June 28, 2011

Muggsys' owner Danny Young talks about bar's closing; denies Don't Know Tavern rumor

Muggsys's in South Baltimore will close Thursday, after its owners couldn't agree on a new lease with their landlord.

Danny Young, co-owner, said the disagreement with the landlord was amicable. 

"It was the best possible thing that could have happened," he said. 

Young denied a rumor that he or co-owner Brent Putman would take over Don't Know Tavern, which owner Jason Zink is selling. News of Muggsys's passing was first reported at Beer in Baltimore.

Young and Putman opened Muggsy's three and a half years ago as a Federal Hill haven for beer snobs.

But competition followed.

Continue reading "Muggsys' owner Danny Young talks about bar's closing; denies Don't Know Tavern rumor" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:21 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: News

May 31, 2011

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 25, 2011

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:

Continue reading "Artscape schedule released; Matisyahu, E major, Fantasia to headline" »

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

May 20, 2011

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

Continue reading "Tiki Barge stays open; Lagers Pub does not " »

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

Continue reading "Maryland Jockey Club releases Preakness Infield map" »

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

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.

Continue reading "Sonar regains liquor license; books Yob for July show" »

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

May 16, 2011

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. 

Continue reading "Preakness InFieldFEST schedule released; Bruno Mars, Train to play hour plus sets" »

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

May 12, 2011

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.

Continue reading "Redwood Trust fails to sell at auction; downgraded to $800K" »

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

May 11, 2011

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.

Continue reading "Joe Squared, Leinenkugel's Beer Hall to join Power Plant Live" »

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

May 4, 2011

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.

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

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

April 19, 2011

Charlie Sheen delays DAR Constitution Hall by an hour

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading "Charlie Sheen delays DAR Constitution Hall by an hour" »

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

April 15, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading "Final decision on Tiki Barge liquor license to come April 28; Tiki officially opens today" »

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Categories: News

April 7, 2011

Follow-up on Select Lounge shooting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 6, 2011

Few updates on Bourbon Street Live stabbing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading "Few updates on Bourbon Street Live stabbing" »

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

April 2, 2011

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

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

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

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

The Sun's Jill Rosen reports:

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

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

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

Continue reading "Update: Quadruple stabbing at Bourbon Street Saturday morning; club to stay open Saturday night" »

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

March 31, 2011

How Dan Deacon ended up on Broke-ass Stuart's IFC show "Young, Broke & Beautiful"

A new IFC show, "Young, Broke & Beautiful," filmed a couple of warehouse shows last week in Baltimore for an upcoming episode about the city.

On Monday, host and creator Stuart Schuffman e-mailed a few cursory responses, via IFC, to questions I'd sent last week.

He writes that he was "stoked" to be in Baltimore and that he came to film here because of "all the amazing underground things going in the city."

"Young, Broke & Beautiful" sounds like IFC's take on Vice's travel series. Schuffman "infiltrates the underground of American cities to find the hidden, cheap and carefully guarded secrets that aren't in any guidebooks," according to the network, which has ordered six episodes. 

The other five episodes will cover Boston, Detroit, Memphis, New Orleans, San Diego.

In Baltimore, Schuffman and his producers filmed a Double Dagger show on Wednesday and a show at the Bell Foundry the next day that featured Dan Deacon, Jimmy Joe Roche, Ed Schrader, the Creepers and several members of Wham City.

When I found out about the shoots Wednesday, I e-mailed Schuffman via his website and IFC to see where else he went and why he chose Baltimore as one of the first cities profiled.

After all,  it wasn't clear if he had ventured outside of the city's DIY music scene or if these cities were again being portrayed as glamorously destitute. 

Below is what he wrote back.

Continue reading "How Dan Deacon ended up on Broke-ass Stuart's IFC show "Young, Broke & Beautiful"" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:18 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music, News

March 30, 2011

Natty Boh on draft confirmed at Camden Yards

Natty Boh will be served on draft at Camden Yards starting Monday, the home season opener, the Orioles confirmed Tuesday.

Pabst Brewing Company had made an announcement in early March, but the Orioles and its concessionaire, Delaware North Sportservice, hadn't confirmed the deal as late as March 18.

The new development came after the concessionaire announced a new menu for Camden Yards last week. 

Boh and the Orioles have a long history going back to 1954. 

It used to be the team's official beer. And the chairman of the brewery, Jerry Hoffberger, was a majority owner of the team from 1965 to 1979.

But the stadium's concessionaire stopped selling the beer in 1992 when the team moved from Memorial Stadium to Camden Yards.

A Sun story from 1994 announced the establishment of a microbrewery stand at Camden Yards that would also include Boh, but it's not clear if it was then sold on draft or by the bottle, or for how long it was available there. The Orioles and Pabst could not clarify.

Boh stopped being sold on kegs in 1996.

The return of the beer on draft is part of Pabst's attempt to revive the brand; the company has been under new ownership since last year.

Its first Boh shipment in January consisted of 900 kegs to some 80 locations in Maryland.

Continue reading "Natty Boh on draft confirmed at Camden Yards" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:56 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Brewing News, News

March 29, 2011

Update: Britney Spears to perform at Verizon Center; Enrique Iglesias pulls out of tour

Britney Spears announced this morning a 26-city tour where she would be joined by Enrique Iglesias.

But hours later, it is being reported Iglesias has decided to scrap the joint trek.

The tour would have had them perform July 31 at the Verizon Center in Washington. Spears is still scheduled to perform that day, according to the venue.

Spears made the tour announcement today on Good Morning America. It will be her first tour since the successful Circus tour in 2009, when she also performed at Verizon.

The news was also especially notable because Iglesias, a top-shelf draw on his own, would open for her.

But after the GMA appearance, reported, citing inside sources, Iglesias had decided to pull out of the tour.

The singer would have had a full production of his own instead of being a standard opener, a double bill that would have been too expensive to produce, reporter Ray Waddell wrote.

The report has not yet been confirmed by Live Nation, the tour's promoter, or Iglesias' camp. He is on an European tour until early June.

The Verizon Center doesn't have Iglesias' name on its online listing.

Update: Spokeswoman Sheila Francis has confirmed Iglesias has pulled out of the tour. She did not elaborate on the development beyond saying, "Our show information was given to us this morning from Live Nation and it only listed the tour as being Britney Spears."

Continue reading "Update: Britney Spears to perform at Verizon Center; Enrique Iglesias pulls out of tour" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:58 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: News

Maryland Jockey Club bets on tweeting centaur to attract young to Preakness InfieldFEST

In a bid to attract young people to its Preakness InFieldFEST, the Maryland Jockey Club announced today a new mascot: a tweeting, beer-swilling centaur called Kegasus.

Kegasus, described as a "manimal" in the press release, is the cornerstone of the event's new advertising campaign, also unveiled today, which features the slogan "Be Legendary."

Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas credited demographics with the campaign's creation, because everyone knows young people love nothing more than drinking beer, tweeting, and horse-man hybrids.

"In order to reach our highly targeted younger demographic, we have realized we need to go where they go and do what they do," the press release quoted Chuckas saying.

Oy, the stuff that's blamed on the young. First the fall of Four Loko, and now this. 

The press release continues.

"The humorous nature of the advertisements and their inclusive message are just two of the many added bonuses." Inclusive message? of whom? shirtless centaurs? The full thing, after the jump.

The ad campaign follows the announcement early March that Bruno Mars and Train would headline the music stage of InFieldFEST, now in its third year, at the 136th Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.

Continue reading "Maryland Jockey Club bets on tweeting centaur to attract young to Preakness InfieldFEST" »

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Categories: News

March 28, 2011

Blackwater Distilling's Sloop Betty Vodka hitting stores, restaurants Friday

sloop bettyWoodberry Kitchen, Kooper's Tavern are some of the first local restaurants selling Sloop Betty, features writer Jill Rosen reports.

Maryland's first distillery in nearly 40 years has begun to bottle its flagship spirit.

Blackwater Distilling, the company of Eastern Shore natives Christopher and Jonathan Cook, reports that its Sloop Betty vodka is available in the area.

Though widespread distribution is set to start on Friday, the premium wheat vodka can now be found at some Baltimore-area restaurants and retailers.

For instance, they're pouring it at Woodberry Kitchen and Kooper's Tavern.

It's retailing for about $32. It will be available throughout Maryland, DC and Delaware.

Continue reading "Blackwater Distilling's Sloop Betty Vodka hitting stores, restaurants Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:57 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

March 25, 2011

Dan Deacon, Wham City to appear in new IFC show 'Young, Broke & Beautiful'

Come this summer, Dan Deacon, Ed Schrader, Jimmy Joe Roche, and a bunch of members of Wham City will appear on an episode of the new IFC show "Young, Broke & Beautiful."

It's not some kind of 'Baltimorelandia.' The show is travel docu-series hosted by blogger Stuart Schuffman that "infiltrates the underground of American cities to find the hidden, cheap and carefully guarded secrets that aren't in any guidebooks," according to IFC's blurb.

The network picked it up for a six episode order last week for a late summer premiere. Episodes will revolve around Boston, Detroit, Memphis, New Orleans, San Diego, and Baltimore.

For the Baltimore episode, the show taped a performance Thursday at the Bell Foundry that featured Deacon, Roche, Schrader, as well as the Santa Dads, and keyboard-and-trumpet duo The Creepers. IFC couldn't say where else Schuffman filmed.

Lola Pierson, one of the organizers, said Thursday night's free show last a little over two hours. "It was well attended, but not crazy," she said.

That makes sense, as it was barely advertised, save for a couple of status updates on Facebook and a private Google group.

Continue reading "Dan Deacon, Wham City to appear in new IFC show 'Young, Broke & Beautiful'" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:58 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music, News

March 23, 2011

Tipsy? Taxi! improves service on St. Patrick's Day, except between 1 and 2 a.m.

Tipsy? Taxi! did a better job on St. Patrick's Day than on New Year's Eve, a spokeswoman for sponsor AAA Mid-Atlantic said.

The service, which offers free cab rides to residents too drunk to drive on certain holidays, had been barraged by complaints over dropped calls and shoddy service in December.

But this time, 190 cabs were dispatched to service Tipsy calls, a 10 percent increase over last St. Patrick's Day, according to AAA spokeswoman Christine Delise.

While AAA qualifies the number as a success, the number is relatively small in context, and begs the question, why aren't more people using a free cab service when they're drunk?

The service, sponsored by AAA, Yellow Cab, and the State Highway Administration, is now in its third year.

 In December, it stumbled badly. Operator Yellow Cab dropped 18 percent of calls on New Year's Eve, and the waiting time for one of its cabs was 45 minutes in some instances. As a result, only 92 rides were given, and consumers responded with intense criticism.

After the complaints caught the attention of the SHA, Yellow Cab pledged to improve service going forward, and this year, they added an additional operator dedicated to Tipsy calls.

