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May 9, 2011

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."

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Photo: Sonar website

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


Fisher claims he has not been majority owner of Sonar since 2009 when he cut a deal to give McIntosh controlling interest. Yet, Fisher continued to file license renewal applications with the Liquor Board as majority shareholder. This amounts to perjury on both their parts. This Liquor Board has revoked licenses in cases like this - ask Shane Mitchell (The Vine & Blue Grass).

Glad the re-opening happened Saturday and not Friday, because I had A GREAT TIME at the relocated Bowling For Soup acoustic show on the rooftop terrrace at Bourbon Street. A plugged-in show at Sonar would have been fine too, but I really enjoyed the band and the venue up close and perosnal, up on the roof on Friday night...despite the rain and occasional lightning!

So massive thanks to all with Bourbon Street, Sonar, and BFS that worked to make the show happen.

Thank you Ruzz... That show was one of the most fun shows I think we have every had at Bourbon Street. I have a video of the "worlds first acoustic crowd surfer" I will post soon. All the bands were great and the atmosphere was awesome!

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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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