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April 29, 2011

No Way Jose Cafe calls for Ryleigh's Oyster boycott

A fan of No Way Jose Cafe has called on some 500 fans of the Federal Hill bar/restaurant to boycott neighboring Ryleigh's Oyster starting tonight.

In a Facebook event he created, Freddie Lang alleges Ryleigh's bought No Way Jose's building, blind-siding the Mexican restaurant' owners, who had been trying to buy the building for themselves. If Ryleigh's has purchased the building, Lang writes, it would push out No Way Jose Cafe.

The building at 38 E. Cross Street is owned by Killian's LLC, according to Maryland property records. Representatives for the company were not available for comment. Neither was management at Jose Cafe or at Ryleigh's, which is run by Brian McComas. 

One rationale for expanding Ryleigh's is to keep up with other bars in the neighborhood that have expanded in recent years, like Mother's, MaGerk's, and the Stalking Horse, which recently added a two-story addition called 30 East.

Curiously, the liquor license of Stalking Horse and Ryleigh's was protested by the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association, but as Sam Sessa reported earlier this week, the petition against Ryleigh's was eventually dropped. On Thursday, Stalking Horse's license was renewed by the liquor board.

 Lang, who identifies himself as a close friend of Jose's owner, finishes his note - found here - by asking fans of Jose to boycott all of McComas' establishments, which used to include Billabong Bar, but are now down to Ryleigh's and Taverna Corvino.

There are 500 attending the boycott so far, and more than 3,000 awaiting reply. 

Monday Update: Facebook event taken down. 

Photo: Ryleigh's Oyster Facebook
Posted by Erik Maza at 4:59 PM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

R. Kelly to perform at 1st Mariner Arena

R. Kelly will perform in Baltimore this summer, it was announced today. The show will take place July 1 at 1st Mariner Arena

It'll be the first time the R&B singer performs in the city since 2009, when he played the Lyric Opera House. Then, 92Q regular Paula Campbell opened for him.

The concert is in support of "Love Letter," a soul-inspired album Kelly released in December. This time, Keyshia Cole will open for him.

Tickets, which start at $49.50, are on sale now on Ticketmaster. Kelly will also perform at Verizon Center the day after the Baltimore show. Tickets for that show start at $78, and go on sale May 6.

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:35 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Concert reviews

Review: AgesandAges at Golden West Cafe April 27

Portland seven-piece AgesandAges performed at Golden West Cafe Tuesday in support of debut album "Alright You Restless." Contributor Mike Duffy sends in this review.

One could have lit a campfire at Golden West Tuesday night and it would have seemed appropriate.  Just take a listen to Agesandages' jamboree folk-pop and you'd see why that's understandable.

On tour with Lake to support its recently-released debut album, “Alright You Restless,” AgesandAges put on a feel-good performance to a room of about 40 to 50 spectators – including those located in the back bar. 

Founder Tim Perry heads a seven-piece unit with steady, simple drums, jangly guitar and two percussionists utilizing everything from woodblocks to tambourines to their hands.

But what really made the 45-minute show upbeat was the vocal arrangement, which was both honest and uplifting, and made them sound like a choir. 

Bandmembers contribute on pretty much every track.  According to a label press release, the full group even sang together into one microphone when recording the "Restless," and although AgesandAges brought enough mics to share this time, there was still a rich revival feel to the multitude of voices.

Perry has described his sound as “folk hymnals.” That works. The crowd took up nearly all the tables in Golden West’s dining room (nobody stood) and warmed to AgesandAges as the evening progressed.

Sure, not many people knew the lyrics, but the rhythmic clapping – which made regular appearances throughout the band's eight-song set – was pretty easy to pick up. Starting out with the quietly charming “These Elbows,” AgesandAges rollicked through a more jaunty stomper in “So So Freely,” which has an Age of Aquarius vibe to it.

It was on “When I Was Idle” that AgesandAges really hit their stride. Midway through the song, a tinkling piano set the tone for all voices to join in on the getle melody of “We don’t need your enemies, save that trouble for yourself.” The audience perked up. Rather than just sitting down, they began clapping along with the band.

It was probably smart, then, their best for the end. “Souvenir” and “No Nostalgia” – the closer and opener of “Alright You Restless,” respectively – finished things out to a big applause – or at least as big the intimate crowd could get.

The acoustics inside Golden West lend themselves to a band like AgesandAges. There’s no need for them to be bombastic, and getting closer to everyone watching added to the church-like atmosphere.  “Honestly, I’ve never been to Baltimore, and even now, it’s only been this four-block radius, but I gotta say, I like it. I like it a lot,” Perry told the crowd. “The best way I can say this is Baltimore is so Baltimore, and that’s a really good thing. I mean that in a really good way. A lot of places you go, it’s like anywhere else.” It seemed as


These Elbows
So So Freely
Under A Cloud Shaped Like A Tomb
When I Was Idle
Alright You Restless
(Unclear on this song; perhaps it was "Navy Parade")
No Nostalgia

Mike Duffy, a writer at, is a frequent Midnight Sun contributor. He last wrote about Coachella 2011. Erik Maza edited this post.

Photo: AgesandAges official website

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:24 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Concert reviews

April 28, 2011

Take Two: Neil Young at the Hippodrome Theater April 27

Earlier today Sam Sessa reviewed Neil Young's show at the Hippodrome. Now, we have a review from reporter Nick Madigan, who first saw Young in concert in the 70s. Neil Young performs again Thursday night at the Hippodrome

Neil Young is determined to prove he can do it alone.

Calmly strolling the stage of Baltimore's Hippodrome as though it were his living room, taking his time to decide what to play next from his vast repertoire and an array of guitars and pianos -- even a pump organ -- Young seemed on Wednesday night to be living his performer's ideal, a musician unencumbered by other musicians, true only to his muse and the vagaries of spontaneous choice.

At 65 years old, and with a five-decade career still going strong, Young long ago earned the right to do whatever he likes. Sometimes, the results are uneven, even startlingly so.

Audiences occasionally find themselves grasping for a thread of his early inspirations, the prodigious talent that produced such seminal anthems as "Heart of Gold," "Needle and the Damage Done" and "Southern Man," songs that he'll deliver if and when he wishes. 

At the Hippo, for the first gig of a two-night stand, some members of the audience were visibly unmoved by Young's persistent toying with a pair of stunningly loud guitars, a Gretsch White Falcon and a black Gibson Les Paul, thudding his way through songs from his latest album, appropriately titled "Le Noise."

For all his renown as a composer of gentle sensibilities, Young's rock-and-roll has the force of a Sherman tank, all guns firing.

But Young, always self-effacing and painstakingly honest, has never pandered to the desires of anyone, whether acolytes or recording executives, and retains a bemused tolerance for the excesses of the entertainment world and the pressures it brings to others. 

He proved that early in his career by walking out on Crosby, Stills and Nash just as they were firmly establishing themselves as a super-group, and has picked up and dropped numerous other musicians (Pearl Jam, for instance) along the way. Only Crazy Horse, the band Young first toured with in 1969, has retained his loyalty, and then only sporadically.

"Where's the Horse?" someone in the Hippodrome crowd shouted out. Young ignored him, just as he did all those who begged for specific pearls from his inventory, although that's not to say he didn't come up with some. "Tell Me Why," "Helpless," "Down by the River," "After the Gold Rush" and "Ohio" all got an airing, as did "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)," his powerful affirmation of rock's staying power and, by extension, his own. 

Young's best music, in my opinion, is unvarnished by electronic affectation. He is at his most compelling when he sits alone with guitar or piano, ruminating in melody about love, legends and the compromises of life -- " it hard to make arrangements with yourself?" 

The famously wide range of his voice, a tenor with both falsetto and chest tones, appears only mildly affected by the years, scratchy at the edges but haunting as ever. His vocal chords have experienced none of the damage of those of Bob Dylan, the only troubadour of the 60's to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Young and both songwriter and singer.

In that context, Young's rendition of "Love and War" on Wednesday night was a perfect ode to the protest ethos by which he, Dylan, Jackson Browne, Joan Baez and others were defined. In Young's performance, there was no doubting the pain inherent in the lyrics:    

I've seen a lot of young men go to war
And leave a lot of young brides waiting
I've watched them try to explain it to their kids
And seen a lot of them failing
They tried to tell them and they tried to explain
Why daddy won't ever come home again.

In keeping with the theme of lost innocence, Young then sat at an upright piano for “Leia,” a ditty about kids' playfulness that he introduced by saying, "This is a song for all the little people. Too little to be here tonight. They couldn't come. They're just too small."

The sweetly infantile tune was jarringly juxtaposed with songs like "Cortez the Killer" and "Cinnamon Girl," both full of metallic eruptions. But in the latter, especially, Young filled the hall with so much sound, rhythm and nerve that for a moment it seemed as if Crazy Horse was right behind him, hammering away.

With that, Young proved he didn't need a band. All he needed was his guitar, his voice and the urging of his soul. 

Nick Madigan is a staff reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He last reviewed for the blog Elton John at 1st Mariner Arena. 

Photo: Neil Young at the Hippodrome Wednesday night (Doug Kasputin/Special to the Baltimore Sun) 

Posted by Erik Maza at 5:29 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Concert reviews

Sam Sessa's Weekend Watch: Royal Wedding, Sugarloaf Craft Festival, Sweetlife Festival

Find Local has more weekend events
Posted by Erik Maza at 12:11 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Sessa's Weekend Watch

Sweetlife Festival schedule released; Lupe Fiasco, Girl Talk, The Strokes last to play Sunday night

The Strokes, Girl Talk, and Lupe Fiasco will be the last three acts to perform at the second ever Sweetlife Music Festival.

The one-day festival, which takes place Sunday at Merriweather Post Pavilion, posted its official schedule today.

Modern Man will kick off the festival at 12:50 p.m., followed by D.C's U.S. Royalty. The Strokes, the main headliners, will be last band to take the stage at 8:45 p.m.

Sweetlife schedule:

12:50 – 1:10 pm Modern Man

1:15 – 1:35 pm US Royalty

1:40 – 2:00 pm Walk the Moon

2:15 – 2:45 pm Theophilus London

3:00 – 3:30 pm Ra Ra Riot

3:45 – 4:25 pm Cold War Kids

4:40 – 5:30 pm Crystal Castles

5:50 – 6:50 pm Lupe Fiasco

7:15 – 8:15 pm Girl Talk

8:45 – 10 pm The Strokes

The Strokes, who had been announced as the festival's headliners in late February, did not have any plans to play Maryland before Sweetlife (Look for our interview with Nikolai Fraiture in Friday's paper).

Same goes for Lupe Fiasco, who has just a couple of promotional appearances planned for new album "Lasers." Girl Talk last played Baltimore in January.

Sweetlife was created last year by Sweetgreen, the salad and yogurt restaurant group. But it was a more low-key event.

Hot Chip was the main draw, and the one-day event took place at a tent at Dupont Circle.This year, the festival will take over all of Merriweather, with several tents promoting organic food and sustainability in addition to the 10 hours of music at the amphitheater. Tickets, at $55, are on sale at Ticketfly.

A map of the festival grounds is below. 

Sweetlife schedule:


Map of Sweetlife Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion:

Sweetlife Festival
Posted by Erik Maza at 9:38 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

Neil Young at the Hippodrome Theater April 27

PX00254_9.JPGNeil Young kicked-off a two-night residency at the Hippodrome Theater Wednesday night. At this point in his career, he has several generations of fans. For Midnight Sun alum Sam Sessa, who has been listening to him since he can remember, Tuesday's show was a first. Later today, reporter Nick Madigan, who's been listening to Young since the 70s, will review the show from a seasoned fan's perspective.

In his long and storied career, Neil Young has been many things: Folk rock pioneer, artful singer/songwriter, godfather of grunge.

Few musicians have stayed as relevant as long as Young. Even now, when many of his peers have settled into their umpteenth Greatest Hits tour, Young refuses to give people exactly what they want to hear. He'd rather give them what he wants them to hear. That was the case at the Hippodrome Wednesday night, where Young performed solo on acoustic and electric guitar.

Photo Gallery: Neil Young performing in Baltimore

Many audience members were expecting a hit parade or an all-request hour, shouting suggestions at Young, who brushed them off. While he did play a handful of his signature pieces, such as "Ohio," "Helpless" and an excellent "Cortez the Killer," much of Young's set was music from his latest album, "Le Noise" and other newer songs.

Young's dimly lit set, with its wooden Indian and hodgepodge of instruments, recalled a rustic saloon. Spotlights cast four rectangular panels on the dark curtain behind him, giving the impression of a church's stained glass windows at twilight.

When Young emerged, wearing jeans, a black T-shirt, white jacket and light tan fedora, the crowd greeted him with a standing ovation. Wasting no time, he fired right into a trio of hits: "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)," the poignant "Tell Me Why" and a subtle, elegant version of "Helpless."

From there, it was on to more obscure material. "You Never Call" had some comical ruminations on mortality ("You're on vacation / We're working / You're in heaven / I'm working"). That song, like other more recent material, was swathed in echo and reverb and at times, the low end had too much bass, which muddied the mix.

Young cast off a couple brief, lyrical solos in "Love and War," from last year's "Le Noise." Never a flashy player, Young is a masterful rhythm guitarist who can really work on a chord.

While his face is softer and his mid-section a bit rounder, the 65-year-old Young doesn't look all that different than he did 25 years ago. Time has sapped him of his once-shrill high end, though he still has his soft singing voice. There were moments when Young would go up for a note that wouldn't be there, as he did with the chorus in "Down by the River," but it only made the narrator -- a man who murders his woman -- seem more deranged.

A slower, more methodical "Ohio" set spines tingling; the words speak to one generation but the song's mix of anger and repulse is universal. Young could be singing in another language and you'd still understand him.

Young sat at an upright piano for the nursery rhyme-like "Leia," switched to a pump organ for "After the Gold Rush" and offered a gorgeous rendition of "I Believe in You" at a baby grand piano.

The show's high point came near the end, when Young tore into "Cortez the Killer," slapping his guitar strings and nailing the whammy bar. As the song's last chord rang out, Young plucked a pick from his mike stand and cracked into "Cinnamon Girl." Together, the two songs were tremendous.

