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May 31, 2011

Today's nightlife photo: Maryland Deathfest 2011

PX00165_9.JPGMaryland Deathfest ended Sunday after four days of metal and religious mayhem. Above is Buzz*Oven, a sludge metal band from North Carolina. It's one of the pictures on our #MDF photo gallery, by photographer Josh Sisk. To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join our flickr pool or e-mail me directly.

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:43 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Starscape schedule released; Bassnectar to play main stage, Skrillex at Dub Nation stage

252872_153055951430798_132292423507151_296026_1335206_n.jpgStarscape, which starts at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Fort Armistead Park, has released its schedule.

Four acts will go on at 2 p.m., though Segway, the first performer on the main stage, won't go on until 2:30 p.m.

The festival, now in its 13th year, won't end until 6 a.m. Sunday.  

The rest of the schedule, sent by promoters Steez Promo, is below. 

Armistead Park will be divided into five stages for the festival: a main stage, 'dub nation beach,'  the fort stage, dance tent, and 'Steez Promo Bass Arena.'

Beyond Skrillex, major headliners from electronic and dance music will perform, among them, Bassnectar, Zeds Dead, Uncle Jesse, Steve Aoki, and Daedelus.

All tickets, including the $169.50 VIP passes, are sold out. They went on sale in January. Last year was the first time the festival sold out, according to organizers. 

This is also the chance to pick your favorite DJ names. I'm particular to Shugadadde, though Tek Subport and Dubsteb Legion of Doom are also great.

252872_153055951430798_132292423507151_296026_1335206_n.jpgMain Stage:

2:30 p.m Segway
4 p.m Mux Mool
5:30 p.m Daedelus
7 p.m Eoto
9 p.m Lotus
11 p.m. Bassnectar
1:30 a.m. Infected Mushroom
3:30 a.m. Rabbit Live

Dub Nation Beach Stage:

2 p.m.Fractal
2:45 p.m Neumann
3:30 p.m Dave Gee
4:15 p.m The Juggernaut
5 p.m Zeds Dead
6 p.m Tokimonsta
7 p.m Numberning
8 p.m Mark Instinct
9 p.m Subvert
10 p.m Datsik
11 p.m. Borgore
12 a.m. Skrillex
1 a.m. Flux Pavilion
2 a.m. Excsion
3 a.m. Doctor P
4 a.m. Paper Diamond
5 a.m. SBTRKT

Fort Stage:

2 p.m. Shugadadde vs. Jmungz
3 p.m. Latigid
4 p.m. Nixsin
5 p.m. Tek Subport
6 p.m. Lock Danan
7 p.m. DJ Who
8 p.m. Joey Paranoia
9 p.m. Alex English
10 p.m. Reed Rothchild
11 p.m. RSK vs. Sean 216
12:30 a.m. Riot Gear
1:30 a.m. Rx
2:30 a.m. Dubsteb Legion of Doom
3:30 a.m. Elemental

Dance Tent:

2 p.m. Trigga Happy
2:45 p.m. Leko
3:30 p.m. DJ Sun
4:15 p.m. Monsterz Under the Bed
4:45 p.m. Proxxy and Lantern
5:30 p.m. Uncle Jesse
6:15 p.m. Alvin Risk
7 p.m. Tittsworth
8 p.m. Hot Pink Delorean
9 p.m. Doorly
10 p.m. Klever
11 p.m. Le Castle Vania
12:15 a.m. Feed Me
1:45 a.m. Steve Aoki
3:15 a.m. Donald Glaude
4:30 a.m. Charles Feelgood

Steez Promo Bass Arena:

2 p.m. Headhunterz
3 p.m. Seraph
4 p.m. The Cannon
5 p.m. Gangsta Fun
6 p.m. Star Eyes
7 p.m. Terravita
8 p.m. Mayhem
9 p.m. AK1200
10 p.m. Evol Intent
11 p.m. Original Sin
12 a.m. TC
1 a.m. Dieselboy
2:30 a.m. Dirtyphonics Live
4 a.m. Sigma
5 a.m. Hyx and Houston

Photo: Starscape official website

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:31 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

Ocean City senior week officially starts; are june bug complaints justified?

PX00197_9.JPGGraduating high school seniors have been arriving at Ocean City since last week, but today marks the start of the city's official senior week program, Play it Safe.

Instead of having the june bugs run amok, the city, with funding from the state, has put together the series of events - pancake eating contests! tie-dying classes! - to keep the teens busy for all of June.

It works, to some extent. Of the estimated 10,000-plus teens that come to the resort every summer, only ten percent of them get busted for drinking. The numbers have stayed pretty constant since at least 2007, according to Ocean City police.

Today's story on senior week looks at how Ocean City is transformed during the summer - last year, service calls jumped from 2,500 in April to nearly 14,000 in June. Some 814 minors, including juveniles and those between the ages of 18 and 20, were cited for alcohol violations just in the month of June alone; for comparison, just 11 minors were cited in September.

The story also includes interviews with local businesses who see the annual infestation with mixed emotions, both good for revenue, but disruptive to the city's laid-back pace.

For those who've spent senior week in Ocean City, are the complaints justified, or are there only a few june bugs? 

Photo: H20 on Friday night (Joey Gardner/Special to the Sun) 

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:47 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: News

May 30, 2011

March 30 - June 6 in Baltimore nightlife: Rihanna, Starscape, Kenny Chesney

Fans of Maryland Deathfest, if you like Repugnant, stick around until next weekend for Steve Aoki, one of the headliners of 13th annual Starscape. Also, Zeds Dead and Skrillex. Elsewhere this week, Matt & Kim, N.E.R.D., and Kenny Chesney.

On Monday, Memorial Day, stop for a moment of silence before you drink your $3 Natty Boh. Thankfully, this is the one holiday no bars will tastelessly exploit with some kind of drink special. Red Maple, at 930 North Charles Street, hosts its weekly Electric Marmalade party starting at 9 p.m. No cover. FindLocal has other Memorial Day events.

On Tuesday, Wham City comedy night returns to the Zodiac, 1726 N Charles St. 8 p.m. $5.

On Wednesday, Matt & Kim perform at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place.  7 p.m. $22. 

On Thursday, N.E.R.D. performs at Sonar, 407 East Saratoga Street, in some kind of Coors Light promotional event. The show, which also includes Pac Div, starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are free, but have to be reserved by pledging to only drink Coors for eternity, or something. Details are on the event's Facebook page.

On Friday, Save your Soul at Lith Hall, 851-3 Hollins St., again faces off against Deep in the Game at Club Hippo, 1 West Eager St. DITG starts at 10 p.m. $5. SYS starts at 9 p.m. $5. Also: if you missed the Backstreet Boys and NKOTB at 1st Mariner, they perform again at the Verizon Center.

On Saturday, Rihanna performs at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., with Cee Lo Green as an opener. 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $28.95. Also: at noon at Fort Armistead Park, the Starscape Festival begins a marathon run that won't end until 6 a.m. the next day. Tickets start at $65, but organizers say they are sold out. And: Kenny Chesney performs at FedEx Field in Hanover. Look for our preview of that show later this week.

On Sunday, Red City Radio, an Oklahoma punk band, performs at Charm City Art Space, 1731 Maryland Ave. 7 p.m.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:33 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

May 28, 2011

May 22 - 27 reviewed: Backstreet Boys, Artscape, Scapescape

Last weekend we had Train, Bruno Mars and Puddle of Mudd at the Preakness Infield. This week we have Celebration, Rapdragons, Mickey Free and others at Scapescape and Coroner, Neurosis and Nuclear Assault (and others, obviously) at the Maryland Deathfest. Improvements! Also this week, our Live section was diverse, there was a preview of the Death Set shows today at the Windup Space, as well as an interview with AJ McLean of the Backstreet BoysThe Shamrock Inn was voted one of America's best bars; too bad no one's heard of it. The Artscape line-up and schedule was announced. Dubai, formerly the Velvet Rope, is slowly scheduling great headliners. Raekwon is the latest.  Paul Simon's show was reviewed. Everyone survived the rapture, but no one was more glad than Woody's. Still don't know what to do tonight and Sunday night? Go here
Posted by Erik Maza at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Roundup

May 26, 2011

Sam "Oprah" Sessa's Weekend Watch: Brew at the Zoo, Balticon

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:20 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Sessa's Weekend Watch

Review: Paul Simon at DAR Constitution Hall May 25

IMG_2142.JPGPaul Simon performed for a sold-out DAR Constitution Hall Wednesday night. Reporter Chris Kaltenbach reviews the show.

With a welcome mix of sincerity, playfulness and straight-ahead virtuosity, Paul Simon presented a two-hour concert that made clear both why and how he’s remained a vital force in rock 'n' roll for nearly half a century.

The why is simple: there’s nary a style of music, be it reggae, blues, gospel or roots rock, that Simon  hasn’t sampled and made his own over the course of his career.

With his underrated guitar playing and tight eight-piece backing band, Simon played a set and three two encores that include more than 20 more than 25 songs. Even though the cavernous acoustics at Constitution Hall tended to swallow his lyrics (which for many in the audience didn’t really matter, since they knew all the words by heart anyway), Simon and his band rarely flinched.

IMG_2137.JPGAs for the how, Simon has stayed true to his muse, and to his music. He’s no showman, and doesn’t try to be one; his onstage banter was restricted to one observation (“I can remember playing here, with Artie in the ‘60s,” which had the crowd roaring) and a half-dozen simple thank-yous. But Simon’s songs retain their power by dint of what they are, not how they are presented.

And while he wasn’t above toying with the arrangements a bit – adding a pulsating two-note horn part to “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” playing with the tempo of “Kodachrome” – Simon gave his audience exactly what they wanted. There were big hits (“Still Crazy After All These Years,” “Slip Sliding Away”) and songs the casual fan may never have heard before (“Crazy Love, Part II,” which opened the show) – all performed with care, if not always passion.

Still, the show had its poignant moments. Photographs of Martin Luther King brought home the theme of the piquantly cynical “So Beautiful or So What?” And segueing from Jimmy Cliff’s “Vietnam,” where a mother receives a telegram telling of her son’s death, directly into “Mother and Child Reunion” shouldn’t have left a dry eye in the house.

It was, perhaps, no surprise that the playlist was largely from Simon’s solo career; the Simon & Garfunkel years were represented by “The Sound of Silence” and “The Only Living Boy In New York,” but not “Mrs. Robinson,” “The Boxer” or “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (which, to be fair, does require Garfunkel’s rising falsetto to truly take flight).

But just when the audience thought they’d had the show figured, Simon pulled a fast one, inviting an enthusiastic fan from the front row onstage to join him for “Gumboots,” turning the song into an unexpected duet.

True, Paul (sorry, I didn’t catch his last name) was no Art Garfunkel, but he was clearly having the time of his life. And his joy was infectious; the crowd stayed on their feet, cheering, and Simon couldn’t stop smiling.

Happily, Wednesday’s show left his audience, even those who could only sing along with him from their seats with much the same reaction.

Chris Kaltenbach is a reporter at the Baltimore Sun and a frequent contributor to the blog. He last reviewed B.B. King at Pier Six Pavilion. Photos: reporter's own.

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:41 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Concert reviews

May 25, 2011

Dan Deacon, Celebration, Rapdragons, and more perform at inaugural Scapescape festival; schedule released

scapescape.JPGCelebration, Dan Deacon, Arbouretum and 18 other local acts will perform Sunday at Hampden's the G-Spot for the inaugural Scapescape.

The one-day festival will at least fill part of the void left when Whartscape ended last year. 

Dave Underhill, one of the organizers, said the name is an allusion to the Wham City festival, but that Scapescape doesn't intend to replace it. 

The festival aims "to provide a showcase for what Baltimore is doing as an artistic community," he said.

Organizers have scheduled Cool DJ Willie to kick off the G-Spot Stage at noon, followed by Benjie Loveless and the Creepers. Arbouretum will close the stage at 10:45 p.m.

Lushfarm will open the Ruintown stage at 1:30 p.m., followed by rap duo Rapdragons and Weekends. Celebration and Dan Deacon are the last acts scheduled there, with Deacon scheduled to go on at 10:45 p.m.

They'll all go head-to-head against Coroner, Nuclear Assault and Deathbreath, among others, who will be performing at the last day of the Maryland Deathfest.

Tickets for Scapescape are $20 and sold at Atomic Books, True Vine Record Shop, and 

The festival is not BYOB; beer and wine will be sold with proceeds going to charity. 

The full schedule posted on Scapescape's Facebook, below:


12-1 Cool DJ Willie
1-1:45 Benjie Loveless
2-2:45 the Creepers
3-3:45 Santa Dads
4-4:45 Suits
5-5:45 Yeveto
6-6:45 Sri Aurobindo
7-7:45 Ed Schrader's Music Beat
8-8:45 the Degenerettes
9-9:45 Microkingdom
10-10:45 Arbouretum


1:30-2:15 Lushfarm
2:30-3:15 Rapdragons
3:30-4:15 Weekends
4:30-5:15 the Matrimonials
5:30-6:15 Big in Japan with Katrina Ford
6:30-7:15 Dope Body
7:30-8:15 Mickey Free
8:30-9:15 We Used to Be Family
9:30-10:15 Celebration
10:45 on Dan Deacon

Photo: Scapescape Facebook

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:29 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music

Artscape schedule released; Matisyahu, E major, Fantasia to headline

Matisyahu and Fantasia will headline Artscape this year, it was announced today. 

The music side of the festival starts on Friday July 15 and ends July 17; performances take place throughout the day, with some starting as early as noon on some days.

The festival is divided into three stages named after their sponsors.

Fantasia will close the first night on the Wells Fargo stage. And Matisyahu, out with new live album "Live at Stubbs," will perform there as well as the last performer on Sunday night.

In addition, Baltimore's E Major, The Jon Bailey Band, and Telesma, as well as G Love & Special Sauce and Nikka Costa, will perform.