Continue reading "Tipsy? Taxi! improves service on St. Patrick's Day, except between 1 and 2 a.m. " »

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

March 17, 2011

Tipsy? Taxi! returns for St. Patrick's Day; How many calls will it drop this time?

Surely that's the first question to ask about the return of the free cab rides on St. Patrick's Day.

AAA Mid-Atlantic and Yellow Cab sponsor the rides on drinking high holidays to stem drunk driving.

But on New Year's Eve, the service received so many complaints that representatives of the State Highway Administration, a sponsor of the program, said they would have to re-examine how Tipsy? Taxi! is run.

In December, Yellow Cab missed about 18 percent of all Tipsy calls. And the waiting time for one of the cabs was as long as 45 minutes. As a result, there were only 92 rides on a free cab service that picks you up in front of a bar and drops you off in front of your house.

On Tuesday, AAA Mid-Atlantic announced an improved service would return for St. Patrick's Day. 

"Following the discussion on your blog regarding Tipsy? Taxi!, we wanted to reach to you directly as we gear up for St. Patrick's Day," AAA spokeswoman Christine Delise wrote Midnight Sun in an e-mail. "We've been working with our partners, [the State Highway Administration] and Yellow Cab, to discuss program enhancements, and in the short-term (sic) have added more staffing at the dispatch center to reduce call hold times."

The enhancements?

"Yellow Cab will be increasing their dedicated Tipsy? Taxi! phone operators from two to three," Delise wrote.

Continue reading "Tipsy? Taxi! returns for St. Patrick's Day; How many calls will it drop this time?" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:30 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

March 14, 2011

Bruno Mars, Train to headline Preakness InFieldFEST; Mug Club returns

PX00244_9.JPGSinger Bruno Mars and adult contemporary stalwarts Train will headline this year's Preakness InFieldFEST, the Maryland Jockey Club announced today.

The bill represents an extra shot of star power for the event, now in its third year. 

Headliners in the past included O.A.R., Zac Brown Band, ZZ Top and "Crazy Bitch" band Buckcherry.

Mars, on the other hand, won a Grammy earlier this year for best  male pop vocal performance.

He is currently on a Spring tour with singer Janelle Monae that was scheduled to skip Maryland.

Train, known for song "Drops of Jupiter," also won a Grammy earlier this year for best pop performance by a duo or group. 

The performers will take the main stage at the public Infield of Pimlico Race Course Saturday May 21

In addition, there will be a second stage that will feature band Puddle of Mudd, Phil Vassar and Mr. Greengenes, who are scheduled to make several St. Patrick's Day appearances locally. That stage will also host a bikini contest, the Jockey Club noted in its press release.

The festival is the Jockey Club's attempt to organize the infield experience, which before 2009 had a reputation for its rowdiness. In 2007, some attendees dashed across the tops of portable toilets while others pelted them with beer cans.

"The Running of the Urinals" has been saved for posterity on YouTube.

Continue reading "Bruno Mars, Train to headline Preakness InFieldFEST; Mug Club returns" »

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:15 AM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Music News, News

March 3, 2011

Baltimore Liquor Board punts on Tiki Barge decision

After a four-hour hearing to decide on the fate of the Tiki Barge, the Baltimore Liquor Board punted on a verdict Thursday.

The board members instead ordered Team Tiki and Team No-Tiki to meet, hash out their differences, and reconvene before the board in three weeks with some kind of agreement.

"We’re going to urge the party to come together, and if they don’t, we’ll make a decision based on the evidence,” said Stephan Fogleman, chairman of the board. 

The hearing was not a record one, Fogleman said; "Maybe top 12." But it must have set a benchmark for the highest number of times  the phrase "public urination" was uttered out loud by fully-grown adults.

I was there for all four, mind-numbing hours. Here's my dispatch:

Continue reading "Baltimore Liquor Board punts on Tiki Barge decision" »

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Categories: News

February 28, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Categories: News

February 22, 2011

Family of Select Lounge shooting victims march in protest

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, Select Lounge still has a long way to recover

Video from the march below:

Continue reading "Family of Select Lounge shooting victims march in protest" »

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Categories: News

No Tuesday concerts canceled because of snow

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

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

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

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

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

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Categories: News

February 14, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading "Lady Gaga, Lady Antebellum, Lady Arcade Fire win at Grammys; Baltimore bands react: meh" »

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Categories: Local music, Music News, News

February 3, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading "Nacho Mama's taps one of the first kegs of Natty Boh in 15 years" »

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Categories: News

February 1, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Categories: News

January 4, 2011

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

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

This year, it didn't do much better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading "On New Year's Eve, Tipsy? Taxi! dropped the ball " »

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Categories: New Year's Eve 2010, News

December 30, 2010

Tipsy? Taxi! spokeswoman: You may have to wait up to 45 minutes for your cab

When it was announced that the Tipsy? Taxi! service would return to Baltimore on New Year's Eve, several readers responded with complaints.

Even though the service is free on New Year's Eve, they said some cab drivers insisted on charging in the past. While other readers said the cabs are consistently late, and that the 1-877-963-TAXI number used for the service is always busy.

Well, AAA Mid-Atlantic, one of the sponsors of the service, reached out both to Midnight Sun and Sun blog Consuming Interests to respond.

My colleague Liz Kay has an update on those complaints here. Essentially, AAA spokeswoman Ragina Averella urges patience.

But here's a couple of other things she told me.

The service is never going to be as quick as hailing a cab, Averella said. That's because even though there will be 500 cabs working for Yellow/Checker Cab New Year's Eve, the company will also be conducting their regular business.

As a result, "the expected wait time is 30-45 minutes" for Tipsy Taxi, she said. In other words, plan accordingly.

Patrons should also expect wait times to reach the service's operators, Averella said. Yellow Cab only has two employees at their call center to answer Tipsy Taxi calls. However, she pointed out, the 1-877-963-TAXI number is used only for this service. 

"At times, it can ring busy, especially at peak times, when bars are closing," Averella says. "If a caller receives a busy signal, we encourage them to call back and not hang up if they are placed on hold."

Continue reading "Tipsy? Taxi! spokeswoman: You may have to wait up to 45 minutes for your cab" »

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Categories: News

December 29, 2010

Baltimore ranked last in list of America's drunkest cities

The Daily Beast, the listicle website that also sometimes runs articles, has ranked the drunkest cities in America.

Coming in at No. 1 is Milwaukee. Philadelphia is ranked at 20. Because this is a list you can trust, Las Vegas is ranked at 38.

And Baltimore? Baltimore is ranked at 37. This, in a list of 40. Not to sound petulant, but: as if.

What happened Daily Beast, haven't you heard of Baltimore's endless New Year's Eve? We're the only city in the whole darn state of Maryland where bars can stay open for 40 consecutive hours starting 10 a.m. December 31.

At first, I thought the list had been written by Richard Florida, one of America’s top 10 hack statisticians, and the man responsible for "Best Christmas Cities for Kids" and "Best Cities for trick-or-treating." But, no, his fingerprints are nowhere near this steaming traffic-bait.

But maybe the high placement on the list just means Baltimore can hold its liquor. 

Still, next time you put one of these together guys, take a tour of Charm City first. I'll take Tina to Rodos - Fells Point's frat house - myself.

(Update: Richard Florida did come with a sesonal listicle, and it's the "Best Cities to be single on New Year's." Baltimore-Towson is No. 4 on the best cities for single men.)
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Categories: News

Starscape Festival 2011 tickets to go on sale in January

starscape.JPGTickets for Starscape, the overnight, electronic and dance music festival that takes place on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in June, will go on sale in January, organizers just said.

The festival, which takes place at Fort Armistead Park June 4, will begin at 2 p.m. and end at 6 a.m. 

Organizers won't announce a lineup until February, but Chromeo, Disco Biscuits, and the Bridge performed in 2009; hip-hop pioneer Slick Rick performed the year before.

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

Credit that with the early ticket sales. 

In 2011, the festival will have an all-night main stage, a dance tent, a bass tent, and even a beach stage for dub step acts, organizers said. 

Continue reading "Starscape Festival 2011 tickets to go on sale in January" »

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Categories: Local music, News

Midnight Sun's 50 most read posts of 2010

If I was to write Midnight Sun based on page views, the blog would be lingerie football and Justin Bieber all the time.*

At least that's what this roundup of the 50 most clicked-on posts of the year tells me about Midnight Sunners' reading habits.

Out of the total 1,000 or so items that ran on the blog this year - reporting on topics as varied as crime, local music trends, business developments and nightlife - it's something of a mystery how these ended up being most read.

After all, some items that included lots of reporting were overlooked, while others that were just a few paragraphs were highly read. Other items benefited from being linked to by Andrew Sullivan, and some others simply generated lots of debate in the comments.

But, in 2010, it seems readers were most interested in breaking crime news, music festivals like Virgin Mobile FreeFest, and the Charm City Circulator. Bieber, of course, interested locals a lot too - though it may not be something they admit to - as did scantily-clad football players. Shocker, that last one.

The posts here are divided in two sections: January to August, when Sam Sessa wrote the blog, and September to December, since I've been at the helm. 

Overall, though, it was a big year for Midnight Sun.

In fact, in terms of audience, there was a 15 percent jump in page views from last year, making 2010 our most read since the blog's inception three years ago. And for that, we want to say: thank you for reading.

December - September, 2010:
20. Weekend Crime: Man beaten outside DC9 club; police officer Brian Stevenson killed in Canton

19. Review: Vampire Weekend at Merriweather Post Pavilion, in which I upset whiny Vampire Weekend Fans. Incidentally, I've been vindicated.

18. I survived Justin Bieber at the State Fair. Now, if only Bieber's fragrance hadn't.

17. Recording Industry: Here's a handy guide on best websites for stealing music Service journalism!

16. Introducing Gameday Warehouse, a new Ravens bar, here likely thanks to the best Ravens bar story.

15. Review: Wayne Mahaffey's Bistro Rx: This review generated a lot of debate, with Mahaffey even writing his own defense.

14. A fourth Charm City Circulator route considered

13. U2 to play Baltimore in 2011, maybe: Interestingly, the confirmation that the band would actually play, wasn't as well read. Still, the U2 show led to this 1A story.


Continue reading "Midnight Sun's 50 most read posts of 2010" »

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Categories: News

December 22, 2010

Second incident at New Haven Lounge

More bad luck for the New Haven Lounge.

After City Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr. was killed there in a robbery in 2008, the popular jazz club has been linked to another criminal incident.

Ellison McCall Jr., a part-time bartender there, may have been killed in a Saturday morning fire by some men he ejected from the club the night before.

Little is known about the incident, but a friend of McCall described the situation to The Sun and police sources said it was consistent with an investigation into the man's killing. 