Between songs, the crowd called for "Harvest Moon," "Old Man," and much of Young's well-known music. Young just shrugged, and, at one point, said "sticks and stones."

Can you blame him? With his long list of hits, Young could easily sell out the much larger Pier Six Pavilion. Instead, he played a more intimate, ornate theater with great acoustics. And while the set list was varied, the show was all the more interesting for it.

Photo: Neil Young at the Hippodrome Wednesday night (Doug Kasputin/Special to the Baltimore Sun) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:43 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Concert reviews

April 27, 2011

Stone Temple Pilots and Scott Weiland kick-off summer concert season at Pier Six Pavilion

202124_10150176343863442_47360668441_6688577_5522965_o.jpgStone Temple Pilots performed Tuesday night at Pier Six Pavilion. Frequent Midnight Sun contributor Jeremy Trucker reviews the show, which officially kicked off the regional summer concert season. An earlier version of this review is here.

One of the biggest draws for concert-goers at a Stone Temple Pilots show is seeing in what type of condition front-man Scott Weiland in in when he takes the stage.

From the start of STP's set opener “Crackerman,” it was clear Weiland was ready to play to the crowd of nearly 3,000 who came to see the grunge holdouts open the concert season at Pier Six Pavilion.

The band's 90-minute, 17-song set covered all of the bases, including five songs from their 1992 debut album, "Core." Despite a few longer-than-necessary song breaks, the band, led by Weiland's charisma and trademark deep vocals as well as the Deleo brothers' guitar work, had the crowd at its feet for the duration of the evening.

The hit-laden show was heavy on the band's early catalog, with only a couple of songs from their eponymous 2010 post-reunion album.

The band seemed game to play the classics, and the foursome appeared in unison following a two-song encore to thank the chanting crowd of supporters, most of whom were there to relive their 90s-era youth.

If Tuesday night's set is any indication, a healthy Stone Temple Pilots have the chops and the fan base to play the amphitheater circuit for years to come, with or without new material.

Pier Six's promoters seem to expand the calendar of shows on the waterfront each season, and opening 2011 with a Tuesday night show in April was surely a calculated risk. As luck would have it, the evening was clear and warm, surely bringing a significant number of walk-up sales to the venue.

Of course, booking a band that has been playing much larger venues since their 2008 reunion helps as well. The relative intimacy of Pier Six brought the band and audience closer together. And though the acoustics are not top-notch, the Deleo brothers' extended power chords coupled with Weiland's elongated-vowels (“Caaaaan youuuuuu seeeeee”) help distinguish the songs through a muddled mix.

The show got underway around 9:15 p.m., with a fit and trim-looking Weiland leading the group with their classic lineup intact. Wearing all black with a maroon scarf and sporting his signature sunglasses and megaphone, Weiland swayed and occasionally pirouetted his way through most of the show. If he was in any way road-weary, he wasn't showing it on this evening.

In fact, the entire band, now all well into their 40s, were fit and locked in. My guess is the only stimulant on the tour bus is Vitaminwater.

Following the third song of the evening, “Vaseline,” STP played four songs that constitute the weakest part of their current show, including the single from their latest album, “Between the Lines” (It's about cocaine! Get it?!) and a few lesser-known tracks. The port-a-potty lines swelled during this stretch.

Fans were back to the sing-along by the time the band pulled out “Big Empty,” a huge hit from 1994's "The Crow" soundtrack. Monster hits “Plush,” “Interstate Love Song,” and a megaphone-assisted “Dead and Bloated” were also crowd favorites.

Bands strongly identified with a particular era have a built-in audience if they are willing to play to their fans' radio-driven interests. Summer stage mainstays like Chicago, Journey, and Earth, Wind & Fire make brisk business touring the country each summer by giving their fans the hits that remind them of yesteryear. The last 90s band I saw at Pier Six, Counting Crows, seemed unwilling to go that route.

Adam Duritz flat out refuses to play “Mr. Jones,” his biggest hit and the reason he can sleep past noon everyday for the rest of his life.

STP, always a band criticized for commercializing the “alternative” sound, are one of the few 90s bands with the goods and the apparent willingness to deliver their standards to the people. If they can stay healthy and satisfied to put their payday singles upfront with only a few unidentifiable deep cuts or new songs to slow down the proceedings, they will have a happy audience of late Gen Xers and early Gen Yers ready to plunk down $75 and their blankets each time they come around.

Set highlights, in order:
“Wicked Garden”
“Vaseline” “Between The Lines” (first single off their latest)
“Big Empty
“Dancing Days” (Led Zeppelin cover)
“Interstate Love Song”
Encore, “Dead and Bloated"
“Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart”

Jay Trucker is a frequent contributor to Midnight Sun. He teaches at the Community College of Baltimore County in Dundalk and blogs occasionally at He last reviewed Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj's show at 1st Mariner Arena. Erik Maza edited this post.

Photo: Stone Temple Pilots performing Tuesday (Pier Six Facebook)

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:52 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Concert reviews

So you went to the Orioles and paid $8 for a beer

A couple of weeks ago I posted the beer menu at Oriole Park on the blog, but not the beer's price, which I hadn't received from the concessionaire.

Well, here it is:

Domestic Draft (20 oz) 7.50 (PBR, Coors, et al)
Premium Draft (16 oz) 8.00 (Heavy Seas, Fordham, et al)
Small Domestic Draft Beer (16 oz) 6.50
Domestic Can Beer (16 oz) 7.50
Premium Can Beer (16 oz) 8.00
Domestic Can Beer (24 oz) 10.00
Domestic Bottle Beer (12 oz) 5.75
Premium Bottle Beer (12 oz) 7.00

I was at the ballpark last week for a column about its beer,  and found the selection to be varied, but still expensive, sometimes gallingly expensive. A glass of Natty Boh is $7.50, for instance. 

The Orioles won Tuesday night, but when I was there the team trailed the Twins by three runs and eventually lost the game. As Peter Schmuck writes today, it doesn't look entirely promising that they'll stray from that recent streak in the near future.

While expensive concessions are a trope of modern stadium sports, they become harder to accept when your team is faltering. The question then becomes, can Oriole Park justify six bucks for a can of Bud? Should a ballpark's prices compliment its stats?

Fat chance of that happening.

The Wall Street Journal asked that question a couple of years ago, positing that if that were the case the Washington Nationals would be giving away their food and beer.

You can at least rest assured that Oriole Park is not gouging fans with these prices.  

A small draft beer at major league baseball parks cost an average $5.79 last year, according to research firm Team Marketing Report. At the Twins' Target Field, a small beer costs $7. Yankee Stadium charges $6. The cheapest is the Houston Astros' Minute Maid Park, where a small beer is $5.

At Nationals Park, the prices are slightly higher than in Baltimore. A 20-ounce glass of domestic beer is $8, 50 cents more than at Oriole Park. A small beer is also $6.50.

A spokeswoman for the ballpark offered that there are specials in place: Two and a half hours before the first pitch, there is a $5 happy hour. Granted, that only happens on "Miller Lite Party Nights" on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

"Beer prices are high at all professional sports venues," suggested liquor board chairman Stephan Fogleman. "Now, at least you can justify getting a better value when you buy an $8.25 Heavy Seas there as opposed to the $8 Miller Lite."

Natty Boh at Oriole Park

Last week, Oriole Park started offering a beer special of its own: a 20-ounce glass of Natty Boh is $5 through the second inning. The offer is only available at the Natty Boh Bar, which is located on the first base side of the lower concourse.

No doubt there will be other complaints.

Last week, Fred, a reader, saved his strongest language for a personal complaint, quoted verbatim below.

"Another issue is the LACK of Corona BEER they DONT SELL this beer any longer."

Below, Delaware North Companies Sportservice's draft, can and bottle beers, by type:

Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA – Bottle
Evolution Lot No. 3 India Pale Ale - Bottle
Flying Dog Seasonal – Bottle/Draft
Flying Dog Snake Dog – Bottle/Draft
Flying Dog Tire Bite - Bottle
Fordham Copperhead – Bottle/Draft
Heavy Seas Gold – Bottle/Draft
Heavy Seas Loose Cannon – Bottle/Draft
Heavy Seas Pale Ale – Bottle/Draft
Heavy Seas Seasonal – Bottle/Draft
National Bohemian Beer – Bottle/Draft
The Raven – Bottle/Draft
Bass - Draft
Becks - Draft/Can
Stella Artois - Draft/Can
Redbridge - Bottle
Blue Moon – Draft/Can
Bud Light – Draft/Can
Bud Light Lime – Draft/Can
Bud Select - Can
Budweiser – Draft/Can
Coors Light – Draft/Can
Landshark - Draft/Can
Magic Hat - Bottle
Michelob Ultra - Draft
Miller Lite – Draft/Can
Pabst Blue Ribbon - Can
Rolling Rock - Can
Shock Top - Draft

My column on beer, booze and drinking at Oriole Park is here. Photo: Posing with Mr. Boh during Opening Day (Richard Gorelick/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:17 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Early review: Stone Temple Pilots at Pier Six Pavilion April 26

Stone Temple Pilots kicked off Pier Six's concert season Tuesday night. Frequent Midnight Sun contributor Jeremy Trucker has this review.

One of the biggest draws for concert-goers at a Stone Temple Pilots show is seeing in what type of condition front-man Scott Weiland in in when he takes the stage.

From the start of STP's set opener “Crackerman,” it was clear Weiland was ready to play to the crowd of nearly 3,000 who came to see the grunge holdouts open the concert season at Pier Six Pavilion.

The band's 90-minute, 17-song set covered all of the bases, including five songs from their 1992 debut album, "Core." Despite a few longer-than-necessary song breaks, the band, led by Weiland's charisma and trademark deep vocals as well as the Deleo brothers' guitar work, had the crowd at its feet for the duration of the evening.

The hit-laden show was heavy on the band's early catalog, with only a couple of songs from their eponymous 2010 post-reunion album.

The band seemed game to play the classics, and the foursome appeared in unison following a two song encore to thank the chanting crowd of supporters, most of whom were there to relive their 90s-era youth.

If Tuesday night's set is any indication, a healthy Stone Temple Pilots have the chops and the fan base to play the amphitheater circuit for years to come, with or without new material.

A longer review will be posted later today. 

Jay Trucker is a frequent contributor to Midnight Sun. He teaches at the Community College of Baltimore County in Dundalk and blogs occasionally at Erik Maza edited this post.

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:33 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Concert reviews

April 26, 2011

Animal Collective to present schlocky horror movie at Maryland Film Festival

Members of Animal Collective will present a Shaw Bros. movie that mixes horror and martial arts at the Maryland Film Festival next month. 

The presentation of "The Boxer's Omen's," on the festival's second night, is part of a line-up that is already heavy on music features, as I wrote a couple of weeks ago.

It's not the first time musicians have presented movies at the film festival. Dan Deacon's monthly Gunky's Basement series started as a presentation at the festival. Jonathan Richman and Branford Marsalis have presented films as well.

While Richman presented the classy "Cyrano de Bergerac," Animal Collective's movie is classic Hong Kong schlock. "Black wizards, Taoist monks, rampaging monsters, spooky apparitions, beastly crocodile skeletons, flying human heads, a sexy female zombie with long talons, and demonic bats lie in store for our hero," the movie's synopsis promises.

Animal Collective's Avey Tare, Deakin, and Geologist will present the movie May 6 at 11 p.m. at the Charles Theater.

The band will perform in Columbia July 9, the first time it will play "Merriweather Post Pavilion" at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

A trailer for "The Boxer's Omen" below:

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Red House Tavern re-opens in Canton

Red House Tavern in Canton, closed since 2009, has re-opened as a bar resembling "a Boulder Colorado Ski Lodge," according to the bar's recent press release.

Ron Singer, who bought the bar last July, said the Canton bar re-opened earlier this month. 

The Red House Tavern was owned by John Harris and his family for four years starting in 2005.

But, business was so slow in 2009 that the family first organized a fund-raiser for the bar, and later closed it. 

Last year, Singer bought Red House for $325,000, according to property records, with plans to renovate it and turn it into a casual corner bar with regular acoustic music and dart leagues. 

Renovations at the bar started in July 2010. Singer, who also manages Leon's and Triple L in Mt. Vernon, said he added tin ceilings, a book exchange library, and restored a fire place and a Victorian-style bar.

On April 1, the bar was "reborn as a boutique restaurant and bar with a decor and ambience (sic) resembling a 'Boulder Colorado Ski Lodge,'" according to the press release. On Saturday and Sunday, the bar will have a free BBQ meet-and-greet from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. to introduce itself to the neighborhood. Attendees also get one free Natty Boh.  

Singer said he's not sure if the bar will host live music as it had before.

The liquor board has signed off on its entertainment license, but its zoning board hearing isn't until June. Neighbors had complained about loud music before, Singer said.

For now, the bar will be open from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week.  Happy hour - 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week - features 2-for-1 rail drinks and $1.50 Natty Boh pints. There will also be a reverse happy hour from midnight to 2 a.m. with $2 domestic pints and $4 Jameson shots, a holdover from the previous owners.

The bar, at 2239 Essex St., will also serve food, with a menu that includes Fried Green Tomatoes, Duck Nachos, and pulled short rib spring rolls.
Posted by Erik Maza at 2:26 PM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Phillips Harborplace to toast William Donald Schaefer tonight

If anyone could will the sun into coming out after a week of crummy weather, it would be William Donald Schaefer.

The former mayor, governor and comptroller's last tour of Baltimore was a warm, cloudless Monday that saw hundreds come out to say their goodbyes to a towering figure they all knew for his tenacity and for his love of the city.

At Fells Point, where I was covering the motorcade, Donald Graham remembered Schaefer as a no-nonsense governor who got things done. 

"I've been in the construction business my whole life and things never move quickly," the 69-year-old, who lives in Fells, said. "But he cut through the red tape and the bureaucracy and pushed projects through."

When longtime Schaefer aide Lainy LeBow-Sachs emerged from the motorcade, the crowd waiting outside Jimmy's restaurant, where Schaefer was a regular, greeted her to cheers of hip-hip hooray and "For he's a jolly good mayor." LeBow-Sachs chatted with the crowds for several minutes, hugged Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, and accepted two potted African violets, Schaefer's favorite from Nick Filipidis, co-owner of Jimmy's.