Artscape's organizers provided the full schedule, below:

Wells Fargo stage:

Friday, July 15
6:30pm Miguel, R&B/hip-hop

8:30pm Fantasia, R&B

Saturday, July 16
2pm 8 Ohms, funk
3:30pm Carolyn Malachi, jazz/soul
5pm Nikka Costa, funk/rock
6:30pm Southern Culture on the Skids, rock/surf
8pm G Love & Special Sauce, blues/roots

Sunday, July 17
12pm The Jon Bailey Band, ska/roots
1:30pm The Players, ska
3:00pm Can't Hang, reggae/rock
4:30pm Pietasters, ska
6:30pm Matisyahu, reggae/hip-hop

Urbanite stage:

Friday, July 15

12-2pm BCPS Showcase, variety
4:30pm TBA
6pm Strings and Things, strings
7:30pm Matt Wigler, blues
9pm Lee Pearson, jazz

Saturday, July 16

1:30pm TBA
3pm Bottle of Blues, blues
4:30pm Eric Byrd Trio, jazz
6pm Turn Around Norman, jazz
7:30pm Love Craft, jazz
9pm Kevin Driscoll, blues

Sunday, July 17
1pm Time Out, jazz
2:30pm Blues Society, blues
4pm Community Groove, jazz
5:30pm Blues Society, blues
7pm Tom Williams Quintet, jazz

The Festival stage:

Friday, July 15
12:30pm Mosno Al-Moseeki, world
2pm TBA
5pm E Major, hip-hop
6:30pm The Superland Stage Band, funk
8pm Telesma, psychedelic groove

Saturday, July 16
1pm Unity Reggae Band, reggae
2:30pm Pompeii Graffiti, pop
4pm The Kings of Crownsville, classic rock
5:30pm The Rise Band, R&B
7pm Andy Poxon, blues
8:30pm The Crawdaddies, roots rock/zydeco

Sunday, July 17

1pm Orch Kids, classical/variety
2:30pm The Band Belief, pop/hip-hop
4:30pm Larry Brown Quartet, jazz
6:30pm Big Daddy Stallings, R&B/contemporary jazz

The Well Fargo stage is located at 1400 Cathedral St. at Mt. Royal Avenue. The Urbanite stage is at Charles Street and E. Lafayette Avenue. The Festival stage is at Mt. Royal Avenue near Mosher Street.

Photo: Artscape

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:48 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local music, News

May 24, 2011

Wu-Tang's Raekwon to perform at Dubai this summer

raekwon_01-12.jpgRaekwon will perform at Dubai June 12, it was announced this week. 

Rae is touring with "Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang," his fifth album. The album was originally going to be a Wu project, but instead ended up just featuring several members except for U-God and RZA. Nas and Rick Ross are also featured.

Rae last performed in Baltimore in December at Wu-tang's show at Sonar.

Promoters sent the announcement for the latest show Monday night, though the news seems to have been on their Facebook page for over a week. 

Dubai has been accumulating a solid roster of headliners lately. Beyond Raekwon, Yo Gotti will perform there May 28 and Young Jeezy is scheduled for June 11.

Tickets for the show are $25 at the door. They can be purchased in advance through

Photo: Da Best Ofs

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:19 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Shamrock Inn named among America's 169 best bars

Congrats are due to the Shamrock Inn in Hamilton. In a just released list of the 169 best bars in the country, Esquire magazine has voted it 78th best.

The magazine comes out with the list every year, and this year, it focused on bars that are two years old or younger, the authors write in an introduction. 

Shamrock has been around for at least that long if not longer. A couple of years ago, Esquire's readers voted it, with Brewer's Art, to the same list.

At the time, John Waters praised it in an accompanying blurb.

In Esquire's most recent, traffic-baiting reader poll, Brewer's is still in the No. 2 spot.

The magazine's official cut did not include any other Maryland bars. But, there are a few regional bars that were included: Dead Presidents Pub & Eatery in Wilmington (#39), The Tune Inn in Washington (#40) and Helen Back Cafe (#41).

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bar stories, Bars & Clubs

May 23, 2011

Today's Nightlife Photo: Woody's survives the rapture

The world didn't end after all Saturday, even with Train playing for 80 minutes at the Preakness infield.

Woody's in Fells Point is celebrated in its own way. Photo via Baltiamore. Did anyone go to any rapture parties? Or was the infield it for you?

To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join our flickr pool or e-mail me directly.

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:51 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

May 23 - 29 in nightlife: Backstreet Boys, Paul Simon, Maryland Deathfest, Scapescape

After so much back and forth, the 9th Maryland Deathfest will finally take place this week at Sonar. And, it won't be a dry festival as many feared, as the club has, against all odds, recovered its liquor license. No doubt it'll be more depraved than this year's tame Preakness infield. Elsewhere this week, Big Freedia, the Death Set, J. Roddy Walston and the Business, Dan Deacon and Celebration, and Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block have performances planned.

On Monday, Jason Webley, the Seattle accordionist and folk singer, performs at Cyclops bookstore, 30 W. North Ave. Starts at 8 p.m.

On Tuesday, Raphael Saadiq performs at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place. 8 p.m. $35.

On Wednesday, New Orleans M.C. Big Freedia, the subject of a very appreciative Sasha Frere-Jones profile in this week's New Yorker, performs at Sonar, 407 E. Saratoga St. 8 p.m. $12. Also: Paul Simon performs a sold-out show at DAR Constitution Hall. Look for a review Thursday.

On Thursday, the Maryland Deathfest kicks off at Sonar with performances by Cathedral and Tragedy. Doors open at 4 p.m. Thursday's show is sold out, but there are still tickets available for other days at the festival's website. Three-day passes are $132. 

On Friday, J. Roddy Walston and the Business begin a two-night residency at the Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St. 9 p.m. $13, both nights. 

On Saturday, the Death Set performs twice on Saturday, 3 p.m. at Sonar, and 9 p.m. at the Windup Space, 12 W. North Ave. Tickets are $10 for both shows. Also: Fans of Trina might want to keep an eye out for this. According to her Facebook page, she's performing at Washington's Club Fur on Saturday, but the venue's calendar lists someone named Casey Keyworth performing that night.

On Sunday, New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys perform at 1st Mariner Arena,  201 W. Baltimore St., on their new joint tour. 7 p.m. Tickets start at $29.50. Look for our preview story later this week. Also: Celebration, Arbouretum, Dan Deacon, Mickey Free, Rapdragons are just a few of the performers at the Gspot's Scapescape. Starts at noon. Tickets, at $20, are on sale at Facebook event listing has the full line-up.

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:44 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

May 21, 2011

Music review: Bruno Mars, Train at Preakness Infield 2011

The music at Preakness Infield this year was hardly legendary, not as the Kegasus billboards wanted it to be anyway.

With headliners Bruno Mars and Train it could not have risen above the raucousness of a kegger organized by someone’s dad.

Their hour-long sets, which consisted of several popular covers and their own chart-toppers, were sweet, upbeat, and, like a Black-Eyed Susan, acceptable for a hot Spring day, but as instantly forgettable.

If anything, the headliners, along with Hotspur, who kicked off the main stage at around 11 a.m., and second stage headliners Puddle of Mudd, Mr. Greengenes, and Phil Vassar, were legendarily blasé.

It was in keeping with the plans of the organizers, who have said they wanted headliners this year that, while appealing to a 21 to 40 year old demographic, are tame, and family-friendly.

To that end, they could have scarcely had better bookings than today’s. Both Train and Mars have a knack for producing highly commercial, radio-ready, PG-13 pop that can be tolerated by both young and old. They strike the perfect balance that organizers have sought for the Infield since the BYOB campus was banned: “Warm but not over the edge,” as Train lead singer Pat Monahan said earlier this week.

Train played its role to perfection. They rocked the audience alright, into a stupor. Throughout its 80-minute set, the veteran adult contemporary band had a hard time engaging a crowd that was not much larger than what an early-afternoon performer would get at Virgin Mobile FreeFest and that seemed far more interested in its beer mugs.

Despite trying his hardest, Monahan had to instead resort to doing covers, passing out band t-shirts, and taking pictures of himself with fans’ cameras. Before its two last songs, the biggest cheers had been for a pair of covers, a Zeppelin song, and an unfortunate “Umbrella,” the Rihanna blockbuster.

After 16 years together, it seems the only people Train can rile up is the “Ramona and Beezus” set. For “She’s on Fire,” he invited on stage a group of tweens who wore “Trainette” tees and screamed in unison during the chorus, the clearest sign all afternoon that this we were at a new, calmer infield.

Monahan and his band begun at 1:06 p.m. with “If it’s Love,” a recent song he interrupted to tweet a picture of the crowd. Gotta up those followers! The rest of their set list was heavy on their 90s and early 2000s hits and lesser-known songs from “Save me San Francisco,” their most recent album.

Sporting a waistcoat and a hairdo that suggested he’d just come from a wind tunnel, Monahan was on-point, gracious, and friendly to the otherwise nonchalant crowd.

The Zeppelin cover was his fifth song, and it was followed by "She's on Fire," which got a country-fied treatment. “I Got You,” one of their better ballads off the new album, was breezy and earnest. For “Calling All Angels,” another early hit, the crowd clapped along. Monahan gave it his all during “Free,” playing the drums alongside drummer Scott Underwood.

But the crowd seemed uninterested. They didn’t wake up from their coma until the last two songs of the afternoon, Train’s most recent hit, “Hey, Soul Sister,” and it’s most well-known, “Drops of Jupiter.”

Bruno Mars had better luck, but also resorted to popular covers to keep the easily distracted crowd’s attention. His set, a half-hour shorter than initially advertised, was energetic, but most of all, sweet, even romantic at times. Mars, a young, gifted R&B crooner, specializes in uptempo ballads that can sometimes be touchingly poignant, an unthinkable genre for the infield headliners of the past, like Buckcherry, the guys responsible for “Crazy Bitch.”

Mars walked on stage around 4 p.m. with “Top of the World,” a booming song that nicely showed off his six-piece band, which included three dancing trumpeters. Halfway through, he tried on a James Brown impression, the first of several times he would invoke the spirit of dead star musicians. Michael Jackson and Nirvana would also follow. It was a charming move, and one that ingratiated him to the crowd.

By “Billionaire,” his third song, they were singing along. He then started off what sounded like a cover of “Smells like Teen Spirit,” the Nirvana classic, but mouthed the lyrics to Billie Jean, netting another big response. Quickly, he segued into a cover of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” While he was performing tried-and-true crowd favorites that belonged to others, he didn’t have to tweet on stage like Monahan to connect to the crowd. He was a performer, at least, in tune with the taste of the audience before him.

After an excellent “The Lazy Song,” where he praises doing nothing but watching TV in his Snuggie, he played another Jackson classic, “ABC,” no doubt thrilling the moms and dads in the audience, those smoking cigars and wearing big hats, who hadn’t heard any of Mars’ hits, all released within the last year and a half.

The crowd’s interest slackened when he switched to a couple of slow ballads; on “Nothing on You,” they simply nodded appreciatively. But, “Grenade,” remixed here with a slight spaghetti Western undercurrent, had them singing along again.

Unlike Monahan, who hammed up his biggest hit, Mars wisely underplayed it, letting the crowd at the front take control. It was nearing five by then, and he ended the show by cooing “Just the Way You Are,” another one of his ballads, and one of the most popular.

It was a fitting finale for an Infield that, like the song, was genial, and mostly civilized, drunk, if anything, on good spirits. By 5 p.m., the crowd was already fleeing to watch the ponies run at 20 past 6 p.m. Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas couldn’t have timed it better himself.

Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog

Photo: Fans at Infield (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 6:14 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Concert reviews

May 16 - 20 reviewed: Preakness, Sonar, Tiki Barge, Train

Ok, you might be dead today, or so twitter tells me. It's supposed to be the rapture. But, if you're alive and going to the Preakness, we have some handy literature. Here's the Infield schedule and a map of Pimlico. Read up on Train, one of the headliners, here. Hotspur, who kick things off at 11 a.m., is interviewed here. Try some new Preakness cocktails other than a Black-Eyed Susan. Instead of going to Preakness, you could be going to see Jason Aldean, who talked to us about his upcoming single, new album, and Kelly Clarkson. Local bars did experience a kind of rapture. Sonar regained its liquor license, as did the Tiki Barge. But, Lagers Pub did not. Club One downtown closed. And so did the Hexagon Space. In other news, HFStival announced its 2011 line-up. Hercules & the Love Affair, Tom Tom Club, and Toro y Moi announced regional shows. A fan of Grace Potter reviewed her show after winning tickets from us. We reviewed the Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band show at the 9:30 club. Still don't know what to do tonight and Sunday night? Go here

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

May 20, 2011

Preakness music: Train on Infield's reputation, "Glee," and winning another Grammy

Train knows its audience.

“For the most part, I’d be accurate in saying soccer moms were big Train fans,” says lead singer Pat Monahan.

The band's songs through the 90s and early 2000s - "Drops of Jupiter," "Meet Virginia," "Calling All Angels" - made them as much of a presence on adult contemporary radio as Delilah.

But with their fifth album, “Save Me San Francisco,” they’ve broadened their fan base to include the soccer moms’ daughters too.

First single “Hey, Soul Sister” has been certified platinum five times, and scored a Grammy just this year, beating younger acts like Paramore and Maroon 5.

That wide audience made the band, now in its 16th year, a natural fit, maybe the most natural, for the new Preakness Infield, where organizers have tried for the past couple of years to create a carefully balanced atmosphere in place of the debauchery of the BYOB years: fun, but not too rowdy; drunken, but not too plastered.

“You want to play in front of a crowd that’s warm but not over the edge,” Monahan said of his ideal audience. “You know when you’re drinking, depending on your level of alcohol, on your third or fourth beer, you're like, ‘I’m feeling better than ever,” then by your eighth or ninth, you're like (imitates drunken gibberish). We want to catch them at the half way mark.”

The band performs at Pimlico Race Track on Saturday after Maryland’s Hotspur and before Bruno Mars. Puddle of Mudd, Phil Vassar, and Mr. Greengenes will also play on a second stage at the tracks.

The show comes after a big comeback year for Train.

