A second shot at First Night Music: Baltimore rock band will make second appearance at Annapolis festival after appearing on 'Homicide,' getting national exposure.

December 24, 1997|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

First Night Annapolis is loaded with magicians, dance troupes and classical performers, but every year a band with a slightly harder edge slips in.

This year that band is Love Riot.

Competing against a dozen folk artists, three dance troupes, seven variety acts and a group of classical musicians, Love Riot is widely known for its dynamic rock melodies and passionate lyrics.

It has been playing among Baltimore's basement bands and club performers for several years. Unlike most of them, Love Riot has managed to rise above the local scene, gaining national attention with its debut album last season, "Maybe She Will." It also appeared last month on the Baltimore-based television show "Homicide."

The band will be First Night's first Eastport performers, playing four shows at Eastport Elementary School.

First Night has typically steered away from hard rock or loud off-the-wall bands, but a few unusual-sounding groups such as Love Riot, and one this year called the Dixie Power Trio, made the cut.

"We look for an eclectic artistic program every year," said First Night producer Lana Nelson.

Those who do not recognize Love Riot's music from local radio stations might remember it from "Homicide."

Music from the five-member band was first heard in two shows as background noise in a bar scene.

"We made such a big deal out of it," said drummer Ron Campbell. "We were all sitting around the TV with popcorn. But the music was so faint we couldn't even hear it."

Then the group got its big break. The show's producer wanted it back on the show to play the part of a band performing in the subway as a man is killed. Because a couple of actors failed to show up, Campbell and singer Lisa Matthews ended up with small speaking parts.

Campbell remembers his line. "I said, 'And he went flying,' " Campbell said. The line was supposed to suggest that the dead man threw himself in front of a subway train. "But being musicians, we were wrong," Campbell said. "The man was pushed in front of the train."

Next week's performance will be Love Riot's second First Night appearance. Three years ago, the group set up in the window of The Gap store at City Dock.

"It was kind of weird because people could see you from the outside but they couldn't hear you," Campbell said.

This year, the group not only received a somewhat unusual repeat invitation, but it also landed auditorium space.

The band was formed in 1994 when Matthews teamed up with Baltimore guitarist Mikel Gehl and bassist Mark Evanko. Violinist Willem Elzevir and Campbell soon joined the band.

In 1995, the group beat out 25,000 bands across the country and won the grand prize in the Yamaha International MusicQuest competition, which sent them to Japan to perform.

The band plans to cut a new compact disc in February for release in the spring.

For more information about First Night or to purchase tickets, call 410-280-0700.

Pub Date: 12/24/97

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