Sun reporters where covering the motorcade's progress through the city; their dispatches, mine included, are collected here.

Events commemorating Schaefer continue today. Phillips Harborplace will host a happy hour organized by WNST starting at 5 p.m. and until sunset. City offices are also closed for a mandatory furlough in Schaefer's honor. His public funeral will be held Wednesday at the Old St. Paul Church.

Photo: Sen. Barbara Mikulski outside Jimmy's Restaurant Monday (Maza)
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Lollapalooza line-up announced; Wye Oak, J. Roddy Walston, Eminem to perform

The Lollapalooza Music Festival in Chicago announced its full line-up today. Baltimore's J. Roddy Walston and the Business and Wye Oak are among the bands that will perform. Wye Oak's last local show was just a couple of weekends ago; a story on that show and "Civilian" is here.

Other headliners at the festival have performed in the Baltimore region recently, or will in the near future. Among the bands that have been here in the past couple of months are The Mountain Goats, Titus Andronicus, and Girl Talk. You might have read about the Joy Formidable in our Coachella post-mortem. Also in the line-up is Sleigh Bells, which plays the 9:30 club May 7 and the Naked and the Famous, which will perform at the Ottobar that same day.

The main headliners at the three-day, now 20-year-old festival are Eminem, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Deadmau5, and others. Lollapalooza begins August 5 at Chicago's Grant Park. Tickets are on sale now at its website.

Photo: The Joy Formidable at Coachella '11 (Mike Duffy)
Posted by Erik Maza at 9:38 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

April 25, 2011

April 25 - May 1 in nightlife: Stone Temple Pilots, Sweetlife Festival, Annual Brew Fest

This week is stuffed with music events. On a night when acts that rarely come through the region - like Yelle - plays the 9:30 club, Neil Young kicks off a two-night residency at the Hippodrome Theater. And on the weekend, City Paper throws its annual brew fest, Kylie Minogue performs in Virginia, and while the Transmodern Festival is taking place in several locations downtown, Sweetlife will go down Sunday* at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

On Monday, toast William Donald Schaefer as a motorcade carries his body through Baltimore on a farewell trip. Mama's on the Half Shell, 2901 O'Donnell St., might be a good place to do it.

On Tuesday, Stone Temple Pilots kick-off the summer concert season at Pier Six Pavilion, 731 Eastern Ave. Tickets for the show, at 6:30 p.m., start at $35. Also: Portland band Agesandages performs at Golden West Cafe, 1105 W 36th St. 10 p.m. $7. Look for reviews of both shows Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Neil Young begins a two-night residency at the Hippodrome Theater, 12 N. Eutaw St. 8 p.m.  Tickets start $65. Also: Yelle, out now with the great "Safari Disco Club" makes her only regional appearance on her new tour at the 9:30 Club. 10 p.m. $20.

On Thursday, the Transmodern Festival  - described as "Four Days of Avant Performance, Installation, Sound, Film, Mayhem, Ecstasy, and Radical Culture!" - kicks off with an opening reception at 7 p.m. at the 14Karat Cabaret, 218 W. Saratoga St. Celebration performs Saturday as part of the festival at the H&H Building, 405 West Franklin Street. A full schedule of the festival is here. Also: Wiz Khalifa plays the first of several upcoming regional dates at Pier Six Pavilion

On Friday, Brooklyn punks Parts & Labor and Baltimore's Double Dagger perform at Golden West Cafe. Starts at 10 p.m. $7.

On Saturday, City Paper throws the 15th Annual Brew Fest at Broadway Square, where some 50 regional beers will be available to sample. Starts at 1 p.m. $35. Also: in Virginia, proto-Gaga pop star Kylie Minogue performs at GMU Patriot Center, 4500 Patriot Circle, Fairfax City. 8 p.m. $55.

On Sunday, Merriweather Post Pavilion hosts the one-day festival Sweetlife, which will feature Girl Talk, Lupe Fiasco, Crystal Castles and headliners the Strokes. Look for a preview of the festival in Friday's paper, including an interview with Nikolai Fraiture of the Strokes. Also: artists Joe Denardo, Kari Altman and Jim Drain, whose knitted sculptures appeared at the 2002 Whitney Biennial, will speak at Mattin 101 of Johns Hopkins' Homewood Campus, 3400 North Charles Street. More information on this talk here. 4:30 p.m. Free.

*An earlier post referred to the festival's original announced date. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:47 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

Update: Kings of Leon to perform at Jiffy Lube Live; Gang Gang Dance to play Ottobar

Kings of Leon will perform at Jiffy Lube Live August 9, it was announced today. The show is part of the band's new 30-city tour, its first since the release of its fifth album "Come Around Sundown." The band has been on the festival circuit for the first half of the year; it just returned from Coachella. And will be playing at other international festivals, like Isle of Wight, until the tour kicks off in Alabama in late July.

Upstarts Band of Horses will open at Jiffy Lube. Tickets for show, which start at $36.50 for the lawn, go on sale Friday on Ticketmaster.

Update: Gang Gang Dance, the experimental New York band whose Liz Bougatsos is one of the best front-women around, will perform two shows in the region. The band will be at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington July 18 and at the Ottobar July 19. Ticket information is not available yet.

Update 2: Junior Boys announced Tuesday a tour that will stop in Washington this summer. The Canadian synthpop duo, on the road to promote new album "It's all True," will perform at the Black Cat June 16, the same day Sade will kick-off her first tour in a decade at Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena. (via)

Photo: Kings of Leon performing in 2009 (Reuters)
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:11 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Music News

Best 50 county restaurants list includes bar destinations

Up today is the first batch of Dining@Large's list of the 50 best restaurants in Baltimore-Howard-Anne Arundel counties. Chopstix in Perry Hall and Edo Sushi are in the list. But also included are a couple of places with popular bars: Ranazul, Michael's Cafe, and Cafe de Paris. The rest of the list is here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Rush at 1st Mariner Arena April 22

Rush performed Friday at 1st Mariner Arena. Reporter Kevin Eck, of Ring Posts, was at the show and sent in this review. 

The Rush concert at 1st Mariner Arena Friday night had a lot of the trappings typically associated with an arena rock act that was birthed in the ’70s: There were strobe lights, pyrotechnics and a huge video screen.

But those things were all just window dressing. First and foremost, Rush has always been about the music.

Unlike many of their peers, Rush does not have a flamboyant front-man who encourages fans to scream on cue, and rather than extolling the virtues of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll in its lyrics, the majority of songs performed by the band intelligently explore the human condition.

Rush – bassist/lead singer Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer extraordinaire/lyricist Neil Peart – proved again  Friday night that three cool-deprived guys from the Toronto suburb of Willowdale just may comprise the coolest band around when it comes to delivering the goods on stage.

For the enthusiastic crowd at the mostly filled arena, there clearly was no doubt. On this stop of its Time Machine Tour, the power trio took the audience on a musical journey nearly 40 years in the making.

Rush, whose unique brand of progressive hard rock is marked by intricate arrangements and precise playing, seamlessly maneuvered its way through a two-and-a-half hour performance. The set list consisted of 25 songs (including three instrumentals) that spanned parts of five decades and showcased Rush’s eclectic catalog.

The highlight of the night was the band playing its most successful release – 1981’s “Moving Pictures” – in its entirety. Lee, Lifeson and Peart – now all in their late 50s – showed, however, that they are anything but a nostalgia act. They were musically as tight as ever, and Lee – whose instantly recognizable wailing vocals are an acquired taste for some –showed that he can still hit the high notes (although his voice did crack slightly during  “Far Cry,” which was the final song before the encore).

As serious as the members of Rush are about their musicianship, however, they certainly don’t take themselves too seriously, as evidenced by the self-parodying videos sprinkled throughout the performance and the playful interaction on stage between Lee and Lifeson.

The show was divided into two sets separated by a 20-minute intermission. Rather than bringing an opening act on the road with them, Rush seemingly uses the first set to warm up the crowd for the power-packed second half of the concert.

After kicking things off with signature anthem “The Spirit of Radio” and concert staple “Time Stand Still,” the band proceeded to play a string of songs that casual fans may not have recognized and hardcore fans likely wouldn’t place on their all-time favorites list. Among them was “BU2B,” a hard-driving cut from the forthcoming “Clockwork Angels” album.

Rush closed the first set with three songs from its most commercially successful period in the early to mid-80s – “Freewill,” “Marathon” and “Subdivisions.”

Then it was time for the main event of the evening. Lee, Lifeson and Peart returned to the stage and the familiar synthesizer intro to “Tom Sawyer” – the opening track on “Moving Pictures” – sent the crowd into a frenzy. That Rush classic was followed by the three others that made up Side 1 of the album – “Red Barchetta,” “YYZ” (the instrumental that sparked a generation of air drummers) and “Limelight.”

Those songs are always crowd-pleasers, but for longtime fans, seeing Rush perform the lesser known songs from the second side of “Moving Pictures” – the 11-minute “Camera Eye,” “Witch Hunt” and “Vital Signs” – is as good as it gets.

In keeping with the “Time Machine” theme, after concluding “Moving Pictures,” Rush immediately went back to the future and played “Caravan,” another song from “Clockwork Angels.” Peart then demonstrated that not all live drum solos equal bathroom breaks. Watching him take center stage to masterfully pound the skins is a must-see element of the show.

Rush ended its performance by going all the way back to the beginning for “Working Man” from its self-titled 1974 debut album. The band put a reggae spin on the opening verse of the hard-rocking song before it morphed into a jam session that gave Lee and Lifeson one final opportunity to show off their fancy fingerwork.

Set List

First set
The Spirit of Radio
Time Stand Still
Stick It Out
Workin’ Them Angels
Leave That Thing Alone

Second set
Tom Sawyer
Red Barchetta
The Camera Eye
Witch Hunt
Vital Signs
Closer to the Heart
2112 Part I: Overture
2112 Part II: The Temples of Syrinx
Far Cry


La Villa Strangiato
Working Man

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:03 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Concert reviews

April 23, 2011

April 18 - 23 reviewed: William Donald Schaefer, beer at Oriole Park, Charlie Sheen

William Donald Schaefer died. We suggested bars where he should be toasted. Charlie Sheen came and went at DAR Constitution Hall without self-destructing on stage. A disappointment. The beer at Oriole Park was reviewed: lots of variety, but too expensive. The new Baltimore Comedy Factory was profiled. And we looked at the best Baltimore comedy nights. Animal Collective announced it would finally play "Merriweather Post Pavillion" at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Coachella was remembered; Mumford & Sons was one of the best acts this year. We corkboard'ed the best Baltimore jazz clubs. All, even the dingiest ones, more worth it than a night with Charlie Sheen.
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:14 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Roundup

April 21, 2011

Sam Sessa's Weekend Watch: Rush at 1st Mariner Arena, Earth Day

FindLocal has more weekend events.
Posted by Erik Maza at 1:48 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Sessa's Weekend Watch

Coachella 2011: Mumford & Sons, Titus Andronicus, Warpaint, and more

joy%20formidable.jpgContributor Mike Duffy was at Coachella this year, and sent along this belated dispatch. 

Ten days before Coachella, I got a random call from a friend out West.

“I have an idea…” she said. She needed help covering the music festival for Fender magazine, and wanted me for the gig. 

I accepted immediately, dropped everything and booked my flight to the desert. I mean, it'd been a goal of mine for years to go to Indio, California, get heatstroke and watch as many bands as I humanly could in the span of a weekend.

Armed with a photo credential, VIP wristband, camera and iPad, I spent three days running all over the Empire Polo Grounds and checking off bands my enormous wish list.

After three days in the desert, here are the lucky seven that made the biggest impression:

Warpaint: The Los Angeles-based quartet features four rocking girls who weave experimental art rock with a darkly, psychedelic bent.  I was really blown away by drummer Stella Mozgawa, who pounds the skins with a Bonham-like ferocity.  It’s that beat that provides a foundation for Warpaint’s spacey sound, something that's furthered by Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman’s ethereal lyrics.  Listen to: Elephant

Titus Andronicus: Hailing from New Jersey, Titus Andronicus tells stories in its songs, but they don’t sound like The Boss.  T.A. is honest indie punk that had people watching crowd surfing on the very first song they played.  Led by the healthily-bearded Patrick Stickles, Titus’s rallying cry is making it in a working-class city hit hard by the economy.  Oh, and it’s not odd to hear a Titus song devolve into an Irish jig.  Listen to: A More Perfect Union." [ed. The Baltimore Sun story on Stickles and Titus is here.]

Warpaint.jpgThe Joy Formidable: Three pieces is all this Wales band needs to make some serious noise.  Bleach-blonde singer Ritzy Bryan absolutely wrecks her Fender Stratocaster, and drummer Matt Thomas is capable of filling in empty spaces in the beat with staccato bursts here and there. I like that type unpredictability in drummers.  After this show, Bryan was ripping the strings out of her guitar and bassist Rhyodin Dafydd was destroying a free-standing drum. The only destruction I really saw all weekend.  Listen to: Whirring

Brandon Flowers: OK, OK, we all know who the lead singer of The Killers is, but Flowers’ solo show isn’t too shabby either.  Obviously, there is a Killers lean to his music, but it’s less synthy and more dusty rock.  The main reason Flowers is on this list is because he ended his show by bringing out Killers guitarist Dave Keuning and bassist Mark Stoermer to rip through “Read my Mind” and “Mr. Brightside.” It was an awesome surprise.  Listen to: Crossfire

Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears: Good lord, Black Joe Lewis channeled the spirit of James Brown and some of the other great wailers of the doo-wop generation.  Featuring a horn section and Lewis’ rhythm and blues guitar, the group has a rockabilly and soul vibe that would be at home in a Blues Brothers movie (not Blues Brothers 2000).  With songs like “Booty City” and “Get Yo Sh*t,” you know you’re going to boogie.  Listen to: Gunpowder

Best Coast: I’ve listened to Best Coast briefly before, but they might have had the perfect setting for their hazy surf pop.  It was Sunday, the sun was setting and everyone just wanted to chill.  Perfect.  Singer Bethany Cosentino sang about summer and being in love while a lot of fans just lazed in the grass and swayed along.  Listen to: Boyfriendrandom%20coachella%20dude.jpg

Mumford and Sons: The only entry on this list to play on the giant main stage, Mumford and Sons showed they could headline one of these festivals in the future. The four-piece folk band from the U.K. added horns after the first few songs to expand their sound and played two songs not on their previous album, one of which had frontman Marcus Mumford on the drums. The crowd was absolutely crushing for the Sons.  Listen to: Lover of the Light.[ed. Mumford & Sons to play Merriweather in June]

There were a ton of other bands that could have been mentioned – Scissor Sisters, Chromeo, A-Trak, Neon Trees – but these are the ones that left me wanting to hear more from. 

