5 Nights a Week
Why stay at home when Annapolis’ best music is so cheap?
by Rob Goszkowski
Midweek music in Annapolis is cheap and easy though it never sounds that way.
Creating your fun and defining Naptown’s culture, a reliable calendar of solid local talent appears every night of the week. With summer in full swing, stick this list to your fridge to remind you of the summer rotation of regular Sunday through Thursday performers.
Sunday: The Rob Levit Trio at Galway Bay
11:30am to 2:30pm: No cover, but served with Sunday brunch
Okay, it’s not a night. But the music and setting are too good to skip. Rob Levit is one of the great contributors to the Annapolis arts community. He wears so many hats painter, writer, educator and founder of the charitable Creating Communities Foundation that it’s easy to forget what an accessible talent he is.
For the past four years Levit on guitar, Amy Shook on keys and Frank Russo on drums have created sublime jazz to eat by in Galway’s rustic Irish surroundings. As well as jazz standards and classics, expect the exceptionally creative Levit & Co. to mix it up with unique renditions of these numbers and original compositions. Take it in with a helping of Irish comfort food, and you’ll have one satisfied Sunday. www.RobLevit.com
Monday Nights: The Mike McHenry Tribe at Rams Head Tavern
10pm-close: No cover
Mike McHenry has earned a steady living and a solid reputation around the Annapolis bar scene as one of the local guitar gods. Fans of blues-based guitar shredding will be satiated by McHenry’s swift-fingered soloing in his spiced-up versions of rock-and-roll classics. Keep an ear out for his Hendrix interpolations or the occasional Funkadelic number, a throwback to his days with Clones of Funk.
Rams Head’s downstairs bar is cozy enough to seem like a packed house on a weeknight when most stay home. The smoking ban has improved the formerly thick atmosphere, though the beer quality has suffered since the Head’s brewing has moved off-premise. Overall, the itch to grab a pint and hear some great tunes for no cover on a quiet night is easily solved here.
Tuesday Nights: The Jarflys at Armadillo’s
10pm-close: $2 cover
Tuesday nights at ’Dillo’s will make you realize that Annapolis is a great town for music. The Jarflys play original rock and pop with a dose of soul and a sense of humor. Of course the elephant in the room (or on stage more accurately) is Jimi Davies, known as Jimi Ha Ha when he was playing full-time as the front man for Jimi’s Chicken Shack. The Shack was Naptown’s own band that made it, but the big time music business quickly melted away their time in the national spotlight.
Now Annapolitans are lucky to have a first-rate songwriter and performer every week in the heart of downtown for a paltry two bucks. The other ’Flys Noel White on drums, Larry Melton on bass, Jon Gillespie on keys, Junior Brice on saxophone and Bryan Ewald on guitar have all built their own individual careers locally with bands including Blue Miracle and The Allmighty Senators. So it’s a real treat to have all of them together regularly. www.Jarflys.com
Wednesday Nights: Meg & Bryan at Heroes
10pm-close: No cover
Meg & Bryan’s presence at one of Annapolis’ best local watering holes makes the room seem like a neighborhood jamboree where you can sing like you do in the shower or dance where there isn’t much of a dance floor and not feel silly about it. The scene is about as casual as it can get on these nights, and conquering humpday is a cinch with a little help from the selection of 48 beers on tap.
Bryan Ewald, one of the city’s busiest musicians, also performs with The Jarflys. But here we get to see a different side of him than the hard-rocking sideman he is on Tuesdays. On Wednesdays he’s an affable, funny and funky foil to Meg Murray’s sweet and straightforward demeanor. His skills on guitar are apparent every night, and he makes a lot of sound with just an acoustic guitar.
Murray is no slouch on guitar either, but it’s her voice that really shines. She’s had her own brushes with the big time, and with her considerable talent and ability to sing jazz one minute or a whimsical pop song the next, you’ll be thrilled to witness one of Annapolis’ secrets. www.megmurray.com; www.bryanewald.com
Thursday Nights: The Grilled Lincolns at The Whiskey
10pm-close: No cover
Unplugged never really means unplugged, but you can count on it to mean less loud. This setting showcases a specific dimension of The Grilled Lincolns. They approach their live shows with more than new songs, jams and improvisation, or guest appearances by other local players though they do all that too.
They prep for shows a bit like a stand-up comedian. Running gags extend through stretches of their live performances badinage comes naturally to a band playing 12 to 15 shows per month and they’ll play with the gags until they’re out of steam and replaced by some other inspiration.
Retired bits include a Michael McDonald-off, where something like a raunchy R. Kelly tune or hardcore hip-hop song is sung in the soft-rock soulman’s distinctive yowl with hilarious or head-scratching results. Another R&B number features apologies for various misdeeds against one’s girlfriend with such lines as, that one time I brought (criminal cum football star) Pacman Jones to your grandma’s birthday. The same song featured scat-battles between drummer/rapper Robbie D. and keyboardist/vocalist Jeremy Ragsdale in shows past.
The G-linx often bring company with them, so expect to see other funky rock bands like Pasadena or 86 the Effort in opening slots or intermingling musically on stage. The laid-back feel of The Whiskey, live music and regular drink specials are making this venue one of the best in Annapolis to get charged up for the weekend ahead. www.Grilledlincolns.com