffected, though judging by the merchandise outside, they must only be the deep-pocketed kind. A "Born this Way" hoodie went for $75 while a simple, sequin-less black tee cost $50.

The implied message? Splurge, you were born to pay.

Lady Gaga set list:

Dance in the Dark
Glitter and Grease
Just Dance
Beautiful, Dirty, Rich
The Fame
Boys Boys Boys
Money Honey
You and I (New song)
So Happy I Could Die
Poker Face
Bad Romance

Born This Way

Photo: Lady Gaga performing in September at the Verizon Center (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:39 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Concert reviews

Starscape Festival announces 2011 lineup: Steve Aoki, Bassnectar, Zeds Dead

Starscape Festival, the overnight, electronic and dance music festival that takes place on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in June, announced its 2011 lineup today.

Among the performers are Bassnectar, Steve Aoki, and Zeds Dead.

For the festival, Fort Armistead Park will be divided into four areas: main stage, beach stage, dance tent, and drum and bass tent. 

Starcape starts at 2 p.m. June 4 ends at 6 a.m.  

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

Early tickets went on sale January 5. They are still available at the festival's website. General admission is $52.50, and VIP admission is $142.50. 

The full lineup is below: 

Starscape Festival 2011 line-up:

Main Stage
-Rabbit Live
-Infected Mushroom Live

Beach Stage
-Flux Pavillion & Doctor P
-Zeds Dead
-Excision & Datsik
-Paper Diamond
- Mux Mool

Dance Tent

-Bad Boy Bill
-Le Castle Vania
-Charles Feelgood
-Steve Aoki
-Hot Pink Delorean
-Feed Me
-Dillon Francis

Drum and Bass Tent
-LTJ Bukem

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

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:29 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Local music

February 24, 2011

The new Locust Point bar crawl: the Sly Fox Pub, Five Points Tavern, Barracudas Tavern

John Householder and Tom Pomroy, the owners of Five Points Tavern in Locust Point, opened the bar in November, taking over the space where Aloha Tokyo used to be.

They say the nightlife here is still sleepy, but that they see potential in the condo developments that have been buzzed about in recent years. 

"The neighborhood in general is growing and getting more populated," he said. "As more people come to the area, we'll see success."

In addition to Five Points, Barracudas Tavern also opened recently, giving the neighborhood some much-needed new blood. 

Though the definitive Fort Avenue bar crawl ran four years ago, when this paper still ran 5,000-word features, the new bars demanded another go of it.

For tomorrow's paper, I went to the Sly Fox Pub, Five Points and Barracudas Tavern.  Here's a part of the column:

Barracudas Tavern is the Buckcherry to Five Points' Creedence Clearwater Revival

It's loudly decorated, with stuffed sea creatures hanging everywhere inside. And, unfortunately, a big, bosomy novelty mermaid hanging above one of the entrances outside — not the kind of message you want to send out to potential female clients.

At about 10:30 p.m., a fight almost broke out between a couple of young men; I didn't overhear the reason but chances are it wasn't over the virtues of taxidermy. There were also no taps here, but prices were cheap: $4.50 for three Bohs; a 20-ounce glass of rum punch for $7.50.

The bartenders were casual and quick, but the restless crowd and the loud music — Usher, again — made me want to go back to the relative peace of 5 Points, or at least the better bars in the area, like J. Patrick's or Down the Hatch.

The rest of the column is here

Photo: Five Points Tavern (Colby Ware/Baltimore Sun)
Posted by Erik Maza at 4:10 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Weekend Watch with Sam Sessa

Sam Sessa is tired of just being management, so every week he'll vlog his top picks for the weekend. Here's his first: 

You can get information about weekend events, and sign up for our free Weekend Watch email newsletter at
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:49 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Sessa's Weekend Watch

Pier Six's first show announcement of the year is Peter Frampton

Peter Frampton will perform at Baltimore's Pier Six Pavilion this summer, it was announced today.

The show, on July 17, is the venue's first major engagement of the season. A concert by an Abba tribute band had been previously announced for May.

Frampton will perform his entire "Frampton Comes Alive" album, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary.

Tickets, at $25-$75, go on sale Friday. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

February 23, 2011

Power Plant Live's country-western bar, PBR Baltimore, gets opening date

Power Plant Live's country-western bar, PBR Baltimore, announced its grand opening today.

It will be March 4. Not surprisingly, it already has a twitter page; I'll let you find it on your own. The bar's publicists describe it, steel yourself, as the place where "cowboy cool meets urban chic."

Power Plant Live is making room for the bar as part of its $11 million expansion, which also includes the construction of an outdoor stage and the addition of some new venues,  like the Baltimore Comedy Factory, which is moving from downtown after Burke's closed.

The Factory's move hadn't been confirmed until recently. Chris Furst, director of marketing at Power Plant Live, said this week the outdoor stage should be completed by Preakness.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:04 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Review: Max's Belgian Beer Festival 2011

Contributor Alexander D. Mitchell IV, who writes for trade publication Mid-Atlantic Brewing News and blogs regularly about beer, sums up Max's Belgian Beer Festival, which ended its three-day run on Sunday.

After six years, is there really anything that can be added to what is arguably the largest presentation of Belgian beer in one location in North America? Not really, but that doesn’t keep the crew at Max’s Taphouse from trying.

With a recent expansion - from 70-some draft lines to 97 (plus five cask-ale hand pumps) - the venue was able to offer an initial 102 beers on draft, plus a stunning 192 in bottles. 

By the time the doors opened at 11:01 a.m. Friday morning, there was a line of nearly 200 eager beer fans waiting outside.

(A complete photo gallery of the festival is here)

The pleasant weather and an eager crowd kept the scene chaotic almost all weekend. Spread over three downstairs rooms and an upstairs lounge, the crowd at times resembled the worst of an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day. 

But just how many beers were there? Believe it or not, folks are still counting. 

Max's tables were covered with multiple glasses of multiple shades of beer, from blonde to ink black, with various shades of amber, tan, red, and even the occasional pink or purple.  

The official list released before the start of the festival indicated 153 beers, including only a scant few that were only slightly different from one another - such as the current Rodenbach Red versus the 2008 vintage of the same, or a decadent De Struise Black Damnation imperial stout aged either in whiskey barrels, rum barrels, or with coffee beans.

But according to one distributor at least two kegs were grabbed from a shipping container at the Port of Baltimore by the distributor and run straight to the bar’s cellar on the Thursday night before the festival.

There were also 192 bottled beers listed, ranging from many beers at $6 or $7 for a 330-ml (11.2-oz.) bottle to $50 for a few exotic 750-ml bottles; most 750‘s, though, hovered around the $15 range. If you really wanted to stimulate the economy, there were also a few other gargantuan “showcase” bottles on display for potential purchase, some with three-figure prices.

(The initial draft and bottled beer list is here)

Drafts were available for $3 a sample glass, which in the case of stronger beers (as much as 12% or 13%) was really a proper serving size itself, or more for standard goblets or tumblers.  The first hundred (or so) people in line were treated to a free sample from a massive 12-liter bottle of St. Feuillien Tripel.

In all that selection, there was surprisingly little duplication. Nor, for that matter, were there any of the more readily available Belgian drafts such as Stella Artois or Duvel. Only a token few Belgian-American beers were present: home-town favorites The Brewers Art sent two special casks, and Baltimore‘s “gypsy brewer” Brian Strumke provided several new releases of his Stillwater Artisanal Ales, including the third “Channel Crossing” collaboration with Pratt Street Ale House’s Steve Jones.

In addition, a few special beers from Duvel-owned Ommegang of New York State were added on Sunday morning. The photocopied beer lists, updated daily, quickly became works of fantasy as beers ran out and were replaced overnight with replacement kegs or new beers. The bartenders reported that 100 kegs were depleted by the first closing time Saturday morning.

And in spite of the crowds and chaos, an occasional bottle of Blue Moon, National Bohemian, and Bud Light was spotted by this writer, as well as cans of PBR and Boh, being consumed by people obviously either there against their will or totally unclear on the concept. One wondered if a double spill would result in an explosion from matter and anti-matter........

By Sunday night, bartenders confronted so many covered tap handles that they asked patrons to “just pick a style of beer” and they would get one of what was left. With a government holiday on Monday, there were more stragglers to the end than usual.

Missed out on the weekend fun? As of last night, Max’s still was pouring more Belgian and Belgian-American beers (45 and 14, respectively) than one might find in some entire cities or states, as well as eight Belgian-styled beers from Danish “gypsy brewer” Mikkeller.

The latter includes an exquisite, and expensive, 10.9% oatmeal stout made with “civet droppings” kopi luwat coffee, named Beer Geek Brunch Weasel.

In effect, the “festival” continues until the beer runs out, and now you don’t have to elbow your way past beer geeks checking their tasting notes and checking off their lists.

Alexander D. Mitchell IV is a contributor to Mid-Atlantic Brewing News. He blogs here. Last year, he also wrote about the Belgian Beer Festival for Midnight Sun. Erik Maza edited this post.

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:17 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 22, 2011

Phish to play Merriweather Post Pavilion this summer

Phish is going on the road again this summer.

The tour, which kicks off  Memorial Day, will include two stops at Merriweather Post Pavilion, June 11 and June 12. Tickets will go on sale on the band's website on March 11.

The band has performed in Maryland for the last two summers. Here is a review of that the last show.

In other concert news: West Virginia's All Good Festival announced its line-up today, and it includes veterans Further and Primus as well as Australia's version of Dave Matthews, the John Butler Trio, among others.

