The Chop is Dead… Long Live the Chop!

We’ve got a new website! This will be the last post on thebaltimorechop.wordpress.com. Thebaltimorechop.com is now live, and all of our posts, past and future can be found there. Let this post serve as the official announcement.

Today, we consider ourselves the luckiest Chop on the face of the Earth.

The new site is light years ahead of the old one stylistically, and offers a tremendous increase in functionality at all levels. Leave us a comment at the bottom of this post… we’d love to know what you think about it.

If you’re an email subscriber, we sent you an email yesterday to notify you of the change. If you’re an RSS or WordPress Dashboard subscriber, please (a) click through to look at the new site and (b) update your feeds and bookmarks accordingly. If you’re not a subscriber, then what the hell are you waiting for? We’d love to have you on board and it’s free. You can sign up on the sidebar of any post page.

We’ve done what we can as far as getting the old site to redirect, but we’ve been using custom URLs in posts for quite some time, so a full post by post redirection will be, if not impossible, more work than we care to put in at this point. If you’ve got us in your blogroll, that redirect will work. If you don’t have us in your blogroll… help a blogger out, huh?

We’ve done everything we can this week to dial in the details of the new site and make the transition as smooth as possible. We’re hoping we’ve been pretty thorough, although there are sure to be a few minor tweaks and improvements in the near future.

1 Comment

Filed under A Day in the Life of the Chop

Clementine: Clifton Park’s 19th Hole

So the Chop is going golfing again today. We’ve got a late-morning tee time, which we’ve come to figure out is just about the ideal window to tee off because you can still sleep in a little bit, and by the time you’re round is done you’re in prime position to go straight from the course to happy hour.

We’ll be playing at Clifton, which means the most convenient bars are the ones around Hamilton and Lauraville. Here’s the idea: if we play our usual terrible game, we’ll go ahead and do the usual Bohs at Koco’s. If we can get that score down under 100 though, we might just reward ourselves with some of the specialty cocktails up at Clementine.

Yeah Lee, we get pretty thirsty after a round too.

Clementine has always been in an odd position. They’re hands down one of the best bars in the city, yet they’ve never had more than 3 or 4 stools at their bar. We never could reconcile in our mind how a bar that’s so well stocked could have so few stools. They’ve got one of those something-for-everyone-mostly-reasonably-priced wine lists that is perfect for date night, as well as a long list of carefully chosen bottled beers to pair with everything on the menu.

If we do manage to get a seat at the bar though, we’re going to resist the temptation to call for one of several available single malts and small-batch American whiskies and pick a few selections from their outstanding cocktail list.

Fall is the perfect time to go for our favorite, the Stonewall (Pear Cider, Bourbon and Ginger Liqueur). The Georgia Manhattan (Pecan Infused Bourbon, Mathilde Peach Liqueur & Organic Maple Liqueur) and Maça Martini (LeBlon Cacha├ža, Elderflower Liqueur, Pressed Apple Cider & Fresh Lime Juice) are a couple more don’t-try-this-at-home seasonal specialties. Or, if we end up getting rained on after 9 holes it might prove a good excuse to call it a day and call for a hot toddy.

Whatever we ultimately decide on one thing’s certain… good booze is the best incentive to keep those drives straight, chips short, putts true and score down.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chop on the Spot

Double Dagger @ CCAS Tonight

Today is an important day in the city of Baltimore. Double Dagger will play its penultimate Baltimore show tonight at the Charm City Art Space. If you don’t know or care who Double Dagger is, or if you don’t think tonight is important, then you can go look at some fucking cats or something, okay? For the rest of us, Double Dagger frontman Nolen Strals was kind enough to sit down and answer a few of our questions about the last 10 years of his life…

Double Dagger plays CCAS Tonight. Go now or cry later.

So, why did you want to be in a band in the first place?

    In high school I wanted to be in a band just because, you know, I was young, newish to punk and it’s ideas and ideals and I was an angry kid in a small town with a lot to say. Being in a band gave me a chance to say things that were important to me. Sixteen years later I’m still in bands partly for that same reason but with new things to say. As anyone who knows me can attest, I usually have a lot to say. I’m full of ideas and opinions and I’m not afraid to let people hear them.