For those of you that haven’t been to Coachella, I suggest looking into it for next year.  It’s a great way to kick off the spring/summer festival season and a great study in people watching.  There are some real interesting cats that descend on Indio, all in the name of good music.  

Just make sure you wear sunscreen, or you could end up like this guy (that’s not me, by the way).

Mike Duffy, a writer at, is a frequent Midnight Sun contributor. He last reviewed We Are Scientists for the blog. This year, he also wrote about Coachella for Fender online. Erik Maza edited this post.

Photos in descending order: Ritzy Bryan of The Joy Formidable performing at Coachella; Warpaint performing; a typical Coachella attendee (Writer's own)

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:54 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Music News

Review: Charlie Sheen did not self-destruct for your pleasure at DAR Constitution Hall

A review of Charlie Sheen's show at DAR Constitution Hall appears in today's paper. Here's the longer version, which was shortened for space:

DAR Constitution Hall was nearly sold out Tuesday night for Charlie Sheen’s “Violent Torpedo of Truth” tour. The traveling circus has raised many questions, but the most glaring of all has to be why hundreds of people would pay top-shelf prices – over $100 in some cases - to see the actor in person.

Towards the end of the show, Michael Moore, of all people, volunteered an answer. In a letter that was read out loud to the crowd, the filmmaker said that the public’s fascination with Sheen has to do with the actor’s candor, with his refusal to play a phony and walk the plank of self-punishment on the talk show circuit.

But in typical form, Moore misses the forest for the trees. We’ve had frank, self-destructive celebrities before. VH1’s entire programming depends on them. And yet, we haven’t had the Jeff Conoway Tour of Redemption.

The novelty with Sheen is that he’s the first to take the self-immolating act we’ve already seen on TV on the road, raising the possibility that we’ll see a multi-millionaire unravel before our very eyes.

If that’s what hundreds were expecting at DAR, they were sorely disappointed.

Sheen’s “Violtent Torpedo of Truth” tour might have more accurately been called, “A dull evening with Charlie Sheen,” as it was neither violent, explosive nor truthful. During the show, Sheen doesn't do much besides react, listen and gloat. He was neither self-destructive nor embarrassing. Howard Beale in sweat pants never showed up.

The evening was stubbornly uneventful. Just about the most eye-raising moment came when Sheen suggested Barack Obama’s birth certificate was “photoshopped.” But these days even presidential hopefuls are floating that idea around, usually uncorrected by reporters, so that the line felt less incendiary than pandering to a risible crowd.

What the crowd of 3,000 or so got was the kind of hammy Q&A presentation normally reserved for the network upfronts. The show, if it can be called that, was more of an egomaniac’s wet dream.

Usually, at a performance of any kind, there’s at least a cursory effort to entertain the audience. But at Sheen’s show the focus was strictly on pleasing the star himself.

Over the course of the hour-and-a-half show, Sheen took questions from the audience about his life, sparred with DJ Tommy Griffiths about his ex-wives, got roasted by comedian Jeff Ross, and finally showed his greatest YouTube moments. All were meant to show the star in a self-deprecating light, but instead celebrated his worst flaws.

Sheen took the stage shortly after 9 p.m., disproving critics – myself included – who bet he’d pull a Lauryn Hill and turn up at the last minute. He also didn’t forget the words to any of his material.

But that’s mainly because he didn’t have any to remember.

Griffiths joined him on stage to quiz him on the day’s current events. It was a meeting of minds worthy of “Charlie Rose.” What would you do about sleepy air traffic controllers, Charlie? “ Adderall.” What about a punishment for Qaddafi? Force him to marry Brooke and Denise, the actor said, an enormous smirk plastered on his face.

Accompanying Sheen and Griffiths on stage was a guitarist who was supposed to play to their punchlines, but sat idle for most of the show. There was little stagecraft: just a couple of arm chairs, and a stool for the tired musician. 

The rest of Griffiths’ Q&A was as probing as “Frost/Nixon.” Griffith asked Sheen to play word association - Mars? “Rock Star!” – and to recall his favorite movie set memory. (It was watching Marlon Brandon scarf down a bowl of spaghetti during the filming of “Apocalypse, Now.”) Sheen seemed forgetful at times. “Oh, we covered court already didn't we?”

It would be silly to suggest that the show lost whatever momentum it had as this Q&A went along because it never had any to begin with.

Jeff Ross, a regular on Comedy Central’s celebrity roasts, came out for the second half of the show and got the night’s first genuine, non-ironic laughs.

It was the first time all night that the crowd shut up to hear what a person on stage had to say. Throughout the night they had heckled Sheen and Griffiths, screaming non-sequiturs to each one of Griffiths’ what-would-you-do questions; “Cocaine!” was a popular answer.

It was the mood of a crowd that had gotten robbed of a meltdown in real time and instead got the kind of performance a crazy uncle delivers annually at Thanksgiving dinner. 

But for that expectation they have no one to blame but themselves.

When Ross Ross praised Sheen’s chutzpah for touring with no written material, Sheen countered, accurately, that he had never promised to do stand-up on tour, or to polemicize about the day’s events, and much less to self-destruct for people’s pleasure.

“I never said what this was,” Sheen acknowledged. He was simply offered money to tour, ran with it, and saw ticket sales go through the roof. Talk about winning.

Photo: Charlie Sheen at DAR Constitution Hall Tuesday (Washington Post/Mark Gail)

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

April 20, 2011

Where are all the comedy clubs in Baltimore?

PX00054_9.JPGThe Baltimore Comedy Factory has now been open in Baltimore for 25 years.

In that time it's survived management changes, several presidents, a couple recessions, and lots of competition. 

Now at Rams Head Live, it's bought the real estate to match its seniority, and becomes, through sheer size, the largest comedy club in the city.

A story in Sunday's paper looked at its history, and Baltimore's shifting comedy scene.

Even if were its old size, the Comedy Factory would be the only standing comedy club within city limits.

There are still places in the city that showcase stand-up, but comedy-only clubs are a thing of the past. Some of the remaining options are below.

While changing audience habits and trends in the business have weeded out city comedy clubs, when comic Marc Unger started, he recalled Baltimore had "a booming comedy scene." Here's a short history:

 The 80s: The Factory opened in 1985, then under different management from today, when it's run by Matt Weber and managed by Chip Cucchiella. Back then, Unger recalls there was the Factory, Winchester's, Charm City Comedy Club and Slapstix.

Of these, the Charm City Comedy Club, which was in Harborplace, was the first to go. While it stayed open from 1983 to 1989 it booked some major talents, like Roseanne Barr.

In Parkville, Tracy's Comedy Club was at The Bowman's basement for most of the restaurant's 30-year tenure.

The 90s: The next club to disappear was Slapstix. Located where the Factory is now, at what used to be called the Brokerage, the club stayed open until the mid-90s when that mall complex failed. 

Winchester's closed sometime between 2002 and 2003; it's hard to tell from the clips. The club, located across the street from the Factory's old location above Burke's restaurant downtown, was unique in being one of the only clubs in the city to have open mic nights for amateur comics, recalled comic Mike Storck.

The 00s: When Slapstix closed, The Improv took over its location December 2001. The club was part of The Improv's string of franchise clubs throughout the country. It lasted for five years by booking major acts.

Rascals Comedy Club followed in the Spring of 2006 and closed that Fall, in December. Chip Cucchiella called it "a management debacle."

Tracy's closed in 2007 and was taken over by Magooby's, run by Unger's brother Andrew.  The club lasted there until last September, when it moved to a bigger location in Timonium and where it remains. Outside the city, there was also Laurel's Jokes on Us; at one point it hosted D.L. Hughley. That club closed in 2005.

2011:  The only remaining comedy clubs in the area are the Factory, Magooby's, reviewed in October, and Sully's Comedy Cellar, which took over for Magooby's at the Bowman. 

That attrition is due to changing attitudes and a shift in the business. 

Touring comedians now prefer to perform at proper theaters. When Jerry Seinfeld came to town, he performed at the Meyerhoff Symphony. Demetri Martin performed at the Hippodrome. When Aziz Ansari announced a June show in D.C. it wasn't at any of the city's

And alternative comics, don't play comedy clubs, but instead music clubs or restaurants. Brian Posehn and Neil Hamburger have both played the Ottobar recently.

Instead of comedy clubs, what Baltimore has are comedy nights.

There is Chucklestorm, a monthly stand-up night at the Ottobar. The Zodiac hosts Wham City's monthly comedy night. And, on the last Friday of every month, Golden West Cafe hosts Bar Bacon.

On April 26, a couple of new nights will join them them, says organizer Richard Siegel, a former promotions director at the Comedy Factory.

In Pikesville, Mexican restaurant Si Salsa will host comedy nights every other Sunday, and the Water Street Tavern downtown will do its own stand-up night every Tuesday.

The rest of the feature on the Comedy Factory is here

Got any other comedy nights, or have memories of some of Baltimore's defunct clubs? The comments are yours.

Photo: Don Jamison performing in March at the Comedy Factory (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Early review: Charlie Sheen in DC at DAR Constitution Hall with "My Violent Torpedo of Truth"

DAR Constitution Hall was almost sold out Tuesday night for Charlie Sheen's "My Violent Torpedo of Truth" tour.

That the over-3,000 seat venue was practically filled to capacity was the least inexplicable part of last night's event, which might have been more accurately called, "A dull evening with Charlie Sheen," as it was neither violent, explosive nor truthful. 

If the audience paid to watch Sheen impassively answer questions on stage and riff for a few minutes on his goddesses, Donald Trump, President Obama, and recycled Internet memes, then they got their money's worth.

But if they were expecting self-immolation, a public meltdown, or Howard Beale in sweatpants and a baseball jersey, then they were sorely disappointed.

In the hour and a half show, Sheen doesn't do much but react and listen. He was neither self-destructive nor embarrassing. He opened with the type of cursory monologue your crazy uncle delivers every Thanksgiving dinner. He said the system is broken and floated around the idea of running for president, boasting that, at least, he was born here, unlike Obama, whose birth certificate was "photoshopped."

The rest of the first half of the show - about 45 minutes - was taken up by Q&A with the comic Tommy Griffiths where the two played a round of "badmouth the Sheen bimbo" and word association. "What does the word Mars make you think, Charlie?" "Rock Star."

Comedian Jeff Ross took over hosting duties for the second half of the show, first roasting Sheen like he has many others on Comedy Central's annual celebrity roasts, and later inviting audience members to the stage to ask Sheen more questions.

The crowd - rowdy, drunk, and restless for most of the show - stopped yelling non-sequiturs and catcalls when Ross was at the podium. He actually had material to deliver.

Sheen also played two of his most-seen YouTube videos. It turns out $69 to see Charlie Sheen live doesn't get you much beyond what's already available online and on "20/20" for free. At least Sheen wasn't as late as everyone - me included - predicted. He took the stage shortly after 9 p.m., an hour after he was originally supposed to.

A longer review is coming later today.

Photo: Charlie Sheen outside DAR Constitution Hall (Washington Post)

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:04 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Concert reviews

April 19, 2011

Charlie Sheen delays DAR Constitution Hall by an hour

Charlie Sheen has delayed his appearance tonight at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington by an hour, a shocking development for an actor known for his drug abuse and incoherent rants.

The schedule change for the ""My Violent Torpedo of Truth" show was not explained by his management.

Earlier today, it looked as Sheen would be late to the 8 p.m. show because he was due to appear at a Los Angeles court this morning to fight for custody of his sons.

Sheen's ex-wife, Brooke Mueller, was awarded custody of sons Max and Bob after Sheen was convicted of assaulting her in December 2009. 

His lawyers argued this morning that she was not fit to take care of the children. Alas, the judge on the case eventually decided to side with Mueller. 

TMZ reported that Sheen was seen leaving the courtroom shortly before 11 a.m. California time, which meant he would make it to the East Coast on time for the DAR show. 

And at noon today, his manager Larry Solters, confirmed to the Sun that there were no changes to the schedule.

But, five hours before he was to take the stage in Washington, the announcement came that the show would be pushed back anyway. 

Sheen, Solters wrote without explanation, would take the stage instead at 9 p.m.

Surely, Sheen won't appear any later than that.

Photo: via Reuters

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:17 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: News

A toast to William Donald Schaefer at Mama's on the Half Shell

Tributes to William Donald Schaefer started Monday night at Harborplace and Camden Yards.

They were modest and personal, reporters Jean Marbella and Julie Scharper write. Tokens of appreciation for the way he championed the city for so long. The former mayor, governor and comptroller died Monday at 89.

No doubt, those tributes continued with toasts in his honor at bars all over the city, and will likely continue tonight.

But if you wanted to pay your respects at a bar Schaefer patronized himself, there aren't many options anymore. Not that there were many to begin with.

Schaefer was not a big drinker, recalled Liquor Board chairman Stephan Fogleman. 

Retired Baltimore Circuit Judge Thomas Ward tells Laura Vozzella Schaefer was a loner, despite his flamboyance.

"On trips together, I never saw him gamble, drink, carry on or misbehave. He was essentially lonely. For all his publicity stunts, it's hard to believe he was essentially a shy guy," Ward said.

The bars and restaurants Schaefer did frequent have passed on themselves. Like so many politicians, Schaefer was known to eat at Werner's, which was near his law office, Fogleman said.

The restaurant, of course, served its last lunch just last week. Fogleman also said Schaefer was known to go to Jimmy's in Fells Point for breakfast.

And the bar/restaurant Schaefer was most associated with, the old Connolly's on Pratt Street, closed in 1991. Schaefer went there weekly with his mother, Fred Rasmussen wrote a few years ago. 

Ironically, Connolly's now has a life of its own, though in a whole new package. 