It's an unfortunate death for McCall's family. And also a shame for what's widely described as one of the city's best jazz bars, which keeps getting unintentionally linked to neighborhood crime.

Owner Keith Covington was most recently in the news after he testified at the trial of Councilman Harris' killers. 

Crime reporter Justin Fenton couldn't reach Covington for comment on the bartender's death, and I haven't any luck either. It's possible he wants the club to avoid being associated with another death.

It's unclear if the club will schedule a vigil for the bartender, but will keep you posted.

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Categories: News

December 21, 2010

R&B singer Mario makes first appearance tonight since criminal charges against him were dropped

R&B singer Mario has been keeping a low profile since his mother dropped criminal charges against him in November.

But tonight he'll make his re-appearance here in Baltimore.

What pulled him out? His own foundation. The Do Right Foundation the singer created in 2007 to help the children of drug addicts will host a fundraiser tonight.

The singer will even perform at the event.

The fundraiser begins at the Legg Mason Tower at 7 p.m. Tickets are $75, and will be donated to the charity. 

The singer began the foundation in honor of his mother, Shawntia Hardaway, who has battled heroin addiction in the past. 

In October Hardaway accused him of assaulting her, but later recanted her story, admitting before a Baltimore district court she was intoxicated at the time she made the accusations.

William "Billy" Murphy Jr., Mario's attorney, blamed the criminal charges on his mother's addiction.

Continue reading "R&B singer Mario makes first appearance tonight since criminal charges against him were dropped " »

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Categories: News

December 17, 2010

Power Plant Live getting a permament outdoor stage; Rams Head will book shows

Cordish Cos. announced today an $11 million upgrade of Power Plant Live that includes the construction of a permanently covered outdoor stage.

Rams Head Live, which had booked summer concerts at the complex's outdoor plaza in the past, just confirmed to Midnight Sun it will continue to book them.

"Overall, our feeling is that anything that expands the Power Plant Live facilities adds to what we're doing," said Erin McNaboe, Rams Head Group vice president. 

Christ Furst, spokesman for Power Plant, said the new stage, which will be covered by a 50-foot-high glass canopy, will enable Rams to offer shows year-round.

"It will drastically improve the concert experience," he said. "It will be more climate-friendly."

The stage will also allow the venue to book bigger acts than it has before for outdoor shows, he said. 

He said the venue has already booked national acts for three straight weeks next year, from Preakness through Memorial Day.

He declined to say who those acts are, but this means construction might be finished as early as May. 

Furst added the concerts will continue to be free. 

The expansion, the complex's first since it opened in 1999, will also include the addition of some new bars, like the country-themed PBR Baltimore.

The Baltimore Comedy Factory may also move there from Burke's Restaurant downtown, though no one at Cordish or the Factory would confirm a deal.  

Photo: Handout photo / December 17, 2010

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Categories: News

Jersey Shore's Pauly D to appear at Polar Bear Plunge event

photo%201.JPGBecause nothing says bear plunge like smudged spray-on tan. 

Pauly D, one of the guidos in "Jersey Shore," will appear at the Polar Bear Plunge on January 29 as a DJ.

According to the press release from organizers, he will "do two (2) DJ sets - one pre-Plunge and one post-Plunge - inside the Rams Head Ice Lodge," a heated entertainment tent that's set up for the event.

Sadly, the release notes, he will not "do the Plunge himself," as that would totally mess up his hair.

For $500 a pop, he will also be available for meet and greets.

Money raised from that and the plunge will go towards Maryland Special Olympics, which has been organizing the event for 15 years as a fundraiser. 

The plunge will take place at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis. Registration is open at

Photo: Maryland Special Olympics
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Categories: News

December 16, 2010

Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg sued for enabling drunk driving

The family of a 10-year-old girl who was killed two years ago by a drunk driver sued Gaithersburg's Dogfish Head Alehouse Monday holding the bar responsible for the accident.

The plantiff's attorney said the goal is not extract damages from Gaithersburg-based JMGM Group, which runs the bar. But instead to change Maryland law, which exempts bars from being held legally liable for serving drunk customers. 

The drunk driver who started all this is a Michael Eaton. Two years ago, he came to the Gaithersburg bar and over six hours accumulated a long bar tab that included 17 bottles of Corona, two "Lemon Drop" shots, and a shot of tequila, according to police records. (He purchased drinks for himself and others, according to police).

He sped out of the bar on his Range Rover and smashed into a Jeep, killing the 10-year-old girl in the back, Jazimen Warr.

He eventually plead guilty to vehicular manslaughter and is now serving an eight-year sentence. 

But on Monday, the Warr family filed a multi-million lawsuit in Montgomery County Circuit Court charging the company with enabling Eaton's heavy drinking.

Continue reading "Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg sued for enabling drunk driving" »

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Categories: News

December 7, 2010

A fourth Charm City Circulator route considered

A fourth Charm City Circulator is being considered by the Baltimore Department of Transportation.

After Monday's story on the circulator's potential for barhopping, some readers wondered what was in the cards for the bus. 

Jamie Kendrick, deputy director of the Transportation Department, said the green line, which was supposed to have launched this September, should come online next spring.

The green line would connect City Hall, Harbor East, Fells Point and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Kendrick also added that a fourth line connecting downtown to Locust Point - Fort McHenry is under consideration to be launched in 2012 to coincide with the bicentennial of the War of 1812. 

With a patriotic nod, it is being internally called "the red-white-and-blue line."

Kendrick said there are currently no plans to extend hours for any of the lines, though occasionally, they are extended for special events.

Photo: Jeff Wile getting off a circulator at the Inner Harbor (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)

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Categories: News

December 6, 2010

Club Pussycat, Larry Flynt's Hustler Club closed tonight, to re-open Tuesday following fire on The Block

A massive fire on the city's hub of strip clubs has shut down business for the night on The Block.

At least two of the major clubs, Larry Flynt's Hustler Club and Club Pussycat, will be closed for the night.

The rest of the 18 or so strip joints in the neighborhood will likely remain closed as the Fire Department continued to fight a blaze that engulfed at least four buildings on the 400 block of East Baltimore Street. Several streets have also been closed

The Hustler Club, which is nearly in front of 404 E. Baltimore - where the fire is believed to have originated - even had smoke inside, said general manager Joe Stinelli.

He said the club will re-open tomorrow again. 

At Pussycat, there won't be cheap lap dances tonight or g-strings on display. But the eight dancers who were inside when the fire broke out were still waiting for their marching orders when I called this afternoon. 

"I'm still waiting for the Fire Department to call me back to find out what I'm doing with all these girls," said a man who works at the club but declined to give his name.

It will re-open tomorrow, he said.

Steve Yeager, a filmmaker who made "On the Block," a 1990 film set in the area*, said any damage is regrettable.

"I hate to see fire destroy even one of the buildings because there's only one block as it is," he said.  "If a building is destroyed, who knows if they'll be replaced."

Area clubs Norma Jean's, Two O'Clock Club, Club Chez Joey's, Flamingo Lounge, and Oasis Nightclub couldn't be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, strip clubs outside The Block watched the fire from their windows and TV sets with little interest, certain it wouldn't affect their business.

Continue reading "Club Pussycat, Larry Flynt's Hustler Club closed tonight, to re-open Tuesday following fire on The Block " »

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Categories: News

December 1, 2010

Is downtown nightlife still safe?

On Tuesday morning, a man and a woman were shot downtown, near The Block, on the 400 block of Water Street.  The double shooting was the third violent incident in the area since Saturday.

This morning, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, dismissed safety concerns about the area. 

"This is an isolated, targeted incident," he said. "The suspect and [male] victim had some issue with each other, and we're trying to find out what that is."

But as Crime Beat has reported, the double shooting comes after a police officer was wounded Saturday during an altercation with an armed man on North Calvert and East Baltimore streets. And, another man was stabbed later that day at Light and Lombard streets. 

There were two other unrelated killings downtown earlier this year - one at a Baltimore Street hookah bar and another on Light Street after a security guard tried to break up an argument.

The double shooting also happened near Market Place, where a 22-year-old man was stabbed several times in September.

Except for the stabbing at Light and Lombard streets, all these incidents happened after or around the time that bars in the area and Inner Harbor closed. 

Continue reading "Is downtown nightlife still safe?" »

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Categories: News

November 30, 2010

Baltimore bans Four Loko to "protect youths;" selling comes with $1,000 fine

Not content to have beat the horse, and left it for dead in a dingy ditch somewhere, Baltimore's health commissioner today banned the sale of caffeinated alcoholic drinks like Four Loko within the city. The ban is effective Thursday, 5 p.m. Why the ban? The press release says it all: "Baltimore Health Department acts to protects youths." Yes, not only did the department just use a word that hasn't been uttered out loud since "My Cousin Vinny," they're also a month late to the Four Loko banning party. Maryland alcohol retailers agreed two weeks ago to stop carrying the devil swill, following four other states that had already taken similar steps months before. It's comforting to know the department moves at a quick pace when it comes to protecting our "youths."

In a move that smacks of reefer madness, the department is also telling residents to call 3-1-1 if they spot any retailers selling Four Loko past Thursday. I guess Andrew Sullivan was right.

Ban violators will be fined $1,000.

In addition to Four Loko, these are the other drinks that are banned in Baltimore after Thursday: Core High Gravity HG Green, Core High Gravity HG Orange, Lemon Lime Core Spiked, Moonshot, FourLoko, Joose and Max.

The press release from the City of Baltimore and the Health Department is here.

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Categories: News

November 22, 2010

Is selling concert tickets on Facebook the future?

It's too early to gauge how big a deal Rams Head Live's move to sell concert tickets on Facebook really is.

But here's a couple of reasons why it could be significant: for one, it's another gimmick to sell tickets for an industry that's quickly running out of options to goose up sales. 

But more importantly, it's a gimmick that anticipates a time, fast-approaching, when the social networking site will be integral to people's lives. And that's a bet even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is making.

Concert sales have been declining nationwide for the last five years. Blame the economy, expensive tickets, veteran acts who refuse to call it quits, but revenue still dropped $200 million from 2008 to 2009, according to trade magazine Pollstar.

When I talked to Frank Remesch, general manager at 1st Mariner Arena, he prefaced his thoughts on the Rams Head move by saying something that editors at Pollstar had also told me: everyone's looking for new ways to sell concert tickets. Many have even taken a sort of Groupon approach, offering discounted tickets for major acts.

"I admire Rams Head. [Owner] Bill Muehlhauser is always trying to keep things fresh," Remesch said. "Anything that helps our business is good for me."

But the more significant reason why Rams Head's move could work is the social networking site itself.

Continue reading "Is selling concert tickets on Facebook the future?" »

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Categories: News

November 19, 2010

Exclusive: Rams Head Live to sell tickets on Facebook, among first venues nationwide to do so

rams%20head%20tickets.JPGRams Head Live today started selling tickets on Facebook.