    Also, it’s just fun as hell to play shows. Double Dagger shows are almost always really fun, interacting with the audience. We’re giving them something, they’re giving us something back. I sometimes feel as if the crowd at the right show is like a fourth member of the band. Seeing people flip out for our music, hearing them sing along… there’s no questioning why I’m in a band when that’s happening. We all feed off that reaction.

What were your goals as a band? Do you feel like all of those goals were met?

    When Double Dagger started I think we just wanted to be a really high energy, smart-ass post punk band… In the middle years, when our original drummer Brian Dubin left and Denny Bowen joined full-time I think we were trying to figure out how to take the Double Dagger formula of spare bass, drums, and vocals and beef it up, fill it out, push that reductive combination further. The band as a whole got more serious, taking more care with our recordings, putting more effort into playing out of town and touring, etc. We definitely met or exceeded all of those goals. Touring-wise we exceeded it by going to Europe for almost a month in 2010.

    I think when we started people didn’t take us too seriously, and I’m really proud to say that I think a lot of people respect the band now. A ton of bands are liked or loved, but respect is harder to come by, and I think we earned that through the music we wrote and the way operated.

Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

    I wish we’d played more benefit shows, especially ones to help local organizations and causes. We care a lot about Baltimore City and that’s reflected in our songs, but I think our actions could have showed it a little more.

Baltimore could definitely use a bigger act like Fugazi, who played a lot of benefits and encouraged other bands to be more civic-minded and philanthropic.

    Totally agree. Bands who have a big draw have the ability to use that for more than just selling tickets. You can have an impact beyond that especially when playing locally, so there’s no reason not to.

    We’re a band that crosses a lot of the scene barriers in Baltimore. I love that we draw punk and hardcore kids as well as the art school warehouse types, plus high schoolers and old dudes. I think at times we pigeonholed ourselves to certain types of shows. Basically I just we’d played with more hardcore bands in the later years.

This final stuff you’re putting out is your last chance to design one of your own releases. How are you possibly going to top Masks?

    We’re thinking 1/6-scale vinyl toys of all three members with 9 points of articulation (11 for Denny), and when you pop the head off, a USB drive holding the songs is sticking out of the neck. Either that or something more traditional… we’re still hammering out the details.

After 10 years in a band, you'd be tired too.

What advice would you give to someone starting their first band today?

    Think. Practice. Practice. Think. Practice. Practice. We were a part of a generation of local bands who spent a few months figuring out their songs, their sound, and what they wanted to do before ever playing in front of people, because they wanted their first show to be as good as possible. They wanted people to take them seriously. It seems a lot of younger people (but not all) don’t have that mentality. It’s more of ‘Hey let’s just start a band and play our first show next week because we can and it will be cool.’ Those bands don’t last, and unless there’s some accidental genius at work they’re not very good.

    Figure out not just how you want to sound, but why you want to sound that way.

    Don’t accept that just because certain things are done regularly now, that you should do it too. When you first start out, book your own shows. You don’t need an agent, tour manager, or booking agent within your first several years of being a band. You’ll probably never need one. I’ve heard recently about some relatively new, comparatively tiny bands who have publicity agents and tour managers with them while playing only small DIY shows. That’s some rockstar bullshit. Get real/get out.

    Play out of town early and often. Playing in-town all the time is too easy. Play for people who aren’t your friends. That’s a better gauge of what you’re doing. Philly, DC, and New York are all close, and all have DIY scenes that are easy to access so play there. You’ll become better playing for strangers than you will for friends.

What are some of the more important things you’ve learned along the way?

    Oooh there might be some bitter replies in this one… The views in this reply are only mine, not speaking for the other dudes here:

    I learned hard work is often trumped by internet hype. Accept this early on. The lesson to be learned here is not to go after blog hype. Not if you want to last at least. Very few music bloggers are music journalists (don’t worry Chop, you wrote better questions than we usually get from music writers). Get ready to be let down and, at times, surprised.

    Don’t trust the words of people whose job title rhymes with the two words “Hooking…” and uh, I can’t finish this joke because nothing rhymes with “Agent.” Doing it the hard way pays off in the long run.

    And if you are going to do something the hard way, be it music or otherwise, you’d better be sure what all the repercussions of that will be in your personal life, and you need to determine if it’s worth it. Sometimes it is, sometimes it ain’t.

    If you eat shitty food on tour, you will play shitty shows on tour. Local, cheap, good restaurants trump any fast food ever. It may take an extra 30-40 minutes, but your body will appreciate it. Ask local folks where to go. Fat Sandwiches in New Brunswick, NJ are the best post-show food ever.