The festival, billed "the Mid-Atlantic's most diverse camp-out music festival," takes place July 14-17. Tickets are available on its website.

Parts & Labor, the Brooklyn noise trio, also announced a new Spring tour. They will perform at Golden West April 29.

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:47 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Music News

Tiki Barge's neighbors want bar's liquor license revoked to "promote the peace and safety of the community"

Some 14 neighbors of the Tiki Barge want its liquor license revoked.

They've asked the Baltimore Liquor Board for a hearing to discuss the floating barge, which opened last Memorial Day and includes a swimming pool and two tiki bars.

The official item on the docket, which hasn't been released yet, says the neighbors want the bar's license revoked for "false statements made by the licensee in his 2010 renewal application" and also to "promote the peace and safety of the community."

The hearing has been scheduled for March 3 at 3 p.m. The City that Breeds posted an item about it earlier today.

The Tiki Barge, in anticipation of the hearing, is going on the offensive.

They've asked fans - via a Facebook group, natch - to e-mail liquor board commissioners pledging their support.

And they've also asked fans to sign an online petition in support of the venue. So far 249 have signed it. It remains to be seen how many actually turn up for the hearing. 

Will have more on the Tiki Bar's saga on the day of the hearing. 
Posted by Erik Maza at 2:51 PM | | Comments (27)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Family of Select Lounge shooting victims march in protest

Some 100 family members and friends of William H. Torbit Jr., the officer who was shot outside Select Lounge in January, marched Monday to protest the delay in Baltimore Police's investigation.

The protesters, who marched from Select Lounge to City Hall, told WJZ-13 they've been kept in the dark by police about the investigation's progress. 

“Think about if it was your son, your daughter, your nephew.  You would want some type of answers,” cousin Nathaniel Bond Jr. told the station.

 Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said at the time of the incident the investigation into the shooting, where officers fired 41 bullets, would take three weeks. But six weeks later nothing has been finalized.

Police told Crime Beat last week it had not yet received autopsy reports from the state medical examiner's office. Also: the panel of experts who will review the events that led to the shooting haven't been officially picked yet. 

Meanwhile, Select Lounge still has a long way to recover

Video from the march below:

Monday march protesting investigation of Select Lounge shooting:

(via Crime Beat)

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

No Tuesday concerts canceled because of snow

No shows have been canceled Tuesday night because of last night's snowfall.

Mueran Humanos will still perform at Golden West Cafe. The show starts at 10 p.m. 

Wham City's all-female comedy night at the Zodiac is also on. Host Ben O'Brien wrote attendees via Facebook, "Snow didn't stop Bruce Willis from lighting a trail of gasoline on fire and blowing up that [doggone] plane in Die Hard 2, and it's not gonna stop us from lighting a trail of laughs on fire and blowing up your [earmuffs!] minds!" Yippee-Ka-yada-yada.

Power Plant Live will run business as usual, says spokesman Chris Furst. 

At Goucher College, Clay Aiken is still scheduled to perform at 7:30 p.m., though the promo mug shot for the gig is doing it's best to keep people away. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:44 PM | | Comments (19)
Categories: News

Ladder 15 takes over DuClaw's Fells Point location

DuClaw Brewing Company's old Fells Point storefront has a new tenant.

It is the the Philadelphia restaurant and bar Ladder 15, just like Midnight Sun reported in December. The new owners got the liquor license last Thursday.

They plan on renaming the space at 901 S. Bond Street. It won't be a Ladder 15 after all, but will instead be called Bond Street Social.

It's not clear when it will open; the new owners haven't responded to several requests for comment.

DuClaw closed its location in Fells Point in December 2009 because business had been sluggish. 

In December, John Durkin, one of the Ladder 15 owners, said they'd been looking to open a new Ladder 15 location, and saw there weren't many other places like it in Baltimore.

The Philly restaurant calls itself "upscale yet unpretentious" on its website.

But there is in fact another place like it here already - Mad River Bar & Grille, where Durkin is an owner himself. Durkin insisted Ladder 15 and Mad River are different concepts.

Durkin said they'd been pursuing the Fells Point location since Fall of last year. In December, he and his partners filed an application with the Baltimore Liquor Board.

Durkin said then the deal to sign a lease was "close." It's not clear when it was finalized, or how much they'll be paying.The license, which DuClaw had given up, was finally transferred at Thursday's liquor board hearing.

In December, Durkin said the Fells Point location would be similar to Ladder 15, which serves New American cuisine, offers nine wines in the $7-$11 price range, and carries 12 draft beers. 

At the Thursday liquor board meeting, the new owners said the Baltimore location would feature a locally themed menu and carry regional craft beer. 

Bill's Lighthouse Inn sold

In related bar news, Bill's Lighthouse, the 30-year-old South Baltimore bar known for soft crab sandwiches, has been sold, the City that Breeds writes. The new owners are a group called Velocity Cafe.

Bill's owner, Adele Wedemeyer, had auctioned off the bar in December, but ultimately rejected the high bid of $475,000. She re-listed it for $625,000, she told Midnight Sun then.

It's not clear if the bar was sold for that amount. Wedemeyer nor the new owners could be reached for comment. 

 Wedemeyer's husband, William, had opened the bar 30 years ago, but since he died, she'd been trying to sell the bar to pay off estate debts.  

The new owners inherit the bar's building, liquor license, and its equipment and furniture.

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

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:03 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 21, 2011

Update: TV on the Radio to play Rams Head Live in April

TV on the Radio took a year-long break in late 2009 - Tunde Adebimpe wanted "to a live life," apparently. But they're coming back this Spring with new album "Nine Types of Light." Today, Rams Head Live announced the band will perform here Sunday April 10, three days before a major show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Presumably, the band is going on a major tour to accompany the album, though those dates haven't been announced yet.

The last time they played in the area was in 2008 at Merriweather Post Pavilion, on a bill that included Seu Jorge and Thievery Corporation.

Tickets, at $31, go on sale Thursday.

In related concert news of interest to a completely different camp, the Cabaret at Germano's said last week 1960s singer/songwriter Jimmy Webb ("Wichita Lineman") will perform in Little Italy that same night, April 10. For the rare fan of both acts, Webb will perform the following night as well. Tickets are $45.

Update: Randy Newman will perform in Bethesda March 2, the Music Center at Strathmore announced Tuesday. Tickets start at $25. Newman is up for an Oscar again this year for writing and singing the theme song to "Toy Story 3."

Posted by Erik Maza at 5:50 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Photo: Max's Belgian Beer Festival 2011

Plenty of Belgian beer was spilled this weekend at Max's in Fells Point. The bar, which had hundreds of Belgian and Belgian-style beers on tap at its annual Belgian beer festival, was mobbed. On at least one of the festival's three days, the lines extended outside. On our photo gallery, photographer Colby Ware has this and other pictures. We'll have a review of this year's festival Tuesday morning.

Update: Max's still has some 55 (true) Belgians left on tap, bartender Mike Nichols says. That'll probably run out sometime between the middle and the end of the week. Bottles are fewer though: between 25 and 30.

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:47 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Days of Pikesville Rye may return with Sloop Betty

Pikesville Supreme Rye Whiskey hasn't been locally owned since the early 1980s. And many, if not all, of Maryland's distillers breathed their last gasp in the 70s. But, in March, two brothers, Christopher and Jon Cook, will become the state's first distillers in 40 years. That's when they plan to start making a premium wheat vodka called Sloop Betty, reporter Jill Rosen writes in today's paper. The vodka will also be unique nationwide:

Bill Owens, president of the American Distilling Institute, says only 254 companies, all of them small, are making craft spirits. Seven years ago, when the Cooks first thought of trying it, there were fewer than 100.

It's not clear yet who will carry the vodka - the brothers haven't signed their distributor agreement yet. But it's probably safe to say that some places that still carry Pikesville Rye - like Idle Hour and the Pinehurst Wine Shoppe in North Baltimore - will.

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:33 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Brewing News

Feb. 21 - 27 in nightlife: Future Islands, Lady Gaga, Transmodern Festival, Jonathan Richman

newFlyerCA55x88.jpgThe beautiful poster at right? It's to promote that free Future Islands show at the Patterson I blogged about a while ago. The show also celebrates Creative Alliance's artist residency program. Elsewhere this week, there are a surprising number of shows in Spanish, starting tonight. And, at least one show by a Madonna knock-off.

On Monday, tropicalia songwriter Vinicius Cantuaria and guitarist Bill Frisell perform a low-key jazzy set at An Die Musik, 409 N. Charles St. Starts at 8 p.m. $33.

On Tuesday, enjoy a night of Spanish minimal synth at Golden West courtesy of the excellent Argentinian-Berliners Mueran Humanos. This a rare show. Listen to "Cosmeticos para Cristo (Cosmetics for Christ)" here. Doors open at 10 p.m. $5.

On Wednesday, the free weekly Friendsdayz party takes place upstairs at the Ottobar. 9 p.m. at 2549 N. Howard St. Free for 21 and over. In D.C.: Subterranean A hosts an all-Baltimore show - Lower Dens, Weekends, Secret Mountains. Starts at 8 p.m. at 1432 R St. NW. $7.

On Thursday, new wave rules at the Ottobar; Twin Shadow performs. 8 p.m. $10. Of general interest: Lady Gaga plays a sold-out Verizon Center. Expect watered-down covers of "Express Yourself."

On Friday, Catonsville's Height kicks-off a long tour at Golden West. Emily Slaughter, of AK Slaughter, will also perform. 10 p.m. at 1105 West 36th Street. $5. Also: Dan Deacon and Matmos' Martin Schmidt perform at a benefit for the Transmodern Festival at Floristree, 405 W. Franklin. Lexie Mountain, who you might also know from the Midnight Sun comments section, hosts. Starts at 9:30. $12.

On Saturday, the Patterson hosts two free sets by Future Islands. The acoustic set starts at 7 p.m. at the main gallery, followed by a full performance at the theater at 9 p.m. 3134 Eastern Ave.

On Sunday, adorably nebbish Jonathan Richman croons at the 8X10, 8-10 E. Cross St. No doubt his banter will be better than James Franco's, who'll be playing "James Franco, Oscar host" at the Academy Awards around the same time. Doors open at 7 p.m. $14.

On a separate note: I'm always looking to include more bar-centric events on these calendar posts, but aside from Elliott's Pour House, which is aggressively pro- social media, I don't get many heads-up. Bars, listen here, send your upcoming events to

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:32 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

February 19, 2011

Feb. 13 - 19 reviewed: Grammys, Lexie Mountain Boys, Max's Belgian Beer Festival

Some Canadians won the Grammys last Sunday night, and more importantly, the Internet. Rosie O'Donnell tweeted "Who the eff are the Arcade Fire?" and Beach House was all, "Sooooooo pathetic." Someone else wondered, "who the eff are the Lexie Mountain Boys?" There was also this, on the relationship between Baltimore bands and the Recording Academy. At the end of the week, Dubai, the Velvet Rope's new name, was reviewed. In over 100 years, the building has had a complicated history. Plain White T's defended its lyrics. Clutch closed - without the band Clutch ever playing there. Salt-n-Pepa will be at 1st Mariner tonight, 25 years after the release of their first album. No one agreed on the best anti-Valentine's Day places. Wye Oak announced an upcoming show at Sound Garden, and Rihanna added Cee Lo Green to her tour. Home brewers got a chance to compete against each other. Despite losing to Arcade Fire, Eminem said he'll still perform alongside them at Bonnaroo 2011. Max's Belgian Beer Festival started Friday. If you're reading this, you might still be recovering. If you're going tonight, the full draft and bottle menu is here. You'll be happy to know it's one place where few probably care about buzzbands or the Arcade Fire. 

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

February 18, 2011

Dubai, Velvet Rope, Palma, Redwood Trust: a brief, 100-year history of 200 E. Redwood

The Velvet Rope re-opened in late January under a new name, Dubai. It's the latest name for 200 E. Redwood, a building that has had many tenants in over 100 years and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Here's a brief history:

1885: opens as Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Co. branch, featuring the highly ornamental design of Baltimore firm Wyatt and Sperry.

 1904: survives the Great Fire

1960: undergoes renovation that damages original plasterwork. 

1993: Mercantile branch closes, leaving building vacant for seven years. 

2000: Baltimore developer Nicholas Piscatelli sinks $2.5 million on a renovation, one of the most significant in the city's history. Opens Redwood Trust, a megaclub. Cover was $10. VIP Access? Anywhere from $250-500.


2003: five times a week during the day, Redwood functions as tapas restaurant, Red Tapas. 

2004: Piscatelli closes Redwood - boo hoo - tries to sell building and its license for $3 million.

July 2008: Jon Han bites, opens Palma, the sister club to D.C. megaclub Ibiza. Han also installs the first Dubai, a sister lounge across the street at 10 South Calvert, where Club X Ultra Lounge had been.

September 2008: Palma padlocked. Dubai closes; few tears shed.


December 2008: Lux takes over 10 S. Calvert. It's still there.

 May 2009: the Velvet Rope replaces Palma, run by, among others, hip-hop promoter Tracye Stafford.

February 2010: promoter oversells Yo Gotti concert, hundreds of ticket-holders storm the venue, attracting some 50 cops and a helicopter to the scene. Police ask liquor board to revoke club's license.

March 2010: club pleads guilty to security breaches and pays $3.500 fine to Baltimore Liquor Board. Meanwhile, police said two men who had been involved in a fight inside the club were shot and wounded at the Inner Harbor. Video footage later showed bouncers had ejected the men from the club.

April 2010: club keeps liquor license, despite appeal by three neighboring hotels that license be revoked, in deal with police and liquor board to beef up security.

December 2010: owners close Velvet Rope to re-tool. 

January 2011: the club re-opens as Dubai, owners hope name change will erase memories of old club. Midnight Sun reviews it.

Photo: outside the new Dubai (Colby Ware/Special to the Sun); a party at Redwood Trust in 2003 (John Makely/Baltimore Sun); Jon Han at his club Palma in 2008 (Julie Ferguson/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:18 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Plain White T's on cheesy lyrics, Cirque du Soleil, and "the Goonies".

Plain White T's, responsible for "Hey There Delilah," that song that was stuck in your head for two weeks in 2007, are back with with a new album, "The Wonders of the Younger."

Fans of the old material will find plenty to like here. Despite the unfortunately alliterative album title, lead single "Rhythm of Love" is a pretty, hazy ballad that goes for sentiment not usually found outside of Hallmark cards.

“My heart beats like a drum,” guitarist Tim Lopez croons to a girl who has “blue eyes deep like the sea.”

In today's paper, singer Tom Higgenson defends the bands' lyrics, Cirque du Soleil, and "The Goonies."

The rest of the preview is here.  

The "Rhythm of Love" video is below:

"Rhythm of Love," new Plain White T's single:
Posted by Erik Maza at 9:12 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Live!, Music News

February 17, 2011

The Velvet Rope re-opens as Dubai

Troubled club the Velvet Rope re-opened a couple of weeks ago under a new name, Dubai, which must rank as the second worst bar/club name in Baltimore behind Garbo.

Management is eager to disassociate themselves from the Velvet Rope brand that had become so well known in headlines. When I tried to get a greenlight for our photographer to stop by, the club's attorney, Paul Gardner II, agreed to, but only if the name "Velvet Rope" didn't appear in the story.

We declined the offer.*

I still snuck in Saturday for the review in tomorrow's Live section. Here's the top:

Last Saturday, I went to Dubai. No, not the glitzy metropolis in the United Arab Emirates. But the club on 200 E. Redwood Street, which opened in late January under a new name after two years as the troubled Velvet Rope.

With the change, the owners hope to distance themselves from tarnished old name and associate themselves with the luxury that the word Dubai brings to mind.

But those might be too lofty aspirations.

If rebranding was all that a bad reputation needed, Hosni Mubarak might still be in power. And while in popular culture, Dubai might be linked to unlimited decadence, it's now a city burdened with a not-so-sexy $80 billion debt and a collapsed real estate market.

Dubai's owners might as well have called theirs Club Countrywide or Lehman Brothers VIP Lounge.

The club benefits from its still handsome historic location, and what seems to be improved security, but its insistence on passing itself off as an upscale club in a city that seems to be allergic to them raises doubts about its longevity.

The rest of the review is here

Photo*: Colby Ware photographed the club from outside. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:51 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Live!

February 16, 2011

Contests for Baltimore home brewers and chili cooks

Maryland home brewers, there's a contest with you in mind. 

DuClaw Brewing Company is looking for participants for their first home brewing contest. The winner's recipe will be brewed by the company.

The brewery will accept recipes from April 1 to April 8. All beer styles are welcomed except "wood-aged, lambics, sours and beers that utilize bacteria in the brewing process," according to the submission form.

Competition might be intense. Maryland has at least nine home brewing clubs, including, Baltimore's Chesapeake Real Ale Brewers Society and the Cross Street Irregulars Brew Club.

The submission form can be found here.

On February 27, there will be another competition: the annual Federal Hill chili cook-off. BeerinBaltimore has the official announcement

This year's contest will be held at Metropolitan at 6:30 p.m. If you're interested in participating, email recipe information. Rule of thumb: minimum entry is six quarts or more.

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

Concert news: Rihanna, Cee Lo Green, Wye Oak, Lower Dens

Take our your ratty agenda books, here's some just-announced shows:

Wye Oak, on tour with new album "Civilian," will play a mini-set at Sound Garden on March 8. 

The band had previously announced a full set at Washington's Black Cat with Lower Dens.

That foursome - who just released a seven-inch, "Batman/Dear Pretty Baby" (hear it here) - also announced a show of their own. They will perform at the Ottobar on March 6. 

Wye Oak tickets are $12, and Lower Dens are $8. Both are on sale now. 

In other concert news, Rihanna announced today that Cee Lo Green would open for her on the Loud tour, including the 1st Mariner show on June 4. Those tickets start at $69.75.

And Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae, fresh off their performance at the Grammys - the one segment I actually saw - announced a joint tour, to be called Hooligans in Wondaland. No dates have been announced yet.

Below: Wye Oak performing at a recent show.  

Wye Oak performing a show at Brooklyn's The Rock Shop:

Wye Oak performs Civilian at The Rock Shop, Brooklyn from on Vimeo.

Photo: Wye Oak "Civilian" cover (Merge)
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:30 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Local music, Music News

February 15, 2011

Canton's Clutch is closed

The Canton sports lounge Clutch has closed.

The news came via a reader, who noticed on the Canton Community Association's calendar a meeting Monday night to decide what to do with the lounge's former space.

Clutch opened in Spring 2009 billing itself "Baltimore's premier sports bar and lounge."

It replaced the decidedly more low-key Tiburzi's Cafe.

I'd heard rumors that Clutch was closing earlier last month. But when I spoke in early January with Trevor White, one of the guys running it, he contradicted the rumors.