The service puts it ahead of Live Nation, the country's leading concert promoter that also runs Ticketmaster, the leading ticket seller.

Rams Head Group, which runs the Baltimore venue and five others in the area, and ShoWare by VisionOne, Inc., the e-commerce company that developed the Facebook app, also claim it is the first venue in the country to offer such a service.

Erin McNaboe, Rams Head Group vice president, said the service is a recognition of the growing importance of social media for promoters, ticket sellers, and artists.

"Social media has become a huge part of business," she said. "People aren't using it just for day to day interaction with friends, but to figure out where they're going on the weekend."

With this service, McNaboe said, Facebook users can see what concerts their friends are going to, and buy tickets accordingly. 

The service, available on Rams Head Live's fan page under the tab "Buy Tickets," is open to anyone with a Facebook user name. 

It's not clear what effect this will have on business, but the decision to offer tickets on the social networking site rather than just online, or via telephone, suggests the company sees it as a growing market.

At the very least, the nearly 10,000 Facebook fans the venue already has won't have to leave the website to buy tickets anymore.

Continue reading "Exclusive: Rams Head Live to sell tickets on Facebook, among first venues nationwide to do so" »

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Categories: News

November 18, 2010

Maryland takes out Four Loko

PX00076_9.JPGMaryland becomes the latest state to put the kibosh on Four Loko.

On Wednesday, Comptroller Peter Franchot convinced two Maryland trade groups to stop distributing the alcoholic caffeinated drink to its members, The Sun reports this morning.

Franchot cited the death of Courtney Perry, who Midnight Sun told you about Monday, as a motivating factor in the move.

The Maryland Beer Wholesalers association, a group of 22 businesses that distributes most of the alcohol in the state, agreed to stop importing the drink.

As did its board, which represents about a third of Maryland's roughly 6,000 licensed alcohol stores and bars.

The move comes after the Food and Drug Administration issued letters to beverage makers labeling caffeine as an "unsafe food additive" to alcoholic drinks. And warned the government could seize their products unless the manufacturers pull them or prove their products are safe. 

Proving they're safe or unsafe might be difficult to do, seeing as scientists haven't reached a conclusion themselves. For one there's no evidence these drinks are any more unsafe than caffeinated drinks like Red Bull, according to a study by the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.

And even in that study, researchers said "the relationship between energy-drink use and increased risk of alcohol abuse is not entirely clear." They also acknowledged "causality may go in either direction."

The Maryland trade groups' agreement doesn't force liquor stores to immediately yank the product from their shelves. But prepare to start seeing poorly written "We stop selling Four Loko" signs popping up in stores and bodegas around town.

If you don't know what Four Loko is:  "The often fruity drinks are popular among the young, who say they like the way the caffeine mitigates the soporific effects of the alcohol."

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

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Categories: News

November 15, 2010

America loses its mind over Four Loko; drink now blamed for "hallucinogenic frenzy," 21-year-old Courtney Spurry's death

In today's fun headlines, here's this winner from WJZ-TV: "Alcoholic Energy Drink Made Md. Woman 'Lose Mind'"

The station is of course talking about Four Loko, the caffeinated alcoholic drink with the catchy slogan ("Blackout in a can").

Their story comes after a 21-year-old woman died in Easton November 7 when she crashed her Ford pick-up truck on two utility poles. Reportedly, Courtney Spurry of St. Michaels had been drinking with girlfriends before the accident. 

An autopsy has yet to be conducted, nor have police filed their report on the accident, but by Friday, Channel 13 had found the culprit in the caffeinated alcoholic drink.

Not only had Four Loko gotten the young woman drunk, it had also made her "lose her mind." The station came to its conclusion after it spoke with friends and relatives at the young woman's Thursday vigil. 

Continue reading "America loses its mind over Four Loko; drink now blamed for "hallucinogenic frenzy," 21-year-old Courtney Spurry's death" »

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November 12, 2010

Flying Dog Ales to discontinue Wild Goose beer

wildgoose.JPGRest in peace Wild Goose. Flying Dog Ales confirmed today it will no longer produce the 21-year-old brand, which it has owned since 2006.

Ben Savage, vice president of marketing, said their Frederick brewery has run out of space to produce both Wild Goose and Flying Dog.

"The bottom line is we only have so much capacity here at the brewery and the market is demanding Flying Dog as our main push," he said. "There's no room to produce Wild Goose anymore."

The company will continue to produce Wild Goose IPA into the 1st quarter of 2011, Savage added. But the IPA's future is unknown beyond that point.

The Wild Goose Snow now in stock is the last batch the brewery will make.

Beer in Baltimore, which had been chasing the Wild Goose rumor since earlier this week, has a solid history of the brand up.   

Flying Dog's Frederick brewery, which has a capacity of 80,000 barrels, had produced just Wild Goose until 2008, when the company shut down its Denver facility and moved operations to Maryland.

While they ran side by side for two years, Wild Goose's popularity declined and Flying Dog's market share increased, Savage said. The brewery now produces 82 different packages of Flying Dog there, and may soon add more.

The company had been inching towards shutting down the brand for a while.

"Over the past two years, we've headed towards this decision because Flying Dog is our focus," he said. 

Savage acknowledged Wild Goose had a pretty good fan base, but he also said Flying Dog had a bigger one.

Commenters - agree?

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November 11, 2010

Alleged drug smuggler DJ Darrin Ebron's music still available on his website; "proceeds go to UNICEF"

Darrin Ebron, a Baltimore DJ with tenuous Hollywood connections (he once played Eddie Murphy's wedding!) has been named in a federal complaint as part of a drug ring that transported hundreds of pounds of cocaine from Los Angeles to Baltimore.

In the complaint, which the Washington Times reported Tuesday, Ebron is accused of conspiring with eight other men to transport 100-plus pound loads of cocaine in private planes, which sometimes carried loads totaling as much as $1.2 million at a time.

The complaint, which is posted after the jump, says Drug Enforcement Agency agents heard Ebron and an associate discuss a purchase for which the DJ would owe $900,000. Later, he was spotted at Los Angeles' Jerry's Famous Deli discussing another shipment worth $50,000.

Ebron, who has not been located, is feared to be a flight risk, and federal agents have requested his detention.

Though he is described lavishly on his website - it says he "was trained in four instruments" and worked at major record labels, "from BadBoy [sic], Def Jam Rocafella [sic]" - Ebron has no paper trail. He's never appeared on the pages of Baltimore City Paper or The Sun despite having grown up here and playing "at events which grew to several thousand people."

(I've put out calls to several established local DJs - Ultra, BooMan - to see if they've heard of this guy, but haven't heard back;will update when they do.)

(The Washington Times reports he was an independent contractor for Edmonds Entertainment; his website lists him as a vice president of marketing.)

Whether or not he was a successful DJ, you can still purchase his music on his website. "One hundred percent of proceeds," it says, "will be donated to UNICEF for relief efforts in Haiti." 

In addition to being a DJ, Ebron runs a "casual luxury" clothing company called Goodlife American Clothing that sells $50-64 t-shirts. See some of Ebron's beauties after the jump:

Continue reading "Alleged drug smuggler DJ Darrin Ebron's music still available on his website; "proceeds go to UNICEF"" »

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November 10, 2010

Maryland State Fairgrounds threatens to end Oktoberfest event after double stabbing; suspect's trial has not been set

After a double stabbing at Maryland State Fairgrounds during Oktoberfest, fairground officials have threatened to end the event if promoters don't take more safety precautions.

In early October, a 27-year-old man stabbed two others near the Timonium fairgrounds where Oktoberfest was held soon after the event had ended, police said. 

The attack was unprovoked, but police believe it started during the beer event. Baltimore County Fire Department director Glenn Blackwell also told Midnight Sun then the suspect, 27-year-old Nicholas Atkins, had been drinking. (He did not know then if a breathalyzer was administered).

At the time, officials were concerned Oktoberfest's promoters, the Trigger Agency and Brewer's Association of Maryland, didn't take enough safety precautions.

And on Tuesday, reported they had taken the extra step of asking Oktoberfest organizers to submit a formal proposal that includes steps on preventing future criminal incidents.

 "My people are very concerned," fairgrounds president Howard Mosner told Patch. "They want to look at what you propose to do to keep these kinds of events from happening in the future, if we allow you to come back."

Oktoberfest has been held at the fairgrounds for ten years, Patch said. This year, it was scheduled to coincide with the glut of events of Baltimore Beer Week

Local breweries, for which Beer Week functions as trade show and promotional event, are concerned moving Oktoberfest elsewhere might hurt them.

Continue reading "Maryland State Fairgrounds threatens to end Oktoberfest event after double stabbing; suspect's trial has not been set " »

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November 9, 2010

Magician Spencer Horsman comments on Harry Houdini routine that sent him to the hospital for five hours

 PX00137_9.JPGWere you at Illusions: Magic Bar & Lounge Friday night? If you weren't, you  missed a 20-pound beam come down on 24-year-old illusionist Spencer Horsman.

Horsman told me what happened.

On Friday, 50 minutes into his magic act at the bar he runs with his father Ken in Federal Hill, Horsman started to do the old Houdini straitjacket routine for the finale. 

The routine involves escaping from a straitjacket while hanging upside down.

It was a trick he had performed 400 times already. The week before, he had hung upside down 50 feet above the ground and escaped from two straitjackets in under five minutes. 

On Friday, the house was packed, Horsman's father Ken told me later. Two minutes into the routine, Horsman was almost finished.

"I had fully escaped the jacket," Horsman said. Upside down, "I bent in half in order to unhook my ankles so I could turn myself back up."

But then, a bolt came loose from the rigging, and Horsman fell a foot. The kicker was that the beam that he was hanging from also fell about five feet and hit him on the forehead.

"I didn't realize how bad it was until I took my hand off my forehead and the blood gushed all over the straitjacket and stage," he said. 

After the jump: Horsman on recuperating, his next show, and video of the Houdini routine. 

Continue reading "Magician Spencer Horsman comments on Harry Houdini routine that sent him to the hospital for five hours" »

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November 5, 2010

Ethnic music stores like Kentrikon, Don Pedro’s, and Koko Market struggle to keep up with economy and Internet

From outside, Don Pedro’s Musica Latina on Broadway looks like anything but a music store.

You might guess it’s a country Western emporium. Maybe even a second-hand Sports Authority. Inside its display window, there are soccer balls, wool leopard-print comforters, and dozens of piled up sneaker boxes.

But it's behind all that where its real product lies: some 200,000 CDs from everywhere in Latin America.

For years, Baltimore’s ethnic music stores like this one were spared from the digital music revolution that consumed their American counterparts because cusomters came to them for music they couldn't find at the mall. But recently, the economy has siphoned away the lowly-paid immigrant customers they have long relied on.

