For many local club bands, making the decision about what type of music to play is as easy as answering one simple question: How often do you want to work?
If the answer is every night, it is essential in this market that the band cover popular rock and Top 40 songs in a live setting and make it more exciting than a disc jockey can.
For the Northwest Baltimore act The Loft, the chance to perform every night has spawned other possibilities because the group now adds six or seven original songs to its set list each night in the hopes that one day it won't have to perform cover songs.
"Playing the cover songs and playing them well gives us a chance to do some of our own material, and that is the only way a band can get signed," said singer Brian Ford, 24, who formed the current lineup of The Loft about a year ago.
During the course of a normal night, the band, which also features Kirk Meyers (keyboards), Bronson Wagner (bass), Tony DiLarenzo (guitar) and Brett Hayes (drums), will play 25 or more songs by more popular acts, such as The Black Crowes, Peter Murphy, The Fixx and Living Colour.
"When we pick our set list we try to do songs that no one else is doing right now," said Ford, whose band has just finished a five-song demo tape it hopes to shop to record companies. "Some songs like "I Melt With You" [by Modern English] and "Just Like Heaven [by The Cure] we've dropped because NTC everyone does them. We want to be different."
The band usually plays six nights a week all over the Mid-Atlantic region, and appears at Hammerjacks every Wednesday for college night, a crowd with which the band has become quite popular.
Tomorrow the band will be at Scandal's in Ocean City and on Saturday the band will return for a special show at Hammerjacks, opening for Joe Piscopo's comedy show.
The concert calendar . . .
The Capital Centre schedule heats up later this month with Neil Young, Sonic Youth and Social Distortion (Feb. 27), INXS (March 1), Sting (March 7), Paul Simon (March 13) and the Grateful Dead for for four shows (March 17, 18, 20 and 21).
Simon also will be at the Baltimore Arena (March 12), as will Vanilla Ice (March 31).
Coming to Max's On Broadway in Fell's Point are Gimme The Gun (Saturday), Ritchie Havens (Feb. 21), Koko Taylor (March 14) and An Emotional Fish (May 8).
Painters Mill has a full slate of shows including Slayer and Testament (Saturday), Bob Dylan (Feb. 22), Kentucky Headhunters and Travis Tritt (March 16), the Bulgarian State Female Choir (March 31).