After forming in 1994 in San Francisco, the band — which is now a three piece consisting of drummer Scott Underwood and guitarist Jimmy Stafford — had a couple of hits like “Meet Virginia” and “Drops of Jupiter” that, while not critically acclaimed, endeared them to the “soccer mom” set, and presumably made them tons of money.

In 2006, following the commercial disappointment of the album “For Me, It’s You,” they took a three-year hiatus. “We needed to clean the slate and change,” Monahan said. “We needed a break first so we could have a moment to breathe, some time to appreciate each other one again.”

In that time, Monahan released his own solo album, which also flopped. When they returned to writing new material in 2009, Monahan said they had a new outlook. “Being in the music business and surviving this long is a feat in itself. When we started writing it we thought, ‘We’ve made enough records trying to be on the radio and failing,’” he said. “’Why don’t we make a record where we can enjoy the process and touring.’”

With few expectations, Monahan said they spent six weeks recording what would become “Save Me,” half of it in London and the rest in San Francisco.

Monahan didn’t realize they had another hit on their hands until they kicked off a string of promotional shows in Chicago, where they hadn’t played in years. Monahan was surprised at the turnout; at the time, “Hey, Soul Sister” had just started to get radio play.

“There were 5,000 teenage girls there. I thought, 'We must be opening for Hanson,” he said. “It’s been like that all over the world.”

The highlight of their year was another Grammy Award, for best pop performance by a duo or group.
“Going to the Grammys was another amazing part of our adventure,” Monahan said. “We really didn’t count on winning. We counted on ‘Glee’ winning.”

The album’s success has given a platform to tour widely, and in July, they’ll kick-off a co-headlining tour with Maroon 5. After that’s over in October, they plan on going back to the studio to record new material. Nine songs are already written, and nine more should be ready by the fall. Monahan expects a new album to be released in early 2012.

He insists the live show is where fans will see them at their best. At the infield, they’ll perform with two other musicians and do a set-list consisting of new and old material, lots from “Save Me San Francisco,” as well as some covers.

But his show will be more in keeping with the feel infield organizers love: cordial, comfortable, easy to listen to.

“We’re a good family band, but in a way that’s not boring,” he said. “I always like to turn it into more of a party, invite people on stage, give people a chance to sing and dance.”

Train performs at 1:10 p.m. at the main stage at Pimlico Race Track.  A full schedule of performance is here.

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Photo: via

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:14 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

Preakness music: Hotspur on College Park, Vans Warped Tour, and their upcoming album

When the Preakness Infield line-up was announced, it was surprisingly light on the Maryland talent for an event celebrated here for over a century.

There were headliners Bruno Mars and Train - Hawaii and California, respectively. And there were some Mid-Atlantic standbys, Mr. Greengenes and Phil Vassar, but even they were performing on the second stage.

Then, at the last minute, Hotspur, formed in the classrooms of the University of Maryland seven years ago, was added to the bill to kick things off Saturday.

It was not a surprising addition. The young Maryland four-piece has had an auspicious year since the release of second album, “You Should Know Better by Now.”

With its heavy rotation on mtvU, the band has become a college favorite, an audience heavily courted by Preakness organizers.

Despite being a Terp, singer Joe Mach had never been to Preakness before. He just knew it by reputation.
“Musically, Preakness shows have been known for their mayhem,” Mach said. “This year, they're making it classier and elevating the level of performances. Once they asked us to do it, we couldn't turn it down.”

With a crowd expected to reach the hundreds of thousands, Mach said Preakness is likely to be “one of the biggest if not the biggest show of our young careers.”

Mach, 28, and his band-members - keyboardist Dave Trichter, drummer Scott Robinson, and bassist Coop Cooper – met as sophomores at College Park while taking some of the same music business and production classes.

They released an album, “Beta,” in 2006 – “A collection of stuff that we called an album,” Mach says - but it wasn’t until the follow-up in 2009 that Mach says they found their identity.

“On the second record, we wanted to say we've matured a little bit,” he says. “The summer before the album, we’d gone through personal turmoil. Dave [Trichter] and me ended long-term relationships. There was a lot of growing up and life reflection.”

Audiences responded. Songs “Chandelier” and “Heads/Tails” went on rotation and mtvU, and the band started booking bigger gigs. By 2007, they had performed with the Vans Warped Tour, but the crowds didn’t come for them. “It’s a lot of people casually walking by and maybe noticing you,” he said.

Mach realized they’d finally broken through when they booked Rams Head Live in September 2009. “Rams Head was the first one where it was a big show and a majority of the audience was there for us. That’s a very different feeling from performing in front of people who don’t know who we are,” he said. Soon after, the band booked another big regional club, the 9:30 club.

Mach said the time since the album’s release has been about “sustaining” that momentum, but that success not been without its growing pains.

“Before, when we were writing, we thought, ‘no big deal,’” Mach said. “It takes a bit to get yourself into that mode. At the back of your mind, you’re thinking, ‘now, all these people are going to hear this.’”

The new album is already in pre-production in Beltsville, Maryland and Mach said they’re hoping for a Fall release. They’re in the process of whittling down 30 written songs. Already, the plucky, Killers-esque “Last Call (While the Night is Young)” has been released as a single on YouTube.

Hotspur has mainly stayed off the road while they’ve been working on the new material. But when I.M.P., the 9:30 Club promoters who book Preakness Infield, approached them about the show, Mach liked the idea of being the representatives of local talent.

“It’ll be very much a homecoming show,” he said. “These are people we grew up with. At a festival across the country, people might be, ‘who cares?’ But this is our own backyard.”

Hotspur performs at 11:10 a.m at the main stage at Pimlico Race Track. A full schedule of performance is here.

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Photo: via

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Jason Aldean on "Dirt Road Anthem," his next single, and his show at Jiffy Lube Live

Jason Aldean talks about Kelly Clarkson, Colt Ford, and his touring band in a Q&A in today's paper.

Here are some parts of the interview that didn't make it in print because of space. 

Aldean, who performs on Saturday at Jiffy Lube Live, is touring with his newest album "My Kinda Party." "Dirt Road Anthem" is his latest single.

Q: When did you start working on the album, and when was “Dirt Road” added to the mix?

A: We started working on this record probably at the end of 2009. We went back at the start of the year and cut a few more songs. We finished it up in the early part of 2010. “Dirt Road Anthem” was added pretty early because it was something we talked about pretty early on. I got around to cutting it in my second session. We recorded in Nashville in the same little studio I’ve recording at for 12 years, called Treasure Isle.

Q: Are there more singles off “My Kinda Party” planned?

A: There’s at least one more single, possibly two. Depends on a lot of different things, mainly hinges on how “Dirt Road Anthem performs. I don’t a clue yet when it’ll come out. If I had to pick, I’d pick “See You When I See You,” which is also a ballad.

Q: What can people expect at Jiffy Lube Live. Are your live performances as much of a genre hodgepodge as your albums?

A: It’s a mixture of everything. You’re going to hear everything from all four albums. We’ve got big uptempo things and we slow it down for ballad-type deals. We want to make it so it never gets old. We spent a lot of time working on how we want the set to flow and we want to make sure its entertaining from start to finish.

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Photo: Reuters

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:27 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Music News

Tiki Barge stays open; Lagers Pub does not

The on-again, off-again saga of Harborbiew's floating barge came to a definitive end Thursday night, or at least until neighbors of the Tiki Barge find another patron humping a potted palm tree.

At its weekly meeting, the Baltimore Liquor Board reversed an April decision to suspend the Tiki's liquor license for a month in July.

The decision comes with a $3,000 fine and an agreement from the bar to beef up security.

The news first broke on the bar's own Facebook page, where managers gleefully announced in all caps, "Come on down and celebrate with us."

The Tiki Barge's problems started when neighbors filed last year a dossier of complaints that included accusing patrons of simulating sex with potted shrubbery in the area. Other complaints are here

In April, the liquor board ruled to suspend the bar's license, which includes nearby Tabrizi's and Sorso Cafe, because of "lax security" and misrepresentations made to the liquor board in a renewal application, chairman Stephan Fogleman said.

The board ruled then that during the last license renewal, management incorrectly suggested the bar would cater only to residents. Management also submitted a letter of support in the application from a resident group that was actually controlled by the developer, Richard Swirnow.

Because the suspension would have adversely impacted Sorso and Tabrizi's, the board took up the case again. It changed its ruling after the bar's managers agreed to a plan with neighbors that would include two security guards to escort unruly patrons out, according to Fogleman. The Tiki Barge currently employs one such security guard.

In a nod to the new detente, Tiki Barge's celebratory status update came with a caveat. "Please," it read,"remember to be respectful of our neighbors at Harborbiew." At long last, those potted plants will sleep easy. 

Lagers Pub

The Canton bar has closed, reports City that Breeds, because owner Nicholle O’Malley didn't agree to a higher rent from her landlord. According to property records, 2522 Fait, Inc. is the the owner of the Lagers' building.

Lagers had been run by a new manager since January who renovated the interior and added live entertainment.

It was the second bar to close on Thursday, after the Hexagon Space announced its own shutdown on its website.

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Posted by Erik Maza at 10:35 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Liquor Board news, News

May 19, 2011

The Hexagon Space loses its lease, to close in July

The Hexagon Space, the Station North gallery and music space, will close in July after losing its lease.

The announcement was made on the venue's website. 

"Baltimore has supported us through thick & thin, and we thank every band, artist, volunteer, and audience member who has helped us survive to this point," the statement said.

Only four events were scheduled past July 1, including a volunteer meeting.

We'd gotten a tip about the possible closing earlier this week, but a request for comment from manager Stephanie Refo was not returned. 

The Hexagon Space, which is run by a collective of volunteers, had been at 1825 N. Street, for nearly three years, taking over from the Lo-Fi Club, which closed in July 2008. 

In that time, it hosted art exhibits as well as musicians, most recently, the rapper Height in April. 

Joy Martin is listed as the landlord of the building in state property records. Joy bought the building in 2002 for $75,000. 

After ASCAP threatened the venue with a $3,000 fine for improper use of copyrighted songs, volunteers took it non-profit last year and stopped paying ASCAP fees, becoming one of the only music venues in the country to do so. 

Until its July 1 closing date, volunteers will continue booking shows. 

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Photo: via

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:20 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Review: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at Rams Head Live

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals performed at Rams Head Live Wednesday, and Dawn Moore-Guinness got a chance to see them with her daughter after winning a pair of tickets through Midnight Sun.

 The night started off with two opening bands. We arrived in time to catch the Futurebirds. It was hard to really listen to them while trying to calm our excited 4-year-old. who was only there for Grace and would not stop asking when she was would play!

Shortly after their set began we were escorted back stage for the meet & greet with Ms. Grace. This was a surprise to my little one. Needless to say, she was beyond starstruck.

Grace was sweet & chatted with Avery, asking her fun questions and sharing stories of when she was a little girl. After a few pictures and goodbyes, we headed back out to the front to watch the main event.

The band's performance was full of energy. Sassy, super short dresses, painfully-hot, shiny heels, bright red lipstick, bow-ties, funky shades, and tigers decked the stage.

photo2.JPGIn typical rock star fashion there was plenty of hair flipping, head banging, and guitar shredding. Grace's voice was raw, sexy & soulful. The band encored a spicy version of Heart's "Crazy on You" and the show ended. It was a good night.

At right, Avery and Dawn backstage with Grace Potter. 

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Posted by Erik Maza at 11:45 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Concert reviews

Concert news: IDentity Festival, Tom Tom Club, Return to Forever

The traveling electronic music festival IDentity will stop at Jiffy Lube Live August 18, it was announced Wednesday.

The Virginia show, the festival's only regional show, will feature three stages. Kaskade, Rusko, Disco Biscuits, Chuckie, Booka Shade, Datsik will perform at Skullcandy.

Hercules and Love Affair, Holy Ghost!, Steve Aoki, DJ Shadow, the Crystal Method, and others will play the Dim Mak Stage. It's not clear if Hercules will play a live or a DJ set. 

Steve Lawler, White Shadow, LA Riots, and others will play at the third stage, Beatport. 

Tickets will go on sale Friday via Livenation.

Return to Forever, now featuring a new line-up of Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White. Jean-Luc Ponty, and Frank Gambale, will perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion August 9 with Zappa plays Zappa. Tickets, starting at $40, go on sale Friday at

Tom Tom Club, which went on tour last year for the first time in a decade, is coming to Baltimore.

The 30-year-old duo will perform at Rams Head Live June 5 to promote new album "Genius of Love." Tickets are already on sale.

Another longtime group that's now on tour is Cibo Matto. The band has reunited and announced on Monday that it's going on a couple of small tours, including a show at Washington's Rock 'n' Roll Hotel July 19.Tickets, at $20, are on sale Friday.

Toro y Moi, who performed at the Talking Head last month with Adventure, is coming back to the area. He will perform at Washington's Black Cat September 11. Tickets, at $10, are on sale at

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Photo: IDentity Festival

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

HFStival announces 2011 line-up headlined by Avett Brothers; stays at Merriweather

HFStival announced its 2011 line-up Wednesday. The Avett Brothers will headline a show that will also feature Flogging Molly, Dr. Dog, Gin Blossoms, Minus the Bear and Clutch.

The festival, which returned after a four-year hiatus last year, will stay at Merriweather Post Pavilion

It will take place September 17. 

The line-up this year is an improvement over last year's, which featured an all-star cast from the 90s, including Billy Idol, Third Eye Blind and Everclear. 

Among the other bands that will perform this year are Diane Birch, Lionize, Pasadena, and the Five One.

HFStival is the granddaddy of East coast music festivals. Organized by the seminal, shuttered radio station WHFS-FM, it drew massive crowds through most of the '90s and the first half of the '00s, when it hosted the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Coldplay, among others.

It ended a 16-year-run in 2006 at Merriweather Post Pavilion, which also hosted last year's return.

In this oral history, Jon Bailey of Baltimore-based Jon Bailey Band, Mike Hall of the Baltimore rock group Sick Sick Birds, and Sound Garden's Bryan Burkert recall its heyday. Our interview with the Avett Brothers is here.  