Owners of music stores across nationalities - Hispanic, Indian, Arabic and Greek - are not buying music the way they used to. Some have sold off their collections, and others are considering closing up shop.

“My customers are just dropping by now to say goodbye,” said Carlos Morales, the owner of Juquilita, another music store on Eastern Avenue. He’s considering closing up shop permanently when his lease is over in December. “When they’re the most affected people by the recession, what the hell am I supposed to do?”

If these stores stop selling music, as La Guadalupana on Wolfe Street already has, it won’t just be a loss of inventory for the regulars.

“It would be a huge blow for those of us that can’t afford a computer,” said Carolina Portillo, a 35-year-old El Salvadorean customer at Don Pedro’s. “Music is how I stay connected to my country. Don Pedro’s is the only place where I can find music from El Salvador.” 

For the full story, click here.

Photo: At Don Pedro's Musica Latina, manager Sandra Rivera talks with musician Benedicto Fernandez, center, as Alberto Macia looks over a new CD. (Jed Kirschbaum, Baltimore Sun)

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At 50 miles an hour, Wham City takes comedy tour on the road

PX00073_9.JPGBen O’Brien’s stand-up includes all the standard bits. There are as many poop jokes as there are one-liners about farts.

But the 26-year-old also has an absurdist sensibility. On a recent Sunday, the skit he and three other performance artists rehearsed on the third floor of a sprawling Greenmount West loft didn’t poke fun at Christine O’Donnell, or other current event like the guys at Magooby's might have. 

Instead, it satirized Tim Allen’s seminal 1990s white-bread sitcom “Home Improvement.”

The term “performance artists” should provide the first clue that O’Brien and company aren’t your average comedians.

Mason Ross is a monologist, Dina Kelberman is a cartoonist and Caroline Marcantoni is a choreographer. They’re just a few of the members of Wham City, a Baltimore arts collective that has supported and cultivated experimental artists in all types of media since 2004. Dan Deacon, the experimental musician, is one of its founding and best-known members.

On Thursday, 11 Wham City members are kicking off their first comedy tour at the Bell Foundry and will then travel to nine cities in a vegetable oil-powered bus with a two-hour show of old and brand-new material.

Though most of Wham City’s events, like Whartscape and the Wham City Round Robin Tour, are music-centered, several of its members are also comics, or have developed pieces over the years that have a humorous bent. “Over time, as we’ve all gotten older, we’ve developed these acts. It’s the first time we can say, ‘Look at all of these things we can do,’” O’Brien said.

O’Brien, for instance, wrote a 15-minute monologue called “At the End of Infinite Rope,” where Ross plays Mister Dizisterstriss, a drunken professor who rails against the world collapsing around him.

Continue reading "At 50 miles an hour, Wham City takes comedy tour on the road" »

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November 4, 2010

Crime: Thirsty Turtle liquor license revoked; bar was site of October quadruple stabbing

A College Park bar with a rocky history will lose its liquor license later this month for admitting underage drinkers, Prince George's County Board of License Commissioners decided Wednesday night.

The three-year-old bar, the Thirsty Turtle, was the site of a fight in early October that resulted in four young men suffering stab wounds. But the decision by the license commissioners was the result of a separate incident from September involving underage drinkers, student newspaper The Diamondback first reported

In an interview, chairman Franklin Jackson cited the bar's prior license violations as his rationale. 

The hearing in Hyattsville last night stemmed from a September incident where two underage police aides successfully entered the Thirsty Turtle and were served beer. The students were sent by county liquor inspector John McGorty and University of Maryland, College Park Police to review the bar's admission policy.

At the hearing, the students recounted their experiences at the bar, and the bar's owners, Alan Wanuck and Tom Hall, described the incident as a "sting operation," The Diamondback reported. Jordan Reid, the bouncer who allowed them in, said it was a "lapse of judgment."

Wanuck also said the bouncer had been let go, and they implemented new security, like ID scanners in light of the incident.

But the commissioners were not swayed by their statements, and after two hours of testimony, they decided to unanimously suspend the bar's liquor license.

Continue reading "Crime: Thirsty Turtle liquor license revoked; bar was site of October quadruple stabbing" »

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November 3, 2010

Shawntia Hardaway drops assault charges against R&B singer Mario

The mother of R&B singer Mario today dropped the assault charges she filed against her son in October, admitting she was intoxicated at the time.

Shawntia Hardaway, who accused the Baltimore-born performer on October 1 of assaulting her and trashing their Fells Point apartment, appeared before the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City this afternoon and asked for the charges to be dropped.

She has battled heroin addiction in the past.

Prosecutors dismissed all charges against the singer, whose full name is Mario Dewar Barrett.

Hardaway's attorney, Richard Woods, said she was upset when she filed the police report.

"It was much to do about nothing," he said. "I met with her, she told me what happened and there wasn't any criminal action on the part of Mario."

Barrett's attorney, William Murphy Jr.*, said her action vindicated his client.

For the full story, click here.

Photo: Central booking


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Name the new Rams Head at Arundel Mills Mall

The new Rams Head that will be built at Arundel Mills Mall in the next couple of years thanks to Cordish Cos.'s election night victory still doesn't have a name.

Erin McNaboe, vice president of the Rams Head Group, said it's not known yet when it will be named, or even when the new venue will be completed. 

Before they make a call, here's your chance to name the new joint. I'm partial to Rams Head Ka-ching, and Rams Head Slots! Slots!

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With slots approved, Rams Head Group discusses plans for Arundel venue

PX00073_9.JPGOn Tuesday night, Anne Arundel County voters approved plans by the Cordish Cos. to build a new slots parlor at Arundel Mills Mall that will also include an entertainment complex featuring a new Rams Head musical venue.

Today, Erin McNaboe, vice president of Rams Head Group, commented on their plans for the new, still unnamed venue, and how it will fit into the Rams Head franchise.

When Cordish Cos. revealed plans for an entertainment complex in October, it said "Rams Head would operate a 300-seat live music venue, featuring jazz, blues and classic rock acts."

McNaboe said that's still the case. The new venue won't be very different from Rams Head on Stage in Annapolis, and will feature artists spanning the musical spectrum.

"It's going to be a seated facility where one night you might have country and the next night jazz," she said.

She said it's still not clear how entertainment will be split between all the different Rams Head venues, which also includes Rams Head Live in Baltimore's Power Plant Live. 

"Hopefully, they'll mutually work together," she said. "A lot of times we get contacted by artists who want to play Annapolis and it's already booked. This is an opportunity to bring more artists."

Continue reading "With slots approved, Rams Head Group discusses plans for Arundel venue" »

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November 2, 2010

Election night parties: O'Malley, Ehrlich, Frank Kratovil, Andy Harris, and more

In about a a half hour, Maryland polls will close, leaving politicians up for election with nothing to do but pray and drink. 

Regardless of political affiliation, most will wait out the results in election-night watching parties, or, as the more confident among them call them, "victory parties." This year, there's even a ballot initiative that gets its own shindig. Others, will be in their PJs watching CNN.

Governor Martin O'Malley, who leads in most polls, will have his party at the American Visionary Art Museum. Doors open at 8 p.m. and will be open to the public. Parking is limited.

No word yet on if O'Malley's March (right) will perform, though, it's likely supporters would rather hear Bob Ehrlich do his own take of "Let the Eagle Soar."

Senator Barbara Mikulski, who is cruising towards re-election, will forgo her own hoedown to go to the AVM, as will Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Bob Ehrlich got cocky with his party, already calling it a "victory party" despite lagging in the polls.  He will be at Exhibition Hall at the Timonium Fairgrounds starting at 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, former Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Brian Murphy will be watching the election from his couch in Montgomery County. He did wish Ehrlich good luck, though. GOP Senate candidate Eric Wargotz has no events listed on his campaign website. 

Update 2: Maryland Politics has reports from O'Malley's and Ehrlich's parties; The Sun also has video from the former's party, and the Cordish Cos.' Arundel slots party.

Continue reading "Election night parties: O'Malley, Ehrlich, Frank Kratovil, Andy Harris, and more" »

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November 1, 2010

U2 will play M&T Bank Stadium in 2011

U2 will play Baltimore's M & T Bank Stadium in 2011, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Monday morning.

The band will bring its 360 Tour to the stadium on June 22, becoming the most successful headliner to hit the city since Bruce Springsteen played 1st Mariner Arena last year.

"Next summer is going to be a real statement for Baltimore," Rawlings-Blake told The Sun.

A week before, British singer Sade will kick off her first tour in a decade at 1st Mariner. 

Midnight Sun had previously reported rumors of the show in October, but promoters Live Nation and the stadium refused to speculate on the date. 

A source at the mayor's office confirmed those rumors Sunday. 

Blake herself made the announcement Monday morning on 98 Rock. Live Nation also announced a new St. Louis date Monday.

M&T Bank tried to book the popular band in 2009, but couldn't square a date that didn't clash with the Ravens schedule. 

This time, Roy Sommerhof, vice president of stadium operations, said they pursued the band 18 months in advance. 

"We're fortunate enough to get it next summer," he said on the show. "It's been a long process." 

Continue reading "U2 will play M&T Bank Stadium in 2011" »

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October 29, 2010

Four Loko banned in college campuses; Maryland schools have no official policy on "blackout in a can"

The new boogeyman at college campuses this week is Four Loko, the caffeinated alcoholic drink that's been charmingly called "blackout in a can."

Two colleges, Central Washington University and New Jersey's Ramapo College, have banned its consumption on campus following the hospitalization of some of their students.

At the Washington school, nine freshmen were hospitalized October 8 after drinking Four Loko in combination with other types of booze.

Kids these days are such light-weights.

Four Loko, if you aren't informed, packs a punch. Just one 23 1/2-ounce contains 12 percent alcohol - and "modern day ingredients like Guarana and Taurine," as the drink's website says.

Other drinks have been demonized before, as the Seattle Weekly notes. But in light of the hospitalizations, the Los Angeles Times reports college officials and law enforcement agencies are being especially watchful of the drink made by Phusion Projects LLC.

When asked for comment, representatives for Johns Hopkins, Goucher, Loyola Maryland and University of Maryland said they have no official policy on Four Loko yet, but are monitoring the situation. 

Continue reading "Four Loko banned in college campuses; Maryland schools have no official policy on "blackout in a can"" »

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October 26, 2010

Can Cordish Cos. find a new tenant for closed ESPN Zone?

Five months after ESPN Zone closed in Inner Harbor, the Walt Disney Co.-owned bar is still upsetting employees.

On Monday, five of them filed a class action lawsuit charging the company with failing to adhere to federal labor laws, The Sun's Gus Sentementes reports this morning.