Yet, a few weeks later Clutch had shut its doors. On January 29, the bar hosted a farewell party.

"Sadly, like all parties. It must come to an end," its Facebook page read.

It's not clear what prompted the closure. 

White told me earlier today he didn't have time to comment; and John Calvin, the other owner, hasn't responded to requests for comment either. 

The bar's phone number is already disconnected. 

According to state property records, Clutch's building is still owned by Terry and Sabatino Tiburzi. They paid $92,500 for the space in 1999.

Will update the post when I hear back from White or Calvin. 

Photo: Clutch Facebook page

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:16 PM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Bonnaroo 2011 includes Eminem, Arcade Fire, Lil Wayne and Girl Talk

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival announced this year's line-up today, and it includes some major headliners, some who will play Baltimore in the near future. Among them: Lil Wayne, who will perform at 1st Mariner Arena March 20; Robyn, who just performed here, and will open for Katy Perry at Merriweather on June 15; and indie-pop Brooklynite Twin Shadow, who will perform at the Ottobar February 24.

In addition: Eminem, Girl Talk, the rejuvenated Wanda Jackson, The Decemberists, the Strokes, and new Grammy winners Arcade Fire will perform.

The festival, now in its tenth year, takes place on a 700-acre farm farm in Manchester, Tennessee from June 9 to the 12. Tickets, which start at $224.50 for general admission, are already on sale on the festival's website.

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:11 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Music News

Max's Belgian Beer Fest full draft and bottle menu

Max's Belgian Beer Festival begins on Friday. For three days, the bar will only serve some 120 Belgian (and Belgian-style) beers on their extensive draft lines and about 175 bottles of Belgian beer.

In addition, it will have on hand about six casks from Brewer's Art and Stillwater Ales, including that microbrewer's most recent collaboration with Mikkeler, Our Side.

The festival is now in its seventh year, and has become a must on any beer lover's calendar. Admission is free. 

What's the deal about Belgian beer, anyway? Well, for starters, it's an acquired taste. Even Pratt Street Ale House's Steve Jones told me during Baltimore Beer Week he only started experimenting with them recently.

 What makes Belgians taste different is the way they're brewed. Belgian brewers typically use their own house yeast to make their beer, giving it a taste that's radically different from commercial American lagers and even traditional English Ale, Jones' specialty.

Max's cellar master Casey Hard sent me their most recent draft and bottle beer menu for the festival; Beer in Baltimore had also posted it over the weekend.

Here it is in an easily printable Scribd document, posted below:

 The menu below doesn't account for product that may not be shipped on time. And, it doesn't always include alcohol percentages.

But Hard says it is the bar's most recent and comprehensive:
Belgian Fest 2011
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:39 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 14, 2011

Lady Gaga, Lady Antebellum, Lady Arcade Fire win at Grammys; Baltimore bands react: meh

At the Grammys Sunday night, Maryland was largely ignored. Songwriter Makeba Riddick, who went in with excellent odds for producing Eminem's "Recovery," lost to Arcade Fire in the night's major upset, album of the year. 

And Lady Antebellum beat her in the record of the year category.

Baltimore's critically-loved indie bands had already been snubbed by the time the nominations were announced last month. And that suits them just fine.

"As far as I can tell, the people who nominate artists for Grammys are not the hippest people, and they probably aren't obsessive indie rock fans," said Todd Hyman, of DC's Carpark Records, which represents Dan Deacon and Lexie Mountain Boys. "I'm guessing that they haven't even heard of most bands from Baltimore."

For Sunday's paper, I wrote about the non-existing relationship local musicians have with the awards.

It's not that locals might be producing music too esoteric for the Recording Academy's populist taste  - this year, half the nominees were indies, according to industry group A2IM.  It's that local bands and their labels aren't pursuing them.   In fact, some of their labels didn't even submit them for consideration.

At a time of flat-lining record sales, they say that the role the Grammys used to play - to goose up sales and raise young bands' profiles - has now been taken up  by a number of other venues. Touring, for instance, is far more lucrative. And they can count on social media for exposure.   

Below, some of them comment on the awards in more length than I had space for in the print story. (Plus video from the show)

This year, Beach House, J. Roddy Walston and the Business, and Future Islands, could have been in contention for awards.

But where in the past their labels might have pursued nominations to boost the bands' profile, they didn't; the awards' dividends just aren't what they used to. 

Where in 2000, the soundtrack to "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" sold some 200,000 extra copies the week after it copped a win, Carrie Underwood's win for "Play On" last year brought her a bump of only 30,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Walston mentioned they usual platitudes about how what they do is really about the music, but he also pointed out that in terms of getting their name out there, they just tour religiously.

"In there past, there were three or five major venues to get music to people: magazines, radio, MTV, the whole industry complex," he said. "Now, there's infinite sources for people to get their music."

"People don't buy records anymore. I can point out five websites that have the week's best selling albums for free. Our thing is still going out and playing shows, and relying at sales at shows. That's been our basic attempt [at making a living] at this point."

Others had similar reactions.

Thrill Jockey, which had a possible candidate with Future Islands' "In Evening Air," didn't submit the album for consideration, spokesman David Halstead said. "It's an award for best marketing," he said. "It's not something we take seriously."

At Merge, which scored an unlikely win Sunday night with Arcade Fire, label manager Spott Philpott said they submit about a dozen albums for consideration every year. But they don't do any extra campaigning the way it's expected at the majors. 

"It's a complete surprise when we're nominated," he said. 

SubPop nominated Beach House's "Teen Dream" for consideration, but it was mostly a pro forma move, general manager Chris Jacobs said. 

In 2009, when Dan Deacon's "Bromst" was in contention, Carpark also didn't submit it for consideration, Hyman said.

He said, "I don't see the stuff we do as relating at all to anything the Recording Academy does."

Beach House itself didn't mince words in regards to the awards. During the show, they tweeted: "Grammys showing just how bad pop has become. Sooooooo pathetic."

The rest of Sunday's story is here

Video from last night's show: 

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:02 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Local music, Music News, News

Feb. 14 - 20 in nightlife: Max's Belgian beer fest, Salt-n-Pepa, AK Slaughter's record release party

PX00255_9.JPGStill recovering from the Grammys? Just kidding. No one watches the Grammys. There were certainly better things to do Sunday night, like actually watch a local band - Arbouretum - perform at the Ottobar. For more of that, here's what to do at night this week:

On Monday, celebrate Valentine's Day with your person of interest. Lacking a Valentine? I'll have your best alternatives later today.

On Tuesday, go to Joe Squared's weekly breakdance party. Bar has two-for-$5 rail drink special  from 10 p.m. until close. 133 West North Ave.

On Wednesday, the Bell Foundry hosts the monthly reading series WORMS. Writers Robert Schreur, Erin Gleeson and Ashlie Kauffman, who writes for JMWW will read. 1539 N Calvert. Free. Starts at 8 p.m. Also: Los Angelenos Young Dubliners perform at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place. $12.50. Doors open at 7 p.m.

On Thursday, Jason Butcher, drummer in Among Wolves, performs at Holy Frijoles, 908 West 36th Street. Doors open at 9 p.m.

On Friday, the annual Belgian beer festival at Max's begins. 120 Belgian beers will be on draft, and 175 by the bottle. Ends Sunday. No admission fee. 735 S. Broadway. At Metro Gallery, Emily Slaughter and Aran Keating, of Baltimore party-rap duo AK Slaughter, release new EP "The Pleasure of Doing Business." $8. Of general interest: emo-rockers Plain White Ts perform at Rams Head Live. They say their new album was inspired by Cirque du Soleil.How rock 'n' roll.

On Saturday, Salt-N-Pepa, stars of the "Salt-N-Pepa Show" on Vh1, perform at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St. Tickets start at $45.50. Elliott's Pour House throws its monthly theme party; it's Dead Celebrities this time. 

On Sunday, if you're a fan of Norwegian black metal - and who isn't - Immortal performs at Sonar, 407 East Saratoga Street. $30. At Charm City Art Space, a bunch of startup bands, including Florida's Nightlights, perform. Doors open at 7 p.m. Free.

Photo: A beer release last year at Max's (Kenneth Lam/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:19 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

February 11, 2011

Review: Lauryn Hill at Rams Head Live Feb. 10

Lauryn Hill, the iconoclastic rapper who's considered among the most talented of her generation, performed Thursday night at Rams Head Live, a hastily organized concert that was announced just two weeks ago. Reporter John-John Williams IV was there.

A photo gallery of the show is here

You never know what you are going to get with Lauryn Hill. Will the uber-talented Grammy darling show up? Or will it be her alter-ego: an excuse-making diva who was more than two hours late last August to her set at The Rock The Bells Tour at Merriweather Post Pavilion?

The audience got a little of both last night during. Hill took the stage at midnight -an hour after her show was scheduled to begin. She had no opening act -just a DJ who spun a mix of reggae and old school hip hop.

The slew of hits that the DJ spit out was enjoyable the first 10 minutes. But after a good half hour of songs - around midnight on a weeknight - the crowd lost some of its energy and appeared to be growing restless.

Hill, who claimed to be sick (the DJ announced that she was feeling under the weather prior to her performance), coughed for a bit when she first appeared on stage. But she quickly recovered when she launched into the Bob Marley cover “Loving Jah.” 

The song - which is meant to honor the father of her childrens' father - includes a series of church-like call and response hooks that would be taxing on the most healthy of voices. But Hill was actually able to shine.

She gently peppered the song with a series of runs that she handled with ease, giving the impression that Hill was going to give Baltimore a spotless performance.

