At Merriweather, big names, cheap

Venerable venue is under new management

Scene: clubs, bars, nightlife

July 22, 2004|By Sarah Schaffer | Sarah Schaffer,SUN STAFF

Pending development projects may leave Columbia's Merriweather Post Pavilion with an uncertain future.

But questions about its fate haven't deterred a Bethesda-based company, IMP Inc., from signing on to manage the site this summer. In fact, IMP co-owner Seth Hurwitz reported that his events agency (which also owns the 9:30 Club in Washington) intends to make the venue's new season one to remember.

"The plan is to explore all kinds of different shows. We're just trying to put on great shows for reasonable prices," Hurwitz noted last week, listing the new McDonald's Sessions at Merriweather series as one example.

Organized in conjunction with the 5-year-old Atlanta/Nashville firm Mad Booking & Events Inc., the Saturday night concert series, which kicked off last weekend with sets from Charlie Mars and Baltimore act SR-71, will feature top names from hip-hop, rock and pop music. Headliners for future gigs include Outkast's Big Boi, gloomy rock act Evanescence and the quirky four-piece Cake.

Mad Booking's spokeswoman Dacia Moore said the series will "provide some really great talent" for a very low cost (passes are $10 in advance and $15 at the gate, including parking fees).

"That's the biggest thing that we're proud of. It makes it so much more accessible to people. Just to see that level of artist at that ticket price is pretty uncommon these days," she said.

So, will the new eight-week series - with its combination of big-name acts and small ticket prices - become an integral part of Merriweather's rebirth?

Hurwitz, who called the series a "bit of an experiment," said he can't be certain about the success of the shows - or what the coming years will hold for Merriweather.

But as for the here and now, he is sure of one thing: The concerts, Hurwitz said, are "a great deal for people."

McDonald's Sessions

Saturday: Evanescence, Seether, Three Days Grace and Breaking Benjamin

July 31: Big Boi, Van Hunt, deSoL and Shi Guy & Rockmell

Aug. 7: Twista, Nina Sky and others

Aug. 14: Lake Trout, Live and others

Aug. 21: TBA

Aug. 28: TBA

Sept. 4: Cake and others

Gates open at 5 p.m. for all shows. Please note that $15 lawn-seat tickets for the Evanescence show can be purchased only at the Merriweather Post Pavilion box office on Saturday along with a ticket to another McDonald's Sessions at Merriweather show or with an e-mail confirmation showing that admission has been purchased for another performance in the series. All concerts are rain-or-shine events. Merriweather Post Pavilion is at 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia Call 410-715-5550 or visit www.sessionsatmerriweather .com.

For more clubs events, see Page 28.

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