Best of Baltimore 2012

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Arts & Entertainment

  • Everyman Theatre

    1727 N. Charles St., everymantheatre.org, (410) 752-2208 In January the Everyman Theatre moves into its big new building on Fayette Street, around the corner from the Hippodrome, but the company moved into the big time five years ago with eye-opening, ambitious productions of Shakespeare's Much...

  • Baltimore Rock Opera Society

    baltimorerockopera.org If newsprint was technologically advanced enough, this Best Of award would be a rockin' operetta for 8,000 electric guitars, 600,000 voices, and a whole bunch of other shit, and it would be called "The Ballad of BROS and BOB." We can hear Besty™ rising above the other voices,...

  • Kwame Kwei-Armah

    Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St., centerstage.org, (410) 986-4000 Kwame Kwei-Armah is Maryland's best director in two senses. As artistic director of Center Stage, he has righted the foundering ship and set it on a promising path. He has repaired relations with the local theater community and has...

  • Private Lives at Everyman

    1727 N. Charles St., http://everymantheatre.org, (410) 752-2208 Noel Coward's comedies have not worn well, and audiences have sat through too many tired productions where talented actors, designers, and directors do competent work with nothing to show for it but a few chuckles and polite applause....

  • Alex Hacker

    Yellow Sign Theatre, 1726 N. Charles St. With This Bird's Flown: a Travest of Antiquity, Dionysus bartender Alex Hacker proved he'd been touched by the Greek god of drama. His voice emerged as a powerful mix of naturalism and poeticism, bringing together the themes and characters of Greek tragedy...

  • Danielle Robinette

    stillpointeti.tumblr.com When it comes to theater, Danielle Robinette is a show stealer. Just ask anyone who saw her larger than life performance as Hel in the Baltimore Rock Opera Society's production of Valhella: The Ragnarokkoperetta last spring. A member of the burgeoning Stillpointe Theatre...

  • Bruce Nelson

    Bruce Nelson has played so many weirdos in his mind-boggling career as Maryland's finest actor that the only way he had left to surprise us was to play someone as utterly conventional as Elyot Chase in Private Lives. That's just what he did at the Everyman Theatre last winter, appearing as the...

  • Corey Hennessey

    With the awesome power of a thousand exploding Adam Ants, Hennessey is the glam-rock god of Baltimore. If you were lucky enough last year to take a Spirit Cruise and were blown away by Corey Hennessey, the one-man fountain of feline ferocity and raw sex-rock goodness, famous for his tour-boat renditions...

  • The dogs from the Baltimore Humane Society

    1601 Nicodemus Road, Reisterstown, bmorehumane.org, (410) 833-8848 This past year, the Shakespeare Factory embarked (heh) on a collaboration with the Baltimore Humane Society to bring adoptable animals on stage, placing them in supporting roles in Shakespearean classics like Macbeth and Love's...

  • Hanne Blank's Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality

    Beacon Press, beacon.org Dear marriage-equality haters and general homophobic reactionaries: The idea of heterosexual being the "normal" (read: right and natural) sexual orientation for humans is a relatively novel idea, dating only from the mid-19th century. How psychiatry and social Darwinism...

  • The Twenty-Year Death, by Ariel s. Winter

    wetoowerechildren.blogspot.com Like any writer who seems to burst up fully formed from out of nowhere, Ariel S. Winter has been scribbling away in obscurity for over a decade. His three-novels-in-one, The Twenty-Year Death, doesn't show the signs of toil-it seems nearly flawless and completely...

  • Baltimore Museum of Art

    10 Art Museum Drive, artbma.org, (443) 573-1700 We're blessed with a bounty of museums (see Top 5 Museums). The BMA may seem like the obvious choice-there was serious lobbying for AVAM-but we can't always pick the unexpected. With director Doreen Bolger at the helm, the BMA has become such a force...

  • National Pinball Museum

    608 Water St., nationalpinballmuseum.org, (443) 438-1241 Baltimore is now the new home of the National Pinball Museum, and we couldn't be happier. Where else can you get the chance to play pinball machines modeled after The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Guns N' Roses, and Star Trek: The Next...

  • Guest Spot

    1715 N. Calvert St., guestspot.org Guest Spot had an excellent year of exhibitions in its first home in Fells Point. Hosting eight memorable shows featuring a mix of local and regional artists, the gallery has a sharp focus on themes of impermanence and liminality. Baltimore transplant Rod Malin...

  • SophiaJacob

    510 W. Franklin St., sophiajacob.com SophiaJacob is a welcome new addition to the blossoming gallery circuit in downtown Baltimore. The three artists who run it-Jordan Bernier, David Armacost, and Steven Riddle-have transformed a small storefront on Franklin Street into a Lower East Side-style...

  • Nudashank

    405 W. Franklin St., Third Floor, nudashank.com Nestled within the H&H Building, Nudashank strikes the perfect balance between established art gallery and DIY space, pulling in work from all over. Showcasing new artists, Nudashank serves as a nice bridge between bohemia and some surreal world where...

  • Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez

    lessergonzalezalvarez.com Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez is the actual embodiment of a Renaissance man. Moving effortlessly between various artistic media, music, and writing, Alvarez is successful and prolific in each area. He maintains a consistent hand and sensibility while continuing to produce exciting...

  • Nether

    When we say "Best Street Artist" in this town, we almost have to add "Who's Not Gaia." With Open Walls and a show at the BMA, the dude is pretty damn-near ubiquitous. But, walking the streets of the city, so is Nether. And now that Gaia has gone a bit more mainstream and colorful, Nether is taking...

  • Public Property

    The Walters, 600 N. Charles St., thewalters.org, (410) 547-9000 We're not always so big on crowdsourcing, especially when it comes to art. Popularity doesn't always equal quality (see Thomas Kinkade), but it did at the Walters this summer. Dylan Kinnett, the Walters' web guy, came up with an ingenious...

  • Open Walls

    Sprinkled throughout Station North, murals from the Open Walls project have popped up as little artistic oases on the city landscape. Curated by street artist Gaia, the project has brought in work by people from all over the world, along with a few locals like Gary Kachadourian and the duo Jessie...

  • Glenford Nunez's TYP Photography Studio's The Coiffure Project

    TYP Photography Studio, 11 N. Eutaw St., (410) 660-5134 Local fashion photographer Glenford Nunez has shot some slick fashion spots for the likes of Relapse magazine and The Washington Post, but images that we just can't turn away from fill up his Coiffure Project series. The idea is brilliantly...

  • make/shift

    It was the smiley face that did it. In his Make/Shift solo show at Open Space, Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez grotesquely distorted the yellow-and-black smiley faces found on the disposable plastic bags doled out by urban corner stores into class-conscious markers of economic deterioration, a daily reminder...

  • Baltimore Liste

    Contemporary Museum 914 St. Paul St., contemporary.org, (410) 783-5720 What the hell happened? That's what a lot of folks in the art scene wondered when the Contemporary Museum's supposedly three-week Baltimore Liste show was cut off, mid-run, with no warning. It turned out that the Contemporary...

  • EMP

    306 W. Redwood St., empcollective.org Besides producing wild plays about humans birthing rabbits and the creation of the world, EMP Collective has blossomed into a hub of artistic activity. Their Odd Sundays Cine Club gave the city a reason to hang out and watch films like The Last Laugh and Fantastic...

  • Dope Body

    dopebody.tumblr.com We've all said it in conversation and drunken exclamation, probably after every one of their shows: "Dope Body is the best and most exciting band in Baltimore-in THE WORLD! Or, at the very least, of this moment!" They released the brilliant Natural History earlier this year,...

  • Crimes

    crimes666.bandcamp.com We're getting a little tired of good new guitar bands being instantly tagged as '90s revivalists just because that decade was the last time indie actually rocked. So if that's the only angle you're ready to approach Crimes with, don't bother. But if you want to hear a tight,...

  • J. Roddy Walston And The Business

    jroddywalstonandthebusiness.com No shoegazing here. Unabashed rock and roll is what J. Roddy Walston and the Business deliver every damn time they play. Tattered, torn, bruised up a bit, and certainly hairy, these boys bring it to the crowd time and time again. Relentless touring has them all over...

  • Multicult's Spaces Tangled

    Sleeping Giant Glossolalia The Big Black and Amphetamine Reptile comparisons that have followed this local trio around since this beast of a release dropped in May only partially capture the group's feral sound. Yes, Multicult-bassist Rebecca Burchette, drummer Jake Cregger, and guitarist/vocalist...

  • Future Islands with Jenn Wasner, "The Great Fire"

    future-islands.com Musicians around town have known that Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak has one of the loveliest voices in Baltimore since well before the breakout success of their latest album, Civilian; over the last few years, she's contributed guest vocals to songs by Caleb Stine, White Life, Mickey...

  • Dan Deacon's "True Thrush"

    Deacon's smart, high-energy, creative, optimistic spirit reflects the Baltimore arts community so well, it's scary, and this video is like a four-minute, 58-second encapsulation of the same spirit. The clip is a visual game of telephone: Deacon and director Ben O'Brien start by performing a short...

  • Horse Lords

    Don't get us wrong: Horse Lords' self-titled Ehse Records debut is good. Seriously good. But it's in the live setting that this quartet- percussionist/saxophonist Andrew Bernstein, bassist Max Eilbacher, guitarist Owen Gardner, and drummer Sam Haberman-really demonstrates just how tightly focused...

  • Flock of Dimes

    Wye Oak has been Baltimore's indie-rock feel-good story for that past half-decade-the shoegazing duo who grew into contagious combo that has a knack for marrying a delicate melody to a sultry twang and draping them over a winsome beat holding everything together. Guitarist/vocalist Jenn Wasner...

  • Sarah Fleischer

    98online.com If sex had a voice, it wouldn't be as sexy as Sarah's. Sarah Fleischer has been on the air with 98 Rock since that first day in 1977, and since that time, her voice has launched about a billion boy-puberties. Seriously, tune into 98 Rock weekdays from 10 A.M. til 3 P.M., listen, and...

  • DDM

    http://www.reverbnation.com/ddm The artist formerly known as Dappa!!! Dan Midas has already gone through many phases in his brief career: a wisecracking battle-rap champ; a clever and increasingly idiosyncratic lyricist during his stint with Mania Music Group; a club-rap party-starter with an Unruly...

  • King Midas

    http://www.reverbnation.com/kingmidasmusic Justin Lay's professional handle is just about the least humble thing a young producer could choose to call himself. But it's hard to deny that he's at least begun to live up to the name, as his golden touch builds buzz for local rappers, mainstream stars,...

  • Scottie B.

    Other than perhaps trading in vinyl for Serato, it doesn't seem like all that much has changed for Scottie B. since he first started spinning records, selling records, and making mixtapes in the city, back in the '80s. Along the way, he helped birth Baltimore Club music and co-founded the genre's...

  • DJ Pierre

    soundcloud.com/bmore-djpierre DJ Pierre was still in high school, just a few years ago, when he first started gathering buzz among other Baltimore Club DJs, landing his tracks on mixtapes and 92Q sets. Now at the ripe old age of 21, he's still going strong and helping to define his generation's...

  • Doo Dew Kidz with Comp, "Too Pumped (Remix)"

    soundcloud.com/djbooman/doo-dew-kidz-ft-c-o-m-p-too When Comp launched his rapping career in 2000, first as a shelved Def Jam signing and then as a heavy presence on the Baltimore mixtape scene, he sidestepped the local trend of MCs jumping on Baltimore Club tracks (then at its peak). Perhaps it...

  • DJ Say Wut

    soundcloud.com/saywut When rapper Rye Rye released her Interscope debut, Go! Pop! Bang!, earlier this year, putting her on larger stages and media platforms than anyone ever to come out of the Baltimore Club scene, she took steps to continue representing her roots. And first and foremost was hiring...

  • Fan Death

    P.O. Box 22417, Baltimore, MD 21203, info@fandeathrecords.com Chris Berry, Sean Gray, and Tracy Soo-Ming's imprint would've won our hearts if it had only released Roomrunner's self-titled 2011 cassette and Super Vague EPs, which contain enough impudent noise and insouciant melodies to make us think...

  • Unregistered Nurse

    unbooking.tumblr.com For the past couple years, Dana Murphy of Unregistered Nurse has been working tirelessly to bring good old-fashioned ass-kicking punk and garage rock to Baltimore. If it sounds anything like the Ramones, she likes it, and so do we. And she has been giving us a good education...

  • Arty Hill

    artyhill.com Despite Bobby Bare's country classic "Streets of Baltimore," the city is not known as a hotbed of country music. The freakier spectrum of the folk scene is flaring up, but solid old honky-tonk can be hard to find in the city limits. What we lack in quantity, Arty Hill and the Long...

  • Bobby E. Lee and the Sympathizers

    bestbandintheworld.us Bobby E. Lee and the Sympathizers may have the best band URL in the world, but we can only go so far as to call them the best folk band in our fair city. The Confederate twist to their name can be a bit off-putting-until you realize that the Sympathizers are more Borat than...

  • Milkshake

    This Baltimore-based rock 'n' roll group has been going strong for 10 years, churning out bright, bubbly pop songs that will make anyone giddy-not just kids. Started by indie rockers Lisa Mathews and Mikel Gehl, Milkshake was originally a reaction to their new roles as parents. Now they've got...

  • Lafayette Gilchrist and the New Volcanoes baltimore: Live from the Windup Space Vol. 1

    creativedifferences.us In the most closed-minded jazz circles, where people think the genre was embalmed with the bones of Bird, it may be heresy to call the New Volcanoes jazz-but it would be insane to call them anything else. Like the best jazz, Gilchrist's compositions bring in the most ass-kicking...

  • Scapescape

    There are bigger festivals-Artscape-and weirder festivals-Transmodern- but this year Scapescape was the music festival. Over 75 bands played over a four-day period, and there wasn't a lot else to distract you. It had what is best about all festivals: music, food, and a chance to hang out and talk...

  • Ratscape

    135 W. North Ave., thehourhaus.com, (410) 539-2328 Ratscape, with its clever inversion of Artscape's name and overlapped timing, served as a sort of antimatter mirror of the larger festival. While Artscape can feel too expansive, with too much to wade through, Ratscape was crammed into the tiny...

  • Baltimore Boom Bap Society

    Wendel Patrick and Erik Spangler bring the revolving line-up and spontaneous creativity of the Out of Your Head series to the realm of hip-hop-to spectacular effect. Both of these guys are classically trained and impressive in their own rights, but the Boom Bap Society takes it further, with a...

  • Phaze 10

    885 Howard St., phaze10.com, (410)-462-2010 Phaze 10 is a sufficient reproduction of what made the jazz clubs once dotting Baltimore's Pennsylvania Avenue so famous: good soul food, with a kitchen open until midnight on weekends; a bar stocked with good liquor; live music four nights a week; and...

  • Bengies Drive-In

    3417 Eastern Blvd., Middle River, bengies.com, (410) 687-5627 We're pretty sure that most of us can agree that drive-ins are fucking awesome, and unfortunately the Baltimore area only has one left. Where else can you catch a double, sometimes triple, sometimes all night (dusk til dawn) feature...

  • The Rotunda

    711 W. 40th St., therotundacinemas.com, (410) 235-5554 You know that feeling when you walk out of a really intense movie at the multiplex, and then you're shell-shocked when you hit the mammoth parking lot and search fruitlessly for your car in the sea of SUVs and sedans, and then you have to press...

  • Gunky's Basement

    md-filmfest.com Though there's no Gunky to speak of, the film series does have the feel of hanging out in a semi-finished basement, kicking back, and watching old favorites with friends. Curated by Dan Deacon and Jimmy Joe Roche, this collaboration with the Maryland Film Festival pulls in films...

  • Matt Porterfield

    puttyhillmovie.com Matt Porterfield got tons of love in Baltimore for his local film Putty Hill. But this year he gained entrance into the temple of the high-culture art world with his acceptance into the Whitney Biennial. Sure, to our tastes, the 2012 Biennial was a bit of a bloated mess, but...

  • Ellie Beziat

    Back in 2009, we gave Beziat's band, Sick Weapons, the title of "Best New Band," and the former frontwoman is still killing it, but this time in the comedic realm. Somehow she wields the power to make the raunchiest jokes feel effervescent, delivered in the sort of lilt you can't help but love....

  • Stoop Storytelling

    stoopstorytelling.com It's hard to believe that Stoop Storytelling is about to start its seventh season. Seems like just the other day that Laura Wexler and Jessica Henkin, the divas of the seven-minute digression, started the Moth-inspired series to allow us to get up on a stage and tell true...

  • Eastern Motors with Gilbert Gottfried

    easterns.com It's hard to imagine what kind of gambling debt would lead Gilbert Gottfried to shill for used-car dealership Eastern Motors. It's even harder to imagine what would cause Eastern Motors to pay a man known for his voice to awkwardly lip-synch and car-dance to their stuck-in-our-heads-forever...

  • Sound Garden

    1616 Thames St., (410) 563-9011, cdjoint.com Frequently confused with "That Band That Did 'Spoonman'" in casual conversation, the Fells Point media emporium Sound Garden boasts a killer selection of new and used DVDs, Blu-rays, CDs, vinyl records, video games, and even books. Especially remarkable...

  • Baltimore's Very Own

    bmoresveryown.blogspot.com There's an unfortunate tendency among quality Baltimore hip-hop web sites and publications to simply take an existing brand and stamp the city's name on it; AllHipHop begat AllBmoreHipHop, Vibe begat Bmore Vibe, and Drake's blog, October's Very Own, inspired the name...

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