Luckie's brings Rat Pack into the new millennium

ON NIGHTLIFE

October 09, 2008|By SAM SESSA | SAM SESSA,sam.sessa@baltsun.com

Power Plant Live's bars and clubs seem to have fairly short life spans.

In the past several years, the downtown entertainment district has gone through a couple of comedy clubs and a handful of bars. The newest addition is Luckie's Tavern, which replaced the Lodge Bar, which replaced McFadden's, an Irish pub.

Luckie's, which opened last month, is a far cry from the Lodge Bar. True to its name, the Lodge Bar had lots of wood and deer heads on the walls. It was an inviting spot but cluttered. Luckie's is the anti-Lodge Bar: a sharp, wide, open space with bar tops, walls and cushioned bar stools done in striking lipstick red.

With vintage-looking ceiling fans and a stencil of the Rat Pack on the back wall, Luckie's gives a nod to the freewheeling '50s. The diamond-shaped glowing bulb sign out front is something you'd see in Las Vegas several decades ago. And the bar's Web site has a Frank Sinatra quote, as well as this rather cryptic line: "Luckie's Tavern celebrates a time when men were men and the woman called the shots." I'm not sure what that means. Are you?

But Luckie's is also planted firmly in this century. Patrons can stare at flat-screen TVs and pick from about 15 beers on tap.

I ordered a Samuel Adams Oktoberfest draft, which came to $4.75. I expected to pay a premium in Power Plant Live, but having to shell out five bucks (plus tip) still took me by surprise. Will someone please bail out the beer industry? I see the future of Baltimore bars, and I'm not liking it.

On the other hand, I wonder how many of Luckie's' patrons are going to drink fancy draft beers. The Power Plant Live crowd is fiercely loyal to Miller Lite. Mmm.

The Lodge Bar regularly brought in live bands, which was one of its pluses. Usually, they were cover bands; once a month, the bar threw an '80s-themed party. I'm a fan of bar bands as long as they're not overpoweringly loud. In the right bar, the right band can get people up and dancing just as easily as a jukebox.

Thankfully, Luckie's is carrying on that tradition. It moved the stage from the middle of the bar to the far-right corner, which makes more sense. I thought the Lodge Bar never took advantage of its layout, and Luckie's is capitalizing on it.

My only complaint with Luckie's' decor is the men's room. It was pretty dumpy. I won't get into details, but you'd think that if someone were to redo a bar, he would spend a little cash and spruce up the bathrooms.

Power Plant Live is moving from a college party zone to a destination for 20- and 30-something professionals. Luckie's is another step in that direction. I think it's the right direction.

Rock Bar v. Madden

Last week, the Internet lit up with some night life drama.

Angels Rock Bar in Power Plant Live booked Good Charlotte lead singer Joel Madden for a DJ gig to celebrate the bar's one-year anniversary. It made sense: Good Charlotte is a local-rock-band-made-good. But when Madden canceled a couple of weeks ahead of time, the bar banned its DJs from ever playing Good Charlotte and printed T-shirts calling Madden a dastardly word.

Oh, no, it didn't!

After I blogged about the situation, Madden e-mailed me his side of the story. Turns out, he was looking forward to coming home but had to cancel because of family and band obligations. He signed on in the first place at a fraction of his usual rate as a favor to the club, he said.

"I realize it's a bummer for a hometown club to feel dissed by me, but I sincerely mean it when I say I would never just cancel on anyone for no good reason," Madden wrote. "I have responsibilities as a father, to my family, and to my band. I know I'm blessed to be able to DJ, it is a very fun way to make a living, but I'm a father first and I'm in Good Charlotte first."

Fair enough. Then I heard the bar's side of the story from Jake Miller, who helps oversee the place. The folks at Angels had spent thousands of dollars promoting the show and said they were given no reason for the cancellation. In an e-mail, Miller said Madden had a clause in his contract that would allow him to cancel up to 14 days before the show. Madden backed out a couple of hours before that period, according to Miller.

"Employees, who care deeply about the club, were more than upset," Miller wrote. "I think a more thoughtful article would focus on why celebrities feel they have carte blanche to go back on their word. They get away every day with awful things that the common man would not. They walk all over people."

It was really refreshing to hear all sides of the issue. That rarely happens in this sort of situation. Readers of my blog, baltimoresun.com/midnightsun, went nuts over this strange little saga.

I was able to reach a verdict: Madden signed a contract that let him back out of the gig up to 14 days beforehand, and he abided by the rules of said contract. Miller and his associates responded with an act of poor taste. Case closed.

IF YOU GO

Luckie's Tavern is at 10 Market Place in Power Plant Live. Hours are 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Wednesdays-Fridays and 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays. Call 410-223-1105 or go to luckiestavern.com.

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