The lawsuit also underscores the absence of the venue from Power Plant, where along, with Barnes and Noble and Hard Rock Cafe, it was one of the anchors of the area. The big question remains: will Cordish Cos. replace it any time soon? Can it?

The concept bar, which had been open for 12 years, abruptly closed in June when Disney shut down locations in Chicago, New York, Las Vegas, and Washington D.C.

Continue reading "Can Cordish Cos. find a new tenant for closed ESPN Zone?" »

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October 25, 2010

What does Justin Bieber smell like?

Justin Bieber is getting into the fragrance business. Some genius at Etoile Nation Beauty convinced the 16-year-old to go into the trade where Jennifer Lopez and Sarah Jessica Parker have thrived, as if it were possible to capture the essence of Bieber in a bottle.

Apparently, it isn't. Instead of releasing a typical fragrance, Bieber will sell "wristbands and dog tags infused with a unisex fragrance called My World," Women's Wear reports

The pitch is: now, not only can teenage girls smell of Bieber lust, so can your puppy.

The perfumed accessories will go on sale before the holidays, at Wal-Mart. Sellers say the scent has "notes of bergamot, lychee and pomegranate, a heartof cedar glimmers and a drydown of musk."

It's unclear what this will smell like to the regular shopper, which raises the question, what does Bieber actually smell like? Frankincense and candy corn? Lollipops and Canadian conditioner? 

Above, Bieber performing at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in September. 

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October 20, 2010

Gin Mill fetches $600K at auction; Reeders don't sell

Canton's Gin Mill was auctioned off today at noon and received a high bid of $600,000. But the Reeders, the family that has owned the bar for a decade, decided not to sell.

Auctioneer Jonathan Melnick said the high bid came from a well-known family that owns a chain of local restaurants, but he declined to name them. 

Owner Lester Reeder could not be reached for comment. 

As Midnight Sun reported, the Reeders put the Gin Mill up for auction in September. Lester said business was solid, but the family wanted to step away from the nightlife business. 

Lester said the bar has been for sale since they bought it back two and a half years ago, and the auction was a way to fast-track the search for a new owner. The family first bought the bar in 1996, according to property records.

Continue reading "Gin Mill fetches $600K at auction; Reeders don't sell " »

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October 18, 2010

Weekend Crime: Man beaten outside DC9 club; police officer Brian Stevenson killed in Canton

Over the weekend, two separate incidents in Washington and Baltimore that started out as fights turned fatal, leaving an Ethiopian immigrant and an off-duty Baltimore police officer dead.

At 2:30 a.m. Friday, Ali Ahmed Mohammed, an Ethiopian immigrant who lived in Silver Spring, turned up at the popular U Street club DC9 in Washington. After being denied entrance, he angrily hurled two bricks at the venue, breaking its front window, according to the Washington Post

Soon after, five men chased him, and fatally beat him, according to Washington police, who have since charged co-owner of DC9, William Spieler, and four other club employees with the crime.

The men have been charged with aggravated assault because the cause of death hasn't been determined; that could change when the medical examiner makes a final ruling

The Friday morning death has shocked Washington nightlife, where DC9 was a popular club and live music venue. Nightlife website Brightest Young Things has come to the club's defense. "The notion that that event resulted from systemic problems at DC9 itself runs counter to our seven years of experience as patrons of that venue," read a post baffingly titled "Murder at DC9? Hmm..."

The death has had other consequences. Since DC police temporarily shut down the club, owners moved bands Light Pollution and Zachary Peterson to the Rock & Roll Hotel, and canceled Thursday's Where Winston Stood show.

Continue reading "Weekend Crime: Man beaten outside DC9 club; police officer Brian Stevenson killed in Canton" »

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October 7, 2010

Live Nation, M&T Bank Stadium won't confirm 2011 U2 show in Baltimore

U2's blockbuster 360 Degree tour could come to Baltimore next year, but nothing has been locked in yet.

Representatives of the band and the venue will not comment on the show.

Earlier this week, accidentally revealed a previously unannounced date at M&T Bank Stadium on June 22. In the post, the Baltimore date was not in question; instead it was a performance at the Glastonbury Festival the band is trying to sneak in between Baltimore and East Lansing shows.

The post was taken down soon after, but not before a fan site captured a screen shot.

On Wednesday, Rob Muller, a spokesman for promoters Live Nation issued a stern "no comment" on the tentative performance at M&T. He also wouldn't discuss if negotiations are happening.

The stadium took the same course of action, but vice president of marketing Gabrielle Dow said the act would be a major get for the stadium. 

"I can't imagine any arena that wouldn't want U2," she said. The last headliner at the stadium was Kenny Chesney in 2009 2008.

Continue reading "Live Nation, M&T Bank Stadium won't confirm 2011 U2 show in Baltimore" »

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October 5, 2010

John Turpin quits Mount Vernon's Turp's

John Turpin, the general manager at Turp's in Mount Vernon, has left the sports bar that bears his name.

Sunday was his last day, confirmed assistant general manager Andre Barnhill, who'd worked alongside Turpin since they opened the bar a year ago. 

"He left because the place wasn't working out the way he wanted it to," Barnhill said.  "He's been offered other opportunities and he wants to spend more time with his family."

Turpin couldn't be reached for comment.

The bar will not change its name.

Turpin opened the bar a year ago to make up for the absence of sports bars in the Midtown-Belvedere neighborhood. It was named after him by owners the Jay Group, who also own Jay's Deli and XS cafe.

Continue reading "John Turpin quits Mount Vernon's Turp's" »

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October 4, 2010

Mary J. Blige appears at Towson Town Center before Jiffy Lube Live performance

R&B diva Mary J. Blige will appear at at Towson Town Center Wednesday to plug her new eyewear line, reporter and Midnight Sun contributor John John Williams IV writes.

The "No More Drama" singer will be at the mall between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m before appearing Thursday at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, VA.

She'll appear in Virginia as part of her tour with Jazmine Sullivan and El DeBarge.

But in another sign that merchandise is where the real lucre is at these days, tickets for the concert start at $52 while the sunglasses start at $165. That's nice: plastic shades that retail for twice as much as in-the-flesh performance. For that price, Blige better have made them with her own bare hands.

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October 1, 2010

Baltimore vs. Miami: a charticle

waterscinco.JPGEvery time a new club boasts about bringing a Miami flavor to Baltimore, it flops.

That’s because what works in South Florida is too ostentatious for Charm City, just as Baltimore’s quirks would almost definitely be dismissed as weird in the swamp.

John Waters’ Egg Lady is another kooky denizen here, but an oddity in the runway-like promenades of South Beach. Just the same, Miami’s drink prices would be scoffed at in Charles Village.

In keeping with this week's nightlife column, here’s a primer on two cities that are as different as Waters and Chad Ochocinco:

Charm City : Magic City

$3 Natty Boh: $13 “elderwater fizz” martini

Continue reading "Baltimore vs. Miami: a charticle " »

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September 30, 2010

Sade kicks off first global tour in decade at 1st Mariner Arena

British pop singer Sade will kick off her first tour in a decade in Baltimore, she announced today.

Sade, the singer of "Smooth Operator," is one of the most commercially successful British artists, but she's been mainly off the charts for the last decade.

Her new album, "Soldier of Love," though, went platinum earlier this year, and has received critical acclaim.

Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena will be the first stop on the tour, which kicks off June 16, 2011. Ten other cities have been confirmed, not including Washington.

Tickets go on sale October 16 at

photo: Epic

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Kingsley Flood, accidental Americana band, play Golden West Cafe Friday

56426259.jpgKingsley Flood is an Americana band by accident.

Two years ago, lead  singer Naseem Khuri, 30, was another graduate student slumming it in Cambridge and pursuing a master's in public policy at Harvard.

But through a roommate ad, he wound up living next door to Nick Balkin, a 30-year-old guitarist who was then playing with a Boston band, and the two struck a friendship and a working relationship.

You might say Craigslist made him a rock 'n' roller.

"I was gonna do some fancy international relations job," said Khuri, who now lives in Washington. "I never set out to be in a rock 'n' roll band. I just had these songs tucked away."

Friday, he and the other five members of Kingsley Flood play Hampden's Golden West Cafe as part of their first multi-city tour.

To read the rest of this story, click here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 8:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: News

September 28, 2010

Congress Hotel sold for $2.35 million

The Congress, the centenarian west side hotel that housed the legendary Marble Bar, was sold at auction this afternoon for $2.35 million.

The buyer is the property's note holder, Congress Financial LLC, described by an attorney as a group of investors with roots in the area.

Congress Financial bought the note in February after a Baltimore developer that had bought the hotel in 2001 for $2.8 million defaulted on a loan. 


In its heyday, the hotel's Marble Bar hosted new wave bands like Thee Katatonix and R.E.M. 


Posted by Erik Maza at 5:18 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: News

September 23, 2010

High Zero Festival opens tonight

The musical arm of the High Zero festival officially opens tonight.

High Zero, Baltimore's experimental music festival, has been a presence in the city since 1999.

Although it coincides with Virgin Mobile FreeFest, High Zero is much more than just music.

At the festival, there will be noise installations, workshops, guerilla street performances, and something called “Ghost Dancers,” where a pedal steel guitarist and a movement artist will “explore the porous border and the fathomless universe in each of us that lies beyond.” Top that Ludacris.

The opening party for the noise installations was Sept 21, but tonight is the first of the major concerts. After the jump, the schedule for the rest of the festival:

Continue reading "High Zero Festival opens tonight " »

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Categories: News

September 20, 2010

Canton's Gin Mill up for auction

ginmill-2.jpgAfter 13 years, the owners of Gin Mill are putting the Canton bar and a restaurant up for auction, owner Lester Reeder confirmed.

Reeder said business has been solid, but that it was time to call it quits.

“If you’ve ever run your own bar, 20 years is enough,” he said. “We’ll love to see someone else do something great with it."

The bar -- which the Reeders actually bought in 1996 according to property records -- will be auctioned off October 20 at noon at its Boston street location by Jonathan Melnick Auctioneers.

Its base value is a little over $600,000, according to property records. The successful bidder would also pay deposits totaling $80,000 for the business, the real estate, and the liquor license, according to the auction online listing.

The Gin Mill, located in a building originally built in 1850, is two stories and has two bars, two dining rooms, and a lounge area in the rear. In the time the Reeders have owned it, they've sold it once before, only to buy it back two and a half years ago.

Continue reading "Canton's Gin Mill up for auction" »

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Categories: News

September 17, 2010

Ibiza DC still doesn't know why Gucci Mane canceled

Ibiza DC, the club where Gucci Mane was scheduled to perform Sept 15, still doesn't know why the Atlanta rapper canceled at the last minute.

Gucci Mane was slated to perform as part of the promotional tour for his newest album, "The Appeal." But at 5:30 p.m, the rapper's label,  Warner Bros., abruptly called to cancel, Ibiza manager Misha Kapourchali says.

