Talking Head returns

Downtown music club gets second chance after eight-month hiatus

August 30, 2007|By Sean Patrick Norris | Sean Patrick Norris,Sun reporter

Like Michael Jordan, James Bond movies and Jay-Z, the Talking Head is back.

The off-the-beaten-path music venue, which played host to a slew of local and national indie groups, will throw a reopening party Saturday.

This comes after an unorthodox eight-month hiatus.

The club's closing at the beginning of the year was the result of uncertainty over the building's future, manager Daniel McIntosh said. But the downtown venue is back for the time being, and plans are in the works to permanently secure its place in the city's music scene for years to come, he said.

"I signed a new lease with the current owner of the building in the interim with the hopes of me owning it in the near future," McIntosh said. "When that happens, we can make it a venue worthy of its history and the people of Baltimore."

McIntosh also said there are no major changes to the venue - only those needed to get it up to code.

Saturday's reopening show will feature bands Ponypants, Bow N Arrow, Dactyl and Frenemies.

"I've been playing there as long as it's been around," wrote Mickey Freeland, aka Bow N Arrow, in an e-mail.

"I'm really happy the club is reopening," he wrote. "The Talking Head is my favorite club in Baltimore, ever. It is intimate but it has a great sound system, and it's always just been a great, unpretentious place to see shows. It's sort of like going to see your friend's great band practice in his basement, but there's plenty of beer, a pool table and a jukebox."

The Talking Head originally opened in Mount Vernon in mid-2002 and moved to Davis Street later that year. It began as a collaboration between McIntosh and Oranges Band front man Roman Kuebler. But in recent years, Kuebler stepped aside to let others book shows and help run the place.

"I started it with some guys who are like-minded people, and we all put a lot of time and effort into it with little-to-no compensation," McIntosh said. "It means maybe more to me than most people, but that's because they don't realize how much it means to them."

For years, the Talking Head was one of the few platforms for DIY bands in the city, and McIntosh hopes to keep the same spirit alive.

"It's a place meant to cultivate and nurture local and independently minded music," McIntosh said. "We try to make it the most noncorporate setting we can afford. Its goal is to make music better in Baltimore. And we try to make our sound as good as possible. It's kind of an embarrassment that there aren't more small venues better-equipped for shows."

Freeland expects a sizable crowd to help rechristen the venue.

"I think there will be a good turnout, probably more because of the sheer fact that the club is reopening than the draw of the bands themselves. Not to knock any of us, I just think it'll probably feel like a homecoming dance or something."

McIntosh sees the need for venues such as the Talking Head in the city.

"I just think the world is dying if there isn't art, music and creativity in general."

sean.norris@baltsun.com

The Talking Head's reopening party is Saturday. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the music starts at 9 p.m. Ponypants, Bow N Arrow, Dactyl and Frenemies will perform. Tickets are $7. The club is at 203 Davis St. For more information, go to talkingheadclub.com.

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