Tickets, $35-50, go on sale Friday at

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Photo: via

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:37 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music

May 18, 2011

New Preakness cocktail recipes from B&O American Brasserie, Idle Hour, Sloop Betty, and others

The Black-Eyed Susan has been the official cocktail of the Preakness Stakes since time immemorial. At least since the 1950s, estimates Pimlico Race Track historian Joe Kelly.

The cocktail has been re-invented over the years, but not enough to satisfy people's complaints. Back in 1985, reporter Rob Kasper ran a contest to replace it with a new cocktail. 

It's time to give a coup another try. It's not like there isn't precedent. The White Carnation had been the official cocktail of the Belmont Stakes for years, until master mixologist Dale DeGroff suggested a change to his version of whiskey punch, which he called the Belmont Breeze. It’s now been the race’s drink of choice for 13 years.

In a long-shot appeal to the Maryland Jockey Club to replace a cocktail that’s ran one too many laps, we asked five of Baltimore’s best mixologists and bartenders to come up with a new official Preakness drink.

The recipes by B&O American Brasserie's Brendan Dorr, Bad Decisions' John Reusing (at right), Vino Rosina's Tiffany Haleamau, Idle Hour's Randal Etheridge (an excellent chartreuse-and-Pikesville rye cocktail he dubbed "Pikesville Palomino), and Holy Frijoles' Aylen Beazley-Maquehue can be found here.

After the story went to press, I got another recipe from Blackwater Distilling, the new Maryland distillery responsible for Sloop Betty Vodka.

They're calling their cocktail the Baltimore Blossom.

To make it, muddle four raspberries and five basil leaves (rolled).

Add 1.5 oz Sloop Betty vodka, 1.5 oz cranberry juice, 1 dash Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters.  

Shake and strain over ice.

Garnish with basil flower.

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Posted by Erik Maza at 2:10 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Still want tickets for Grace Potter's Bonnaroo Buzz Tour show?

We're giving six tickets away, including four that include meet-and-greets with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

The giveaway is similar to what we did during Virgin Mobile FreeFest: go to Midnight Sun's Facebook page, press 'like,' and tell us on our wall the reason you and your friends should get these tickets.

We will pick the most creative answers by 4 p.m. today.

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Posted by Erik Maza at 11:04 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

May 17, 2011

Maryland Jockey Club releases Preakness Infield map

preakness%20map.JPGThe Preakness InfieldFest schedule went up Monday, and today we have a map of Pimlico Race Track's layout during the event.

The layout this year is similar to last year's minus a few exceptions. 

The main stage will be located next to the Preakness Village, this time called the Corporate Village. 

But the space formerly occupied by the second stage will now be filled by a beer garden, with the second stage pushed near the Top of the Stretch and the first aid stations.

This year, there's also the addition of a "family zone," in keeping with the organizers' strategy of playing to both old and young

There are two Mug Club locations, and bar and food stands. 

The full map is below: 

Pimlico Map Large

Map via Maryland Jockey Club

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:47 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News, News

Giveaway: Six tickets to Grace Potter show at Rams Head Live, including two with meet-and-greets

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals perform Wednesday at Rams Head Live and we've got three pairs of tickets to give away, including two that include a meet and greet with the band.

The show is part of the Bonnaroo Buzz Tour, which takes some of the bands on this year's line-up on the road to promote the June 9-12 festival in Manchester, Tennessee.

The giveaway is similar to what we did during Virgin Mobile FreeFest: go on Midnight Sun's Facebook page, press 'like,' and tell us on our wall the reason you and your friends should get these tickets.

By 4 p.m. tomorrow we will pick the most creative answers. 

Only those with full names may be considered, and if selected, you must be able to provide a phone number for confirmation.   

You may enter as many times as you like.

The tickets, which come from Stubhub, the buzz tour's sponsor, may not be resold or exchanged. 

Doors for the Potter show are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $25.

Bonnaroo is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Eminem, Arcade Fire, Mumford & Sons, Lil Wayne and others are headlining.

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Posted by Erik Maza at 2:29 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Music News

Club One has closed; club was site of 2009 double shooting

Club One has closed, management has confirmed.

It's not clear if the shutdown is due to the club's violent history or tax problems. 

Billed as "an upscale nightclub with four levels: Earth, Water, Fire, Air," the downtown club  was most known for a 2009 double shooting. 

Club One's managers had been leaving hints of the imminent closing on Facebook for a couple of weeks. 

 On Monday, someone responsible for the club's email account confirmed the news, but did not give any reasons, or even his or her name.

The email simply said: "Yes, Club One property has been sold. Thank you!" So polite!

Club One, located at 300 E. Sarasota, had a violent history. In 2009, a 29-year-old man opened fire on a crowd outside the club, injuring two women. The club had been over capacity that night. 

Police complained. "Issues of violence around the Club One establishment continue to be a concern for the Baltimore Police Department," Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said at the time. The Baltimore Liquor Board suspended its license for a while.

But there had been few complaints about it since, said liquor board chairman Stephan Fogleman.

The club's end may have more to do with taxes than violence. It was among a number of clubs and bars whose license renewal was on hold because of overdue taxes.

April 25 seems to have the last night it was open, at least according to Facebook. But the message has not reached everyone apparently. Just last week, someone asked, "How do I contact this club about doing an event?"

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Photo: Club One MySpace

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:51 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Sonar regains liquor license; books Yob for July show

sonarliquor.JPGSonar has regained its liquor license. That's it at right. Club management posted it on Facebook Monday, lest there be any doubt about its validity.

The new license allowed the club to start selling alcohol immediately. Michael Stewart, who had been involved with Sonar since its Canton beginnings, is the new licensee, taking over from founder Lonnie Fisher. 

The renewal fulfills at least one of Dan McIntosh's promises. The club's acting general manager said last week the license would be renewed by Monday. 

It also closes a fevered chapter in the club's history that began with an announced shutdown in early May, alarm over sold tickets, a re-opening, and then uncertainty about upcoming shows. 

Sonar's liquor license expired on May 1 because of a business dispute between Fisher, the license holder until now, and the club's owners.

There are still disagreements between Fisher and the club's current management, which includes McIntosh. Fisher has said the club has a tax liability, while McIntosh insists taxes have been paid off. 

For now, metal fans can rest assured that they won't have to watch Coroner sober when the Maryland Deathfest takes place at Sonar later this month.

"We had an attorney look at the process and found a way to get the license to the new holder and allow Sonar to return to business as usual, which benefited all parties," Fisher said Monday night.

Fisher said he had taken steps to take his name off the license since he sold his last shares in 2009.  But the new owners had not completed the proper paperwork.

McIntosh said last week the transfer had been in the works for a year and a half, when Stewart first applied for it with the liquor board. But it had not been processed until after April 30, when the club became tax-compliant.

He initially blamed Fisher for not renewing the club's license and causing its shutdown.

The new license became effective Monday and will expire April 30, 2012.

The club has continued to book new shows despite the recent upheaval. Oregon metal band has been scheduled to perform there July 17 on its first tour in six years.  

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Posted by Erik Maza at 11:16 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

May 16, 2011

Review: Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band at the 9:30 Club

Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, the American blues band interviewed on Midnight Sun last December, performed at the 9:30 Club Saturday night. Contributor Ben Opipari reviews the show.

One thing you need to remember before seeing a show by The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band: take care of your basic needs (beer, bathroom) before the band hits the stage.  Once they start playing, you won't be going anywhere.

It's impossible to take your eyes off them. 

The band, which performed at the 9:30 Club Saturday, consists of the Rev (on his pre-1935 guitars), his wife Washboard Breezy (on the washboard) and Aaron “Cuz” Persinger (on drums—and five gallon bucket). 

A Big Damn Band live show is full of life.  In an age when many performers rarely venture a few paces past their microphone if they’re even able to stop shoe-gazing, the Big Damn Band is furious power.

On Saturday, when they opened for The Reverend Horton Heat on the “Two Revs” tour, the band was all pent-up energy, and for good reason: they had been in an accident only a few hours before, outside of Elkton, seriously damaging the van.  And that van had replaced the old van only four days earlier.  The Rev, a charismatic frontman, was not there, he told the crowd, to play any “hipster (expletive).”  

The band's sound is a blend of Delta blues and country blues, but really it’s just timeless rock n' roll played by a trio from rural Indiana. They’re touring—well, truth by told, they are always touring, averaging 250 shows a year—in support of last year’s release "The Wages," which peaked at #2 on the Billboard blues chart. 

The Rev is a keen student of blues history; he’s in DC today at the Sirius/XM studios, taping a show of blues favorites on Bluesville. And this summer the band is releasing "Peyton on Patton," an album of Charlie Patton songs that was recorded on one microphone in one day. 
From the opening number, when The Rev kicked over a couple of Persinger’s cymbals, the band never stopped.  They are as much visual spectacle as aural feast. Besides The Rev’s guitar playing, Breezy’s hands, gloved for protection, furiously stroked the washboard.

And Persinger was equal parts athlete and drummer. After the show, I found him backstage icing his forearms.  There’s a primal element to their music that reaches the base of human emotion: this is music that you clap to, stop your feet to, and sing along to.  Every song demands it (in fact, The Rev often demands these things from the audience). 

In his songwriting process, melody reigns supreme.  He works hard to achieve a melody in which the audience can participate.  Songs like “Your Cousin’s on Cops,” “Born Bred, Corn Fed,” “Fort Wayne Zoo,” and “Mama’s Fried Potatoes” are stories in the authentic blues tradition, delivered with a punk aesthetic.  And they are true stories: Breezy’s cousin was on the show “Cops,” and The Rev’s cousin did steal a chicken from the Fort Wayne Zoo.
First time concertgoers might notice that the band has no bass.  As The Rev reminded the audience, thrusting his thumb in the air, “This is my bass.” He plays bass and guitar together: his thumb plays the bass notes while he finger picks the strings simultaneously (please—no guitar picks here).  All this while his fret hand slides maniacally up and down the neck of the guitar, creating a sound that I’ve not heard anywhere else.  Demonstrating his prowess, he played “Yankee Doodle” (bass) and “Dixie” (guitar) at the same time.
It was a testament to the band’s hold on the audience that I couldn’t see any backlit smartphone displays around me, the telltale sign of the texting concertgoer.  These people were listening.  And watching. 

Sure, this was the “Two Revs” tour, but judging from the audience reception, it was pretty clear upon whose altar the audience laid their dancing feet.

Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog

Ben Opipari is a regular contributor to Midnight Sun. He interviews writers and songwriters on his blog, Songwriters on Process. He interviewed Reverend Peyton for this blog in December. Erik Maza edited this post.

Photo: Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band official website

Video:  Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band at the Vans Warped tour last year

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:30 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Concert reviews

May 16 - 22 in nightlife: Deftones, Odd Future, Preakness Infield

Sonar ended up re-opening earlier this month, and as a result, two of the most anticipated shows this Spring will go on as scheduled: Deftones and Odd Future. They're also two of the shows this week that have already sold-out. If you can't get tickets, this week will be a big one for country, as Jason Aldean, Sugarland and Preakness take over the weekend. Local musicians like Ami Dang also have shows scheduled.

On Monday, metal veterans Deftones begin a two-night residency at Sonar, 407 E. Saratoga St. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $31. Monday's show is sold out, but there are still tickets available for Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Club Phoenix, which itself flirted with closing several weeks ago, hosts a karaoke party. 10 p.m. Free admission. 1 W. Biddle St.

On Wednesday, Baltimore singer-songwriter Shane Burke performs at the summer's first lunchtime concert at Center Plaza, located between Charles St. and Liberty St. The concert is one of several organized this year by the Downtown Partnership. 12 p.m.

On Thursday, Odd Future, the endlessly hyped hip hop collective, performs at Sonar. The show is sold out, but the tumblr, remains, for now, free. 8 p.m.

On Friday, Ami Dang and Adventure perform at another roller skating party by Ehse Records. Starts at 9:30 p.m. at the Shake and Bake Family Fun Center, 1601 Pennsylvania. Admission is $5. Skate rentals are $3. 

On Saturday, Bruno Mars, Train and others perform at the Preakness Infield at Pimlico Race Track, 5201 Park Heights Ave. A schedule of performances is here. Tickets start at $40. Also:  Jason Aldean performs at Jiffy Lube Live. The show, which starts at 4 p.m., is sold out, but is part of the venue's Country Megaticket package. Look for our, already teased, interview with Aldean later this week.

On Sunday, Sugarland performs at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. The new duo are one of the 25 acts we highlighted on our summer concert preview. 6:30 p.m. $41-76. Also: En Vogue, now touring with the original line-up, performs at Bourbon Street. 7 p.m. $30.

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Posted by Erik Maza at 11:15 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

Preakness InFieldFEST schedule released; Bruno Mars, Train to play hour plus sets

The Maryland Jockey Club has released the performance schedule for Preakness InfieldFest, the infield entertainment for the Preakness Stakes.

The fest, now in its third year, will include performances by Bruno Mars, Train, Hotspur, Mr. Greengenes, Phil Vassar, and Puddle of Mudd.

In addition to performances, this year's infield entertainment will also feature a bikini contest, a cornhole tournament, virtual jockey games, a professional women's volleyball tournament and the Mug Club, which gets ticket-buyers a bottomless beer mug for $20. 

Tickets for the infield, which start at $40, are already on sale. 

Musical performances are scheduled to start on Saturday as early as 8:20 a.m. and end as late as 5:30 p.m. They will take place at two places, a main stage and a stage sponsored by Jagermeister.

All acts are scheduled to play 60-minute sets or longer. Hotspur is the first act on the main stage, and Mr. Greengenes will kick-off the action on the Jagermeister stage.

A map of Pimlico Race Track will be released later on Monday, spokesman Mike Gathagan said. 