Its liquor license has been taken up by Mama's on the Half Shell, which both in menu and decor, pays tribute to the beloved seafood house.

It doesn't seem like the Canton Square restaurant has anything special planned to commemorate Schaefer's passing, but a restaurant that already pays tribute to one institution might just be the best place to toast another.

Photo: Gov. William Donald Schaefer, in a hat equipped with cans of soda, talks with bicyclists as part of the announcement of a 360-mile bicycle tour of the state. (Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:24 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

April 18, 2011

Update: Concert news: Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Wiz Khalifa, Animal Collective

Baltimoreans will have no shortage of opportunities to see Wiz Khalifa in town this year.

There was the Pier Six Pavilion show April 28, and now there's a second at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

The rapper will perform there July 24. Tickets, starting at $45, go on sale, when else, April 20 on Ticketfly.

Today, it was announced that Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow would tour together. Their "Born Free" tour will hit Jiffy Lube Live August 22.

Tickets, starting at $31.50, go on sale Friday. 

The Transmodern Festival, which kicks-off next Thursday at several locations in the city, has updated its schedule. 

Among the additions, Celebration will perform Saturday at the Floristree. Tickets for that day start at $12. More information here.

Update: Animal Collective will perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion July 9. Tickets go on sale Friday on Ticketfly.

I was checking MPP's website this morning for this post and saw the show on the schedule and guessed I must have missed a press release last week. D'oh! Go figure.

Anyway, it'll be the first time they play from "Merriweather Post Pavilion" at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

April 18 - 24 in nightlife: Height, Rush, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"

rogerz.JPGIt was a hectic weekend in Baltimore. There was the Wye Oak show at 2640, a free show at the Hopkins Quad that was postponed because of the rain, back-to-back fashion shows at MICA, the Weekends CD release at Floristree, and, of course, last-minute panic attacks courtesy of TurboTax. This week is a little more relaxed.

On Monday, get a free Cinnabon bite or go to Ra Sushi after you've filed your income taxes. Those are just two of your options for Tax Day. Here are others.

On Tuesday, Hunx and his Punx, a mix of Gravy Train!!!! and Ronnie Spector, perform at 10 p.m. at Golden West Cafe,  1105 W. 36th St. $10. 

On Wednesday,  some people will be on holiday. You can also celebrate at the Hexagon, 1825 N. Charles Street,  for Height's homecoming show after a couple of months on tour. It'll be the last Height and Friends tour in a while. Starts at 9 p.m. Suggested donation. Also: Iron & Wine perform at Rams Head Live. Doors at 8 p.m. $28.

On Thursday, the last Gunky's Basement until this summer presents "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" starring the original smoking baby. Oh, and Jessica Rabbit. Starts at 9 p.m. $5. The series is taking a break for the Maryland Film Festival.

On Friday, Rush perform at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St. Look for our preview in Friday's paper. And on Monday, a review by Ring Posts' Kevin Eck, a big fan of the band. Tickets start at $45. Doors at 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Sonar presents a night by dance label Trouble & Bass. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $15. 407 East Saratoga Street. 

On Sunday, the Kills perform at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. N.W., D.C. The sold-out show is in support of the duo's fourth studio album, "Blood Pressures." Doors at 7 p.m.

Photo: Poster by Dina Kelberman for Gunky's Basement

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:21 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

Top 50 county restaurants?

Dining@Large's Richard Gorelick is putting together a list of the best 50 county restaurants for an upcoming story, and he's looking for suggestions.

Go here to leave yours.

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:47 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Random stuff

April 17, 2011

Photo Gallery: Wye Oak in concert at 2640 Space

wyeoak.pngWye Oak performing at their homecoming show at 2640 Saturday night. The rest of Josh Sisk's photos are in this photo gallery. A preview of the show, including an interview with Jenn Wasner, is here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 3:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

April 15, 2011

Final decision on Tiki Barge liquor license to come April 28; Tiki officially opens today

Thursday's hearing on the Tiki Barge was even more anti-climactic than the first on March 3.

That's when some neighbors of the bar asked that its license be revoked. The Liquor Board punted on a decision then and asked the involved parties to come to an agreement on their own.

That hasn't happened yet. If they haven't by April 28's liquor board meeting, the board would be forced to make a decision itself, chairman Stephan Fogleman said.

The hearing Thursday was instead to discuss a protest to prevent the barge's license from being renewed for 2011, a petition another neighbor had filed separately from the earlier petition to revoke. 

Because the license was already being discussed in terms of a revocation, the board dismissed that protest on the principle of collateral estoppel, Fogleman said.

In other words, the board had already heard arguments for and against the bar on March 3 on the petition to revoke, so that holding a separate hearing on the license's renewal would be redundant.

The next Tiki Barge hearing is scheduled to be held April 28, when if supporters and critics haven't come to a detente, the board would make the final decision on the bar's 2011 license.

The hearing has been set for the 28th because the bar's 2010 liquor license expires April 30 at midnight. 

That also means that the Tiki Barge can open today, as it has already planned, and stay open until the 30th if it's license isn't renewed, and for another year if it is. 

Fogleman said the hearing Thursday was less crowded than the first. Instead of Matthew Klaiber, who spoke for the critics of the Tiki Barge last time, the point person was Marie Washington. 

Washington had complained at the last meeting about the bar's patrons idling outside her house. 

"My problem is that it creates a safety issue for me," she said. She added that noise is also a problem: "I've been woken up by individuals on weekends late night who are intruding into my ability to enjoy my own home," she said last time.
Posted by Erik Maza at 12:28 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: News

Sam Sessa's Weekend Watch: Six Flags, Record Store Day, Privateer Day

FindLocal has more weekend events
Posted by Erik Maza at 9:22 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Sessa's Weekend Watch

April 14, 2011

Wye Oak mature with new album "Civilian;" debut new video

"We kept all options. We just piled it on because we could."

That's Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner describing their last album, "The Knot."

After working independently for years, Wasner and Andy Stack got a chance to make that album with all the time and resources that brand-new label representation allowed them. They had just been signed to Merge Records in 2008.

But the financial freedom actually worked against them, Wasner says, and the album was "overdone" and "less sculpted" than "If Children."

In a story in tomorrow's paper, online already, Wasner talks about how their new album, "Civilian," came together last year. 

She says it finds them at a new level of maturity. 

Its best tracks ("We Were Wealth," "Holy Holy," "Hot as Day") are the opposite of the sometimes indulgent, five-minute songs in "The Knot:" they are pared down where the others were overdone; immediate instead of meandering; poignant, rather than just lush.

Below is "Fish," the album's first video:

Wye Oak, "Fish:"

Wye Oak - Fish (Official Video) from City Slang on Vimeo.

Wye Oak performs Saturday at 2640 Space, 2640 St. Paul St. Show begins at 8:30 p.m. Tickets, at $12, are sold at
Posted by Erik Maza at 4:53 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

Ten greatest hits from the anti- Tiki Barge complaint petition

At around 4:30 today at City Hall, a handful of cranky, loud critics and supporters of the Tiki Barge will speak before the Baltimore Liquor Board to discuss the floating barge's future.

It was so long ago that they crammed #215 at City Hall to argue for four mind-numbing hours, that it's hard to remember what exactly they were arguing about that March 3.

Before I checked in with the petition that some of the barge's neighbors filed with the board, all I remembered was the phrase "public urination" being uttered every ten minutes.

So, because I hadn't posted it before, below are the ten most egregious complaints from the Tiki Barge liquor board petition. 

At the last hearing, the liquor board ordered critics and supporters to come to an agreement about the bar's future. If they haven't by today, the liquor board will make a decision about renewing the bar's liquor license. The hearing today is not expected to be as contested as the last, which could easily be qualified a clusterflux.

The Tiki Barge has not been fazed by the criticism. It has already planned on re-opening Friday.

The petition against the Tiki Barge is a phone book-thick trapper keeper that meticulously documents activity at the floating barge since it first opened last Memorial Day. It was filed last year and co-signed by 14 neighbors, mostly residents on Harbor Island Walk. Eventually, 40 other neighbors had joined the petition.

Their complaints range from the innocuous to the bizarre. Most are simply attributed to anonymous residents.

At the March 3 hearing, Mel Kodenski, representing Tiki Barge license holder and part-owner* Richard Swirnow, argued some if not all the complaints were isolated incidents.

Here are the ten greatest hits, presented verbatim:

Paragraph 28: "An example of the type of lewd and unruly behavior at the Tiki Barge was shown on a video posted on YouTube. There is abusive and swear language used and there also is partial nudity shown on the video where a patron dropped his shorts while being filmed." Petition included video screenshot, as well a CD copy of the Youtube video.

 Par. 31, point 1: "One resident at the August Harborview Community meeting had observed departing Tiki Barge patrons leave the marina area, walk along Harborview Drive and participate in a drug transaction outside the Harborview Towers." Presumably, the writer does not mean that a resident saw patrons leave the community meeting to conduct a drug trade, but rather that the resident told the community meeting about what he or she had seen previously.

Par.  31, point 2: "Several residents observed six visually intoxicated patrons leaving the Tiki Barge steal a golf cart belonging to one of the boat owners in the Marina and drive the golf cart through the Harborview Community and out onto Key Highway." A marina police log is attached. Dan Naor, the marina's chief operating office, told me later the golf cart was driven 100 feet before being stopped by one of the marina's officers. Naor said it never left the marina, and speculated it was someone playing a prank.

Par. 31, point five: "There were numerous instances where people observed Tiki Barge patrons destroying property in the Harborview Community. On one occasion, a Harborview resident walking his dog and observed several intoxicated Tiki Barge patrons trampling a flower bed."

Par. 31, point six: "On one occasion an intoxicated Tiki Barge patron simulated sex with a potted palm tree at the entrance to Sorso Cafe while her girlfriend took her photograph." ["see Ex. 10 photos which show palm tree at Sorso Cafe entrance]."

Par. 31, point 7: "A Tiki Barge patron dropped her pants and urinated on a transformer in the residential area. Another Tiki Barge patron urinated on a tree next to the marina's parking lot."

Par. 31, point 8: "Another resident of Harborview, while sitting at the Tiki Barge bar, was told by the bartender (who used a proud tone of voice) that numerous women would flash their breasts at each other at the Tiki Barge."

Par. 34. "One one occasion a "bachelorette party" tour bus picked up dozens of obviously intoxicated by stopping at a driveway, causing the women to gather in a resident's driveway in order to get to the bus; the women cursed the residents who were watching them."

Par. 37: "The problems caused by the Tiki Barge have turned the residential Harborview Community into a police state, where there is a constant police presence, and still the constant police presence does not eliminate the offensive and abusive behavior caused by the Patrons of the Tiki Barge."  In an interview, police spokesman Donny Moses said Southern District describes the area as generally "quiet," with car stops as their main concern.

Par. 42, letter from Tiki Barge patron Paul Quinn:  "The Tiki Barge had a wild, drunken atmosphere, and by mid-afternoon it was out of control. To be honest, many of the patrons and their behavior reminded me of the characters on the reality show "Jersey Shore." Attached are two photos of a woman baring her breasts; it is unclear who, a bartender or a customer, is handing her beads. "This bead process appeared to be set up as a regular routine." In a later interview, Quinn said he wasn't sure if what he saw the Saturday he visited was routine. He doesn't live in the area, and has only been to the barge three times.

Clarification: Richard Swirnow is not the only owner of the Tiki Barge.

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:41 PM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

April 13, 2011

Today's Nightlife Photo: Rye Rye at Metro Gallery

PX00052_9.JPGRye Rye performing at Metro Gallery Saturday. Her new album is scheduled to drop by the end of May, or so her label says. Last month, she answered questions about her new mixtape. Another photo below.
PX00059_9.JPGPhotos by Josh Sisk, who exhibits some of his work Friday at the Windup Space.
Posted by Erik Maza at 5:47 PM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Concert news: Height, Good Charlotte, Odd Future

Height-420.jpgHeight will performing a homecoming show at the Hexagon on April 20.

The rapper's been on a long, 25-city tour for the past three months.

The auspiciously-timed show will be his last for a while, as he's leaving on an European tour shortly after.

He will be joined by Soul Cannon, Minor Second, G-Easy, and likely, Mickey Free and Emily Slaughter, who are regular members of the Height and Friends ensemble.  Height was profiled in February.

Another Maryland band announced a homecoming show of sorts Tuesday.

Waldorf's Good Charlotte will include Baltimore on their upcoming tour, which kicks off in late May in New Jersey.

They perform at Rams Head Live June 20. It hasn't been announced yet when tickets will go on sale.

Also coming soon to Rams Head: Scissor Sisters, who canceled their March show at the 9:30 club in DC, will play the venue June 9. And Matt & Kim, who played Rams Head just last year, will perform there again June 1. Tickets for both are already for sale at the venue's website.

Odd Future, the latest uber-hyped Tumblr group, will play Sonar May 19. No word yet when The Weeknd will start touring. Tickets, at $15, for the Sonar show are already on sale at the venue's website.

They'll also play the Rock and Roll Hotel in DC the night before. Tyler the Creator, one of the members of the collective, is releasing his first label album on XL Recordings a few days before on May 10. 

In other concert news, The Starscape Festival has updated their website, and added some new headliners to the already announced line-up. Among them? House DJ Donald Glaude and Baltimore's Uncle Jesse.

Britney Spears has found a replacement for Enrique Iglesias, who abruptly canceled plans for a joint tour last month.  She will instead tour with Nicki Minaj, who is coming off a joint tour with Lil Wayne. Tickets for the July 31 show, starting at $29, will go on sale April 16.

Live Nation announced this week that U2's 360 tour, which hits M&T Bank Stadium June 22, has become the most successful ever. Interestingly though, the promoter confirmed this week tickets for the Baltimore show are still available.

Photo: Hexagon Show poster, courtesy of Height

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music, Music News

April 12, 2011

Maryland Film Festival line-up heavy on music documentaries

freaks.JPGThe Maryland Film Festival announced part of the 2011 line-up today.

Among the most notable selections in this year's showcase is Kelly Reichardt's new movie "Meek's Cutoff," which will have its regional premiere here, and "Uncle Boonmee" by Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, which won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year.

Also notable in the 20-movie line-up that was revealed today is the number of music documentaries that will play the festival next month.

