Musical Pay-Back in Annapolis

September 09, 1994

It is human nature to dismiss challenges by saying, "It can't be done." And after someone overcomes the hurdles and does it, to be dismissive again and claim, "Anyone could have done it."

When Paul Pearson first came to Annapolis in 1968, the Maryland capital was a sleepy town. It had a rich heritage but much of the historic district was deteriorated. Mr. Pearson took over a down-on-the-heels dowager of a hotel, Maryland Inn, and opened a jazz venue in the basement. The rest is history.

While the revival of Annapolis has many parents, Mr. Pearson definitely was present at the rebirth. His historic preservation efforts motivated others to follow throughout the city's historic district. As for the King of France tavern beneath the Maryland Inn, it became known for good jazz throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. The talent it featured or helped launch included guitarist Charlie Byrd, songstress Ethel Ennis, pianist Stef Scaggiari and guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli, to name but a few.

All these performers -- and many others -- will convene on Sunday, Sept. 18, at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts for a tribute to Paul Pearson. Specifically, sponsors of the benefit hope to raise enough to retire $32,000 in legal bills Mr. Pearson has accumulated during the past several years when his ventures hit adversity.

In recent years, the 70-year-old impresario and developer has been fighting to retain control over three Annapolis landmark hostelries -- the Maryland Inn, the Governor Calvert House and the Robert Johnson House, which have been involved in bankruptcy proceedings.

He continues to operate the King of France Tavern and is still thinking about ways to make Annapolis more appealing for residents and visitors alike. Particularly, he would like to see a monorail built so that downtown traffic congestion could be relieved and people shuffled easily between various points of interest.

Mr. Pearson fully deserves the musical tribute. He has earned the support of not only Annapolitans but other Marylanders as well. Basic tickets to the benefit cost $35. Also available are $75 tickets, which include the concert as well as a VIP dance and artists' reception beforehand. For more information, call 268-6890.

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