Two hours before doors opened? Memo to future bookers: That's known as #guccitime.

Within an hour of the call, Kapourchali says the venue sent out thousands of e-mails and text alerts with news of the cancellation. Tickets were not pre-sold, and the venue stayed closed that night.

He says they are working with the label to schedule return date. 

Ibiza was Mane's only stop in the metropolitan area on his tour. He is scheduled to play New York Sept 27, but a venue has not been announced, according to his MySpace. 


Continue reading "Ibiza DC still doesn't know why Gucci Mane canceled " »

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Categories: News

Police release picture of suspect in Sept 9 Power Plant Live! stabbing

9-9-10%20POWER%20PLANT.jpgBaltimore police have released a picture of the suspect in the September 9 non-fatal stabbing at Power Plant Live!

The man, who wears a green shirt in this security camera image, stabbed a 22-year-old several times during a fight before fleeing on foot. 

The altercation happened at the PPL plaza sometime after 11 p.m.  on the night of the Ravens kick-off party. 

The 22-year-old survived the stabbing, and was taken to Johns Hopkins University hospital.

Police are seeking to ID the suspect. 

High resolution image after the jump:

Continue reading "Police release picture of suspect in Sept 9 Power Plant Live! stabbing" »

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Categories: News

HFStival hosted Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers in its heyday; this weekend its Billy Idol and Third Eye Blind

HFStival is returning this week after a four-year absence. The granddaddy of East coast music festivals was the live music arm of seminal, shuttered radio station WHFS-FM, and through most of the '90s and the first half of the '00s, it drew massive crowds.

In 2007, it was suspended, and the version that returns this year is something of a zombie HFStival, with prehistoric headliners like Billy Idol, Third Eye Blind, and Everclear.

In our photo gallery, witness the festival over the years.

In this oral history, attendees recall the festival's heyday:

Jon Bailey of Baltimore-based Jon Bailey Band: WHFS was a station that kind of defined our times in high school.
It was on all the time, from when I got home came from school to when I went to bed. The first time I
listened to Radiohead was on there. First time I heard Beck.

Mike Hall of the Baltimore rock group Sick Sick Birds: I loved the station. I was a teen in the late 80s and I loved what they played then. It was WHFS and the Towson radio station pretty exclusively.

Bryan Burkert
, owner of Fells Point record store Sound Garden: The festival was one of the first in the region.
Back when it used to be popular, it was one of the ways to be played on the station. They were always
right on the cusp.

Continue reading "HFStival hosted Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers in its heyday; this weekend its Billy Idol and Third Eye Blind" »

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Categories: News

September 14, 2010

Baltimore city cop arrested at Club Reality; venue and city police have prickly history

A Baltimore city cop was arrested early Sunday after a fight broke out at Club Reality, a Southwest Baltimore hip-hop club that previously accused city police of "harassment."

The Sun's Crime Beat reported Everett Walker, 29, a 6-year veteran of the force, was violently arguing with a 20-year-old female at the club's rear parking lot around 2 a.m. 

Police disrupted the fight and arrested Walker after he tried to strike another woman. He "appeared clearly intoxicated with a glazed stare and was unresponsive to our loud verbal commands," according to the charging documents.

Owners of Club Reality, which has been open since January of last year, say the club has a "friendly and cozy atmosphere" for the "best homemade food this side of town." But they've also had brush-ins with city police, who they accused of "harassment" on their MySpace page.

Continue reading "Baltimore city cop arrested at Club Reality; venue and city police have prickly history" »

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Categories: News

September 13, 2010

DC's The Dismemberment Plan Reunite for Short Tour

Broken-up DC punks The Dismemberment Plan are reuniting for a short tour in 2011 to promote a re-issue of their most well-known album, "Emergency & I."

The band formed in 1993 and split up a decade later. In that time they played Baltimore at least twice, in 1997 and 2004. In the 90s, they performed at WHFS' HFStival, a zombie version of which, by the way, is happening this weekend after a four-year hiatus. 

And in 2004 lead singer Travis Morrison performed solo at the closed The Talking Head Club. At the time, The Sun interviewed him for a story on the lack of star power at the Republican National Convention where he said celebrities didn't want to lend their names to a president, George W. Bush, who was not "cool."

Continue reading "DC's The Dismemberment Plan Reunite for Short Tour" »

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Categories: News

September 10, 2010

Tyson's Tavern in Fells Point up for sale, might close

tyson%27s%20tavern.JPGTyson's Tavern in Fells Point might close if owners don't find buyers, owner Dean Zlomke tells Midnight Sun.

Zlomke says the recession has slowed down business too much to justify keeping the bar open. He put it up for sale two weeks ago. If he doesn't find a buyer, the tavern might close.

"It's been a brutal summer," Zlomke says. "I'm not in a tourist area. A lot of people go away to the beach, do day trips, do other things, and for a local businesses it's been tough because of that."

Two other Fells Point bars - beloved Friends and DuClaw Brewing Company's location in the area - closed in the last year.

Zlomke and Tom Dinsmore opened Tyson's three and a half years ago, replacing a traditional British pub. They added some 30 microbrews and an expanded wine list.

The space had previously been a middle eastern restaurant, and an Italian joint before that. But 2112 Fleet Street is much more historic than that. Zlomke says it's where the original Natural Brewing Co. brewery was located.

Continue reading "Tyson's Tavern in Fells Point up for sale, might close" »

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Categories: News

September 8, 2010

Usher's OMG Tour at 1st Mariner Arena Dec. 8

usher!Pop star Usher announced his Fall 'OMG Tour' today. He'll kick it off in Seattle in November, and stop by Baltimore and Washington DC in December.

The 25-city tour will be at Baltimore's Mariner Arena on December 8, and DC's Verizon Center December 17.

The original lady killer will be promoting "Versus," an extension of his "Raymond v. Raymond" album. Hard to say how anticipated the tour is, but Jive Music, Usher's label, could afford to announce the tour with a brief "OMG" on twitter. No hashtags or anything. Gutsy move, Jive.

Tickets go on sale Sept. 17. For a preview, Usher will be performing at Sunday's VMA Awards on MTV.

(Photo: Getty Images)


Posted by Erik Maza at 11:01 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: News

September 7, 2010

Exciting news!!

happy day dinerDoes that headline sound familiar?

Elizabeth Large, our former food critic, was a mentor to me, so when it came time for me to step down from Midnight Sun I wanted to tip my hat to her.

Yes, after five years covering Baltimore's arts, music and nightlife scene, I am taking on a new role here at the paper: entertainment editor. Well, the actual title is something corporate-y, like Content Editor, Features Dept., but 'entertainment editor' sounds better to me.

Erik Maza, an incredibly talented reporter from Miami, will be our new local entertainment reporter and blogger.

No, this isn't my final post on Midnight Sun. I'll be phasing Erik in during the next week or two. I'll also be editing his stories. So you're not totally rid of me yet ...

Continue reading "Exciting news!!" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:57 AM | | Comments (42)
Categories: News

September 3, 2010

Did GoodLife Boys send buses to Mosaic last night? Maybe.

a bus parked outside Port DiscoveryAfter all the controversy stirred up by my earlier post about the event promoters sending buses of college students to Mosaic, I felt a follow-up was in order.

I wasn't able to make it to Power Plant Live last night to see whether or not the GoodLife Boys brought buses near the downtown entertainment district as planned. And the GoodLife Boys couldn't be reached for comment today. But I did get a message from the event's Facebook page at 5:25 p.m. yesterday, which made it sound like the party was still on:


An anonymous tipster sent me this photograph of a bus parked in back of Port Discovery, the adjacent children's museum across President Street (that's Port Discovery, the children's museum, in the background). The tipster said this was one of a few buses parked there. But, as Power Plant Live's spokesman Chris Furst (rightfully) pointed out, this one photo doesn't prove anything.

"That could have been any group," he said. "People use buses for millions of events. There's nothing I can do. It's not on our property." ...

Continue reading "Did GoodLife Boys send buses to Mosaic last night? Maybe." »

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Categories: News

September 2, 2010

Wild Willy's to open in Annapolis

Wild Willy's Rock House & Sports Saloon is set to open Sept. 18 near the Annapolis Towne Center.

The restaurant/bar, which will have live rock 'n' roll and country music on Fridays and Saturdays, will replace TK Sharky's, according to Courtney Smith, who is handling marketing for Wild Willy's. The new owner, Willy Koutroumpis, renovated the space and brought in a rock 'n' roll theme ...

Continue reading "Wild Willy's to open in Annapolis" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

September 1, 2010

Canton Arts and Entertainment opens again! Sort of.

some dudes chilling at canton arts and entertainmentIt's hard to keep a big bar down.

Canton Arts and Entertainment, the sprawling restaurant/bar complex/compound on Boston Street which closed for renovations, is back open again -- for private parties only.

CAE, as I shall now call it (because I'm sick of spelling that all out), could reopen full time if its application for a live entertainment license is approved.

Getting to the bottom of this whole ordeal was almost as labyrinthine as CAE itself. Take a deep breath and let's dive in together, gang ...

Continue reading "Canton Arts and Entertainment opens again! Sort of." »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

August 31, 2010

Hogan's Alley is up for sale

hogan's alleyHogan's Alley, one of the last old-school Fort Avenue haunts, is up for sale.

Sherry "Pinky" Hogan, who owns the place along with her husband, a retired police officer named Girard, wants to keep the building but sell the business, she said.

"I'm tired," she said. "You know how you get worn out? That's exactly what it is. I'm tired and I don't want to deal with it anymore."

Hogan, who used to sell real estate, was showing a bar to some folks from out of town in 2004 when she realized she'd rather buy it herself than let them have it. So she did, and opened Hogan's. ...

Continue reading "Hogan's Alley is up for sale" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

August 27, 2010

Ropewalk Tavern manager buys Taps at auction

marc mcfaulMarc McFaul (pictured), the manager of Ropewalk Tavern, bought Taps at an auction earlier this week, he confirmed yesterday.

McFaul paid $450,000 for the building and liquor license -- the whole shebang. That means McFaul and family (I like to call them the McFaul clan) will now have three South Baltimore bars (Stalking Horse, Ropewalk and Taps).

But McFaul isn't sure what he wants to do with Taps, he told me. He might transfer the liquor license up closer to Cross Street Market, or he might keep it at the corner of Fort Avenue and Charles Street.

In fact, McFaul wasn't expecting to own the place at all ...

Continue reading "Ropewalk Tavern manager buys Taps at auction" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

August 24, 2010

Magooby's moves to bigger location

marc unger of magoobysIn the coming weeks, Magooby's Joke House will move into new digs in Timonium, according to comedian Marc Unger (pictured), who founded the club with his brother Andrew.

