Arts & Entertainment

 Vol. 10, No. 34

August 22-28, 2002

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Best of the Bay 2002

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Best Gallery
Main Street Gallery, Prince Frederick
Back in 1994 on our first visit, Prince Frederick’s Main Street Gallery delighted our eye and tickled our fancy. In the front yard of a square wooden house, a huge open metal hand, symbolic trade mark of the artist since the earliest cave days, attracted our attention. We were enchanted by a ribbon of stones, glass and ceramic plate shards that led the visitor around the house from the parking area to a mammoth pine hung with beads of many colors to the inviting front door.

Evidently, Bay Weekly readers in great number have been tickled and delighted as well, choosing Main Street Best Gallery on the Bay in our latest poll.

These days, the open hand still stands, the path still glitters, the beads dangle and you may be greeted by a large friendly black retriever named Randall into the coziest gallery along the Bay.

Nancy Collery and husband Jeff Klapper create an intimate and friendly atmosphere in what was once Collery’s grandmother’s house. Visitors feel like welcome guests among a visual feast of paintings, glassworks, ceramics, jewelry and objects that share a front hall and three rooms with an antique sofa, chairs, sideboards and display cases.

“We show the work of artists from near and far,” says Collery. “We have good stuff by good artists who are also nice people.”

Among the “good artists” are Jerry Hovanec and Ruthann Uithol, a husband and wife glassworks team whose vases, plates and objects have earned them a place in the permanent collection of the Renwick Gallery in Washington as well as museums and galleries world wide.

Another is daughter Parran Collery, whose evocative handmade tile objects for home, garden and spirit blend whimsy, words and familiar objects with fine craft. Her ceramics studio is just out back where she’s continuously busy keeping up with orders from galleries, shops and customers across the country. Parran Collery is not just family; she’s an artist recognized in the March 2002 issue of Ceramics Monthly.

Michael Showalter, a recent college graduate who “grew up just down the road,” shows fine glass with feathered colors of green, gold and blue near oil paintings of mythologized love by Julia Musengo of Broomes Island and vivid watercolors by Diana Marta of Ellicott City. One wall features funky, fanciful clocks made with recycled CDs made by Collery. “I call it selling time,” she says.

These delights are priced from under $10 up to $2,500 for some paintings.

Best Writer on the Bay
Bill Burton
In once again naming Bill Burton as the best writer on our part of the Bay, Bay Weekly readers have recognized that the snap, pop and crackle of youth has to work to compete against the seasoning of age. In writing as in fishing, Burton is a pro. He knows where the fish are and what bait will bring them to his hook. Like fish, people rise to his bait. So week after week in Bay Weekly, he gets what every writer wants most: response. In the game of getting a rise, negative is as good as positive.

There’s another thing that makes Bill Burton Best of the Bay. After five decades, he still thinks writing is sport. For him, each story, like each trip out on the water, is a new way to have fun. You love a thing as much as he does, and you’ll get good at it too.

Best Movie Theater
Crown Annapolis Mall
Eastport Crown garnered favor from Bay Weekly readers by offering artsy independent and foreign films, but it couldn’t compete with the Hollywood smorgasbord served up at Crown Annapolis Mall, an 11-screen juggernaut with stadium seating and a thunderous sound system. Long lines and sold-out shows are common, but you can always buy tickets ahead and browse Borders or snack on some foodcourt fare. Twilight shows are a bargain, and seniors pay that price all day Thursday.

Best Local Theater Company
Twin Beach Players
The up-and-coming neighborhood theater in Chesapeake Country is Twin Beach Players. Started in the fall of 1997 by a small group of theater lovers led by Anne Remy, their first production was A Christmas Carol directed by Joyce Halley. It was a moveable feast, with the audience traveling from one restaurant to another to view the three acts while munching on appetizer, entree and dessert.

Since then the Players have brought together politicians, town residents, kids of all ages, business owners and theater professionals, like Sid Curl from the Maryland Hall of Creative Arts, to perform onstage or work backstage.

The Players’ stage echoes with the words of Shakespeare as well as those of Charles Schultz. They can count on the Beaches audiences to go with the flow, attending shows in neighboring restaurants, Bayfront empty lots, The Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and Chesapeake Arts Center.

Along the way, they’ve won so many hearts that Bay Weekly readers voted them this year’s best local theater company.

Best 2001 Theater Production
Colonial Players’ A Christmas Carol
The area’s favorite Christmas tradition starts way before the holiday itself. Five-dollar theater tickets are usually hard to find, but not for the traditional Colonial Players’ A Christmas Carol. The Players consider this show to be their gift to Chesapeake Country residents and friends.
In November, when tickets go on sale, people line East Street in Annapolis. Adults, kids, neighbors and visitors from afar gossip and laugh, waiting patiently while being feted by members of the troupe.

Dickens’ story of greed and redemption, with play and lyrics by Richard Wade and music by Dick Gessner, has become a Bay Country tradition. Performed every year but one since 1980, the production has become a family as well as community affair. Generations of families fill the audience, generations of Players light up the boards and toil backstage.
Some of the delights of past seasons have included: the red underwear of perennial favorite Scrooge David Harper, the finale with Scrooge dancing merrily holding a child plucked from the audience and a curtain call filled with the shining faces of new thespians.
No wonder year after year — with this year no exception — it’s the local theater production Bay Weekly readers love best.