Those thoughts were quickly dashed with “Lost Ones,” which was almost unrecognizable because of the God-awful arrangement. “When It Hurts So Bad” was also problematic. Again she showed off her vocal chops as she belted out pitch-perfect riffs. Too bad her soulful sounds were pretty much incoherent. I couldn’t tell what song she was performing at parts.

Hill truly hit her stride with “Everything is Everything.” She told the audience that it was her first time performing the song with her band. But you would never know. Her energy and presence on stage entranced the audience, and was the mark of a world-class performer.

After singing “Ex-Factor” groups of fans were screaming: “We love you.” Hill playfully responded: “Did you practice that at home?” By 1 a.m. Hill announced that she didn’t have a lot more time on stage. (It was almost laughable given the fact that she started an hour late.) She surprised everyone by churning out another half hour worth of her biggest hits. “I Only Have Eyes for You” (The Flamingos cover, which was featured on The Fugees “Score” album) was simply fantastic. She nailed the hauntingly romantic song.

By this time she had abandoned her stiff, “Holy Spirit” church-goer movements for a more fluid feel. Hill had the audience eating from her palms during “Zealots.” She nailed “Fugeela” and “Ready or Not.” “Killing Me Softly” was also a treat, which set up her finale “Doo Wop (That Thing).”

By this point, Hill was leading her fans to jump in the air a la Kris Kross. She genuinely appeared to be at ease and having fun. After the song ended, I was struck by the fact that she made a point of taking on her critics. “People say we don’t appreciate our fans. That’s bull s&#t!” she said.

I appreciated the candor. It showed a sense of pride. (Heck, she showed she cared with her improved wardrobe at this concert. It was a step up from that dreadful getup she wore in August when it looked like she was channeling a grandmother in witness protection.)

Hopefully, it's a sign that Hill is ready to start recording music again so that she can capture some of that magic she left behind in the 90s.

John-John Williams IV is a reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He last reviewed Lauryn Hill when she performed at Rock the Bells last year. Erik Maza edited this post.

Photo: Lauryn Hill at Rams Head Live 2010. (Colby Ware/Special to Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:07 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Concert reviews

Last Night's Photo: Lauryn Hill at Rams Head Live

Lauryn Hill stopped by Rams Head Live Thursday night for a rare concert appearance. Photographer Colby Ware took this and other pictures for our photo gallery. Later today, a review of the show.

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:07 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

February 10, 2011

Martha Reeves on Cee Lo Green, Gladys Horton, and being one of the last Motown stars

Martha Reeves is one of the last survivors of the Motown era. In recent years, many of the legendary recording studio's original headliners have passed.

Only two of the original Temptations are still alive. All but a handful of the Funk Brothers, Motown's backing band, are gone. Jack Brokensha died in October.

And two weeks ago, Glady Horton, the original singer of the Marvelettes, died in a Sherman Oaks retirement home at 66.

I had Reeves on the phone when the news broke, and her Detroit home was being bombarded with phone calls from reporters for comment. Though she hadn't spoken with Horton in at least three decades, the death was a poignant one.

Without the Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas would not have been. "They were our pioneers," she said. 

On Saturday, Reeves performs a sold-out show at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in honor of Valentine's Day. I previewed the show for Live. 

The rest of the story is here.

Below, Martha and the Vandellas performing "Dancing in the Street". Martha and the Vandellas performing "Dancing in the Street" on the Ed Sullivan show in 1965:

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:03 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Live!, Music News

February 9, 2011

The Love Language's Stuart McLamb on Phoenix, The Fall, and living in Raleigh, North Carolina

Before performing at Metro Gallery tonight, singer and songwriter Stuart McLamb of the five-seven piece North Carolina band the Love Language spoke with contributor Benjamin Opipari.

Stuart McLamb called me from the back of a truck somewhere near his home in Raleigh, North Carolina. In one hand he had his cell phone, and with the other he was propping up a giant, used Lowrey organ he had just bought for $100.

He's used to multi-tasking. He made his first album entirely on his own - playing all the instruments, and acting as his own producer and engineer. Here he spoke about Phoenix, living in Raleigh, recording on vinyl, and writer's block.

Midnight Sun: You live in Raleigh, not exactly the center of indie music culture. What's living there like for a working musician? We’ve done so much touring, that for a while I was crashing on friend’s couches and in our rehearsal space. That enabled me to pursue music without having to worry about paying rent on a place I never see.  I am still floating around, really. Living in a bigger city has its perks, since you have so many influences and people.  The city has a workhorse mentality.  But for me, the cost of living is a big concern and I can afford not to work every day and just focus on the band.  There’s also a good group of artists in this area that keep me inspired.

MS: The Love Language tours incessantly. Are you able to get a lot of writing done on the road? Not really.  Just bits and pieces.  We bring a lot of ukuleles in the van and have some acoustic guitars. Sometimes we have jams that turn into songs, but that’s rare. To really sit down to write, I need some alone time and space to flesh something out.  There’s a lot of riffs and chord progression ideas that happen on tour, but for the most part I need to be alone.   

MS: Does touring inspire any songs? Yeah, when you are in a band and touring, you see a lot of shows.  When I am home and have down time, I don’t do it as much because I am trying to write.  But when you are playing, music all the time, the last thing you want to do when you are home is see another band.  So watching other bands play is always inspiring.

MS: How have you matured as a songwriter? Probably in the scope of my palate.  With my first record, I was just starting to find my own voice. I had a bunch of instruments, and that was about it.  Now, I listen to music more keenly and I’ve broadened my sense of how instruments work.  Lyrically, I’m still pushing myself.  But I listen to music a lot differently than I used to.

MS: How has your creative process changed? It’s hard to talk about now, because the sponge is soaking. I’m not wrenching it out yet.  I go through phases of writing.  I don’t write constantly.  I go through fruitful periods where a lot comes out in a two-month span, then I dry up.  So I’m not writing a whole lot now.

MS: It seems like that would prevent writer’s block. Yeah.  A lot of times you might think you need to work on a song, then you start strumming and nothing happens.  I try to wait to write until I really feel the need to create, when I have an idea that I have to get on tape.  I can’t predict when it’s going to come, but for the past couple of months I haven’t written much.  Rather than beat myself up, I’m patient.  I’ve been through this my whole life, so I know it will come back.

MS: Do lyrics come easy to you? It depends.  Like I told you before, I like to first get the melody down and get inside the song.  I do a scratch vocal tape where I just mouth the words and syllables that fit the melody, then I go back and make sense of that.  It makes for more creative writing than if I tried to make it more logical and just convey thoughts.  My method can make it more poetic.  My process may not work if you are a storyteller like Springsteen, but if you are trying to craft musical ideas, the way the lyrics fit with the music should not be separate.  They should go together.  It has to relate to the sound or the melody.

MS: Give me another example of someone now who does that well.  The Phoenix record "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix."  The first two tracks on that album are such amazing pop songs.  The singer is French, so his native language is not English.  His lyrics are cryptic, but they fit the music perfectly.  We opened for them a couple of times last year.  There were 5000 people out there, and everyone was chanting.  It was less about what he was singing, and more about the joyful feeling that was conveyed through lyrics that don’t make much sense on paper but that fit the song perfectly.

MS: Before your recent release, "Libraries," you recorded your first album entirely by yourself.  What’s the advantage of that approach? If you have the means to do multi-track recording on your own, you can get inside the songs. You aren’t going to be conscious of anyone else in the room.  The Bon Iver record is like that; you can hear him lost inside his songs.  It’s the most honest and intimate way possible.  Of course, the downside is that I’m not really an engineer and don’t know a lot about mic placement.

MS: You’ve just finished mastering your first record on vinyl. What advantages will that give to your sound? I am a big proponent of the vinyl experience: sitting down with a record player, where listening to a record is an activity in itself, not something you do in addition to something else while lazily browsing blogs and listening online. 

MS: Who is the most surprising influence on your music? I am a huge Mark E. Smith and The Fall fan, and there are probably no traces of that in my music.   I love the minimalist approach of their riffs. They are always in search of the perfect riff.  When punk rockers get melodic, it’s always more enjoyable than when popsters get melodic.

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 the Bacon Brothers for this blog. Erik Maza edited this post.

For a previous Opipari Q&A with Stuart McCamb, go here.  

Photo: The Love Language (official MySpace space/Joanna Palmisano)

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:36 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

February 8, 2011

Ponytail to release new album; Dustin Wong on their touring plans, "Infinite Love," and salvia

When I interviewed Dustin Wong last week to preview his show at Golden West Cafe tonight, he casually mentioned that Ponytail, despite having taken a hiatus last year, had just completed a new album.

Today, the official announcement came: the album is called "Do Whatever you Want all the Time," and will be released April 12. 

It will be released by label We Are Free, which posted the image at right on its website.  (The band had also made a cryptic announcement about the album on its blog several months ago.)

New album or not, Wong said the band has no plans yet to tour together. He's going on a solo European tour in April, so that would seem to put Ponytail shows, if they were to happen, off until after Spring.

For now, he intends to keep performing and recording solo. 

"The advantage of working alone is that it's all you. You're responsible," he said. "You can make any changes without asking anybody. You can do whatever you want." 

The disadvantage? "You can't play off anybody. There isn't much surprise because of that. A lot of times when you're playing with somebody, you're surprised at what they're coming up with. I definitely miss that aspect."

He has planned collaborations with other musicians - most recently with Dave Hartley, of the Philly band The War on Drugs - but those will only be occasional. 

Here's the top of the preview of Wong's show tonight:

Dustin Wong was in labor. Felt like he was in labor, anyway.

It was his 27th birthday and he was riding a powerful, shroom-inspired psychedelic trip that made him think he was about to give birth. This was a year ago. He was in his Mount Vernon apartment, went to his bed, lay back and pushed.

"I felt this love, and I kept repeating that," he said. "That's where the name 'Infinite Love' came from."

The rest of the preview is here. Cut from the piece are Wong's plans for his next solo album.
While "Infinite Love" moves at a dizzying speed, like a spinning kaleidoscope or a Hunter S. Thompson book, he's going for a slower pace for the work in progress.

That's mainly thanks to his experimentation with the hallucinogenic Salvia.

"It's a very strange effect. If you can imagine being the carts in a rotating ferris wheel," he said. "I'm trying to incorporate that into the recording process somehow."

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:01 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Local music

February 7, 2011

Illusions Magic Bar keeps entertainment license despite challenge from Paul Robinson, hater of noise, magic and beer pong

Illusions Magic Bar faced off against the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association in Baltimore circuit court today. The venue, which is owned by magician Spencer Horsman, had its entertainment license challenged by the neighborhood association, which claimed its members were adversely affected by "noise, parking and crime from Illusions and other nearby bars and clubs."

But the court sided with the magician, reports John-John Williams IV, and allowed him to keep the license:

Judge Audrey J.S. Carrion dismissed the association's motion, citing that a number of the complaining neighbors lived too far — one as many as three blocks away from Illusions— to be negatively affected.

The neighborhood association, headed by Paul Robinson, will meet soon to plan its next move. With this challenge, Robinson has distinguished himself as a hater of both magic and beer pong. Two years ago he pushed for a ban of drinking games at Baltimore bars.

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:27 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Got Valentine's Day stories? The Sun wants to talk to you

How did you fall in love? blind date? OkCupid? after a few bottomless mimosas? If you're not camera-shy, The Sun wants to talk to you. Email Leeann Adams at
Posted by Erik Maza at 2:47 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff

Today's Photo: Black Eyed Peas, Christina Aguilera at the Superbowl halftime show

If you missed yesterday's game and halftime show, here's a gallery of pictures to keep you current. The show was either terrible or cheese-tastic, depending on your tolerance of day-glo outfits and/or Also: after Christina Aguilera - who keeps making horrible, horrible choices - messed up the lyrics to the national anthem, even the Pratt Library mocked her. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Update: New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys to play Baltimore; plus touring news from Wye Oak, Klaxons, Sade

The local Spring concert calendar is suddenly filling up: New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys, Wye Oak, Klaxons, Adele all announced local shows. Plus, Sade added a big name to her show at 1st Mariner Arena.

NKOTBSB - that's how the fans call them, on Twitter anyway - won't just play at Verizon Center, as they had announced months ago.

The mega boy bands will also perform at 1st Mariner Arena May 29. Tickets go on sale Friday on

Sade, who will open her first tour in decades in Baltimore, announced today John Legend, the pianist and singer, will open for her at all locations, including 1st Mariner on June 16.

Local duo Wye Oak is preparing for the release of their new album "Civilian" with an 18-city tour.

On March 11, they will perform with Lower Dens at the Black Cat in Washington. A local show will be announced soon.

Full tour dates below, plus news from the Klaxons and Adele:

Update: Just confirmed that Robyn will open for Katy Perry at Merriweather Post Pavilion June 15.  The announcement that the two would tour together was made last week, but the Columbia date hadn't been confirmed until today.

Yes, that cat astronaut is the cover art for the new album from the British pop/nu-rave band the Klaxons. It's called "Surfing the Void." The album, not the cat, whose name might be Felicette for all I know.

The band will perform at the Ottobar on March 30. 

Another British singer is coming to the area this Spring. Adele, the lady who is not Annie or Duffy - so easy to confuse one-name chanteuses these days - is touring behind new album "21."

She will perform at 9:30 club May 12.

Wye Oak tour dates:

Feb 01 Toronto, ON The Sound Academy *
Feb 02 Royal Oak, MI Royal Oak Music Theatre **
Feb 04 Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre **
Mar 11 Washington, DC Black Cat #*
Mar 12 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506 #*
Mar 13 Atlanta, GA The Earl #*
Mar 15 Norman, OK The Opolis #*
Mar 21 Tucson, AZ Solar Culture %*
Mar 22 San Diego, CA Casbah %*
Mar 24 Los Angeles, CA The Echo %*
Mar 25 San Francisco, CA Bottom of the Hill % *
Mar 27 Vancouver, BC Media Club %*
Mar 29 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios %*
Mar 31 Nampa, ID Flying M Coffee %*
Apr 01 Salt Lake City, UT Kilby Court %*
Apr 02 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge %*
Apr 03 Omaha, NE Slowdown Jr %*
Apr 04 Iowa City, IA The Mill % *
Apr 05 St. Paul, MN Turf Club %*
Apr 06 Appleton, WI Lawrence University %*
Apr 15 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda’s*

Asterisks indicate shows with the Decemberists, # is used for shows with Lower Dens, and % is used for shows with the Callers.

Photo: the Klaxons' "Surfing the Void," official cover art

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:58 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Music News

Feb. 7 - 13 in nightlife: recovering from the Superbowl, Lauryn Hill, a new seasonal from DuClaw

Still recovering from the Superbowl? Man up, there's stuff to do this week, a good one for local music, with a couple of bands - Weekends and Arbouretum - releasing new albums. But the performance to watch is Lauryn Hill. If she arrives three hours late, will Baltimore fans react with cute signs, or worse?

On Monday, noise rock vets Deerhoof perform at the 9:30 club, 815 V St. N.W., D.C. $15. More low-key? Nevada upstarts Cobra Skulls at Charm City Art Space, 1731 Maryland Ave. Free.

On Tuesday, guitarist Dustin Wong performs at Golden West, along with Woods and Ducktails. Hopefully, his water won't break. 1105 West 36th Street. $8.

On Wednesday, DuClaw Brewing Company releases new seasonal Naked Fish at all Maryland locations, including Arundel Mills. Five-seven-piece North Carolina band the Love Language performs at Metro Gallery, 1700 North Charles Street. $8.

On Thursday, Epic, or epic meltdown? I'll be there either way. 20 Market Place. $65. Doors open at 9:30; she'll go on... whenever she wants. Less drama at the Talking Head, where Lands & Peoples will perform. 407 E Saratoga St. $8.

On Friday, Matmos' Drew Daniel spins at Club Phoenix's coldwave party Ice Age. 1 W. Biddle St. $2. For 60s mod music? Go to Sidebar's monthly Reaction party, at 218 E. Lexington Street. At Windup Space, Shark Tank - Mickey Free, Height, Lord Grunge, and Brendan Richmond - releases its debut album. 12 W. North Ave. Free.

On Saturday, loud upbeat duo Weekends will release their new album at Golden West Cafe. $5. Winks will also perform.

On Sunday, Arbouretum perform at Ottobar for the release of new, percussion-heavy album "The Gathering." 2549 N. Howard St. Free. Also: the Washington Record Fair returns, this time with 30 vendors from the East Coast. 1101 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia.

Photo: Weekends poster by Patrick Byrd, for Bmore Busically Informed 

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

February 5, 2011

Jan. 31- Feb. 5 reviewed: National Bohemian, Girl Talk, police lawsuit debate

Natty Boh came back on draft. The End. For other news, see below:

In non-Boh related news: debate continued over a (nearly) $500,000 lawsuit against the Baltimore Police department. Don't Know's executive chef sued over a 2009 arrest he claims was unlawful. Don't Know's Jason Zink also made news: he told me he'll expand the 3-year-old bar to keep up with recent competition in South Baltimore. Racers Cafe, the 67-year-old cafe in Parkville, and Pratt Street Ale House, also say they will expand this year. In clubland, Select Lounge is struggling to attract customers following January's fatal shooting. The week began with a pair of big concerts at Rams Head Live: Robyn and Girl Talk. Here's the full Q&A with Robyn.The Ottobar started selling annual passes for the first time ever, also thanks to increased competition from nearby venues. Dustin Wong went into labor. Preakness InFieldFEST tickets also went on sale. Headliners have yet to be announced. Venues that did announce headliners? Bourbon Street, Windup Space and Merriweather Post Pavilion: Boys II Men, the Novo Festival, and Whitesnake all announced upcoming dates.

(If you weren't directed to the post listing all the Baltimore bars that will sell Boh on draft, here it is. For county, Eastern Shore and elsewhere bars, go here.)

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

February 4, 2011

Video: Tapping Natty Boh keg at Nacho Mama's

Last night, Nacho Mama's tapped one of the first kegs of Natty Boh in over 15 years. Here's video from the event featuring Mama's owner and Boh nut Patrick McCusker and other National fans.
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:55 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 3, 2011

Nacho Mama's taps one of the first kegs of Natty Boh in 15 years

On Thursday afternoon the cramped Canton bar Nacho Mama’s was jammed.

Inside the bar, which is decorated like a shrine to National Bohemian, there were more people than Mr. Boh logos on the walls. The waitresses had a hard time delivering their regular orders.

It wasn’t a flash-mob. The crowd, evenly split between young and rickety old-timers, was there to toast the tapping of one the first keg of Natty Boh in 15 years.

Last week, Boh owner Pabst Brewing Company announced it would start selling the beer on draft, which since 1996 had only been available in in bottles or in its iconic gold-on-white cans.

To mark the return, it organized eight official keg tapping events throughout the region, starting Thursday here in Fells Point and ending in Columbia on February 16.

Judie Mitchell, a 54-year-old nurse who grew up in Highlandtown when a six-pack of Boh would set her parents back a little over two bucks, said she came to celebrate the beer as much as her childhood.

“Every time I see Mr. Boh it reminds of the times that were. It’s comforting to see this coming back,” she said.

Boh, Baltimore’s beer of choice for centuries, had been locally owned until 1979, when it was sold off to the G. Heileman Brewing Company. In 1996, it even stopped being brewed locally. But throughout all that, it’s remained popular, and in the last five years, it’s enjoyed a revival, especially among young drinkers.

Pabst, under new management since last year, brought the beer back on draft to capitalize on that nostalgia and to expand its footprint in the region.

Initially, it had modest expectations for the product on draft. In October, it set an initial run of 300 kegs and pre-sold it to 80 locations in Maryland, said Rachel Warren, a Baltimore sales representative for Pabst.

But since then, the demand has overwhelmed them, Warren said. The company had to approve an shipment of 600 extra kegs this week just to satisfy the 80 locations it had pre-sold beer to.

(Mount Royal Tavern, which got three kegs Tuesday, was already down to one and a half by Thursday evening, said manager John Corun.)

“We never thought we’d need to do almost 1,000 kegs,” Warren said. “Hopefully 600 will be enough, but we have to play it by ear.”

Warren acknowledged it’s hard to tell if they’ll keep selling 900 kegs a month. “There’s always enthusiasm at first so we have to see how it shakes out,” she said.

Along with Mount Royal Tavern and Della Rose’s, Nacho Mama’s has long been a Boh stronghold in the city. Owner Patrick McCusker has decorated his bar with all the Boh memorabilia he’s been collecting for years.

The ceremonial tapping of the keg, which was actually hooked up to a kegerator, happened at 6 p.m. on the dot; the bells from a nearby church could almost be overheard over the crowd.

McCusker entered the bar, to the tune of “Ride of the Valkyries” and the cheers of the crowded bar, wearing a bulbous Mr. Boh head. One of his bartenders pulled the kegerator's lever, and the official first glass disappeared to the crowd.

Rusty Walters, a 25-year-old native who works in marketing, couldn’t even step inside the bar when he got there. The crowd was starting to spill out into the street. He said he didn’t start drinking the beer for the irony, or because it was because it was passed down through his family.

“I don’t know if it was my grandfather’s first beer,” he said. “I started drinking in college because it was cheap.”

But then it became a reminder of Baltimore. When he lived in Los Angeles, he and his friends used to have it shipped. “It’s not even about the taste,” he said. “It’s about drinking Natty Boh. It’s just Baltimore.”

Ron Hartman, 64, on the other hand, said he’d been drinking it since he was 21, when it was the beer of working-class families.

“Back then this was a very poor neighborhood,” he said. Now, he drinks it out of loyalty.

“At one point, we had a lot of beer in this town; there was Gunther, Hamms,” he said. “Ths is the only that survived.”

Even though it’s not brewed here anymore, it’s not owned by a local brewery, and this might have been described as a big, frothy promotional event for a beer magnate, Hartman doesn’t care. Boh is part of the city’s heritage.

“It’s us,” he said.

A video of the keg tapping and a gallery of photos from Nacho Mama's will be posted later today. Update: Video is here, photos are here.

Photo:  Nacho Mama's bartender Delaware Dave serves up Natty Boh drafts to the crowd.(Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:11 PM | | Comments (30)
Categories: News

Don't Know Tavern, Racers Cafe, Pratt Street Ale House plan expansions

The three Baltimore bars will change their longtime look this year.

The 67-year-old Racers Café in Parkville will serve food for the first time, and add a new bar.

At the 3-year-old Don’t Know tavern in South Baltimore, owner Jason Zink is adding more drafts.

And Pratt Street Ale House, formerly the Wharf Rat, will expand into the building next door.

Food at Racers, which has been owned by the Osenburg family for generations, has been in the works since 2000, when owners bought the property next door with plans to build a kitchen. Beerinbaltimore tipped me to the news.

General manager Donna Preisinger updated me though, and told me Racers will now include not just a kitchen, but a lounge area, and a brand new bar. All and all, it should double Racers’ interior, she said.

The new bar will allow Racers to add seven new draft lines, for a total 20. It should come online no later than this year, Preisinger said, and will be followed by the kitchen. She is not sure yet what the menu will be.

Zink said he wanted to expand his bar to compete with the neighborhood’s new bars. The Park Bench near Riverside Park opened in November, and Barfly’s Pub, formerly Rafters, is set to open in March, according to its owner.

Specifically, Zink wanted to keep up with the new Taps, Delia Foley’s, owned by Chris Reda and Ropewalk Tavern's Marc MacFaul.

That 5,000-square-foot property underwent a two-month renovation late Fall and is now decked out with brand new murals and a vast wings menu.

“I respect [the owners] very much and they have done a great job, but it was also a good time to reinvent Don’t Know,” he said. Starting in March, the bar will add 12 new draft lines of American craft beer, for a total of 30. It will also redo the décor and upgrade its menu.

Zink is bullish on the renovation; he’s been adding new draft lines to No Idea for the past four months, and said it’s been successful there. He also said the resurgence of draft beer is going to work in his favor now that don’t know will also be called an “American Draught Bar.”

In March of last year, Ale House owner Justin Dvorkin said he wanted to take the brand to other locations in Baltimore. But for now, the bar he's settled with expanding next door, beer writer Alexander D. Mitchell IV first reported, and Dvorkin confirmed. 

After the bar there, The Nest, closed recently, Dvorkin and his partner Donald Kelly leased the property with plans to have more space for special events, like their real ale festival, and private parties.

But now, he said he's not sure if that will happen, and they’re also flirting with the idea of making the space into own concept bar.

Dvorkin said he anticipates the renovation to be finished by the last week of March.

Photo: Don't Know Tavern (600block

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:51 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

February 2, 2011

Eastern Shore, Baltimore county bars that will carry National Bohemian on tap

Baltimore bars aren't the only ones that will start carrying Boh on draft within the month.

Though most of the orders are from here, there are about 20 bars and liquor stores outside the city proper that will also carry the kegs.

The only bar outside the city that will have a keg tapping party is Frisco Tap and Brew House. Beyond that, Boh owner Pabst Blue Ribbon anticipates most bars will have their kegs within two weeks. 

Here's the most recent list of bars outside the city that have ordered Boh on tap: 

Maryland bars that will carry National Bohemian on tap:

O’Connor’s Pub, 844 HIGH STREET
Brix Tapas Kitchen, 337 HIGH ST

Cranbook Liquors, 52 CRANBROOK RD

Looneys Maple Lawn, 8180 MAPLE LAWN BLVD
Frisco Tap and Brewhouse, 6695 DOBBIN ROAD

Market Street Public House, 200 MARKET ST

The County Cork Wine Pub, 1716 LIBERTY ROAD
The Harvest Inn, 2007 LIBERTY ROAD

Ellicott City
The Diamondback Tavern, 3733 OLD COLUMBIA PIKE

Greenmount Station, 1631 N. MAIN ST

Gunpowder Lodge,10092 BELAIR RD

Ocean City
Crab Bag, 130th STREET
The Greene Turtle, 11601 COASTAL HIGHWAY

Owings Mills
Buffalo Wild Wings, REISTERSTOWN RD

Racer’s Café, 7732 HARFORD ROAD
Micho’s, 31-35 MAIN STREET

Market Street Inn, 130 W MARKET STREET

Johansson's, 4 WEST MAIN STREET
Frisco's Family Pub, 10 CARROLL PLAZA

White Marsh
Sunset Beach Club, 11445 PULASKI HGY
Della Rose's, 8153-A HONEYGO BLVD

For a list of Baltimore bars that will carry Boh on draft, click here

Photo: Natty Boh ad (Kennth Lam/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:03 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Brewing News

Baltimore bars that will carry Natty Boh on tap

On Thursday, Nacho Mamas's will tap the first keg of National Bohemian in over 15 years.

Soon after, Boh on tap will be available at least 80 locations in Maryland, a majority of them in the Baltimore metro area.

Of these, Sidebar, Brewer's, Ottobar, Frazier's, Hamilton Tavern, Idle Hour and Frisco Tap and Brewhouse in Columbia will also have keg tapping parties. (A schedule is below)

It's too early to tell if Boh on draft is here to stay for the long run - Pabst Brewing Company says it is - but this is at least a step in that direction.

Here's the most recent list of all the Baltimore bars that will start carrying Boh within the next two weeks*. They include the usual suspects - Mount Royal Tavern, Idle Hour - and some surprises.

(A list of bars outside the city will be posted later today.)

Plan your Superbowl accordingly: 

Baltimore bars that will carry Boh on tap:

Charles Village Schnapp Shop, 2941 N CALVERT ST
8 x 10 Club, 8-10 E CROSS ST
Ledbetter's, 1639 THAMES STREET
Dead Freddie's, 7209 HARFORD RD
Della Rose's at Canton Crossing, 1501 CLINTON ST SUITE 110
Mahaffey's, 2706 DILLON STREET
Frazier's, 917 W 36TH STREET
Fish Head Cantina, 4802 BENSON AVE
Duda's Tavern, 1600 THAMES STREET
Tommy's Downtown Tavern, 837-39 W CROSS ST
Liquor Pump,8535 OLD HARFORD RD
Hamilton Tavern,5517 HARFORD RD
Todd Conners, 700 S BROADWAY ST
Sea Horse Inn, 701 WISE AVE
Midtown Yacht Club, 15 E CENTRE ST
JD's Smokehouse Bar and Grill, 3000-02 O'DONNELL ST
Oasis Bar & Grill, 7539 OLD OCEAN CITY RD
City Limits Sports Bar, 1700-04 E FORT AVE
The Waterfront Hotel, 1710 THAMES ST
Life of Reilly Irish Pub, 2031 E FAIRMOUNT AVE
Little Abner's,1306 1/2 LINDEN AVE
Looney's Pub,2900 O'DONNELL ST
Mad River Bar & Grille,1110-12 S CHARLES ST
Pickled Parrot,3020 ELLIOTT ST
Mount Royal Tavern,1204 W MOUNT ROYAL AVE
Mother's,1113 S CHARLES STREET
Brewer's Art,1106 N CHARLES ST
Fin's,2903 O'DONNELL ST
Hertch Tavern, 1902 GWYNN OAK AVE
Patrick's of Pratt Street,131 S. SCHROEDER ST
Nacho Mama's,2907-11 O'DONNELL ST
Emerald Tavern,8300 HARFORD RD
Dionysus,8 E PRESTON ST
Smitty's Cut Rate,1044 S CHARLES ST
New Dunbar Tavern,269 COLGATE AVE.
Spirits Tavern,1901 BANK STREET
Howard's Pub and Deli,7312 HOLABIRD AVE
John Stevens,1800 THAMES STREET
Sticky Rice,1634 ALICEANNA ST
Swallow at the Holow,5921-23 YORK RD
Shuckers,1629 THAMES STREET
Camden Pub,645-47 W.PRATT ST.
The Laughing Pint,3531 GOUGH ST
Luckie's,34 MARKET PLACE
Hubcap Inn,6003 BELAIR ROAD
Hull Street Blues,1222 HULL STREET
Westway Liquors, 5312-16 EDMONDSON AV

Keg tapping parties:

Thursday, Feb 3, 6-8pm Nacho Mama’s

Friday, Feb 4, 5-7pm Sidebar

Friday, Feb 4, 8-10pm Ottobar Upstairs

Saturday, Feb 5, 5-7pm Brewer’s Art

Saturday, Feb 5, 8-10pm Frazier’s

Monday, Feb 7, 7-9pm Idle Hour

Wednesday, Feb 9, 5-7pm Hamilton Tavern

Wednesday, Feb 16, 7-9pm Frisco Grille

*All bars have different shipping schedules, so they won't all have the kegs at the same time. PBR anticipates they all will within the next two weeks. 

Photo: Natty Boh logo (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:49 AM | | Comments (34)
Categories: Brewing News

February 1, 2011

Robyn on Katy Perry, why dance music is punk, and her next album

Not many singers would be asked to perform on "Gossip Girl" and the Nobel Peace Prize concert. Robyn did both last year. She's serenading Serena and Blair one day in October, imprisoned Chinese political dissident Liu Xiaobo two months later. The set list didn't even need to change that much - "Dancing on my Own" made an appearance at both gigs. Robyn's specialty is making propulsive dance music that is also loaded with emotion, anthemic for dissidents and a pampered Waldorf. 

In the last year, with her "Body Talk" trilogy, she's experienced her greatest success here in the States. Tonight, she performs at Rams Head Live. In this longer Q&A, she talked about "Body Talk," why dance music is punk and her next album.

Midnight Sun: Releasing the album in three parts was an unconventional step, and a risky one financially since you run your label. Did you have concerns about it not working? I just released it that way because I thought it’d be an interesting way to work, to stay in the studio more; it was a more natural process of writing and producing. It became this huge thing. In all the interviews I was asked about it, and more and more it looked like something I planned or was smart about. I just wanted to try something new.

MS: Did the album’s positive reaction catch you by surprise? I didn’t expect people to get the idea of releasing it in three parts. I didn't expect it. But seeing how it went down with my audience made me happy because it made me think everyone was on the same page.

MS: And how about its success here? It seems Americans are embracing dance music in a way they didn’t before. The "Gossip Girl" appearance was a validation of that, if anything. I think dance music has a totally different respect now than it used to have, which is really nice. I don’t know, for me, it was always the music I listened to, went out clubbing to. In Europe, dance music has always been thought of as forward-thinking music, almost like punk. It’s an experimental genre. You can’t really pin down what the culture is. You can be any kind of person and still listen to dance music, dance punk or Erasure or Technotronic. It’s taken some time for that culture to seep into America, which is strange, you guys being the creators of rebel music.

MS: Why is this renewed interest happening now? Festivals are back. People love festivals again. There’s dance elements in indie and in popular music, with people like Gaga and Rihanna. There's also a lot of other stuff happening like Major Lazer and rock bands that blend dance into their music.

MS: How did you manage to perform on both "Gossip Girl" and the Nobel Peace Prize in the same year? I was totally surprised they wanted me on there ["Gossip Girl"]. I don't watch the show. But I was happy to be asked. With the Nobel, I'd done it once before.

MS: What was it like performing for that serious a crowd? The Peace Prize is quite a relaxed Nobel. We love taking the piss out of the Norwegians. The great thing about them is they love slick, Hollywood-type aesthetics. They don’t have a lot of classical music. It’s always a good vibe. In France and Britain, they’re very royal about it, but we’re much more relaxed. Three days later, I was doing my own show in Stockholm.

MS: What’s the main difference between American and European audiences? American audiences are very verbal. You guys scream and shout and dance all throughout the show. I love it. Europeans are much more reserved. It’s still my audiences, but they're trickier. But European audiences are also maybe more used to club music being something you can go out and see. Club culture is a real culture there, and maybe people are more used to that concept in a live show.

MS: What happens after the tour is over? I'm going back to the studio. I’m in the studio as often as I can, but these last six months I haven't really. The plan is to keep going with these shorter albums and to have something out sooner than before.

Right after this interview, it was announced Robyn would open a bunch of dates for Katy Perry’s world tour. It’s not clear if she’ll open for Perry at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Photo: Robyn (Handout)

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:02 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

Dope Body, Ecstatic Sunshine, Rapdragons to perform free show at Hopkins

WJHU has gotten Dope Body, Ecstatic Sunshine and Rapdragons to perform at the first of its Baltimore Curators concert series.

The series, sponsored by Johns Hopkins' only radio station, is planned to be a monthly event organized and presented by a Baltimore musician or group.

Dope Body, which just released its first non-cassette release, curated this show.

They've gotten experimental band Ecstatic Sunshine and hip-hop duo Rapdragons, Nick Often and Greg Ward, to perform.

The show will take place Saturday at 10 p.m. at the Levering Great Hall, 3400 North Charles Street.

Admission is free with a college ID, $3 otherwise. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:49 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Preakness InFieldFEST tickets go on sale; Mug Club returns; music headliners TBA

Tickets for the 2011 Preakness InFieldFEST went on sale today, the Maryland Jockey Club announced. It is the festival's third anniversary.

Organizers said music headliners for the event would be announced later this month. Last year, O.A.R. and Zac Brown Band performed. In addition to the headliners, there will also be live music on a second stage, though it's unclear what that will consist of.

The Jockey Club is also bringing back the Mug Club for a second time.  That's the all-you-can-drink bottomless mug you get for $20 more.

Tickets, starting at $40, are being sold on or the Preakness Ticket Sales Office.

The 136th Preakness will take place May 21 at Pimlico Race Course. Also happening around then: the unveiling of Rams Head Live's new outdoor stage

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:31 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: News

Concert news: Boys II Men, Novo Festival, Whitesnake at Merriweather's heavy metal festival

amidang.JPGThe Novo Festival will return for a second time this March, it was announced Monday.

The festival, which focuses on instrumental music, will take place March 1 - 5 at Windup Space, and will feature, among other musicians, Baltimore's Big in Japan, and a side project of recently profiled upstarts Lands & Peoples.

Like last year, Mobtown Studios will also sponsor the festival and will record performances to be streamed online for free. 

Wednesday March 1, the first day of the festival, will be an anniversary party for the Out of Your Head collective, which performs Tuesday nights at Windup. The second night will feature Of the West, Deaf Scene and Star FK Radium.

On the third night, experimental pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn will perform, along with Decapitated Hed and drummer Chris Farmer. Baltimore's Big in Japan will kick off the Friday show, which will also feature Do you need the Service? and Caverns.

On Saturday, Lands & Peoples offshoot Dead Drums will perform, as well as Omoo Omoo and Teenage Souls. 

The festival started last year to showcase all kinds of voice-less music, including post rock and jazz, not just experimental. Sitar player Ami Dang (pictured), guitarist Dustin Wong and Microkingdom were among the performers in 2010. Some of the other performances can be heard here.

Five-day passes for the festival are $20 and sold at Windup. 

In other concert news, Bourbon Street and Merriweather Post Pavilion both announced new upcoming shows.

Homecoming dance favorites Boys II Men will perform March 14 at the Bourbon Street Ballroom. Current members Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman and Wanya Morris are touring behind a new album of Japanese song covers.

Tickets, at $25, go on sale Friday.

Merriweather Post Pavilion announced last week it would host a heavy metal festival that would feature veterans Whitesnake, among other performers.

The M3 Rock Festival, as it is called, is now in its third year, and will take place May 13 and May 14.

Among the other performers: Tesla, Lita Ford, Mr. Big, Slaughter, Great White. Tickets, starting at $45 for the two-day passes, go on sale February 4.

Photo: Ami Dang performing at Novo last year. (Mobtown Studios)

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News
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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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