Closing songs as clear as all get-out

On Nightlife

Scene

December 08, 2005|By SAM SESSA

Last call.

The lights come on and the music pauses for a second while the bartender shouts it around the room.

Before it's time to go, there'll be one more drink and one more tune - the closing song.

The regulars already know what's coming, and when it starts playing, they tilt their heads back and belt out a few bars. As the last notes start to fade, they set their glasses down on the tabletops and start trickling out the door.

This kind of scene still persists in the city, despite the invasion of digital jukeboxes and satellite radio, which take the closing song out of the bartender's hands. Some local joints like the 13th Floor used to have a closing tune but now only play the radio or put the digital jukebox on random.

The 13th Floor would play Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" at the end of the night, said bar manager Holly Galandak. Now they stick to an XM Radio station all night, she said.

"[Gaye's] what we used to play, but no longer," Galandak said. "We had to put it to rest."

But a number of bars carry on the tradition. Here are some of the closing songs at bars around the city that really stuck out:

The Admiral's Cup (1647 Thames St., 410-522-6731): "Time to Fly" by REO Speedwagon. "Time to get the [heck] out," said owner Doug Woods.

Claddagh Pub (2918 O'Donnell St., 410-522-4220): "Summer Wind" by Frank Sinatra. "At the end of a long night we're very busy and the bar people get all amped up. ... That `Summer Wind' song brings them back down slowly from their night," said owner Michael Clarke.

Crazy Lil's (27 E. Cross St., 410-347-9793): An audio clip of John Belushi's speech from the end of Animal House ("Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?!?"). "I always play that and then pick a different song every night," said general manager Jon Ferguson. He added that the theme from Cheers is always a big hit. "People love it," he said. "I don't know why, but for last call, people love it."

Dionysus (8 E. Preston St., 410-244-1020): "Open Arms" by Journey. "That will get people out of the bar," said co-owner Lynn Hafner.

The Greene Turtle (722 S. Broadway, 410-342-4222): "Crazy" by Patsy Cline. "I don't know, we just always do it, and it works," said manager Brandy Gibson.

Mad River (1110 S. Charles St., 410-727-2333): "All I Want is You" by U2. "It just kind of fits into the crowd we have," said Frank Zafonte, assistant general manager.

Mother's Federal Hill Grille (1113 S. Charles St., 410-244-8686): "Closing Time" by Semisonic. "If we play any song more than another one, it's that one," said general manager Marc Boyd.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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