Tag Archives: Station North

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.

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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.

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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.

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Hipster Parking Lot: Parking Info for Station North and Downtown Clubs

It’s kind of ironic that we’re writing a post about parking now that we’ve resolved to give up our car, but there are two changes in parking at places we go regularly that are worth noting for the rest of you who still have cars.

The first change we noticed was in Station North, at the lot on the corner of 20th and Howard Street. This lot is kind of a minor urban miracle in that it functions as a free community lot where people can park day or night without fear of being towed. A lot of people are quick to denigrate the presence of parking lots, but when they’re free and open to all they’re very much a valuable community resource.

Now, we’ve been parking in this lot for years, and we’ve always kind of wondered who owns it and why they allow free parking, but we never thought it wise to look the free-parking gift horse in the mouth since we’ve never been ticketed, towed, or broken into there.

In this diagram, south is up.

The only difference now is that when we went to Joe Squared last week there was a large poster board with the above graphic lashed to the fence next to the patio. We can only take this to mean that parking in this lot is pretty legit for patrons of all Station North businesses. Who says there’s no such thing as free parking? Now all we gotta do is pass Go and get our $200.

The other parking change is much more substantial and will be of interest to anyone attending shows at Sonar or other clubs near the foot of the JFX.

We’ve always just parked on the street when going to Sonar, Sidebar, etc, since there’s generally not any shortage of street parking near City Hall at night. Going to the Shellac show though, the weather was rainy and since our driver’s side window has been reduced to a pile of Baltimore Diamonds we were looking for sheltered parking.

As it turned out, we were in luck. We’d noticed on Sonar’s website that this show’s listing said parking would be available in the garage above the club for $2. We had always know that there was a garage on top, but had no idea that it was available for show-goers. Not only that, but when we pulled in, there was no one there to take our money. The parking was free.

When we asked the club staff about it at the door, they advised us that nighttime parking in the Farmers’ Market lot under the JFX now costs seven dollars ($7!). They also said that from now on, Sonar patrons can park above the club either for free, or for some rate which will be less than $7.00 depending on the show.

If you zoom in on the embedded map, Sonar itself looks like a parking lot. There are 2 levels of parking on the building, a covered garage, and the exposed rooftop. you can access both levels from Gay Street, passing the church and making a hard left right behind the billboards.

Have any downtown parking tips of your own? Feel free to share them in the comments.

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: Iraq and the Arab Spring Edition

As you know, we usually only talk politics every second and fourth Wednesday, in conjunction with the regular meetings of Baltimore Drinking Liberally. Drinking Liberally will happen as scheduled tomorrow (Joe Squared, 7pm), but we’ve got something else cooked up for then, so we’re waxing political today.

There’s definitely no shortage of topics to cover at the moment. The GOP seems to be having debates about once a week, and each one is more disgraceful than the last. Today though, we’re going to focus on one single idea.

Baltimore's Drinking Liberally chapter will meet tomorrow at Joe Squared. 7 pm.

It may not be a wholly original idea, but it did occur to us quite on its own and we haven’t been able to shake it since. At any rate, it’s not a very popular idea- as we’ve never seen or heard it discussed anywhere in the media- and after we put it forth on our humble little blog here it probably won’t get much more traction because it’s frankly a very uncomfortable idea to accept.

Saddam Hussein never would have survived the Arab Spring.

On the face of it it’s a pretty simple thing, and most people might even shrug it off and say “Hm. Yeah, I guess so. Whatever…” But the more you think of it the more disturbing it becomes. It implies that the entire Iraq war effort was completely unnecessary. They likely would have come to the same result on their own.

Now, there were many, many people who said before the invasion that the war was wholly unnecessary. The Chop was among them, and we knew at the time that there were no WMD’s, that there was no collusion between Iraq and Al Qaida, and that Iraq presented absolutely no threat to the United States. But the point of this post is not to say we told you so. It’s to ask the question What if we’d known the Arab Spring was coming?

Of course, none of us has a crystal ball, and back in 2003 there wasn’t anyone anywhere who was predicting what’s going on now across the Arab world. Hindsight is 20/20 though, and it would be irresponsible of us as a nation not to examine our actions and motives in light of subsequent events. Saddam Hussein was not drastically different from any other Middle East dictator, and if anything the Iraqi Street was even more primed and ready for a revolution than most of the country’s neighbors.

A best-case scenario for Iraq would have been a revolution similar to that which occurred in Egypt. This is the type of regime change that was laid out by the Bush administration at the time; a quick bout of fighting with a minimal number of casualties followed by an orderly transition to democratic rule. Unfortunately, they couldn’t deliver on it. We actually passed through Egypt in July and the lower-level nonpolitical government officials we dealt with were not only still showing up for work and keeping things running smoothly, but there was actually less evidence of bribery and corruption about.