Jed Dietz, the festival director, said there should be more among the other 90 or so films and short films that will be announced later this week.

For starters there's "Freaks in Love," by Baltimoreans Skizz Cyzyk and David Koslowski. The documentary chronicles the 25-year career of seminal punk band Alice Donut.

The trailer is below. 

Then there's "Everyday Sunshine: the story of Fishbone," which follows the veteran Los Angeles punk and funk hybrid band Fishbone. The band, 30 years in the business, are still seeking an appreciative audience.

The film, which has been making the rounds on the festival circuit, will also play the Washington DC Independent Film Festival in early May. The trailer is here.

The third documentary, "Ne Change Rien," or "Change Nothing" is an peripatetic black-and-white profile of the French singer Jeanne Balibar. The film, which was made in 2005 by Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa, has only recently made it stateside. In November, it played at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City. A trailer is here.

"Freaks in Love" trailer:

FREAKS IN LOVE :: A Quarter Century in Underground Rock with ALICE DONUT from Duotone Films on Vimeo.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:35 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

The Whistling Oyster closes temporarily; owner is evicted over late rent

Fells Point's The Whistling Oyster has closed temporarily.

Judie Butler, a part owner of the bar, is being evicted by her landlord, Amanda Sanchez, because she's behind on rent. 

Sanchez said the bar will re-open in the future, but doesn't know when. 

Butler, who started leasing the bar with her then boyfriend Pat Butler a year ago, said the bar officially closed last Tuesday. 

She posted the sign at right on the bar's window announcing the news. 

"I'm sorry but we are closed due to evil forces beyond my control. Thank you so much for your support and patronage," it reads. 

The 'evil forces' are not a reference to the bar's reputation for being haunted, Butler said. But to her landlord and her relationship with her ex-boyfriend.

She and Pat separated a month ago and she's been running the bar by herself since.

She acknowledged she's been behind on rent for three months.

"It's such a shame. I love this place so much," she said. "I really felt it was getting back to the way it hasn't been in years."

She said her ex-boyfriend might re-open it in a month. 

Sanchez, however, said that's not the case and she hasn't had any conversations with Pat Butler. She's not looking to lease the bar again because she says she's had bad luck with tenants. She confirmed Butler owes February, March and April's rent. 

Sanchez is now looking for managers to run the bar. She doesn't know when it'll re-open, but when it does, it'll have a larger menu and better service, she promised. 

Butler, meanwhile, doesn't know if she'll run another bar - this was her first. She actually doesn't even know where she'll live next. She used to live at the Whistling Oyster, where she swore she sensed the ghosts' presence. 

"It's definitely haunted, but it's just mischievous stuff," she said.

The building where the Whistling Oyster is located dates from 1920. It has had three separate owners in the last five years, according to property records. In 2004, it was listed for sale for $850,000 but it was eventually sold for $650,000. Sanchez has owned it since 2008.

Since the former couple took it over, it's become well known for Pat Butler's Harbor Rolls - a crab meat blend that's stuffed inside an eggroll shell. 

Photo: via

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:08 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

April 11, 2011

Toni Braxton's decade-long record sales slump

Toni Braxton is hoping to reverse a decade-long record sales slide with a new reality show, her third, called "Braxton Family Values." 

A story in today's paper looks at Braxton's career and why she ended up on a reality TV show on We TV, the network responsible for "Bridezillas" and "Joan Knows Best?"

It's a long way from the singer's stratospheric success in the 90s, but it was, in many ways, an inevitable fall. 

Braxton's "Secrets" has sold a career high of 5.4 million copies since its release in 1996, according to Nielsen Soundscan. The Recording Industry Association of America has certified it eight times platinum.

It's the kind of blockbuster that made her an international name but also one that set an absurdly high benchmark to overcome. 

All of her other albums - including her self-titled debut, which has also been certified several times platinum by the RIAA - have had fewer listeners.

In fact, since the 2000s, Braxton, who became synonymous with 90s pop, has been shedding listeners by the millions, so that now she's played mostly in oldies stations like Baltimore's Magic 95.9, where she's one of its core artists.

"Toni's no longer hip," says Tim Watts, a DJ at the station. "She's basically an adult contemporary artist now. The 35 to 50 bracket is now where her audience is." At a station where Luther Vandross (dead) and Anita Baker (53) are the No. 1 and No. 2 most-played artists, the 43-year-old Severn native is in the top ten, Watts says.

Like many of her 90s contemporaries - Janet Jackson, Boys II Men, Whitney Houston - Braxton's at a generational impasse.

"There's a bunch of them that I could mention that are caught between the hip hop crowd and older audiences," Watts says. 

Gail Mitchell, a senior R&B editor at Billboard magazine, says they have all struggled to evolve.

Instead of playing to their roots, Braxton and others have unsuccessfully tried to stay relevant with a tougher, more hip-hop friendly sound than what made them fan favorites to begin with.

"It's material," Mitchell says. "You can't pretend to be something you're not. You can't go back and try to appeal to the kids by being a copy of what's out there. You have to stay true to who you are."

Braxton's decline in currency can be seen in her sales figures, below:

Braxton's album sales:

"Toni Braxton" (1993): 5,135,000

"Secrets" (1996): 5,364,000

"Heat" (2000): 2,093,000

"Snowflakes" (2001): 243,000

"More than a Woman" (2002): 438,000

"Libra" (2005): 441,000

"Pulse" (2010): 145,000

(Figures according to Nielsen Soundscan)

This makes "Heat," released over a decade ago, her last major hit. 

Instead of trying to remain relevant, Watts suggests Braxton embrace her new image. "She's transitioning from being the hip new artist in the 90s to being more settled. She's got family. She's gotta keep that image. She's no longer hot with the young crowd any more, she's got to start feeling the older crowd."

Mitchell says it's not a matter of image, but of taste. Instead of working with hip hop producers, she should try to pursue a Harvey Mason Jr. - whose work with Jennifer Hudson pushed her new album, "I Remember Me" to the No. 2 slot on the Billboard 200.

"If she finds writers or producers who can handle voices like hers, she can be contemporary and stay true to herself," Mitchell says. 

Braxton, however, has already taken that advice. Mason Jr. worked on her "Pulse" album, and it was still her lowest selling ever.

Photo: Braxton and family at the TV show's premiere last week (Getty Images)
Posted by Erik Maza at 3:33 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Music News

The definitive Oriole Park 2011 beer menu: Heavy Seas, Flying Dog, even gluten-free beer

Don't wanna pay $7.50 for a Natty Boh at Oriole Park? Well, there's a lot of other overpriced beer to choose from.

Delaware North Companies Sportservice just sent me the beer menu for the ballpark this season.

It includes six regional brews - from Fordham, Heavy Seas, Flying Dog, Dogfish, Evolution, and the Raven.

And 13 domestics, 6 imported beers for sale and one that's gluten-free, Redbridge. 

The menu I got doesn't say what's on draft or what's by the bottle, and is also missing prices. No doubt it'll be as overpriced as the Natty Boh.

Will update when I have those details.

The full list is below:

Oriole Park's 2011 beer menu:

Fordham Brewing Company
Fordham Copperhead

Heavy Seas
Heavy Seas Gold
Heavy Seas Loose Cannon
Heavy Seas Pale Ale
Heavy Seas Seasonal

Flying Dog Brewery
Flying Dog Seasonal
Flying Dog Snake Bite
Flying Dog Tire Bite

Dogfish Head
(No details)

Evolution Craft Brewing Company
Evolution Lot. No. 3 Pale Ale

The Raven

Blue Moon
Bud Light
Bud Light Lime
Bud Select
Coors Light
Magic Hat
Michelob Ultra
Miller Lite
Pabst Blue Ribbon
Rolling Rock
Shock Top

Stella Artois


Posted by Erik Maza at 12:49 PM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

April 11 - 17 in nightlife: The Mountain Goats, Wye Oak, Future Islands

The Mountain Goats are now touring with the excellent "All Eternals Deck." John Darnielle's shows are famously energetic, so much so that he used to break several guitar strings a night. When I interviewed him a couple of weeks ago to preview his show at the 9:30 Club, he said that still happens. Only now he comes with a back-up guitar. The band plays Thursday at the Ottobar.

On Monday, James Nasty spins at the weekly No Rule party at Metro Gallery, 1700 N Charles St. Doors at 10 p.m. Free.

On Tuesday, the Get Down in Fells Point hosts the benefit cocktail night "Tend for a Cause," its third. 701 South Bond Street. 8 p.m. Also: 60s singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb, who performed in Baltimore in September - see the Baltimore Sun interview - returns to the Cabaret at Germano's, 300 S. High St. 7:30 p.m. $45 in advance.

On Wednesday, Toro y Moi is on tour, promoting new album "Underneath the Pine," and Baltimore's Adventure is opening for him. They perform Wednesday at the Talking Head, 407 E. Saratoga St. 8 p.m. $10 at the door.

On Thursday, the Mountain Goats perform at the Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St. 8 p.m. $18.

On Friday, sometime Baltimore Sun photographer Josh Sisk exhibits some of his concert photos at the Windup Space, 12 W. North Ave, alongside photog Kyle Gustafson. Sisk most recently shot Celebration at the 2640 Space. Doors at 7 p.m. Free.

On Saturday, Wye Oak return from tour promoting new album "Civilian" for a homecoming show at 2640 Space, 2640 St. Paul St. 8 p.m. $12. Look for an interview with Jenn Wasner Friday. Also: Future Islands, Adventure, Weekends, Lands & Peoples, Dope Body, and Raindeer perform at Hopkins' Levering Quad, 3400 N. Charles St. Cost? Gratis. Starts at 4:30 p.m. The schedule is here

On Sunday, the Windup Space hosts a concert to benefit Japan relief efforts. We Used to be Family and Great Tap Root are among the performers. Starts at 7 p.m. $10 suggested donation.

Photo: Poster advertising a Philly Wye Oak show (via)

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

April 10, 2011

April 3 - 8 reviewed: PBR Baltimore, Bourbon Street stabbing, Orioles

Four men were stabbed at Bourbon Street Live Saturday morning; one of them died. Little progress has made on the investigation so far. That's not surprising. It took two months for Baltimore police to have a draft of the Select Lounge investigation report, news that was reported this week. Also this week: Power Plant Live's country-western bar, PBR Baltimore, was reviewed.  There are better alternatives. The Orioles played their first home game. Can you guess their entrance songs? By the way, a glass of Natty Boh at the ballpark? $7.50. "How Bout Dem O's" was followed with "Oh Oh Orioles." The Baltimore Farmers' Market banned cigarette smoking, a rare step. Aimee Mann, who performs tonight at the Recher Theater, did a Q&A. Bond Street Social's owners promised a Fall opening date. The first Tax Day bar specials were posted.  Mumford & Sons announced its first Maryland date. Kesha and Spank Rock also said they're coming. Oxes released a new single. All your dumb questions about absinthe were answered. 

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

April 8, 2011

Bond Street Social to open in September

Bond Street Social, the bar that has taken over DuClaw Brewing Company's former home in Fells Point, is expected to open in September, owner Mike Mastellone said.

The new bar will be similar to Ladder 15, the Philadelphia bar that he and some of his partners have run for several years.

"It's the same concept, but with a different name," Mastellone said. 

Mastellone, and John Durkin, who also runs Mad River Bar & Grille, had been pursuing the 901 S. Bond Street bar since last year. In December, they filed an application with the Baltimore liquor board.

The license was transferred in February, and the partners signed a lease on the property this Monday. Mastellone declined to talk about costs.

Mad River notwithstanding, Durkin has said they wanted the space because there was a void in the Baltimore market for a bar that was both upscale and casual. Mastellone echoed his sentiments, saying they were pursuing the "after-work corporate clientele." 

"We're filling a void in the Baltimore market," he said. "There are lots of places for young professionals to go, but once you go above 25 into your 30s and early 40s, there's no good casual bar or restaurant concept."

He continued, "Harbor East has a lot of white tablecloth places. Fell's Point is too casual. We want to mesh what we saw on both sides."

Mastellone insisted Bond Street Social and Mad River are different concepts.

He said the new bar would be more similar to Ladder 15, which serves New American cuisine, offers nine wines in the $7-$11 price range, and carries 12 draft beers.  

Mastellone promised the new bar would have at least 12 drafts that would rotate, with a focus on regional craft brews. Though the menu hasn't been priced yet, he suggested bottled beer would be in the $4 - $6 price range, while entrees would be in the $12-$20 range.

"We want an upscale atmosphere but with an approachable vibe," he said. 

While DuClaw's Dave Benfield has said they closed the location because business had been sluggish, Mastellone said the previous tenants just hadn't maximized use of the space.

The Bond Street Social partners plan on adding a 30-foot bar, a fire pit to one of the rooms, as well as making full use of the bar's 2,000-square-foot outdoor patio.

They just finished meeting with architects, and expect renovations to begin by the end of the month.  Mastellone said they're projecting an opening for September.

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

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:52 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Review: Power Plant Live's country-western PBR Baltimore

Power Plant Live's new country-western bar/club, PBR Baltimore, is reviewed in today's paper.

If you'll remember, PBR is billed as the place where "cowboy cool meets urban chic."

But, upon inspection, PBR has as much cowboy cool as a bucket of KFC has real chicken. 

It's not so much a country-western bar, as a mall-ified version of it. What Hot Topic is to punk, PBR is to country music.

The club's modest stabs at authenticity were seen on the walls - where they framed Jeff Foxworthy-isms - and on the waitstaff.

From the review: 

 The female bartenders' outfits were of the sexy Halloween variety. They wore Daisy Dukes and plaid shirts tied at the chest. There was another waitress, wearing leather chaps and red lycra gym shorts, who walked around with shots on a tray.

The hardest-working member of the staff is the mechanical bull, which must give more rides to incoherent drunks in one night than a Charlie Sheen goddess. The line to ride it went around the padded, plush red square where it's stationed.

On the club's music, there's this to say, which didn't make it for space reasons to the final edition: Of the few country songs I heard in the hours I was there - Jason Aldean's "Hicktown;" Dierks Bentley's great "Sideways" - none were by female vocalists. Here was a club with plenty of female customers, and a Carrie Underwood girl-power anthem couldn't even make an appearance? It was a missed opportunity.