Preakness InFieldFest

Main Stage:

11:10 a.m.: Hotspur (1 hour)

1:10 p.m - 2:45 p.m.: Train (1 hr, 30 min)

4 - 5:30 p.m.: Bruno Mars (1 hr, 30 min)

Jagirmeister Stage:

8:20 a.m.: Mr. Greengenes (40 minutes)

9:50 a.m.: Bikini contest, round 1

10:10 a.m.: Mr. Greengenes (50 minutes)

11 a.m.: Bikini contest, finals

12:10 p.m.: Phil Vassar (60 minutes)

2:45 p.m.: Puddle of Mudd (1 hr, 15 min)

Women's Valleyball tournament starts at 8 a.m. and is scheduled to go on throughout the day. The beer garden will open at 8 a.m.; it will offer $2 drafts until noon. At 10 a.m., the wagering tent willl open and the cornhole tournament will start.

Photo: Bruno Mars at the 2011 Grammy Awards (AFP/Getty Images)

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Posted by Erik Maza at 9:53 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music, News

May 14, 2011

May 9 - 13 reviewed: Preakness Stakes 2011, Power Plant Live

Headlines from this past week:  Selling the Preakness Stakes confounds organizers, but the marketing may be starting to work. The Maryland Jockey Club expects biggest crowds since 2007's record numbers. Joe Squared and Leinenkugel's Beer Hall are the latest tenants of Power Plant Live's $10 million upgrade. Developer Reed Cordish expects it will create over 100 new positions. Redwood Trust, worth $2.5 million, now selling for 800K. Sonar re-opens; Maryland Deathfest and Deftones shows to go on as scheduled. Two new bars will join beleaguered Canton Arts and Entertainment. Baltimore summer concert preview looks forward to summer concerts by U2, Phish, R. Kelly, Britney, Starscape and 20 other headliners. James Taylor: reviewed. Talib Kweli, Kid Cudi and All Time Low announce local shows. Wanna know what to do tonight and Sunday night? Go here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Roundup

May 13, 2011

Baltimore summer concert preview: U2, Phish, R. Kelly, Britney, Starscape and 20 other sure bets

PX00089_9.JPGThe summer concert season is fully underway. The Stone Temple Pilots kicked it off into full gear with their Pier Six show on April 26. Two days later, rapper Wiz Khalifa took the stage. At 1st Mariner Arena that week, Rush performed.

And on the Sunday of that same week, a who’s who of young acts - the Strokes, Ra Ra Riot, Girl Talk, a scorching Lupe Fiasco - performed at the second-ever Sweetlife Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

The knee-jerk complaint that touring musicians skip Baltimore every year is a thing of the past, it seems. If anything, the only complaint this year might be that there’s too many criminally difficult choices to make. How else to describe having to pick between Rihanna and the Starscape Music Festival, both scheduled for the same day in June? Or having to pick between Jason Aldean and going to the Preakness InField, which seems practically made for him?

At least some shows had the good sense to squeeze two major acts into one night. In fact, double-billed tours are a mini-trend this summer: Rihanna and Cee Lo Green; Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj; Kesha and Baltimore’s own Spank Rock.

Even if you get to miss some shows because of the overwhelming array of options, at least you’ll get your money’s worth with our top 25 picks for the summer.



May 21: After co-writing a string of hits for other artists, Bruno Mars has become a star in his own right. The baby faced singer with the squeaky high voice shares a bill with rockers Train May 21 at this year’s Preakness Infield Fest in Pimlico Race Course, 5201 Park Heights Ave. After a couple hits in the ‘90s and early ‘00s (remember “Drops of Jupiter?”), Train took a hiatus and, starting in the fall of 2009, made a terrific comeback. $44.50. (Sam Sessa)

May 22: To get a sense of Sugarland's meteoric rise in the last few years, you have to look no further than their tours. For a while there, they were opening for major stars in country: Brad Paisley in 2005, Kenny Chesney the next year, Keith Urban in 2009. But since breaking out with 2008's "Love on the Inside," they've had their own merry band of hit-makers opening for them: Sara Bareilles, Danny Gokey, and Little Big Town. The latter will open again when the duo perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. $41-76.

May 24: A master of vintage R&B, Raphael Saadiq’s musical roots go back to his days in the group Tony! Toni! Tone! His fourth studio album, “Stone Rollin’,” was released in late March puts a fresh spin on an ages-old sound. He comes to Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place in Power Plant Live. $35. (SS)

May 25: Paul Simon’s new album, “So Beautiful or So What” is his best in years. Expect to hear songs from it, as well as a few of Simon’s many hits, when he performs May 25 at DAR Constitution Hall, 1776 D St. NW in Washington. $53.50-123.50. (SS)

May 27 & 28: Already relentless at touring, J. Roddy Walston and the Business seem to want to overextend themselves this summer. They’re not just doing one-off shows, but booking multi-day residencies across the country. Las Vegas gets them for four days in June. The Ottobar will have them for two nights. The band also has berths at the All Good Festival in West Virginia and Lollapalooza in Chicago in early August. J. Roddy Walston performs at the Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St. $13.

May 29: Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block, the two titans of boy band world, are touring together, presumably because they couldn’t each muster enough ticket sales individually. It’ll provide an opportunity for moms and daughters of the 80s and 90s to see two bands that shaped each of their respective generations. Their June 3 show at Verizon Center is already sold out. The two bands perform at 1st Mariner Arena , 201 W. Baltimore St. $29.50-$89.50.


June 3: Sure, John Fogerty, the driving force behind Creedence Clearwater Revival, won’t be there. But the guys in Creedence Clearwater Revisited can rip through all those familiar hits like nobody’s business. June 3, they’ll share a bill with Three Dog Night at Pier Six Pavilion, 731 Eastern Ave. $30-$70. (SS)

June 4 - 5: Now in its 13th year, this annual celebration of electronic music and DJ culture is more in-demand ever, organizers say. Over the years, Starscape has become one of the east coast’s best events of its kind, drawing thousands to scenic Fort Armistead Park, 4000 Hawkins Point Road. This year’s lineup includes, Bassnectar, Lotus and Infected Mushroom, among others. The marathon festival starts at 2 p.m. June 4 and stretches until 6 a.m. June 5. $75-$169.50. (SS)

PX00228_9.JPGJune 4: Half a decade after her first album, the hits just keep pouring out of Rihanna. Her latest monster, “Loud,” yielded not just “S&M,” but “What’s My Name?” her duet with Drake, and “Only Girl (in the World)” which actually won a Grammy for best dance recording. Her duet with Eminem, “Love the Way You Lie” cemented her dominance in the charts. Not one to take risks, she recruited Cee Lo Green, who had his own hit with “Forget You,” to open for her on the inevitable Loud Tour. She performs at 1st Mariner Arena. $ 21.75 - $71.75.

June 11 & 12: Since coming off hiatus in 2009, Phish has stopped at Merriweather Post Pavilion for a pair of shows. This year is no different – the King of All Jam Bands plays there for just $45-$60. (SS)

June 13: When the Decemberists perform at Merriweather, they’ll have tough act to follow. Phish will have mellowed out the outdoor amphitheater following their two-night residency. But if anyone can follow the jam band, it’s Colin Meloy and his 11-year-old, hyper-literary, hyper-upbeat five piece. $30-40.

June 15: Can’t think of the songs that have been stuck on your head so far this year? Chances are they belong to Katy Perry. The dominant streak that “California Gurls,” the first single from her “Teenage Dream” album, began in May 2010 shows no sign of slowing down. Her latest single, “E.T.”, continued a fifth straight week at No. 1 in the Billboard 100 as of May 5. And singles, “Teenage Dream” and “Firework,” have already become karaoke favorites. Her tour, with Swedish dance queen Robyn, should be a pop music lover’s wet dream. She performs at Merriweather Post Pavilion. $35-48.

June 16: British R&B and soul singer Sade hasn’t gone on tour in over a decade. One of the most beautiful voices of the late 80s and 90s, she’s most well known for adult contemporary mainstays like “Smooth Operator.” New material is rare, but when it does, people eat it up. “ Soldier of Love,” her newest album, has already gone platinum. To kick off her first global tour, she’s picked Baltimore, where she’ll perform June 16 at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St. 410-347-2020. $117-$171.

June 22: Without a doubt the biggest concert of the summer, U2s 360 tour is significant to Baltimore because it’s the only stadium show scheduled so far this year. It’s also a momentous occasion because we were this close to getting them last year only to miss out because of a scheduling conflict. Now in its third year, the 360 tour finds the band finally comfortable in the kind of over-the-top production that would intimidate even seasoned veterans. U2 performs at M&T Bank Stadium, 1101 Russell St. $43.80-$280.55.

June 22 - 26: The Roots Festival, which runs June 22 – 26, was convened this year to draw attention to the area in West Baltimore affected by the unsuccessful “Highway to Nowhere” project. But, organizers have put together an excellent line-up of R&B and soul to entertain attendees as they’re educated: Talib Kweli, Chuck Brown, the father of go-go, and Grammy award-winner Anthony David. In addition to the concerts, which will take place April 25, there will be workshops and community meetings at churches, community centers in West Baltimore and the Maryland Institute College of Art. Talib Kweli performs June 25 on the corner of Franklin and N. Gilmor Streets. Admission is free.


July 1: Despite all the bad press, all the trials, the fights, R. Kelly remains a huge concert draw. The singer is now touring in support of “Love Letter,” a soul-inspired album he released in December. When he performs at 1st Mariner Arena this summer, it will be his first time in the city since 2009, when 92Q regular Paula Campbell opened for him. This time, it will be Keyshia Cole, another tabloid-friendly singer. $117-$171.

July 9: Even two years after releasing “Merriweather Post Pavilion,” arguably their breakout album, Animal Collective had not performed at the actual venue in Columbia. That changed in April, when the Maryland natives announced they would play there for a much anticipated show. If arena rock’s biggest show of the summer in Baltimore is U2, this is indie rock’s. Animal Collective performs at Merriweather Post Pavilion. $35-40.

July 15: The past year has been a good one for country music, which has been rejuvenated by a handful of young stars. There’s Jason Aldean, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, and then there’s Miranda Lambert, who despite her humble start on a TV singing competition has become a major force on her own. Her last album, “Revolution,” won best album of the year at both the Academy of Country Music Awards and at the Country Music Association Awards last year. Miranda Lambert performs at Merriweather Post Pavilion, $40-$55

July 17: Peter Frampton Those long, golden locks may be gone, but Peter Frampton is a better guitarist than he was decades ago when “Frampton Comes Alive” ruled the charts. It’s hard to believe, but that album turns 35 this year, and to mark the occasion, Frampton is playing it front to back at Pier Six Pavilion. $25-$75. (SS)

July 19: Categorically speaking, Gang Gang Dance is an experimental band. At some point or another, they've called upbeat noise, or art-rock. But, though their song titles - which sometimes consist of just symbols, might suggest inscrutability - that’s only pretend. Dance music is in their DNA. Like TV on the Radio, these four New Yorkers make avant garde music that pop lovers can appreciate, and vice versa. Plus, front-woman Lizzi Bougatsos has more swagger on stage than Mick, Bono and Lil Wayne, a Bougatsos favorite, combined. They’ll perform at the Ottobar. $13.

July 31: Who would have thought that after all this time we’d still have Britney to kick around? The teen pop sensation has now been in the limelight for over a decade. And unlike critics predicted, she’s accumulated a nice little back catalog of pop-and-dance classics, including her latest, “Till the World Ends,” which was made all the more cheesy-delicious when it was remixed with singles by Nicki Minaj, who will open for her on this tour, and Kesha. She performs at the Verizon Center, 601 F St. N.W., Washington, DC. $29.50 – $350.


August 2: While they didn’t tour much during their heyday in the ‘70s, jazz-rockers Steely Dan have made up for it with a series of tours in the past two decades, surrounding themselves with prodigious backing players. They'll perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion. $35-$75. (SS)

August 2 & 3: Despite being only 21, Taylor Swift already seems like a veteran of the business. She has three albums to her name, and scores of awards from every outfit that’s physically able to give them out. Her awards have their own Wikipedia page, and they include everyone from the Nickelodeon Australian Kids' Choice Awards to the Grammy Awards, from where she has four. Her latest tour is already her second. She performs at the Verizon Center. $28-$82.50.

August 9: A longtime staple on the indie rock scene, Kings of Leon blew up three years ago with epic-sounding anthems like “Use Somebody.” Since then, they’ve bid farewell to clubs and theaters and been staples on the amphitheater circuit, where those songs sound even bigger. They perform at Jiffy Lube Live, 7800 Cellar Door Drive, Bristow, Va. $30.50-$60.50. (SS)

August 21: There are few pop stars who would get away with a music video that features unicorns making out and James Van Der Beek, but we’ve come to expect the absurd from Kesha. The singer’s videos are as outrageous as her live shows, and she won’t disappoint when she plays the Patriot Center (4500 Patriot Circle, Fairfax City, VA) this summer. Her tour is appropriately called “Get Sleazy,” the “s” spelled with a dollar sign. It should be a night of unapologetic dance music: LMFAO and Spank Rock, whose rapping half Naeem Juwan is from Baltimore, will open. $49.50.

Ticket information and starting times at available at ticketmaster, missiontix, ticketfly, or venues' own websites. 

Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog

Findlocal has a complete list of upcoming events and concerts

Photo: U2 performing in Mexico in April (AFP); Phish fans at Merriweather in 2009 (Baltimore Sun); Rihanna in Paris in May (Getty); Kings of Leon performing in 2009 (Reuters)

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

May 12, 2011

Review: James Taylor at Hippodrome Theatre May 11

Legendary singer-songwriter James Taylor performed at the Hippodrome Wednesday night. Reporter Nick Madigan sends in this review.

James Taylor smiles when he sings.

Thousands of performances, decades of applause and countless honors have not dimmed Taylor’s deep-seated love for what he does. When he steps up to a microphone, guitar in hand, before a crowd of upturned faces, he opens his heart and his face softens, beaming.

“Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel,” he sang Wednesday night at Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre, perfectly encapsulating the emotional compass of his show.

The crowd in the sold-out auditorium sang along softly, swaying to the gentle tune, united in the notion that “things are going to be much better if you only will.”