A more likely case for Iraq would have been what happened in Libya. The US already had a no-fly zone and a raft of sanctions in place in Iraq, and there’s little doubt that that the US, NATO or both would have been delighted to manage Libyan-style air strikes on Regime targets, even to the point of “shock and awe.” As soon as the first bomb fell the PKK would have seized complete control of the North, and the Shiite militias would likely have taken the south without much difficulty. The Republican Guard should have stayed loyal to Saddam, but regular Iraqi army units probably would have defected almost immediately, either remaining loyal to a cadre of generals or blending into militias.

Saddam himself would probably have done just what Gaddafi did, hiding out in or around Tikrit, or possibly attempting a run for the Syrian border. It’s entirely possible that his clown-show of a trial and his inhumane circus of a hanging would have happened exactly as they did, as there was little US or international involvement in either of those events. The “Sunni Awakening” might have been part an parcel of the larger Arab Spring, and in the end it’s easy to imagine that Iraq’s post-revolution government would be just as hapless and dysfunctional as its post-invasion government has been. The absolute worst case scenario would have been a bloody years-long nationwide civil war, but the Iraqis had that anyway, whether the neo-cons want to admit it or not. They could have just as well fought their civil war without us.

We have to mention too that Libya is a nuclear-armed country. That is to say, they have real, actual weapons of mass destruction. There are also large stores of chemical weapons there that were not used throughout the revolution by either side. The answer in Libya did not “come in the form of a mushroom cloud” so to speak.

But Libya isn’t even the worst-case scenario. We’ll grant that it is possible Iraq could have seen the horrific type of one-sided massacres that are still happening today in Syria. However, the situation in Syria is far from over. We don’t see any way that the Assad regime can come out of this in tact, especially given that he’s garnered the type of widespread international scorn and condemnation that Saddam never did.

Now, what about the countries that didn’t revolt? What about Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, where blossoming discord was nipped in the bud?

The Saudis basically bought their way out of a revolution, giving everyone in the country a nice check and creating thousands of new jobs, primarily to be filled by men 18-25. It’s easy to fight on an empty stomach, and the Saudis are now making goddamn sure that every able-bodied fighting-age man has a bellyful of bread. Likewise, they’re exerting a lot of influence and pouring a lot of resources into their much smaller neighbor Bahrain. They even put Saudi troops on the ground there to keep the peace. After so many years of sanctions, Saddam simply didn’t have the money to buy his way out of a revolution, and no one else had nearly enough power and influence to offer protection to such a large country as Iraq.

So there we have it. Ten years on and the result in Iraq might have been exactly the same. Well, almost the same: without invading, we would have saved one trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000.). We’d have saved the lives of over 4400 US service personnel and up to 100,000 Iraqi civilians. No Abu Ghraib. No Torture. No diversion of resources from Afghanistan. No war profiteering.

And George Bush says he has no regrets.

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: Weiner’s COCK Edition

Today is the second Wednesday of the month, and as usual Progressives of all stripes will be gathering on the patio of Joe Squared to swap stories, talk politics, and drink beers at the regular meeting of the Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally.

Meetings start at 7 pm and are open to anyone who wishes to attend. Just look for the table with the red, white, and blue bottle and introduce yourself.

Baltimore's Drinking Liberally meets at Joe Squared tonight. 7 pm.

Of course, the topic of Weiner’s wiener is bound to come up, but we’ve been tired of that pun for at least two weeks. We’re going to insist on calling it Weiner’s COCK if we have to talk about it at all. Come on… that’s how people talk anyway. When’s the last time anybody sent a wiener pic? No one ever has. People send cock pics. Weiner sent a picture of his cock.

As far as where that leaves us now… well, we still think Andrew Breitbart is a sleazy, sensationalist, predatory asshole. He just happened to be right, the same way a broken clock will be twice a day. It’s safe to say that we won’t be seeing much more of Weiner on programs like Maddow and sites like Twitter. He’ll be going about his job much more quietly from now on. As to whether or not he gets to keep his seat, that’s up to the voters to decide, but we’re thinking he does. As we pointed out two weeks ago, sex scandals happen all the time now, and you’ve got to be pretty sleazy these days to seriously raise eyebrows. We don’t think that being a horny 16 year old who just got his first Myspace page will ultimately prove that destructive to the distinguished gentleman from New York.

In non-Weiner’s cock related news, this is also a good day to talk about who will be the next mayor of Baltimore. SRB, Otis Rolley, Jody Landers, and Catherine Pugh are all officially in, and with 98 days left until the election, it’s not out of the question that Kweisi Mfume, Carl Stokes, Andre Bundley or some other dark horse candidate could throw his or her hat in the ring. Like 99% of the city, we haven’t even pretended to pay much attention at this point, but any one of those names is a huge step up from one of the most hated people in Baltimore, Sheila Dixon.

Being mayor of Baltimore is a really hard fucking job and honestly, we’re surprised that even that many people would want to do it. With more than one candidate that we’d actually consider voting for already in the race, we feel like we’ve already won.

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Secret Mountains, Dangerous Ponies @ Golden West Tonight

We were sad to hear the news a few weeks ago that the Hexagon Space was closing. We’re sad to hear about any venue closing up, even if we don’t go there very often. Fletcher’s, The Supreme Imperial, even Hal Daddy’s; we may have gone there pretty seldom, but any venue is better than no venue in our eyes.

That said, we weren’t exactly losing sleep over it. The law of supply and demand has always governed underground music venues in Baltimore, and sometimes it almost seems as if one space needs to close before someone else will take the initiative to open a new one. Every time we hear about something like this, we’re sorry for it, but more than anything we’re excited to see what new thing the future holds.

Secret Mountains plays Golden West tonight.

So it is with the Hexagon. The way that City Paper article reads, the thing that takes the Hexagon’s place might even literally take its place, and another DIY venue is not out of the question for that address. The room is a great place to watch bands, but Joy Martin is right… there had to be more shows there in order to make the space live up to its potential. The last time we were there was actually more than a year before the closing.

In the meantime though, the shows must go on, and the scene is none the poorer for losing Hexagon. For instance, tonight the Golden West is hosting a show which is nearly the exact same bill as one of the better Hexagon shows in recent memory. Local favorites Secret Mountains are rejoined by their Philly friends and contemporaries Hop Along and Dangerous Ponies.

If you’re the type who likes taping shows or taking photos of them, this one would be a good choice to document. Three great bands for five bucks on a Wednesday, after all the real-job-having nine to five types have packed it in for the night. This show will be one of those little things that makes Summer so Summery, and if you’re serious about getting your Summertime fun on, this one’s not to be missed.

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Tomorrow: Charles Street Friday Market @ Charles & Lanvale

The Chop has always has decidedly mixed feelings about farmers’ markets. We’re certainly glad they’re there… no doubt about that. At the same time though, we don’t actually go out to them and buy produce as often as we probably ought to.

We like the Waverly market quite a lot, but it ends at noon and quite frankly if we’re waking up at 10:30, getting dressed and running out to buy vegetables isn’t always at the top of our priorities list, especially if we’ve still got to go into Giant for items not available outside. That’s the reason it took us so long to get to the JFX Farmers’ Market, and now that we’ve been, well, we’re in no rush to go back. The JFX market is just the right mix of dirty hippies, snotty yuppies, oblivious children, and a 30-deep line for coffee to make it equal to about the 5th level of hell.

Charles Street Friday Market combines two classic Baltimore pastimes: buying produce and drinking in the street.

The new Charles Street Friday Market might be a little more up our alley. First of all, we don’t have to roll our ass out of bed at the crack of 9 am to get there on time. The Lanvale Street location is just about perfect for being close to home and central, but not blocking up Friday rush hour traffic, and being in Station North (we suspect) will draw a better mix of people than some other area markets.

We were out of town last Friday for the inaugural setup of the Friday Market, but we expect it will have everything the JFX offers, only on a decreased scale. We’re looking for tomatoes and corn and spinach and asparagus… the hula hoops and baubles and scented soap are none of our concern.

But perhaps the best thing going for the Friday market is that they’ve got the one thing we may love more than coffee… beer. The market is sponsored by Frederick’s Flying Dog Brewery, and you can even sip on an Old Scratch or a Snake Dog while you’re shopping. In addition, the Metro Gallery will open its doors at 3 pm with happy hour specials, and is also now featuring a carry out license for beer and wine.

The combination of a farmers’ market and a happy hour isn’t just clever, it’s one of those ideas that’s so ingenious that we didn’t even know we needed it in our lives until someone invented it. As if you weren’t doing enough good by supporting local farms and brewers, a portion of the market’s sales will go to benefit League of Dreams, which helps children with developmental disabilities get involved with baseball and softball throughout the area. It’s not just win-win, it’s win-win-win.

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Charles Street Friday Market runs from 3-8 pm every Friday in the unit block of Lanvale Street.

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