The club's new home, which houses the Timonium Dinner Theatre, seats about 400, which will make Magooby's the largest comedy club in the region, Unger said. The club is currently located in Parkville.

"It's a prettier space," Unger said. "The overhead is a lot higher, but it's got so much upside." ...

Continue reading "Magooby's moves to bigger location" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

August 19, 2010

Baltimore Beer Festival is coming in October

The first (and hopefully annual) Baltimore Beer Festival is set for noon-5 p.m. Oct. 17 at Canton Waterfront Park.

The festival, which caps the second Baltimore Beer Week, will showcase local, regional and national beers from brewers such as Saranac, Heavy Seas, Victory and Harpoon. Alongside the big boys will be the home brewers, according to festival organizer Torbin Green, who runs the events promotions company Smalltimore.

"You're going to be able to pair up with the corporate brewers but also sample home brews," Green said. "It's an interesting twist." ...

Continue reading "Baltimore Beer Festival is coming in October" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:29 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

August 13, 2010

Facing lawsuit, Ottobar holds benefit

The Ottobar is holding a benefit show tomorrow to raise money for a lawsuit filed by an injured patron, according to club co-owner Michael Bowen.

The patron, who was struck in the head about two years ago when a club-goer dove off the stage into the crowd, has since recovered from her injuries but is seeking $30,000 to pay for medical bills and time missed from work, Bowen said. At Bowen's request, the plaintiff's name is being withheld from this article.

"I would like to see this young lady get compensated," Bowen said. "I don't have any beef with this woman pursuing the time she missed from work and some of her medial bills. I'm happy she's healthy and fine."...

Continue reading "Facing lawsuit, Ottobar holds benefit" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:31 PM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music, News

August 12, 2010

Sweet Sin gets its license

After much debate, Sweet Sin has been granted a liquor license with the condition that it close early. Sun reporter Jessica Anderson has the scoop.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:29 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

August 10, 2010

The Atlas Bar is closed, could relocate

the atlas bar The Atlas Bar, the Charles Village hideout which won Best Secret Bar, is closed and could relocate in the coming weeks, according to manager Angela Devoti.

Devoti has long been at odds with her landlords, who own the Charles Carryout, and decided to close up shop last week. Devoti is in talks with an employment lawyer about suing the owner to try and recoup lost pay, she said.

"I can't stay here," she said. "I can't believe how much he didn't want the business to succeed." ...

Continue reading "The Atlas Bar is closed, could relocate" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

August 5, 2010

Dizzee Rascal's 'Road Rage,' goes platinum with Baltimore Club beat

aaron lacrate and samir with the fruits of their labor

Baltimore Club's influence keeps growing, thanks in part to producers Aaron LaCrate and Debonair Samir (pictured).

LaCrate and Samir produced "Road Rage," a hip-hop track with a Baltimore Club beat, for British rapper Dizzee Rascal. 

The album, "Tongue n' Cheek," (NSFW) was recently certified platinum in England. LaCrate and Samir received platinum plaques for their work.

"It's really exciting," said LaCrate, a Baltimore native who runs the label Milkcrate NYC. "Baltimore's creeping up there."

(Photo courtesy of LaCrate)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:42 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music, News

August 3, 2010

2010 Otakon attendance tops 29,000

2010 otakon baltimoreThis year's Otakon drew more than 29,000 -- a new high for the annual celebration of Japanese pop culture, according to organizers.

The unofficial tally, which includes staff and vendors, was 29,274.

That number is expected to rise by a couple hundred when the official count is released, according to Otakon publicist Alyce Wilson ...

Continue reading "2010 Otakon attendance tops 29,000" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:32 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: News

August 2, 2010

Deadmau5 collapses at 9:30 Club show

Canadian DJ/producer Deadmau5 collapsed on stage Friday during a set at the 9:30 Club, "suffering exhaustion and vomiting," according to his website. His following nine shows have been canceled to allow for his recovery.

Deadmau5 (pronounced "Dead Mouse") was about 50 minutes into his set when he collapsed, according to Audrey Schaefer, the venue's publicist. It was the third night of a sold-out three-show run at the club.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:14 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Local music, News

July 30, 2010

Alewife to replace Lucy's Irish Pub

A high-end beer hall with New American cuisine is set to replace Lucy's Irish Pub on the West Side, according to owner Daniel Lanigan.

Alewife, which could open as early as Sept. 5, will have 40 drafts and 100 bottles, as well as craft cocktails and a wine program, Lanigan said.

"We're going to try to be an institution in Baltimore," he said. "I think the West Side needs a good restaurant/bar. That part of town is an opportunity for revitalization, and we want to be a part of that for a long time." ...

Continue reading "Alewife to replace Lucy's Irish Pub" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:04 PM | | Comments (40)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

Johnny Rad's is open

Johnny Rad's, the new pizza bar which replaced Kelly's in Fells Point, is open for business.

"We are open, God help me," said owner Steve Ball. 

The bar's soft opening was Wednesday, and despite what the bar's Facebook page says, no date has been set for the grand opening, which should be sometime next month. Johnny Rad's is open 5 p.m.-2 a.m. every day. The happy hour, which features $3 drafts and rails, is 5 p.m.-8 p.m. weekdays. And the beer list is impressive ...

Continue reading "Johnny Rad's is open" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

July 20, 2010

2010 Virgin Mobile FreeFest lineup announced: M.I.A., Pavement, LCD Soundsystem, Ludacris, T.I.

rapper T.I. is one of the headliners at this  year's Virgin Mobile  FreeFestExperimental hip-hop artist M.I.A., electro-rockers LCD Soundsystem, reunited alt-rock band Pavement and rappers Ludacris and T.I. (pictured) will headline this year's Virgin Mobile FreeFest, organizers announced today.

The free festival, which returns to Merriweather Post Pavilion Sept. 25, will feature another 12 acts, including Joan Jett, Thievery Corporation, Chromeo and Jimmy Eat World, on two stages and a dance area.

Tickets will be up for grabs 10 a.m. Saturday at Ticketfly. Virgin Mobile customers and concertgoers who attended previous festivals will receive texts and e-mail invitations to apply for advance tickets on Friday ...

Continue reading "2010 Virgin Mobile FreeFest lineup announced: M.I.A., Pavement, LCD Soundsystem, Ludacris, T.I." »

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Categories: News

July 19, 2010

2010 Whartscape will be the last

dan deaconThis weekend's Whartscape will be the last, according to co-organizer Dan Deacon (pictured).

Now in its fifth year, the annual celebration of under-the-radar arts, music and culture has reached critical mass, Deacon said.

This year, the festival will feature about 120 performances on multiple stages, over the course of four days. Deacon expects about 1,000 people per day this year.

"I don't think it can get any larger," Deacon said. "We do it for the love of arranging the festival, and I still love doing it, but I don’t want it to become an institution -- something that just happens. I’d like to try something new next year and branch out." ...

Continue reading "2010 Whartscape will be the last" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:43 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Local music, News

The Get Down is open

the get down baltimoreThe Get Down had its soft opening last week, and is officially open for business, according to owner Bryan Burkert.

"It far exceeded my expectations," Burkert wrote in an e-mail.

The grand opening of the Fells Point lounge, which replaced the live music club Fletchers, is this weekend.

DJ D-Mac will spin Friday and Washington's DJ Harry Hotter will spin Saturday. The action starts at 10 p.m. ...

Continue reading "The Get Down is open" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:49 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

July 12, 2010

Red House Tavern sold to Singer's owner

redhouse tavern baltimore

Ron Singer, who owns Singer's in Mount Vernon, has bought the Red House Tavern and is cooking up all kinds of schemes for the place.

Renovations will begin in two weeks on the Canton neighborhood bar, which closed last year, Singer wrote in an e-mail.

Singer plans to add a second floor and updated decor which is reminiscent of a Colorado ski lodge, complete with fireplace, pool and dart leagues ...

Continue reading "Red House Tavern sold to Singer's owner" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

July 6, 2010

The Whistling Oyster is back again

the whistling oysterLast year, Green Cilantro replaced the Whistling Oyster. Now, the Whistling Oyster has replaced Green Cilantro. 

Inside and out, the Whistling Oyster looks the same as it ever was. At least, the same as I remember it being.

There are life rings on the walls and ceiling and the old nautical theme throughout. Even the exterior is back to being black and red.

It's weird -- like nothing ever happened.

I've been keeping tabs on the Oyster, stopping by every time I hit up Fells. Last week was the first time I saw it open again ...

Continue reading "The Whistling Oyster is back again" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:56 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

June 11, 2010

Ice bar Minus5 Igloo will open tomorrow in Power Plant Live

a sneaky peeky inside minus5yIce, ice, baby.

Minus5 Igloo, the new portable ice bar in Power Plant Live's plaza, will open tomorrow, according to PPL spokesman Chris Furst.

The employees Ice Wizards have begun to build the walls, carving in Ravens and Orioles logos. If you stare long and hard at this blue-tinted picture, you will make out some of the designs. It's like a Magic Eye!

The furniture and bar itself, which will both be made of ice, will be finished tonight, Furst wrote in an e-mail ...

Continue reading "Ice bar Minus5 Igloo will open tomorrow in Power Plant Live" »

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Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

The Get Down to replace Fletcher's

the view from the second floor, looking downA new lounge called The Get Down will replace Fletcher's in the coming weeks, according to owner Bryan Burkert.

Burkert, who also owns the music store Soundgarden, is overseeing a sweeping renovation of the two-story Fells Point club, which includes removing the upstairs stage, knocking out a portion of the ceiling and installing metal railing and refinishing the floors, walls and bar.

A drastic departure and significant investment on Burkert's part, the Get Down could be open in early July, he said.

"There's no guarantee that what we're doing is going to work," Burkert said. "We're going to create the best space with the best vibe we can."

Burkert recruited Scott Chmielewski to design the lighting and interior design of the Get Down. A Baltimore native, Chmielewski worked on the Beijing Olympics and other high-profile lounges ...

Continue reading "The Get Down to replace Fletcher's" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:30 AM | | Comments (27)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, News

June 9, 2010

Artscape 2010 lineup announced. What do you think?

warren haynes is the front man of gov't mule. here, he kinda looks like a zombie. or maybe he's about to consume the microphone.After blogging for three years, I've come up with a saying: Online, there is no 'best' -- there is only 'first.'

That said, I might not have the best announcement of this year's Artscape festival roster, but I have the first one.

The folks at the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts gave me a sneak peak at the lineup, which will be formally announced at a press conference today.

In case you missed my short piece in today's paper, the headliners are:

Jam rock band Gov't Mule, neo soul singer Musiq Soulchild, Washington-based rapper Wale and indie rock group Cold War Kids are the big names this year ...

Continue reading "Artscape 2010 lineup announced. What do you think?" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:21 AM | | Comments (39)
Categories: Local music, News
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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

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

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