    Pack light, but pack thoroughly.

    Shows in towns that never get shows will always be more fun than selling out huge rooms in big cities. Small town kids will appreciate you going out of your way to play in their no where town more than even the most enthusiastic city dweller. You need to play those shows from time to time. I wouldn’t have gotten into punk rock without that happening for me.

    I realize most of these sound negative, but lessons aren’t always easy. The easy stuff happens the rest of the time, and it outshines all the bad. I learned a lot of amazing things in this band and saw incredible places and made great friends in places I never would have gone otherwise.

    The DIY Punk Community is international, beautiful, and inspiring.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Charm City Art Space is at 1731 Maryland Ave in Station North. 7 pm doors, all ages.

Tonight’s show also features Holy Tongues and Ed Schrader’s Music Beat.

Leave a comment

Filed under shows

Occupy Liam Flynn’s: Our Bi-Weekly Political Roundup

Tomorrow is the second Wednesday of the month, and as usual some of Baltimore’s finest progressives of all stripes will gather for pints and politics in Station North. The Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally meets twice a month at Joe Squared, Liam Flynn’s Ale House, which will be our new home for the Winter months. Meetings are 7 pm til whenever, and open to all. Just look for the big red, white and blue bottle on the table.

Of course the big story in the news right now is the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has now spread to more than 100 cities including our own. What was at first all but a non-story has become an ongoing top national headline for the last week or so. While much of that is attributable to those in the movement who are especially tech savvy, we suspect a lot of it has to do with just plain good luck. There’s not a whole hell of a lot else happening at the moment. The news has been pretty slow this week overall, so all we’ve got to blog about is Occupy.

We’re certainly no expert in protest and demonstration tactics, but we do know that the main thing in any protest is just showing up- boots on the ground, bodies in the crowd. The Participants have done a decent job of that, but unfortunately that’s about all they’ve done so far. It’s kind of like that scene in The Jerk where Navin is asked if he’d like to be president of Shell Oil. You don’t get to run the whole system just by showing up.

Ever since the movement came to Baltimore, we’ve been in an odd position. We’re actually very sympathetic to this cause, yet all we’ve done all week is find ourselves making snarky wisecracks at the Participants’ expense. We were at the harbor during the first day of the protest, when it was mainly 20-something kids from middle class backgrounds playing campout. Those kids are easy enough to make fun of, but the truth is we felt a little guilty about not participating. (Not much.) Stopping by again Yesterday morning though, the entire face of the thing had changed. people who are used to sleeping in nice beds and eating 3 square meals a day all seemed to have found their way out of McKeldin Square, and the only people we could see about all looked like they’d recently fallen off a boxcar.

Littered signs outnumber people down there now. There’s composting going on. People have staked out their own little areas and are going about their daily ablutions in a way that makes us think that they are not the 99% but are in fact the other one percent. The one percent that is perfectly comfortable not showering for a week on end; that eats food directly from cans, that actually sees itself as America’s happy, noble poor and likes it that way.

The real 99% don’t find anything particularly noble about living in poverty, and are not happy being poor. And things are going to have to get a lot worse for them before they start showing up to occupy.

2 Comments

Filed under Bi-Weekly Political Roundup

Deleted Scenes, The Life and Times @ Golden West Tonight

As Walter Sobchak once said: Life does not stop and start at your convenience you miserable piece of shit.”

Such is the case tonight when the Deleted Scenes show will start sometime after 10 whether it’s convenient for you or us or the rest of Baltimore or not. And for most people, we’re guessing that comes down to not.Late Monday night might be a convenient time for people who work in restaurants or second-shift retail, but for the rest of us, it’s quite inconvenient.

The Chop, however, is blissfully funemployed at the moment, so we’ll likely head over to the Avenue tonight, even though we’d rather have it start at 7 and be in bed by 11.

Deleted Scenes brings their new record to the Golden West tonight.

You can’t have everything, after all, and even though we may have to stay up late to see this show, at least we won’t have to fight crowds. In fact, it may be our last chance to see Deleted Scenes with a little elbow room, because if they’re not filling every room they play now, it’s only a matter of time. Their second full length Young People’s Church of the Air is a very solid follow up to the excellent Birdseed Shirt, and is going to bring people out in numbers in the near future. In fact, tonight’s show is the very first chance you have to buy it on vinyl, so if you want to be the first one on your block you have no choice but to turn out.

For those of us who aren’t voracious vinyl collectors, or who can stand to wait 3-5 days, you can simply order it here or stream and purchase the record in convenient digital format.

Deleted Scenes is making their way up and down the coast with The Life and Times which makes for a pretty tempting double bill. We’re not going to front… We’ve never even heard of The Life and Times until just now, but after checking out their site we highly suspect that’s probably our fault and not theirs. Sounding kind of like a cross between Juno and early Jimmy Eat World, their stuff is right up our alley, and we’re looking forward to checking them out.

And really, that’s the whole reason why we bother to go to crummy little restaurant shows on Monday nights, and why we go to so many shows in the first place… to get to know new bands. It’s sometimes less than convenient, but it beats the hell out of sitting around reading Pitchfork.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Golden West Cafe is at 1105 W 36th Street in Hampden. 10 pm doors.

Leave a comment

Filed under shows

Tomorrow: Puddle, Poly/Western @ Sidebar

You probably know by now that this blog is a big fan of local band Poly/Western. We’ve posted about them before and go to see them every chance we get. Luckily, we get another chance tomorrow night at the Sidebar.

We’ve always said that they were a great band who were bound to get better and better, and since the last time we saw them that’s exactly what’s happened. They’ve gone professional. No more giving away 3 song demos for these guys. If you want the Rock now, you’ve gotta get it from a real, bona fide EP which you can download here for the low low price of $5. They’ve even got a genuine band page on Facebook now, where you can stream songs and such. Of course, if you like them “just as friends,” you can still do that here.

Poly/Western plays the Sidebar tomorrow. 9pm doors.

But wait! There’s more! Puddle is headlining tonight’s show. Do you know how long it’s been since we’ve seen Puddle? More than 10 years. Clinton was president. Yet they’re still riding the same groove they were back then: too much like a jam band for the cool kids, and too cool for the hippies. The bottom line is that they kind of sound like Landspeedrecord! if LSR had gone to Juliard and knew everything there was to know about composition and arrangement. Just when you think Puddle is starting to sound a little too much like Mededski Martin and Wood or some crap, they’ll play something that kind of reminds you of Jawbox. So you’re just going to have to go and make up your own mind.

While you’re at it, you can also make up your own mind about Muscle Twin, who play reggae for white people, and Goodbye New Plans who don’t.

____________________________________________________________________________

Sidebar is at 218 E. Lexington St. Downtown. 18+ 9pm doors.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baltimore Events, shows

Baltimore Beer Week Begins Today

Today is a holiday in the City of Baltimore. It’s not the usual thing for a holiday to be on a Thursday, but… wait; is today Thursday? Who cares! It’s a holiday. A high holy day. A high holy week. And by week, we mean like 2 weeks. Eleven days to be exact.

Today marks the opening festivities for the third annual Baltimore Beer Week with the Star Spangled Banger Parade kicking off at high noon. They’re going to muster up at Fort McHenry with the eponymous banger, a giant ceremonial cask-cracking mallet. The parade itself is somewhat, er, ambitious; rivaling this Spring’s Schaefer Tour in terms of scope.

The Star Spangled Banger... a mighty symbol of Baltimore's thirst for liberty. The liberty to drink beer, that is.

Billed as a walking pub crawl, the parade begins in Locust Point, but includes stops as far-flung as Alonso’s, Grand Cru, and Canton. We’re kind of dubious that people are walking that far for a pub crawl. Carrying a giant mallet all those miles would be part barhopping, part Olympic torch relay, and part Stanley Cup showoff fiasco. We wouldn’t be surprised if the Charm City Pedal Mill were somehow involved.

For those drinkers not of the pedestrian persuasion, the parade ends at Power Plant Live at 6 pm, where the official opening ceremony will take place and the first firkin of heavy seas will be cracked open. After that, Baltimore Beer Week is pretty much a free-for-all with more than 300 separate events from which to choose.

We made the trip to Oktoberfest last year, and it ended up exactly like we said it would. We might even make it back this year, who knows? The truth is that we’re thoroughly incapable of writing one of those elementary school style essays on the theme of “What Baltimore Beer Week Means to Me,” but one thing is certain, with that many events happening, we’re definitely going to sample a few new brews even though we’re decidedly not a beer snob.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baltimore Events, Festivals