The Whiskey 1803
by Sam Farmer
When Maryland natives and lifelong friends Chuck Saine and Keith Beveridge opened The Whiskey 1803 above their restaurant B.F. Biggins on outer West Street, they saw room for something new in Annapolis. The town is replete with small bars for crowded standing-room acts, plus the Rams Head for those inclined to sit for a show. Their brainchild offers something of both atmospheres. With a wide dance floor arcing around the stage and a spattering of small, circular tables in the back and in the side lounge, The Whiskey accommodates a crowd of 200.
“We’re thrilled so far,” Beveridge said. “We’ve had only good people come in, people who are respectful and not out of control. Everybody seems to have a good time.”
Rather than book the talent themselves, Saine and Beveridge turned to insider Dave Tieff, currently of the eclectic jam band Spilling the Sun.
“Dave knows everyone in the industry,” Beveridge said. “We said to him, You like music, and we like you. Then we remodeled the whole upstairs. We increased the stage, added LED lighting, built a drum riser and a new bar.”
Guitarist and singer Tieff played a reunion show with his much-loved former group, Laughing Colors, during 1803’s inauguration Thanksgiving weekend. The Kelly Bell Band, named the best band in Baltimore by The City Paper two years running, performed two nights earlier for the grand opening. Tieff takes the stage every Thursday night alongside former Laughing Colors bandmate and guitarist Corey Hall. Meanwhile, he welcomes the task of booking.
“I’m brand new to this,” Tieff said. “This place is designed like a rock room, but we don’t want to alienate anyone. I love every style, and there’s no reason to pigeonhole the venue. There’s a lot of potential here to fill a void.”
Through February, The Whiskey 1803 hosts music four nights a week, but in March, Tieff expects to bump it up to five.
The Whiskey 1803 banned smoking on January 19, though the balcony out the venue’s back door allows anyone to take the air and stay close to the music. Cover charges rarely exceed single digits.
Good Deale Bluegrass Band appears at The Whiskey 1803 February 9, proving the venue’s variety. Jimmy’s Chicken Shack returns February 23, and Kelly Bell Band follows on February 24.