Best Place to Hear Live Music
Ram’s Head Onstage
Once again, intimate encounters with living legends win the prize for Ram’s Head Onstage.
The Onstage formula is simple: book acts as various as Ralph Stanley, Suzanne Vega and the Neville Brothers — even local favorites like Tom Wisner (the only qualification, it seems, is a cult following). Then sit’m within spitting distance of everyone in the room.
It’s a formula that works — maybe a little too well. Sold-out crowds are packed in like sardines. The tables run right up to the stage, leaving no room to dance. Wait service is provided, but the staff won’t reach you more than twice a show. A shame, since the Ram’s Head offers its fresh brews — but at least you won’t have to crawl over anyone’s lap to reach the restroom.

Best Local Musician or Band
Mama Jama
Two impressions of Bob Marley have survived his death. On one hand Marley is remembered as a tortured poet, devout Rastafarian and political icon; one the other, he’s remembered as a stoned beach bum more akin to Jimmy Buffet than Martin Luther King, Jr.
It is the latter Marley that Mama Jama has resurrected. Since 1990, Mama Jama’s members — who hail from West Africa and the Americas — have been soothing Chesapeake Country’s stressed-out denizens with a smooth, intoxicating blend of rock, reggae and calypso. Indeed, an evening with Mama Jama is something like a Caribbean cruise spent sipping frozen daiquiris.

“We’re a party band,” drummer Larry Griffin admits. “We just make you feel good.”
Kick back with Mama Jama at these upcoming Chesapeake Country appearances: noon Aug. 24 @ Beachfest, North Beach; 9:30pm Sep. 6 @ Surfside, Edgewater; 6-8pm Sep. 8 @ Maryland Seafood Festival, Sandy Point State Park, Annapolis.

Best Outdoor Concert
Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival
Nearly 16,000 people converged in Sandy Point State Park the weekend of May 18 from points as distant as New York, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas and even California. They came not for crab cakes or rock fish, but the blues.

“The Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival was incredible,” fan Larry Gareau said. “I had a great time and will be back every year.”

The brainchild of local entrepreneur Don Hooker, the festival has brought the legends of the blues to Chesapeake Country for five years running — and drawn consistent crowds. This year’s line-up included Jerry Lee Lewis, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Double Trouble and the Blues Imperials. Previous festivals have included Buddy Guy, Little Feat, John Lee Hooker, Wilson Pickett, Bo Diddley and James Brown.

This year’s festival raised over $100,000 for four charities: the Mid-Atlantic Make-A-Wish Foundation, We Care and Friends, Special Olympics Maryland and the Johns Hopkins Craniofacial Center.

“It was a great weekend,” festival coordinator Aniela Ciuffetelli said. “We are looking at a smaller event to raise more money.”

That show, August 29, features Jonny Lang, Koko Taylor and the Michael Burks Band at Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro. For more information read this week’s 8 Days a Week or check out

Best DJ
Damian Einstein of WRNR is the shaman of radio. This rock-jock is a human encyclopedia, holding volumes upon volumes of music knowledge inside his cranium. Since his pioneering days on the original 102.3, Bethesda, Damian has brought color and joy to the Bay area airwaves by cleverly weaving tapestries of story and song into the ears of radio listeners. He delicately whittles off pieces of his musical experiences, collects them in his palms and humbly offers them to anyone tuning in. His battles with death and discrimination echo in the tremors of his voice, exposing a deep sincerity that has been lost by virtually all other radio personalities in this age of button-pushing phonies. Damian is music; his life is like a CD box-set complete with out-takes and previously unheard treasures. Flip through the FM dial to 103.1, unearth one of these treasures and discover what Bay Weekly readers know: why Damian is the best. Tune in to Damian M-Th 7pm-midnight on 103.1, WRNR.

Best Jukebox
Double T Diner
Since their happy heyday in the ’50s, diners have changed. Once the diner was a mainstay of middle America, a gathering spot for teenagers rocking around the clock. Today’s diners are shiny polished icons to the past, perhaps nowhere more so than at the Double T Diner, with two locations (one in Annapolis, the other Pasadena) serving Bay Weekly readers.
Keeping the link to the past at Double T are the miniature, personal juke boxes at each of the ever-popular booths, which earned the 24-hour diner its second-in-a-row Best Jukebox award from you readers.

You won't find Fonzie bumping the side for a free play, but you'll have lots of fun browsing through the many choices — all on compact disc — and tapping your foot to some good old rock’n’roll.

Best Fireworks
Folks along Chesapeake Bay are patriotic, and they've got fireworks to prove it. In fact, there are so many official fireworks displays that some neighboring communities schedule their fireworks on days bordering the Fourth so as not to compete.

But this side of Baltimore or Washington, no place offers the volume, the accessability or the flair of the state's capital, Annapolis. Each year a barrage of sky-rocketing explosives illuminates the sky for better than a half-hour, thrilling onlookers from City Dock, the shore of the Naval Academy grounds, pedestrians along the Severn River Bridge and beyond.

That thrill is why Bay Weekly readers gave Annapolis this year’s salute for Bay's Best fireworks.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly