And the Winners Are...Arts & Entertainment
Vol. 9, No. 33
August 16-22, 2001
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Not Just for Kids
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Best Movie Theater
Crown Annapolis Mall
Prince Frederick’s boxy little Apex was a popular vote for its rare convenience to pop-culture-deprived Calvert denizens. Eastport Crown won deserved favor for its run of artsy, often subtitled films.

But neither could beat Crown Annapolis Mall, an 11-screen juggernaut with stadium seating, a thunderous sound system and funky-cool architecture. Parents can dig the free kids’ movies on Wednesday and Thursday mornings through summer; twilight shows are still a bargain at $3.50.

Best Video Selection
Megachain Blockbuster wins out with its copious collection of new releases, growing selection of DVDs, reasonable prices and long-term rentals. Not all franchise stores are equal, but the better ones now carry DVD versions of old films - like Roundtree’s original Shaft - that have long since worn out on tape.

Best Statue
Alex Haley, Annapolis City Dock
Sitting at the corner of City Dock where runabouts now jockey for mooring space is Annapolis’ newest statue (installed December 7, 1999). Surrounded by the bustling City Dock of present, a bronze-cast Alex Haley has eyes on the past, looking beyond the harbor while reading the story of Kunta Kinte to a trio of statue children gathered at his feet.

Haley’s famous story Roots has all the more significance here, for this is the very spot where his ancestor Kunta Kinte touched American soil for the first time, delivered by a three-month voyage from Gambia to be sold into slavery. This monument at once calls to mind a poignant chapter in history and strikes a tone of reconciliation. For this, the monument surpassed even the Naval Academy’s fabled Tecumseh for the title of Best Statue.

Best Local Theater Company
Colonial Players
Colonial Players has set a high standard for community theater for over 50 years. While entertaining generation after generation of audiences, one generation of actors and theater volunteers has spawned the next.

Professionalism starts at the door, with a theater box office and inviting lobby filled with local art. Inside this theater in the round, magic happens. Nothing is left to chance. Sound, light, stage design, costumes, directing and acting come together in harmony and artistry.

What’s more, the company takes chances. It educates and stretches its audience while honing its own theater crafts through workshops and mentoring for its members. Colonial Players can afford to take risks in its line-up. It’s financially sound, owning its own theater in downtown Annapolis, plus another building used for rehearsals and storage. Eighty percent of tickets are sold ahead of time, to subscribers.

Colonial Players’ 2000 season included a Southern family’s look at death in Dearly Departed; twins separated at birth in Blood Brothers; the English/Irish problems in The Clearing; and the side-splitting comedy Inspecting Carol. It brought to Chesapeake Country plays by Steinbeck and Fugard, the same playwrights whose works appear in big cities.
No wonder Bay Weekly readers chose Colonial Players as the best local theater company.

Best Theater Production of 2000
Colonial Players’ A Christmas Carol
It’s easy to understand why Bay Weekly readers chose Colonial Player’s Christmas Carol as the best theater production in 2000. Dick Gessner and Richard Wade’s romp through Dickens has it all: music, dancing, spirits, lots of kids and a marvelous Scrooge.

David Harper, Colonial Players’ Scrooge, took to the boards for the 11th time in 2000, wearing his signature red long johns and hissing “bah humbug.” Harper says appearing in the show is “like putting the first ornament on my tree.” As the reformed Scrooge, he sings “Keeping Christmas,” plucks a youngster from the audience and dances and sings around the stage. What fun!

Colonial Players’ gift to the community is a tradition for both actors and audience. Ticket buyers lined up on November 18, 2000 to buy their $5 tickets for the December shows. For many families, standing in line on East Street has become a Christmas tradition, the first ornament on their tree.

Best Jukebox
Double T Diner
The booths at the Double T Diner are commodities hot as the pancakes served 24 hours. The appeal? Your table’s own personal juke box. Each juke box contains a couple dozen compact discs, with scope to season your meal to suit your musical taste.

Best Place to Hear Live Music
Ram’s Head On Stage
Superior acoustics and nationally ranked acts win the prize for Ram’s Head On Stage, say Bay Weekly readers. As musicians from Chesapeake Country’s own Bill Kirchen to Leon Redbone to James Cotton fill the spacious room, every seat is within range of the harmonies.

On Stage is an intimate setting, treating the audience to an up-close and personal feel of the groups that play this warmly lit venue. The stage, which is more of a riser, puts the crowd close to the music. You’re escorted to your table – it’s not a free-for-all like some clubs. For more than two, reserve enough room for your entire party.

With colorful murals covering the walls, creating a lively backdrop, On Stage is a comfortable, uncrowded atmosphere. Think of it as a live music lounge/theater venue — not a dark, smoke-filled club where you must push through dozens of people to get anywhere.
With wait staff stationed in each seating area, the service is efficient. You don’t have to leave your seat to place an order for food or drink. Rams Head’s own Fordham Brewing Co. beers make a good choice of beverage.

Best Local Band
Mama Jama
Since 1990, Mama Jama have been intoxicating Bay music lovers with their eclectic blend of rock, reggae, calypso and blues. If you haven’t seen - or heard - Mama Jama play, you don’t get out enough. The band plays everywhere, from week-long performances at local bars and restaurants to benefit concerts to the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival.

So it was no contest when Bay Weekly readers filled in their Best of the Bay surveys: Mama Jama, Mama Jama, Mama Jama, read the responses.

“We’re a party band,” said drummer and original member Larry Griffin. “You can’t sit down when we play. We just make you feel good.” Griffin, a notable figure within Chesapeake Country in part because of his humanitarian work with WeCare and Friends among other groups, is joined in the band by John Gladstone - the other remaining original member — Avon Lucas, Henry Sar, Fallah Dadzie and Mike McHenry.

Thankful for the votes, Griffin was also quick to note the plenitude of equally deserving talent. “Annapolis does have a good music scene,” he said. “People need to support all the musicians and musicians need to support all the people.”

Check Bay Weekly’s “8 Days a Week” calendar and “Music Notes” to find Mama Jama playing any given week.

Best Bay Writer
Bill Burton
It’s no surprise Bay Weekly readers vote Bill Burton the best writer on the Bay. ‘Papa’ Burton’s the man who sets the standard. He’s the guy we all try to live up to. Yet he writes like you and he are talking over a cup of coffee or backyard fence.

At 74 Burton remains the premier outdoors writer in Chesapeake Country, more prolific than writers half his age.

We attribute a good measure of Bay Weekly’s appeal - thus our success - to Bill Burton’s presence on our pages.

He’s been on our masthead and pages since issue No. 5. Newly retired from The Baltimore Evening Sun, he saw the promise in the bright new idea we then called New Bay Times. For most of 400 issues, he’s brought us a strength and sagacity envied by papers many times our age.

In his long career, Burton has turned his hand to political and news reporting, radio and television, books and outdoors journals.

The New England native broke into journalism with the Plainfield News at Goddard College in Vermont, where he published his first article, a special edition on a fire that destroyed the town’s biggest business. He also carried the paper to the printer and sold it on the street for five cents a copy.

Burton did a stint in Alaska, but he found the “best job in the world” with the Baltimore Evening Sun. No, he created it himself. In his own words:

When I got discharged from the Navy Seabees, I was told I’d have to have a sedentary job all my life. I didn’t believe them and wanted to build myself up. I went home to Harlington, Vt., to recuperate by hunting and fishing.

Then I took journalism at Goddard College on the G.I. bill. My second semester I was made editor of the paper. My third semester, they opened a radio station in Montpelier, and as a disabled veteran, I got paid full-time as a journeyman. In a year I was a full-fledged journalist. After a couple of years, I switched to newspapers.

I had a bunch of outdoors notes people had sent in that I put together in a column, “Outdoor Trails and Tales,” and I wrote that periodically. Outdoors writing was not big in the country at the time, but wherever I was, I wrote an outdoors column as an extra, until in 1956 The Sun hired me on full time as an outdoors reporter. I’ve been a full-time outdoors reporter for 45 years.

Living the life he writes about, Burton has fished with two presidents, backpacked the Appalachian Trail in a wind-chill of 96 below, flown over Arctic tundras to check on migratory birds, hunted game big and small - and fished most every drop of water in Maryland.

At home, the proud father of six and double-digit grandfather lives in Riviera Beach with wife Lois, who is director of testing and tutoring at Anne Arundel Community College.

He also writes for The Capital and Maryland Gazette and the monthly Fishing and Hunting Journal. He edits the annual Maryland Deer Hunting Guide and Fishing in Maryland.

You either love Burton or hate him, which is just the way the old man of the Bay wants it. His greatest satisfaction comes from provoking readers to think about issues - whether by sentiment, shock or irreverence.

So many of you will rejoice to know your old friend returns next week, after three weeks’ rest and recovery from surgery to rebuild his writing - and fishing - shoulder.

For the minority who wish he’d go away, Burton says, “They’re not getting their wishes. I’ve been writing for 55 years and I’m not about to stop.”

Best Concert of 2000
Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival
For three years in a row, the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival has delivered top-name blues and rock bands to Sandy Point State Park for a weekend-long benefit concert. The brainchild of local enterpreneur and businessman Don Hooker, the Bluesfest has brought to the Bay such blues and jazz legends as John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley and Johnny Lang, as well as more mainstream sounds like George Thorogood.

Hooker’s hopes were twofold. First, a Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival would help keep the blues alive, deepening people’s respect for the musical genre with exposure to some of the still-living greats who helped make the blues what they are. Second, Hooker wanted to help local charities.

In joining these two goals, the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival was born.

This past May, the two-day event drew its largest crowd to date, some 18,000 people, and raised more than $100,000.

“Next year’s Blues Festival will be even better,” said Aniella Ciuffetelli, director.
The musical lineup for May 2002 should be decided by early next year. Check out their website at

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Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly