Much of Fells Point's old soul has vanished but 1919 remains


1919 E. Fleet St.

While much of Fells Point's old soul has vanished over the last few decades, chased away by hiked rents and fattened wallets, the shine of prosperity still hasn't taken the rust off of some of its better old joints, like 1919. Pretty much the same since it opened in the 1980s, its unpretentious live music, reasonably priced drinks, well-worn decor-built of layers of memorabilia under a tin ceiling-and the friendly, world-weary attitude of its patrons and staff alike combine to form a welcome respite for locals seeking shelter from the Point's prevailing tourist-friendly patina.

With a belly already primed from the Thanksgiving downtime, six bottles of Anchor Steam ($20 total, so a $5 tip seemed proper) sent us to the pisser more than once. The repeat visits were worth the time away from the band (a seasoned, rambling performance by Zane Campbell and the Gravel Pit Ramblers) since the bathroom graffiti-"Kevin Bacon banged my mom" is only slightly better than "Good luck with your stoopid band, fucko"-makes for excellent reading while pondering the engaging ensemble of photos plastered on the walls. In 2011, it won the place City Paper's award for "Best Bar Bathroom."

While Zane complimented 1919's advantages as a venue by bragging he'd recently performed in a nursing home, the thin Saturday night crowd was neither too old nor too young. It's a place where the hooks under the bar served well as a nook for the crutches of an orthopedically challenged patron; where a goateed, bespectacled skateboarder entered, dropping his overstuffed shopping bags for a quick one while enjoying the show; and where the bartender, with a bumper sticker on the bar mirror behind her, did ritualistic shots with old friends. Don't judge, lest you be judged is an appropriate motto for such an old-souled local.

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