Beyond the consistent emotional bond with his audience, the most striking thing about Taylor is how little he has changed his approach to singing and performing over the span of more than four decades since he began.

Although he is backed by a first-rate band and a choir of four, he still manages to convey a sense of sticking to the basic approach of man, guitar, melody and lyric. Taylor is a master of the effortless weaving of the American tale, and his craft needs no fancy footwork for its execution.

On stage, he creates intimacy not only by striking emotive chords but through humor. “I don’t like this song much – it’s not my favorite,” he deadpanned as he introduced “Angry Blues,” which has uncharacteristically bleak lyrics. “One thing you can say about this song – you feel better when it’s over.”

Then, when it was, he said, “There, I feel better now. You can’t love ’em all.” The crowd ate it up.

Taylor’s beguiling sense of wonder extends to the recounting of his earliest days as a singer and his first record deal, with The Beatles’ Apple label. He described auditioning for George Harrison and Paul McCartney in 1968 as a nerve-wracking “out-of-body experience,” but one that gave him his first big break.

The song he performed that day, “Something in the Way She Moves” – which, incidentally, later inspired one of Harrison’s biggest hits – was probably the best song, Taylor said, that he had written up to that point. “The ones that came before this were pretty terrible,” he told the Baltimore crowd, as he picked the tune’s first notes to a rain of applause.

Unsurprisingly, Taylor is modest about his talent for composing the approximately 150 songs that have defined his life. “It’s a mystery to me where they come from,” he said. “I don’t really write songs – I’m just the first person to hear them.” Their themes rarely vary, he went on, from yearnings for home (“Carolina In My Mind”) to the wanderlust of the road (“My Traveling Star”), with the occasional sharply observed commentary on the world’s peculiarities.

For the latter category, he delivered a long, wry introduction to “Line ’em Up,” a song about the final moments of Richard Nixon’s presidency in 1974, when the disgraced leader walked to a helicopter as the world watched, shaking hands “perhaps for the first time” with a long row of White House employees.

“Nixon didn’t have a great walk,” Taylor said, comparing it to the gait of a Cro-Magnon man “climbing out of the ooze.”

Just as Nixon and his wily co-conspirators became emblems of negativity and corruption in the 1970’s and the years that followed, so did Taylor and others of his ilk become synonymous with the optimism and creativity of the age and the power of persistent talent.

Taylor is an American institution in the manner of Paul Simon and Bob Dylan – no other country could have produced him, and none but those three artists could have paid so enduring an homage to the American musical idiom.

Nick Madigan is a staff reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He last reviewed Neil Young for the blog.  

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Photo: James Taylor performing at the ACM Awards in April

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:13 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Concert reviews

Sam Sessa's Weekend Watch: M3 Rock Festival, truck show, John Waters

FindLocal has more weekend events. Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sessa's Weekend Watch

Redwood Trust fails to sell at auction; downgraded to $800K

Redwood Trust, the historic downtown building that housed mega-club Palma and now Dubai/Velvet Rope, failed to sell at auction last week.

The building at 200 E. Redwood St., which had a starting bid of $1.2 million, received 11 registered prospects, according to Leo McDermott, who was handling the sale.

But, the offers were not acceptable to owner Nicholas Piscatelli.

Piscatelli has now extended the online auction by 30 days and slashed the starting bid to $800,000.

It's a dramatic retreat for the developer, who spent $2.5 million to renovate the building in 2000 and has been trying to get rid of it since 2004, when it was listed at $3 million.

When Piscatelli bought the building in 2000, the former home of the Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Co. branch, a beauty over 100 years old that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, had been abandoned for years.

His restoration received incredible attention, including several laudatory stories from this paper, and was deemed a turning point for downtown development.

But since his megaclub Redwood Trust closed in 2004,  Piscatelli has tried unsuccessfully to unload the building. While he's been trying to sell it, several tenants have filled out the space, including Palma and later the Velvet Rope and Dubai.

The $1.2 million he asked for last week had already cut the initial asking price in half. Now, the initial bid has been cut by $2.2 million, nearly as much as the developer spent to renovate the building.

McDermott insisted the first online auction gave the auction national exposure. But that the ownership has extended the auction "in hopes of generating more interest and competition." The property is listed at the Freedom Realty Exchange.

The building at 200 E. Redwood has had many names and owners over the last 100 years. Midnight Sun posted a brief history around the time Dubai was reviewed.  

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Photo: a party at Redwood Trust in 2003 (John Makely/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:20 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

May 11, 2011

Concert news: Talib Kweli, Kid Cudi, Soundgarden, My Morning Jacket, Neko Case, All Time Low

Talib Kweli will headline the main stage at the Roots Festival on June 25, festival organizers announced.

The festival, which runs June 22 - 26, will also feature performances by Anthony David and Chuck Brown on the 25th, as well as workshops and community meetings at churches, community centers in West Baltimore and the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Roots is meant to draw attention to the area in West Baltimore affected by the unsuccessful "Highway to Nowhere" project.

Announced in January, it will take place over the 52 acres of green space that sits atop the "Highway to Nowhere," according to organizers. A performance schedule has not been announced yet. Admission is free.

Kweli last performed in Baltimore last week, when Sonar's announced shutdown almost forced him to cancel the show before it was moved to Bourbon Street. 

In other news, Kid Cudi will perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion on July 2. It appears to be his first concert near Baltimore, at least according to Sun archives.

Tickets, starting at $35, go on sale Friday. 

My Morning Jacket* also announced today new summer dates. The band will perform with opener Neko Case at Merriweather on August 12. Ticket information is not available yet.

After the break: Soundgarden, Mars Volta, and All Time Low

Soundgarden, which announced a reunion last year after over a decade apart, confirmed a new summer tour this week. I know at least one commenter will be giddy over the news.

The band will perform at Virginia's Patriot Center July 12. Tickets, at $59.50, go on sale on Friday. The Mars Volta will open for them.

Maryland band All Time Low will perform Sept. 4 at the Maryland State Fair, organizers said today. The band joins Selena Gomez and Blake Shelton, who had already been announced as performers.

All Time Low will also appear at Sound Garden on June 6 for a performance and CD signing. 

*Post previously referred to My Chemical Romance.

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Photo: Talib Kweli performing in 2009 (Reuters)

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:46 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Concert reviews

Joe Squared, Leinenkugel's Beer Hall to join Power Plant Live

Power%20Plant%20Live%21%20Rendering1.jpgJoe Squared and Leinenkugel's Beer Hall will join Power Plant Live by this summer.

The two are the latest additions to the complex's $10 million upgrade, its first in a decade, that was announced in December. For the Station North pizza joint, it will be its second location in the city.

The news was expected to be confirmed this morning at a press conference celebrating the upgrade that was to be attended by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Downtown Partnership president Kirby Fowler and developer David Cordish.

As part of the upgrade, Power Plant Live has also added a permanent outdoor stage; a new valet entrance; and some new tenants - The Comedy Factory, Tatu Asian Grill, and PBR Baltimore, a country-western bar/club.

Cordish Cos. is also close to signing a deal with a restaurant to take over the space Babalu vacated a year ago, said company vice president Reed Cordish, who declined to give the name of the restaurant.  

The upgrade was a necessary renovation for a valued property for the company, Cordish said.

"We wanted to re-invent at a time of strength, not when it was faltering," he said. 

Power Plant Live now draws an average of 3 million visitors a year, according to Cordish Cos., and the company expects an increase in attendance as a result of the upgrade, though he declined to give benchmarks.

But, by adding more restaurants and bars, the company doesn't want to just increase overall attendance, but also how long visitors stay at the complex, Cordish said.

"We want to create an environment that is appealing from 9 to 5," he said. 

Renovations at Power Plant have been on going for months, and won't be entirely completed until this summer. About 100 workers were hired for the project, Cordish said. 

Joe Squared, the Station North pizza joint, will take over the space now occupied by Two Boots, which is near the end of its lease.

The beer hall will be erected in a brand new glass-and-steel pavilion covering 3,500 square feet that is to be located near the entrance fountain, right across from the Port Discovery Museum.

It will serve some 40 specialty brews, and is expected to be finished by July, Cordish said. Joe Squared does not have an opening date yet.

In addition to the new tenants, longtime bar Luckie's Tavern expanded with two outdoor bars and a new outpost called Luckie's Liquors that sells about 75 bottled beers, Cordish said. The bar is designed to look like a liquor store, and features two garage doors that open to the outdoor stage. 

The stage is the centerpiece of the project. Located in the atrium between Luckie's and Maryland Art Place, it is covered by a 50-foot-high glass canopy and features a jumbo-sized LED screen.  It was designed by Chicago firm Knauer Incorporated and Baltimore's Design Collective.

Starting May 19, when bands Apocalyptica and Finger Eleven perform, the stage will host free weekly concerts, including its annual Friday night concert series and a monthly party by the band Mr. Greengenes, said a press release from this morning.  Bands Better than Ezra, the Reagan Years, and Steel Train will also perform this summer on the outdoor stage, which is booked by Rams Head Live.

Cordish said other headliners will be announced in the coming months. 

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Rendering of the new Power Plant, from Cordish Cos.:


Posted by Erik Maza at 10:34 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

May 9, 2011

May 9 - 15 in nightlife: Trail of Dead, James Taylor, Adele

Between Trail of Dead, Social Distortion, James Taylor, and John Waters, there will be a lot of veteran acts to go to this week. But upstarts like An Horse, Surfer Blood, and Adele will also be around. In terms of bars, Elliott's Pour House will get a little older this weekend.

On Monday, Scottie B and Cullen Staling spin at the weekly Monday night party at Metro Gallery, No Rule. 1700 N. Charles St. Free. Starts at 10 p.m.

On Tuesday, An Horse, a duo consisting of Iron On's Kate Cooper and drummer Damon Cox, perform at the Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St. $10. 7:30 p.m. Also: R&B crooner Eric Benet will be at Rams Head Live.

On Wednesday, Texas vets Trail of Dead perform at the Ottobar. Our Q&A with lead singer Conrad Keeley is here. Expect the full interview on Wednesday morning. Also: James Taylor performs at the Hippodrome. Expect a review Thursday.

On Thursday, Mickey Free performs at the Windup Space, 12 W. North Ave. $7. 8:30 p.m. Also: Adele will cry and sing for your pleasure at the 9:30 club in D.C. It's her only performance in the region.

On Friday, Adventure performs at Subterranean A, the D.C. venue with the best tumblr1432 R St. N.W. $10. Starts at 8 p.m. Also: Social Distortion, another veteran punk band, performs at Rams Head Live

On Saturday, Elliott's Pour House, 3728 Hudson St., celebrates its 5th anniversary with a block party that starts at noon. Also: At 7 p.m., John Waters signs copies of his book "Role Models" at Atomic Books

On Sunday, Florida indie rock band Fake Problems performs at Ottobar. $10. 8:30 p.m.

Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:24 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

Irish pub to open at Canton Arts and Entertainment

Canton Arts and Entertainment will get an Irish pub this summer, said Marc McFaul, who is looking to start managing the sprawling complex on Boston Street.

The new bar also means the nightlife entertainment complex, which has been mostly closed for renovations since March 2010, will be again open to the public some time in the future. 

The pub, to be called Finnegan's Wake, has a tentative opening date of June 16, the same day as Bloomsday. 

McFaul, who runs Stalking Horse, Delia Foley's and Ropewalk Tavern with his family, said he wants to split Canton Arts and Entertainment into two spaces. 

One will have the Irish pub, and the other will be a Southwest BBQ restaurant.

Update: McFaul sent in an update; the BBQ restaurant will be called the Dark Horse Saloon. 

Finnegan's will have a traditional Irish menu, as well as some American items. The restaurant, which has not been named, will have 25 different types of chicken wings.

CAE closed for renovations in Marchof last year, and re-opened for private parties in September. There's been little activity inside since. McFaul said it will still be run by Richard Kraus, who owns Mara & Maru LLC, a partner company in the CAE business venture. He's looking to manage the space.

“Richard has always run nightclubs and fine dining,” McFaul said. “We’re going to go away from that and concentrate on the neighbors.”

Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog

Photo: My Generation, a bar at CAS, in September (via Midnight Sunner Shankman)

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:53 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Sonar re-opens, for the time being; Maryland Deathfest, Deftones to go on as planned

Sonar has re-opened, acting general manager Dan McIntosh said.

The announcement first appeared on the club's Facebook page late on Friday, as abruptly as the news that the club had shut down in the first place. 

"I think Sonar will be able to open within 2 weeks and many if not of the all of shows scheduled from that point on should be able to occur as originally planned. Its definitely a fight but we are still in it!" the update read.

By Saturday, the announcement was definitive: "Sonar has been reopened! We are working hard at getting our liquor license back in place, this should be resolved very quickly!"

The re-opening means that the Maryland Deathfest and Deftones, along with a handful of shows that would have been stranded by the shutdown, won't have to relocate.

Saturday's Steve Ignorant show, which was announced as a cancellation, went on as planned. 

McIntosh said the club is trying to recover its liquor license, and should have it within a week.

All's good then! Well, not exactly. 

It's not clear how the club will get its liquor license back; its own expired on May 1 after Sonar founder Lonnie Fisher chose not to renew it. And Fisher did not appear to want to keep the license. Instead, he said, he'd been trying to transfer it to one of the Sonar's other owners. 

While McIntosh originally blamed Fisher for not renewing the license, he now said a license transfer was in place. It had just been waiting for the club to be tax-compliant, which they were as of April 30.

McIntosh said Michael Stewart, another Sonar owner who'd been involved with the club since it first opened on Boston Street, applied for the transfer a year and a half ago. The transfer should be completed within a week, McIntosh said. Fisher said Monday the license had been approved to be transferred.  This has not been independently confirmed with the Baltimore Liquor Board.

With the club back open, it's uncertain if ticket-holders to cancelled shows  - Daytrader, and Jukebox the Ghost appear to be two of the casualties - will be refunded. Last week, McIntosh said that the club had been in the red for some time, and didn't have money to process refunds.

But McIntosh backtracked on that too. "Everyone will get their money back," McIntosh said, pausing, then adding, "at some point." No refunds have been made so far.

He pledged that if for some reason Sonar doesn't exist, "Daniel McIntosh will get their money back."

It's also unclear if the club still has problems with the IRS or the Comptroller of Maryland. While McIntosh says that the club's account's were emptied to pay off last year's taxes, Fisher said that one of the reasons he didn't stay with the club is because it retained an intimidating tax liability.  

McIntosh insists the club has paid off all of its 2010 taxes. 

It remains to be seen how the club's credibility was damaged by the shouting match last week, and threats of the club's demise, a concern McIntosh acknowledges. McIntosh also has a criminal history, extensively reported on by City Paper's Van Smith. In February 2007, as he was on probation for a drug-dealing conviction, he was accused of criminal harassment, charges that were eventually dropped.

"At the end of the day, we're doing all we can to save the situation," and assure promoters of the club's stability, he said. 

For now, McIntosh's assurances and Sonar's status updates are upbeat and optimistic. But that's just how they were before last Wednesday's bombshell.

Asked if the club will book shows beyond September 28, the last show currently scheduled at the venue, McIntosh responded, "Absolutely. We believe this situation is going to be resolved."

Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog

Photo: Sonar website

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:30 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

May 7, 2011

May 2 - 6 reviewed: Sonar, Trail of Dead, Sweetlife Festival

This week: Sonar shut down, its acting general manager said. Lots of band got shafted. Deftones have still not locked in a new location. Neither has Maryland Deathfest, though it looked like Bourbon Street would take it in. By Friday, the club had re-opened, according to an announcement on Facebook. Osama bin Laden was killed on the same night the Sweetlife Festival ended; there was some overlap in enthusiasm. We interviewed: U.S. Royalty, Theophilus London, Ra Ra Riot. Trail of Dead's Conrad Keeley defended baby-faced Surfer Blood. Redwood Trust, home to megaclubs of yore and now the Velvet Rope/Dubai, is up for auction. Yo Gotti announced a return to the old Velvet Rope. Jason Aldean said he wants "See You When I See You" to be his next single. Liquor board begun reviewing license renewal applications for overdue taxes. Wanna know what to do tonight and Sunday night? Go here.

Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog

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

May 6, 2011

Yo Gotti to return to the Velvet Rope/Dubai

On May 28, Yo Gotti will return to the Velvet Rope, where a concert of his last year was overbooked and caused a riot by some 300 angry ticket-holders.

The Velvet Rope, now renamed Dubai, pleaded guilty to security breaches at the time and was fined $3,500 by the Baltimore Liquor Board.

Baltimore Police, which responded to the riot with some 50 police officers, publicly asked the club to be shut down.

But the club was able to stay in business by striking a deal with police that involved increased security.

The Velvet Rope's attorney, Paul Gardner, said then the club had lost business since the incident.

In January, the club re-opened under a new name: Dubai, which was reviewed in February. 

The club has booked several concerts by major headliners since then, including the May 28 show by Yo Gotti that will feature Teflon Dons performing alongside the Southern Rapper.

On June 11, Young Jeezy will perform there.

The historic building that houses Dubai, 200 Redwood St., went up for auction this week, with a starting bid of $1.2 million. 

But Tracye Stafford, one of Dubai's owners, said that the auction will not affect the club as it has a one-year lease.

Redwood's auction ended Thursday, but real estate agent Leo McDemortt said bids are still being reviewed. He would not disclose the high bid's amount.

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:28 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Are 274 liquor licenses suspended because of overdue taxes?

No, in short.

The Baltimore Business Journal's Scott Dance reported the number on a story published Thursday about Sonar's shutdown.

"Comptroller Peter Franchot’s office is holding 274 [liquor licenses] in Baltimore in suspension because of unpaid tax bills, according to a Franchot spokeswoman," Dance reported.

But that number comes from a list, compiled by the Comptroller of Maryland, that is out of date and riddled with inaccuracies.

Midnight Sun received the list Monday, but chose not to publish it at the request of the liquor board, which said it had not been cross-checked with its own more up-to-date records.

In fact, as of Monday, there are only about 50 bars and restaurants that the board has flagged for in-person reviews before their licenses are renewed, including some whose managers have said in interviews they have already received their 2011 licenses.

Every year, before liquor licenses are due for renewal on May 1, the Comptroller of Maryland sends the Baltimore Liquor Board a list of bars and restaurants that may not have paid the previous year's state sales taxes. The point is to hold up the license renewal until the bars settle their debt with the Comptroller. 

This year's list, which actually included 276 bars and restaurants, named Henninger's Tavern, Corks in Federal Hill, Donna's in Mt. Vernon and Clutch in Canton, among others.

But liquor board chairman Stephan Fogleman said that while some of the establishments on the Comptroller's list may in fact be late with their taxes, it is typically inaccurate because it is not cross-referenced with the board's records. Liquor inspectors only use it as a starting guide for face-to-face reviews.

By the time the liquor board decides whether or not to renew a license, many of the business have paid their taxes already, or at least established a payment plan with the state.

While there might have been tax questions over some of those names by tax day, by Monday the board had whittled down the list to 53 names that required an in-person review by a board inspector before renewal.

The remaining bars have been ok'ed for renewal or, have already closed, as is the case with Donna's, New Haven Lounge, the Pickled Parrot, Clutch, and Taverna Corvino. While these bars may still owe taxes, their liquor licenses won't be held up out of retaliation but simply because they had no plans to re-open.

Henninger's Tavern, Corks, Birches, Midtown Yacht Club and Fells Point's Ze Mean Bean Cafe are among the bars the liquor board has flagged for inspections. But managers from these places say they have already received their new licenses, and that even the liquor board's records may also lag by a couple of days. 

At Henninger's Tavern, the 2011 license is already up on the wall, and has been there since last week, said manager Kenny Vieth.

Corks was open for business on Wednesday, and should have its new liquor license on its walls by the end of the week, a manager said. Ze Mean Bean Cafe was also serving alcohol by then.

Midtown Yacht Club did in fact stop serving liquor, but Fogleman said that's the only confirmed case of interruption to a local business' liquor license because of overdue taxes.

So far the only event casualty of the hold list is a party the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild was going to have at Midtown Yacht Club Tuesday night, which was re-scheduled at the last minute when a bartender conveyed the license news to a reporter. 

Fogleman described May 1 as "a day of reckoning" for local businesses, and some establishments - like Taverna Corvino and Pazza Luna - may have closed in anticipation of its tax debt. At Sonar, acting general manager said that the club couldn't stay open because its accounts had been emptied to pay taxes, and since the liquor license expired it wouldn't be able to make a profit in the future.

But Fogleman said it's too early to know how many liquor licenses will be held up because of overdue taxes. Bars and restaurants should know who is tax-compliant by next Wednesday, when inspectors should have finished their reviews, Fogleman said.

Even then, it'll hardly be more than 50.

Update: Joe Shapiro, a spokesman for the Comptroller's office, said that there were tax questions about all the names on the list when it was originally sent out in February. But that it's "understandable" the number has gone down since then as business owners update their records with the liquor board and the state, pay their taxes, or start payment plans. "That's the point of the process, for people to come in and work something out," he said. "We would hope the list is whittled down to zero." 

Bars/restaurants flagged for inspection on the 2011 liquor license hold list:

New John's Carryout
G&G Cut Rate Liquors
Sandpiper 2
Flamingo Lounge
Lason's Bar & Grill
Hubcap Inn
The New JT's Saloon
Margaret's Place
Hollins Liquors
Midtown Yacht Club
Taverna Corvino
The Hexagon Space - no license
Donna's - closed
Deep Side Restaurant & Cafe
Habanero Grill
Pickled Parrot
El Molino
The Sly Fox
Doc's Liquors
Garrett Lounge
Gilmor Pleasure Club
BPO Elks 981
The Falls
Can Can Cafe
Clutch - closed
Southern Hospitality Services
Penn Street Tavern
Arch Social Club
Jolly Gents & Ladies Too
Club Rio
Clubhouse Bar
Rico's Liquors
Intrinsic Restaurant
Elite Lounge
Club One
Three Corner's Wine Spirits
Carroll Station
Club Reality
Pvt. William J. Buhl Post
Windsor Forest Liquors
La Guadalupana
Wozi Lounge
Grand Cru

Bars/restaurants on list with confirmed 2011 licenses:

Henninger's Tavern
Ze Mean Bean Cafe

Photo: Midtown Yacht Club (via). Post incorrectly stated there were 277 names on the Comptroller's 2011 license hold list. There are actually 276.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:35 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Deftones will play Baltimore, spokesman says; Steve Ignorant show cancelled

Deftones will perform in Baltimore after all, spokesman Rick Gershon said.

But the band's management has not yet settled on a new location for the pair of shows they were scheduled to play at Sonar May 16 and 17.

Like several other acts, the Deftones were left stranded Wednesday when Sonar unexpectedly shut down. The band's two nights at the venue had been sold out, though it's not clear how many tickets were sold. 

Since the Wednesday announcement, Sonar staff have been successful at relocating some shows, but scores of others are still in limbo.

The Deftones, which won a Grammy award in 2001, were one of them. Gershon said Thursday that the band will still play Baltimore, but that it's uncertain yet where they will be moved to.The two-night residency could prove to be a complication.

Already, Bourbon Street has taken up at least three of Sonar's shows, including Talib Kweli, Vains of Janna and The New Deal.

The Maryland Deathfest might also move there, but a deal has not been announced yet. 

On Twitter, Sonar staff said that a May 22 show by the band Terror has been moved to  Sinix, in Essex.

Steve Ignorant, lead singer of the punk band Crass, announced the cancellation of his May 7 show via a press release. The show will be moved to Scranton, PA, but he said it's not clear if those who can't make it will be refunded.

"Blood really bad news. Our gig in Baltimore is definitely cancelled and we are not able to find a suitable replacement venue. We are still trying to find out if you will get a refund - for now, we suggest you contact the vendor you bought your tickets from," he said.

"It's not just as that's been shafted. There are apparently about 20 other sold-out shows that have met the same fate. What can I say apart from sorry and we're absolutely gutted. Baltimore, I'm really really sorry."

A Q&A with Steve Ignorant at Red Emma's has also been cancelled. 

Dan McIntosh, Sonar's acting manager, has said that fans shouldn't expect refunds for shows that cannot be rescheduled. 
Posted by Erik Maza at 9:52 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Music News

May 5, 2011

Maryland Deathfest likely to move to Bourbon Street, source says; Deftones status unclear

The Maryland Deathfest is likely to be moved to Bourbon Street Ballroom downtown, a source said.

The heavy-metal festival, which has been held at Sonar for the past six years, was forced to move locations after Sonar abruptly shut down on Wednesday, leaving thousands of fans wondering what would happen to their tickets.

Tickets for the four-day, festival, which begins May 26, start at $40 for daily passes and $132 for the weekend passes.

About 2,000 people had bought tickets already, said Ryan Taylor, a promoter with the festival.

Sonar closed Wednesday afternoon over a business disagreement between McIntosh, his partners and the club’s founder Lonnie Fisher, who is now the executive director of the Baltimore Grand Prix. Its liquor license also expired May 1.

The shutdown left stranded at least 40 shows scheduled through September at the venue, including four, like Maryland Deathfest's first night, that had sold-out.

Deathfest's organizers found out about the club's closing at the same time as everyone else.

"We had no fair warning to prepare," Taylor said. He said organizers had to rush to come up with a back-up plan in the last 24 hours.

"It's a huge headache," he said. 

Bourbon Street looked like the most promising venue to take up the festival because of its size. Taylor said organizers would meet with representatives from the club Thursday night, and that while a deal was likely, it had not been finalized. Dave Adams, Bourbon Street's manager could not be reached for comment.

Friday update: "It appears likely it will move" to Bourbon Street, club manager Dave Adams said. The club is able to take in the four-day festival, but it's up to festival organizers to make the final decision. Adams said the organizers would likely send out a confirmation press release at some point Friday.

Kevin Hock, a Bourbon Street promoter, wasn't aware of conversations, but he said it's likely because the reshuffling of shows has happened at a dizzying speed over the last day.

In the aftermath's of Sonar's shutdown, Bourbon Street has already taken up three shows from there, Hock said. The shows are Talib Kweli, who was scheduled for Wednesday; TheNEWDEAL on Friday; and Vains of Jenna on June 3.

Taylor said he didn't want to blame anyone for the club's end.

"We're not pointing fingers. We're just trying to deal with it accordingly. We don't have time for a blame game," he said. 

Sonar's booking agents and staff have been updating fans on the status of different shows on twitter. A July 11 show by the band Hate Eternal was moved to Ottobar in Charles Village, and a May 21 show by bands Across Tundras, The Pilgrim, and others, was moved to the Hexagon. 

Representatives for the Deftones did not know yet what would happen to the shows scheduled for May 16 and 17. 

Already, a show Friday by the band Daytrader was cancelled. Dan McIntosh, Sonar's acting manager, said more cancellations are likely.

"We're holding out some level of hope that we can work out some of the shows and reschedule," he said. 

But he noted that fans won't be refunded for shows that have been cancelled. 

"Unfortunately, the business has been running in the negative for some time. Truthfully, there's not much money to divvy out at this point," he said. "I would hope the owners put some heavy thought into how they're going to refund not if they're going to refund."

Posted by Erik Maza at 5:19 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Jason Aldean on meeting Kelly Clarkson and his next single

Jason Aldean performs at Jiffy Lube Live in a couple of weeks on the same day as Preakness, a day where everyone will drink lots of beer and get very muddy, surely something Aldean would appreciate.

In an interview to preview that show, he talked about how the song "Don't You Wanna Stay" with Kelly Clarkson came about and what his next single on fourth album "My Kinda Party" would be.

He said he was originally going to record the song by himself. But the more he listened to it, he thought it would play better as a duet.

"They asked who it would be, and I said, 'Someone like Kelly Clarkson would be cool.' I didn't know if we would get her, but phone calls were made and next thing I knew she was in the studio with us. I'd never met Kelly until then."