The songs that did get played - Enrique Iglesias, the Black Eyed Peas, "Like a G6" - could have been listed from Jean-Ralphio's playlist on "Parks and Recreation."

The rest of the review is here

Your thoughts?

For other country-western options, there's a short roundup here that includes The Friendly Inn, Pop's Tavern, and Cancun Cantina.

Photo: Stephaine Rollis (riding backwards) and Krysten Klipa ride the mechanical bull at PBR in Power Plant Live. Rodeo clown Clarance Cummings stands in the background. (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:06 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

April 7, 2011

Absinthe aficionado Cliff Long answers all your dumb questions about the notorious spirit

The Wharf Rat in Fell's Point is organizing an absinthe night tonight revolving around Lucid Absinthe, a brand that bills itself as the first genuine wormwood absinthe available in the United States.

Though absinthe was banned in the country for decades, it's been widely available since 2007, so that absinthe happy hours and promotional events are commonplace. The Kitty Kat Bar used to serve it. And the Wharf Rat itself hosts absinthe nights the first Thursday of the month.

But besides there, where is it available in Baltimore? And why was it banned for so many years?

Absinthe aficionado Cliff Long, who's hosting the event tonight, answered those and some other questions.

Popular culture has it that absinthe induces Kylie Minogue hallucinations, and Four Loko-esque reactions. Is any of that true? Well,  I suppose if you have Kylie Minogue stuck somewhere in back of your brain, she might show up as a hallucination, but I think any good, decent shot of scotch could do that too.  As for Four Loko-esque reactions, I would say absolutely not.  The ingredients are completely different.  I am told that Four Loko has caffeine and a  mix of other stimulants.  Absinthe has grand wormwood, which is a very different product.

What does it taste like then? Properly mixed, absinthe should have a very pleasant, slightly sweet, herbal flavor.  If a more encompassing physical image would help, many people compare it to what you might smell or feel lying about in a spring meadow.

What's the worst that can happen from drinking too much absinthe?  The same thing that would happen if you drank too much of any spirit.  You'll wish you hadn't, in the morning.

When did you start drinking it? And why is there such mystique around it? I experienced my first real absinthe when it became available in this country a couple of years ago.  It was not easy to find, and at that time only one or two brands could be had.  One of them is the absinthe marketed under the name "Lucid," which is the French brand that overturned the US ban on the spirit.  As far as the mystique, first, even though it has been around since the end of the 18th century (about 1790), the liquor gained it greatest popularity during the period known as the Gay 90's in Europe toward the end of the 19th century.   The ingredient known as grand wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), a herbaceous, perennial plant native to Eurasia and North Africa was reputed to have hallucinogenic or psychoactive properties (later disproved), and became a favorite of many late Victorian or early Edwardian writers, artists, musicians, and literatti of all persuasions (Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Toulouse Lautrec, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).  I suppose you could say that the drink's alleged "magical" properties plus the fact that it was enjoyed by so many legendary characters have greatly contributed to the green spirit's mystique.

Why was absinthe banned for so many years? A small but remarkably aggressive temperance movement backed by sufficient political muscle in the early 20th century was the cause of absinthe's banishment.  It was even outlawed for a time in Europe.  The rational was that the liquor if drunk in sufficient quantities could make the imbiber go mad, and go on rampages of destruction and murder.  Much of this unsubstantiated crusade was based on a single episode in France, where a French farmer allegedly murdered his wife and child after indulging in absinthe.  What was not mentioned in the subsequent legal hearings was that the accused was already a known alcoholic who had drunk no less than twenty two separate drinks of varying spirits since early that morning.  It was absinthe's bad luck that it was the last beverage he drank before killing his family.  There really was no direct connection that it was the absinthe that caused the tragedy, but it was the "Green Fairy" who took the rap.

How is it made? Absinthe is a distillate produced like any other spirit, often in a copper still.  There are a number of botanicals added during the process similar to the procedure used to make a good gin.  The exact mix is usually a carefully and jealously guarded secret, but in order for an absinthe to be a real absinthe it must contain genuine wormwood.  There is no way around that.

What's all this about Lucid being an authentic absinthe? What are the inauthentic kinds? As I mentioned earlier, Lucid is the brand that overturned the US ban on absinthe just a few years ago.  Lucid is rightfully considered authentic because it contains grand wormwood, the real stuff, and is completely natural.  There are no artificial ingredients or colorings which are found in some of the other brands available in this country.  An "inauthentic" or perhaps the better word would be "faux" or false absinthe might be one that although marketed as an absinthe-like drink, does not contain any grand wormwood. 

Who sells absinthe by the bottle in Baltimore? Absinthe is making its way to many of the larger liquor distributors around the country.  I would imagine that if your local liquor shop does not already have one or two brands, it could be special ordered for you.

Are there any bars in Baltimore that serve worthwhile absinthe cocktails? This I'm sorry to say I can't tell you.  To the best of my knowledge not too many bars as yet feature the spirit because they may not know it is available.  They may also not know how the spirit was prepared in its heyday over a hundred years ago.

What's your favorite absinthe cocktail and how is it made? Although current absinthe distributors are also providing more modern recipes that combine absinthe with many popular mixers, my favorite method is the old Belle Epoque method that mixes a measure of absinthe with sugar and water in its own special glass (these glasses can also be seen on the Virtual Absinthe Museum website).  It's a slow, methodical ritual and was obviously developed at a time when folks took time to live in the moment and savor friendships.  An extra added element of fun are the number of accessories that can be utilized to mix a classic absinthe.  These can include absinthe spoons, ballanciers, broulliers, and absinthe fountains.  At the Wharf Rat we have the ability to mix the drinks with any of the above mentioned accoutrements

Have more questions? Ask below. The Wharf Rat is at 801 S. Ann Street. The absinthe night starts at 8 p.m. tonight.

Incidentally, starting at 5:30 p.m. today, Kooper's Tavern is hosting a tasting of Maryland vodka Sloop Betty. Distillers Christopher and Jon Cook will be present.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:03 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Follow-up on Select Lounge shooting

Some progress on the investigation into the January shooting at Select Lounge that left two dead.

Crime Beat reports Baltimore police commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III has received a draft of the department's investigation of the shooting, where police officers fired 41 rounds and fatally shot one of their own, William Torbit.

Consequently, the task force appointed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to investigate the shooting has begun reviewing the findings.

But it's not clear when the investigation will be made public. Asked, Rawlings-Blake said she wants an expedient but thorough examination of the incident at the Paca Street club. 

The investigation has dragged on for two months so far, prompting Torbit's family members to protest about the delay

 The development comes as the Baltimore Board of Estimates approved $120,000 Wednesday morning to cover the costs of the task force and Torbit's funeral. Crime Beat has more on the funeral costs, which appear to exceed other services for law enforcement officers.

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:44 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: News

Sam Sessa's Weekend Watch: Cirque du Soleil's Totem, USA Dance National Championship

FindLocal has more weekend events
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:13 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Sessa's Weekend Watch

Mumford & Sons, Miranda Lambert to play Merriweather Post Pavilion

Well, it's not Virgin Mobile FreeFest, or not yet anyway. But Mumford & Sons will perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion this summer.

Promoter IMP announced Wednesday the band will perform there June 9. It seems like it's the band's first performance in Maryland. They performed at the 9:30 club last year.

The band was nominated for Grammy awards earlier this year, but lost to Esperanza Spalding and Neil Young. 

IMP also announced Miranda Lambert will perform at MPP July 15. Tickets for both shows, which start at $45 and $55, respectively, go on sale Friday on Ticketfly. 

The line-up for Virgin Mobile FreeFest won't be announced until this summer. Let the lobbying begin.

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:45 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Music News

April 6, 2011

Few updates on Bourbon Street Live stabbing

On Sunday, Baltimore Police identified the 24-year-old who died after he and three others were stabbed at Bourbon Street Live Saturday morning.

He was Charles Johnson, but no other details were offered about him.

In fact, few details have emerged about the case since Saturday. Some readers have asked, so here are the few updates there are. 

Beyond Sunday's ID, police have not yet released other information.

Detective Jeremy Silbert told me over e-mail there will be more updates next week. 

Liquor Board chairman Stephan Fogleman has commented on the incident, so has Councilman William H. Cole IV, whose district covers the club's home on the 300 block of Guilford Avenue.

The club's management, meanwhile, has not commented on the incident beyond their initial statements and press release. Since Saturday, they have not answered questions about the likelihood of changes to their security policy. Will update when they do.

The only other public comment was made Sunday on Facebook. "I just would like to say thanks from our many friends, other business owners and industry folks. I would like to relay a text from a friend yesterday. 'I never count my friends at a party, only in time of need,'" wrote David Adams, the club's manager.

On Saturday, police reported to the club at 1 a.m. to find four men stabbed inside. The stabbings took place in the ballroom side of the Bourbon Street complex, which was offering all-you-can-drink specials for women.   

Still, except for that night's rescheduled Echoes show, there have been no changes to the club's schedule since. Just today I received a press release about an upcoming event from someone not affiliated with the club.

An 18 and over night (pictured at right) is scheduled for this Thursday. And Echoes' demo release show is still on for Friday.

Will post other updates as they come.

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

April 5, 2011

Opening Day's photo: Hanging Out with Mr. Boh

PX00161_9.JPGDining at Large's Richard Gorelick took this photo of Orioles fan Abby Thompson posing with Mr. Boh at Oriole Park Monday.

Like it was reported last month, Natty Boh is now available on draft there. The price? A staggering $7.50 a glass.

The beer is served at several locations at the ballpark and at the suites on the club level as a special "Bucket of Boh's."

There is also a branded Natty Boh Bar on the first base side of the lower concourse, where the picture was taken.

Fans of craft beer should note brewers Heavy Seas, Evolution Craft Brewing, Flying Dog Brewery, Fordham Brewing Company, and Old Dominion have product on sale as well.

Brad Klipner has a partial beer menu over at his blog. 

If you're just a fan of Mr. Boh, the character is scheduled to make some 40 appearances at Oriole Park this year, Gorelick writes. 

One can only hope Kegasus doesn't overshadow him.

Posted by Erik Maza at 6:25 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Oxes release new single "Orange Jeweleryist"

Oxes haven't put out a new album in over five years.

But the Baltimore punks have been working on new material since last summer, when they played a few rare live shows.

Friends Records posted one of their new songs today. Listen to it below.

"Orange Jeweleryist" is the second of two 12' singles that will be released by Africantape in May.

Drummer Chris Freeland has been spending his time since the last album at his Beat Babies studio helping other bands like Lower Dens, Double Dagger, and Height, who often collaborates with his brother Mickey Freeland, record their own material. Most recently, he recorded part of Wye Oak's "Civilian."

Oxes' "Orange Jewelryist:"

Photo: via Africantapes

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:56 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

Orioles fan follows-up "How 'Bout Dem O's" with new tribute song

Chris Myers and Warning Track Power have come up with a follow-up to their popular tribute song to the Orioles, "How 'Bout Dem O's."

The new song, "Oh Oh Orioles," is online, and has already drawn the team's attention. Spokeswoman Monica Barlow says they're have been discussions to play at future games.

(A story on the Orioles' 2011 entrance songs is here)

Myers, a member of the cover band Egg Babies, co-wrote "How 'Bout Them O's" three years ago while he and the other seven guys in Warning Track Power were waiting for the season to start.

"A few years ago there was a resurgence of the old Orioles song, and we decided we wanted to try our hand at writing a new one," he said.

Orioles tribute music is exclusively what the band does. They updated How 'Bout Them O's several times during the season, and then re-wrote it at the start of the 2010.

They sold the song online and it was downloaded some 100 times, Myers said.

Their biggest endorsement came when the team agreed to play the song during games.  Myers said that happened about 70 percent of the time in '09 and '10 seasons.

"Some of us had bigger high points, but it was the most fun we'd had with music," he said. 

This year, they had to retire the old song because several of the players name-checked in it aren't with the team any more. 

"Oh Oh Orioles" was released on Warning Track Power's bandcamp on Friday. The goal is still getting it played at Oriole Park.

The weekend after the band released ""How 'Bout Dem O's", they spent the weekend working on a formal request asking the team to play the song, but the team got in touch with them even before they finished the letter, Myers said.

This time the process was easier. Myers said they wrote the new song, sent it off, and the team sent back an upbeat response. Barlow confirmed the ballpark may play the song at future games.*

Myers said that the next goal is get the players aware of the song.

"As of now, they seem pretty oblivious to it. But who knows, maybe they're rocking out to it at the club house."

Listen to "Oh Oh Orioles" here

To listen to the Orioles' 2011 entrance songs, go here

Photo: Warning Track Power bandcamp. *Post updated for clarification. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

April 4, 2011

Hear the Orioles' 2011 entrance songs: Van Halen, T.I., Scandinavian house

All ball players have entrance songs.

Mark McGwire had "Welcome to the Jungle," Chipper Jones famously uses "Crazy Train" and Mariano Rivera still enters Yankee Stadium to Metallica's "Enter Sandman."

When the Orioles face the Detroit Tigers today, they will be introduced to fans at Oriole Park to a soundtrack of hip hop, country, even Scandinavian house.

A story in today's paper looks at the tradition of entrance songs, and why the Orioles' choices this year suggest they're in a fighting mood.

Below, hear the entrance tracks of Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Jason Berken, Vladimir Guerrero, and others chose this year and last. Beware those listening to these at work: some are not radio-friendly. Oriole Park only plays the edited, radio versions of these songs.

Orioles' 2011 entrance songs:

Jason Berken: "Right Now" - Van Halen

Vladimir Guerrero: "Calabria" - Enur featuring Nastasja

Adam Jones: "I'm Illy" - T.I.

Nick Markakis: "Deliverance" - Bubba Sparxxx

Warning Track Power's follow-up to "How 'Bout Them O's" is "Oh Oh Orioles," and it can be heard here.

Orioles' 2010 Entrance songs:

Jeremy Guthrie - "Down" - Jay Sean

Brian Matusz: "God's Gonna Cut You Down" - Johnny Cash

Brian Roberts: "Keys to the Kingdom" - Group 1 Crew

Luke Scott: "Rock You Like a Hurricane," according to the Orioles' spokeswoman, mixed with "Star Wars" - Scorpions

Felix Pie: "Hasta Abajo" - Don Omar

Cesar Izturis: "Hypnotize" - Notorious B.I.G.