After the two performed it on 'American Idol," the song, the album's second single, went to the top of the country charts.

Aldean's cover of Colt Ford's "Dirt Road Anthem,"  was chosen as the album's third single, and is currently at No. 50 in the Billboard 100 chart, just a rung below the Clarkson duet, which has been on the chart for 26 weeks. 

He said the album's next single hasn't been chosen.  He has to wait and see how "Anthem" performs.

But, he said that if it were up to him, he would pick another ballad, the 13th track on the new album, "See You When I See You."

He also said the fourth single is a foregone conclusion, but that there's also the possibility of a fifth single.

Photo: Jason Aldean performing "Dirt Road Anthem" at this year's Academy of Country Music Awards (Reuters)
Posted by Erik Maza at 1:54 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Music News

Sam Sessa's Weekend Watch: Maryland Film Festival, kinetic sculpture race, Flower Mart

Find Local has more weekend events.
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:44 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Sessa's Weekend Watch

May 4, 2011

Update: Sonar closes; status of upcoming shows is unclear

Sonar has shut don, effective immediately, said acting general manager Daniel McIntosh.

The end of the club, a fixture downtown for over a decade, is the result of a business dispute between McIntosh, his partners and Sonar founder Lonnie Fisher. 

A show by Talib Kweli, which was scheduled for Wednesday night, has been cancelled. The fate of all upcoming shows is unclear, McIntosh said. The club's booking agents are trying to reschedule the appearances, which included, among others, Odd Future.

Update: The Talib Kweli show scheduled for Wednesday night has been moved to Bourbon Street, the rapper tweeted. Pre-purchased tickets will be honored.  

McIntosh did not know if tickets that have already been purchased for future shows will be refunded, nor if the club's owners and investors will resolve their differences.

"With a shutdown, it's kind of hard to know what's going to happen at all," McIntosh said. "We have no idea what's going to happen."

The club's liquor license expired on May 1, according to the Baltimore Liquor Board. The application for a renewal should have been filed by April 1, or by late deadline April 30.

News of the club's shutdown first appeared on Facebook, where a status update posted late afternoon read, "We here at Sonar regret to inform you that we are no longer able to operate as a venue."

The update went on to suggest that Fisher, who is now the executive director of the Baltimore Grand Prix, refused to renew the liquor license this year, and as a result effectively shut down the club. 

McIntosh, who said he's been the club's acting manager for a year, said the club's account, which included money from ticket sales, is now exhausted from paying taxes.

Without a liquor license, he suggested, the club can't make any money to pay headliners. "There's no way you can pay them," he said. "All the ticket money went to paying taxes."

While the liquor board confirmed that Sonar is not on a list of bars and restaurants whose license renewals are on hold because of overdue sales taxes,  it is possible that's because a renewal application was never filed before the April 1 deadline, said liquor board chairman Stephan Fogleman.

Fisher, who opened Sonar in 2001, disputed his involvement in the club's end. He said he sold the business in 2007, and the rest of his remaining shares in 2009. "The check writing and full stewardship of the business was handed over in 2007," he said. 

But McIntosh said that the sale, to a corporation where he's a partner named 407 Saratoga Inc., was never made official because the club was not tax-compliant. Fisher also disputes this. The bar's liquor license was unavailable when the closing news was posted on Facebook.

Fisher said he has tried to get the new owners of the club to remove his name from the liquor license for the past two years, but that he has been unsuccessful. He said that he has kept his name on it until this year because of a timing issue and because he was reluctant to shut down a club he founded. 

"When it came down to renew the license, I wasn't going to sign up for a business that I haven't owned since 2009," he said. "For some reason, they have not renewed it." He said he has no plans to go to court unless McIntosh continues "slandering him."

McIntosh said he wants to keep the club alive, but that his partners will likely want to "wash their hands" of it. While he's been in contact with Fisher's attorney, he doesn't know if they will face off in court.

"I have no idea if we'll go to court, but I guarantee it," he said. "There's no way we won't sue each other over this."

By late Wednesday afternoon, #sonar, #sonar_baltimore, @realtalibkweli, and even #lonnie trended on twitter. 

Across social media, fans mourned the passing of a club that had hosted major independent acts over the years, including, most recently, Wu-Tang Clan. 

"Our thoughts are with Club Sonar in Baltimore, right now. We played our first gig there in 2007," wrote duo Lazerbitch on its Facebook page.

This post has been updated since it was originally published Wednesday afternoon. Clarification: the deadline to file a renewal application is April 1, after which a daily late fee applies. The late deadline is April 30, the last day before licenses expire for the previous year.

Posted by Erik Maza at 5:39 PM | | Comments (26)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

What's missing from the Baltimore Bucket List?

Performing at a Night of 100 Elvises. Watching a thunderstorm from the bar at the 13th Floor. Taking in breakfast at Jimmy's. These are all on The Sun's Baltimore Bucket List, which was posted online today. Disagree? Agree? No doubt there are must-do's in Baltimore that are missing, like say, going to Sidebar for a punk show or getting drunk at Mt. Royal Tavern. What's missing from the list?

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:50 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff

Dubai's home, Redwood Trust, up for auction again; price reduced by $2 million

Redwood Trust, the downtown building that once housed Palma and is now the home of Dubai, the former Velvet Rope, is up for auction again.

The starting bid is $1.2 million, a steep decline from the $3 million owner/developer Nicholas Piscatelli asked for in 2004.

It is expected Dubai won't be affected.

The deadline to submit bids for 200 E. Redwood is Thursday 5 p.m. Bids are submitted online at the property listing on Freedom Realty Exchange. 

The building at 200 E. Redwood has had many names and owners over the last 100 years. Midnight Sun posted a brief history around the time Dubai was reviewed

Piscatelli bought the historic building in 2000 and spent $2.5 million to renovate it.

He opened a megaclub, Redwood Trust, that year and closed it in 2004, when he unsuccessfully tried to sell it for $3 million.

Several clubs have opened there since, starting with Palma and later the Velvet Rope, but none have owned it.

The most recent attempt to sell comes a few months after the renamed Velvet Rope, Dubai, opened to the public.

Dubai promoter Tracye Stafford said the club will remain open with or without a sale. "No matter what happens to the building we'll be there," she said.

Piscatelli's real estate agent, Leo McDermott, said Dubai has a one-year lease that shouldn't be affected by new owners.

Photo: outside the new Dubai (Colby Ware/Special to the Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

Sweetlife Festival video: Ra Ra Riot on touring, mainstream festivals, and carbon foot prints

Ra Ra Riot, who we interviewed in March before their performance at Rams Head Live, answered some questions from Sun videographer Hyun Chung after they performed Sunday at the Sweetlife Festival. A schedule of performances is here. A review of Sweetlife is here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Sweetlife Festival video: Theophilus London on his performance, his new album, and hats

Sun videographer Hyun Chung interviewed Theophilus London Sunday at the Sweetlife Festival, where the rapper was fourth on the line-up. A schedule of performances is here. A review of Sweetlife is here
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Sweetlife Festival video: U.S. Royalty on kicking-off Sweetlife, their career, and their fans

Sun videographer Hyun Chung interviewed U.S. Royalty Sunday at the Sweetlife Festival, where the D.C. band was the second to perform. A schedule of performances is here. A review of Sweetlife is here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 9:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

May 2, 2011

May 2 - May 7 in nightlife: Maryland Film Festival, Cinco de Mayo, Sleigh Bells

This week is not as jam-packed with music events as last week, when there were two competing music festivals as well as some major concerts. But what it lacks in concerts it makes up with concert films. The Maryland Film Festival will dominate the end of the week and its line-up is overflowing with music documentaries.

On Monday, down a drummer and a guitarist, Lower Dens canceled its show at the Ottobar, and several other places, last week. Oakland's Del the Funky Homosapien will perform in their place. 2549 North Howard Street. 8 p.m. $17.

On Tuesday, singer-songwriter Holly Golightly - you might know her from "Broken Flowers" - performs at the Ottobar. 8 p.m. $12.

On Wednesday, another longtime MC performs. Talib Kweli takes the stage at Sonar, 407 E Saratoga St., at 8 p.m. $20.

On Thursday, celebrate Cinco de Mayo. FindLocal has a list of events. No Way Jose Cafe, suddenly the topic of a lot of debate, ill open at 11 a.m., and will host an alley party starting at 5 p.m. 38 E. Cross Street. Also: the Maryland Film Festival begins for a four-night run.

On Friday, Save your Soul returns to Lithuanian Hall, at 851 Hollins St. Expect $1 drafts. 9 p.m. Also: dance party Deep in the Game takes over Club Hippo, 1 West Eager. 10 p.m. $4.

On Saturday, head to the Charles Theater for "Freaks in Love," David Koslowski and Skizz Cyzyk's documentary on seminal punk band Alice Donut. 1711 North Charles Street. 10 p.m. $10. Also: Sleigh Bells and Brazilians CSS perform at the 9:30 club, 815 V St. N.W., Washington. The show is sold out. 8 p.m.

On Sunday, Atlanta four-piece Manchester Orchestra performs at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place. 6:30 p.m. $25.

Posted by Erik Maza at 6:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

Review: At Sweetlife Festival, echoes of the Strokes and Osama bin Laden

sweetlife.JPGAt around 10:30 p.m. last night, my twitter feed could not have been more dissonant. News of Osama Bin Laden's death had begun to leak, and there was a near constant stream of #OBL and #potus1030 hashtags.

There were also tweets from people coming out of the Sweetlife Festival, which had just ended, bragging about Girl Talk and The Strokes, oblivious to the bombshell dripping out of the wires.

Then they were the tweets that managed to mention both, as in " and the death of Osama. Great day."

That Sweetlife ended overshadowed like this, after 10 hours of music by the Strokes, an indefatigable Lupe Fiasco, Girl Talk, U.S. Royalty and others, was inevitable. Since that morning, the odds seemed to be against it. Rain didn't stop all day, even through Lupe Fiasco's 6 p.m. set.

Even before that, it looked nonthreatening, wholesome, a Sam Weir to other festivals' Alan Whites.

Performers were not as multi-generational as at Virgin FreeFest - none of them released albums before the 2000s; the Strokes were the oldest band on the line-up. The crowd wasn't as chaotic as at Ultra; someone charmingly tweeted at one point, "I just raved with Girl Talk." The hardest vice here was $8.50 Bud on draft.

The festival aimed only at being well-intentioned, and succeeded at that. It brought together acts that had no plans to perform in the region in the near future, and it was organized by Sweetgreen.

The yogurt and salad restaurant group promoted sustainability and green living, put up compost trash bins and scattered the festival grounds with vendors of organic pit beef and turkey, so that by end of the night Merriweather was full of "good vibes," as Julian Casablancas wryly put it halfway through the Strokes' headlining set.

Things took off at around 1 p.m. with D.C.'s Modern Man and then U.S. Royalty. It was the second music confab organized by Sweetgreen, and much bigger than last year's, which took place at a tent in Dupont Circle in D.C.

Merriweather's slippery lawn was mobbed with a mostly young throng of people who had paid $55 for their tickets. Admission to the amphitheater, which was also mostly filled to capacity,  cost $100.

beerbong1.JPGBecause there was only one stage, there was a lot of waiting around for bands to set up.  The Strokes took the stage at almost 9 p.m., nearly 45 minutes after Gregg Gillis (Girl Talk) left the stage drenched in sweat.

In the meantime, crowds inside the amphitheater entertained themselves playing long-distance beer pong with neighboring aisles (at right). They seemed to want to keep going when the lights dimmed for Casablancas.

Gillis had finished his set as if it was the last one of the night. In a typical flourish, he dropped beach-ball-sized balloons on the audience, and for the second time, confetti. After Gillis' jittery show-boating, Casablancas was almost comically insouciant. His mic malfunctioning on first number "Is This It," he instead muttered "Is this on?" on the chorus.

He didn't even pretend a rapport with the audience. His first spoken words of the night came before the fifth song, and they were well-practiced platitudes. "You guys are the best we've played to," etc.

Still, the show was visually appealing and the band hit all their notes.  Like the festival they were headlining, they were diligent, and only occasionally memorable.  Arguably, they peaked here (as elsewhere) with "Hard to Explain," a song released when the high-schoolers in the audience hadn't even hit puberty yet. They didn't match, in energy or commitment, Lupe Fiasco's set mid-afternoon, right before Girl Talk.

Only here would a mash-up DJ with no commercially released material be scheduled after a rapper with three albums on the Billboard 200. Fiasco, who performed in cammo cargo pants and a jean jacket emblazoned with "Laser Club," delivered a scorching performance that left no audience member unturned.

The crowd seemed to be chanting along to every song, but was loudest on "Superstar." Fiasco said he'd written the song while he was depressed, urging the audience to seek help when they feel like that. "No grade is worth your life," he said to thousands of shrill screams and countless chugs of expensive Bud Light Lime.

cupcake1.JPGThe young crowd's energy never wavered throughout the day. You could say they were giddily undiscriminating in their cheers, so that during Gillis' set it was unclear who they were screaming for the most, Gillis, or Gillis sampling "Livin on a Prayer." Seven-dollar boardwalk fries? "Super awesome yeah!!" They paid $55 for a show, and a chilly afternoon and some rain was not going come between them and their fun.

By 9:30 p.m., as the Strokes were half finished, the two-lane road out of Merriweather was already backlogged with cars. But the party did not seem to be over.

With the Osama news all over Twitter, the social media-savvy crowd, who had been urged to tweet by festival organizers with the #sweetlife tag, responded with equal glee. "#sweetlife was awesome. Now, I'm going to party at the White House. No, really," one tweeted.

Said another, "#sweetlife was amazing and now Osama is dead. USA! USA!"

Photo: Crowd at Merriweather Post Pavilion during Sweetlife (Brian Kristra/B the Site); unidentified attendee playing beer pong; Sweetlife-branded cupcake, two for $5. (Writer's own)

Earlier: Interview with The Strokes' Nikolai Fraiture

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:27 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Concert reviews
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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

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

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