Matt Wieters: "If Today Was Your Last Day' - Nickelback

The Orioles' Opening Day lineup is at Orioles Insider.

Photo: Jason Berken (Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:26 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Music News

Update: Kesha, with Spank Rock, and Rye Rye announce new area shows

Kesha will perform at the Patriot Center in Virginia this summer, promoter Live Nation announced this morning.

Opening for her will be LMFAO and Spank Rock, whose rapping half Naeem Juwan is from Baltimore. He and XXXChange, Alex Epton, are working on an album that will come out later this year. And they've just released a single, "Rush," as their new Italian disco alter ego Mobroder.

Kesha has named her traveling show the "Get $leazy Tour." If that's not enough to stop you from buying tickets, they will go on sale April 8 for the August 21 show.

Tickets, available through Ticketmaster, start at $49.50.

In other concert news, Rye Rye will perform at Metro Gallery this Saturday, it was abruptly confirmed this weekend. Along for the show is producer and DJ Say-Wut. Rye Rye recently talked about her new mixtape with the Sun.

Tickets for the 21 and over show are $5, and are sold at the venue.

Update: Windup Space will host a benefit concert for Japan relief efforts April 17. We Used to be Family, the Great Tap Root, and others will perform. Cover is a suggested $10 donation that will go towards the American Red Cross and the International Medical Corps.


Posted by Erik Maza at 11:37 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music

April 4 - 10 in nightlife: Orioles, TV on the Radio, Aimee Mann

TV on the Radio are on their first tour in nearly two years with new album "Nine Types of Light," which will be released April 12. The band last played Baltimore in 2008 at Merriweather Post Pavilion, on a bill that included Thievery Corporation and Seu Jorge.

When they play Sunday at Rams Head Live, the bill will include Celebration, recently profiled in the Sun magazine. Katrina Ford painted the show's poster, at right.

On Monday, head to Oriole Park. Or, if you don't have tickets, you might still be able to buy one through Elliott's Pour House's bus ride. The bar, at 3728 Hudson St., will also have $2 domestics Monday and other home games. Don't Know has $3 drafts. Leave other bar specials for Monday here, or at the earlier corkboard post.

On Tuesday, The Hexagon has New Jersey IDM courtesy of Bubblegum Octopus. 1825 N. Charles St. Doors at 8 p.m. $8.

On Wednesday, Ed Schrader performs at Golden West Cafe, 1105 W 36th St. Doors at 10 p.m. $5.

On Thursday, garage rock at the Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St. The Black Lips and Vivian Girls perform. Doors at 8 p.m. $12. Also: Creative Alliance hosts a night of kitsch at the Found Footage Festival.

On Friday, MICA hosts the all-night music festival The Vigil. The Out of Your Head Collective kicks things off at 7 p.m. at Cohen Plaza, 1301 Mount Royal Ave. Free. The full line-up is here

On Saturday, Ultra Nate presents her Deep Sugar party at the Paradox, 1310 Russell St. Doors at 11 p.m. $15.

On Sunday, Celebration, who was profiled in the Sun magazine recently, opens for TV on the Radio at Rams Head Live. Doors at 7 p.m. $31. Also: Aimee Mann performs at the Recher Theater. A preview of the show will be in Friday's paper.

Photo: TV on the Radio (Katrina Ford, via). Deep Sugar (via)

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

April 2, 2011

Update: Quadruple stabbing at Bourbon Street Saturday morning; club to stay open Saturday night

Four men were stabbed early Saturday morning at Bourbon Street Live, and one of them, a 24-year-old, died from his injuries, police said. The others have been transported to area hospitals and are expected to survive.

The club will be open tonight, said a spokeswoman for one of the events on the club's schedule. 

The stabbings took place in the ballroom side of the Bourbon Street complex, which was offering all-you-can-drink specials for women. 

The Sun's Jill Rosen reports:

David Adams, one of the club's managers, said Saturday morning that the violence erupted in the ballroom where ladies night was happening. He declined to elaborate on what happened, but said the bar was immediately discontinuing the popular promotion.

Earlier that night, the club also hosted a "Zombie Strippers and Beer" event, which promised a "killer night." The promo video is here. David Adams, a manager at the club, said the "Ladies Night" event will be discontinued immediately.

There are two events scheduled for Saturday night, a demo release party for the band Echoes in the ballroom and a 4th anniversary party for the adult store Sugar in the Quarter.

Bourbon Street encompasses three spaces, The Ballroom, The Quarter, and The Terrace. The stabbing took place inside the ballroom.  

Kevin Hock, a publicist for the complex, did not know yet  - as of 2 p.m Saturday - if Bourbon Street would open Saturday night. But Wendy Fox, who runs the production company organizing the Sugar event, said the party is scheduled to go on as planned.

The Sugar party is open to the public. Fox said the club will provide security. 

It's not clear what kind of security Bourbon Street had on hand Friday night; Hock has not commented on it, and neither have police. The club is said to employ off-duty police, according to Crime Beat

Bourbon Street, open to 18-year-olds and over, hosts parties and mid-sized concerts regularly; the rapper Ice Cube recently performed there.

There have been incidents there in the past. In June, two Anne Arundel County men were charged with assaulting two other men at the club.

And, in January 2009, a police officer was assaulted there, and, in a separate incident, seven females were arrested, according to a liquor board filing from the time. 

In 2009, there were also at least nine counts of underage alcohol consumption violations, all from a single month that year. 

Adams, speaking with Jill Rosen, offered his condolences to the victims. The last status update on the club's Facebook page, dated Friday, reads: "Come down it's gonna be a wild one!"

Update:  Stephan Fogleman, chairman of the Baltimore Liquor Board, said it's too early to know how the stabbings will affect the club's liquor license. He noted a liquor board inspector was at the club last night but that the inspector's conclusions have not been reviewed yet.

it's likely, Fogleman said, the board will want to review the club's security plans. Typically, that would happen after police have finalized its own report.

Fogleman said the last time Bourbon Street appeared before the board was January 2010, when it was found not guilty of disturbing the peace after a party hosted by Girls Gone Wild where promoters encouraged women to bare their breasts.

In 2009, the club was found guilty and fined for underage alcohol consumption.

The club had strong security in the past, Fogleman said.

"I can say, based on prior experience before the board, they have fantastic security. They have hired off-duty deputy sheriffs. They frisk people. Their security is equal to or better than M&T Bank Stadium's. It's definitely a surprise that it happened there."

Update 2: The Echoes show has been rescheduled to April 8, the venue wrote on its website.  

Update 3: Full Bourbon Street Management press release, via owner Jim Temple:

Bourbon Street would like to offer our condolences to the victim in this case. Bourbon Street cannot comment about the particulars of the incident pending the results of the Police Department's investigation. Unfortunately, there seems to be a great deal of misinformation that seems to be surrounding the circumstances of that evening. For example, contrary to some reports security personnel that evening did the standard pat down commonly utilized at stadium entrances. These procedure and identification requirements were all videotaped by the venues surveillance system and has been reviewed by the Police Department.

Bourbon Street is a diverse building utilized by all segments of the community from country, electronic dance music, rock, Rhythm and blues to neo-soul. The building has a full concert and show calendar. The ladies night promotion has been a part of the building since it opened and has had little to no problems. However, effective immediately the ladies night promotion is discontinued. Although these events were precipitated by the actions of a minute number of individuals, we can not allow our core concert business to be affected by this type of situation. We do appreciate the 100,000+ customer’s who have attended and enjoyed our incident free Friday night promotion over the last three years.

Bourbon Street has and will cooperate fully with the Police Department and other governmental agencies. We will provide additional details and updates upon completion of the investigation.

Photo: Bourbon Street last year (Bourbon Street MySpace)

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:03 PM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

Sara Bareilles on beating Eminem, "Love Song" and her new album "Kaleidoscope Heart"

After she finished her first album, Sara Bareilles felt the pressure of success. After all, right off the bat, she had a song, "Love Song" that was everywhere in 2007 and was eventually certified three times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

How to top that? Her follow-ups were uninspired.

"I was just writing sh*** songs that didn't mean anything; I felt no connection to them whatsoever," she said.

A friend suggested she try chronicling what was happening to her. Out of that frustration with her songwriting came "Uncharted," and it led her in the right direction.

"'Uncharted' was the song that really helped me feel connected to my writing process," she said. "I thought I was going to have to do a mishmash of old songs [for the second album] because of the writer's block, but once the wheels were turning, I was drawn to the new material."

That quote comes from a story in Friday's paper that previews Bareilles' sold-out show at Rams Head Live Sunday.

The full story is here

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Live!, Music News

March 28 - April 1: Kegasus, Britney Spears, Orioles

This was the week that Kegasus crashed. He came wearing nothing but a nipple ring and some shades, all but missing a drinking helmet, and set off a debate about taste, drinking and Preakness. Is it a rip-off? Does he a have a half brother? Will it draw young people to the infield? That's what the Maryland Jockey's Plan is anyway, what with the social media assault. So far, Twitter remains unimpressed. At last count @allhailkegasus had 302 followers. Even a random fake Charlie Sheen account can boast more. In other nightlife news this week, James Nasty dug up Baltimore club classics for his party at the Windup Space. Britney Spears announced a joint tour with Enrique Iglesias, only to have the Spanish heartthrob pull out early. Typical. Oriole Park confirmed news we'd reported months ago: Natty Boh will be served on tap at the stadium. Dan Deacon ended up on an IFC show called "Young, Broke & Beautiful." Blackwater Distilling started shipping its Sloop Betty vodka. We revisited Locust Point's Barracuda's.  The new Roots Festival announced Chuck Brown would perform there. Sara Bareilles talked about her new album before an appearance Sunday at Rams Head Live. Elton John performed his first show in Baltimore in over a decade. Readers chose British folk rock and Girl Talk as their dream acts for Virgin Mobile FreeFest. We looked for bar specials during the Orioles' first home game. That search is ongoing.

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

April 1, 2011

Photo Gallery: Virgin Mobile FreeFest 2011 dream line-up

Above, the Black Keys performing. They're one of readers' most requested bands for this year's Virgin Mobile FreeFest. The others are in this photo gallery. Spooky. It's just like that commenter predicted.
Posted by Erik Maza at 2:41 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Last Night's Photo, Local music

Chuck Brown, Anthony David to perform at Roots Festival 2011

Chuck Brown, the godfather of go-go and recently Grammy-nominated for his song "Love," will perform at the Roots Festival this summer.

R&B singer Anthony David, a Grammy nominee from 2009, will also perform at the free, two-day outdoor festival, organizers announced today, adding that other performers will be announced in the coming weeks.

The festival, which will also include workshops and community meetings at churches, community centers in West Baltimore and the Maryland Institute College of Art, is meant to draw attention to the area in West Baltimore affected by the unsuccessful "Highway to Nowhere" project, said organizers with the Atlanta-based non-profit Alternate Roots.

In the early 1970s, hundreds of homes were demolished in the neighborhood to make way for the project, a six-lane highway connecting Interstate 70 with I-95 that was never finished despite displacing families from the area.

Roots, which was announced in January, will take place over the 52 acres of green space that sits atop the "Highway to Nowhere," according to organizers.

Update: The festival begin June 22; Brown and David will perform Saturday evening, though organizers haven't yet settled on a performance schedule. Admission is free.

The outdoor festival will also include activities for children, food, site-specific art, street vendors and live music.

Photo: Chuck Brown (Roots Fest 2011)

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

James Nasty digs up Baltimore Club classics for Windup Space party

“It's raw, simple, almost primal music that is meant to be the soundtrack to the time of your life.”

That's DJ James Nasty talking about Baltimore club music. He’s a longtime fan. But for an upcoming gig, he’s been researching it and other historic Baltimore sounds more meticulously than he would for his weekly Moustache party at the Ottobar.

The online magazine Gutter asked him and DJ Benny Stixx to come up with a dance party where only Baltimore music is to be played. The two will finally show off their set lists Friday at the Windup Space at a party where they’ll play songs that stretch as far back as the 1940s.

Nasty took on the magazine's challenge because he's a fan of the city and its sound.

“I saw this as a great opportunity to expand my knowledge of the local music both past and present,” he said.

He’s been researching his set, which will last from 10 p.m. until midnight, for two weeks. It’s still a work in progress. “I will probably still call some audibles once things are underway and I can get a read on the crowd.” Stixx will spin from midnight until close.

Nasty called what he’s prepared so far a journey through Baltimore music history.

He’ll play some songs that are 60 years old, for instance, the Orioles, one of the first R&B groups, and one of the pioneers of doo-wop. “So people can get their slow dance on,” he explained. And also songs from the 1970s, represented by selections from the label Ru-Jac Records.

Nasty expects to play classic Baltimore house – the Basement Boys, and some of the DJs associated with it, like Spen and Karizma - and Baltimore club’s greatest hits – Rod Lee, known as the don of Baltimore club, and the producer of emerging talents like Bossman and Paula Campbell; Miss Tony, the 92Q personality and drag queen who died in 2003; veteran Scottie B; and some of Nasty’s own recently-finished club tracks.

But his set list won't just limited to the genre."That 15 to 45 minutes will be easiest part of the night for me," he said.

There will be also be local art-pop - Future Islands - and electronic hip-hop - Spank Rock, the Death Set. Count on Blaqstarr and his protege Rye Rye to be played.

Nasty just aims for the party to be an inclusive musical love letter to the city.

“I hope everyone leaves with more knowledge and appreciation for all the great music being produced in their home town,” he said.

James Nasty's set list will include, though won't be limited to:

Basement Boys
DJ Spen
The Motorettes
Tim Trees, "Bank Roll"
B Rich, "Whoa Now"
Rye Rye
Spank Rock
The Death Set
Future Islands
Rod Lee
K.W. Griff
Jimmy Jones
DJ Technics
Scottie B
Miss Tony
Say Wut
Ru-Jac records catalog
The Orioles

Doors at the Windup Space, 12 West North Avenue, open at 9 p.m. Cover is $5. 

B Rich's "Whoa Now:"

Photo: James Nasty (Handout photo, Josh Sisk)

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:27 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music
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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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