Save 75% - Only $49.99 for 1 full year! digitalPLUS subscription offer ends 12/1
Want to know what's happening in Baltimore?
Joe Bonamassa, forever a blues purveyor

Touring is a means to feed an addiction for Joe Bonamassa.

At each stop — and there will be more than 100 this year alone — the 37-year-old blues musician and self-described “nutty guitar collector” seeks out mom-and-pop music shops to possibly add to his trove of six-strings.

But last week before a show in Toledo, Ohio, Bonamassa stared inside a couple of empty stores.

“Not as in 'closed, come back later,' but as in 'closed, never coming back, signs off the wall,'” Bonamassa said afterward on the phone.

While Bonamassa hopes for better luck in Baltimore, where he will headline the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric on Friday, he admits this is an increasingly common and disheartening trend he sees on the road. But in a way, it also reinforces why Bonamassa continues to play and support blues rock, even as it's “struggling for life at the moment.”

“At the end of the day, you really want to make sure that organic music — made by human beings — at least has a voice,” he said.


Read more
Great gift idea: With Baltimore in a Box, send the city anywhere you please

Each holiday season, Ross Nochumowitz noticed local shoppers tediously compiling care packages with Baltimore-related items. Earlier this year, the 29-year-old Mount Washington resident made the process easier by creating Baltimore in a Box, an online shop that allows customers to fill a package with city-specific items for anyone feeling a little homesick (or just in need of some Big Boyz Bail Bonds pens).

Nochumowitz discussed, via email (hey, he's a busy guy this time of year), the most popular items, strange requests and more.

What's the farthest location you've sent a Baltimore in a Box package?

We have delivered boxes as far as Alaska, Hawaii, Afghanistan, Czech Republic, Germany and India.

What are the most popular items people choose?

The most popular item is, by far, Berger Cookies. They are requested in almost every box we send out. I would say the close second is probably Fisher's Popcorn or Old Bay.

What items do people most often request? I assume beer is probably popular,...

Read more
Looking for unique holiday gifts? Try these 5 Baltimore art markets

They're on everyone's shopping list: unique gifts. That's often easier said than done. But not when you live in a city that offers an abundance of alternative art markets.

Take my advice and try these. Each has its own flavor, with offerings that can fill question marks on your gift-giving list.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of market options, the five below are on my do-not-miss list. Hopefully, they'll be on yours, too.

Christmas Village

Now through Dec. 24. West Shore Park, 501 Light St.

For more traditional options, try this German-style market, back for a second year. An indoor-outdoor combo, this year's Christmas Village has more than 60 booths selling unique items such as stollen (a German fruitcake), elisen lebkuchen (gingerbread in cute tin boxes) and schwibbogen (a decorative light display inspired by German miners' tradition of hanging lanterns around the entrances of mines). 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m.- 8 p.m....

Read more
Altruistic for the holidays: Five steps to great charitable giving

Great gift giving is all about finding that perfect something that will be meaningful for a friend or loved one. When you find the perfect gift, you just know it.

Great charitable giving intensifies these good feelings with a layer of life-changing impact followed by a rush know as the "helper's high."

Charitable giving impacts on the lives of others in one's neighborhood, city, country or world.

A great giver is someone who asserts the power of his or her personal generosity as a force for change. And, a great giver …

•Can be rich or poor.

•Can give time, talent or dollars.

•Understands the impact they wish to make with their gift.

•Advocates for causes he/she believes in.

With so many inspiring charitable organizations and causes, how do you figure out how to make the most impact with your generosity? There is no single strategy that is right for everyone, but here are five steps to get you started.

1. Pinpoint your passions

Clarify what you care about. Are you...

Read more
Great Baltimore cocktails, The Bloody Maria at Johnny's

We love the idea that Johnny's is having a Black Friday brunch, and we really love that they're featuring Bloody Marys at the brunch. We can't think of a more civilized response to the madness of an enforced shopping holiday combined, not to mention whatever hangover you happen to be nursing from having spent all of Thanksgiving Day with your family.

You could down a pitcher of Bloody Marys while just arguing about the folklore surrounding it. There are different origin stories for the Bloody Mary, and its recipe has changed over the years. It has become hotter and spicier.

The handmade mix at Johnny's is close to classic, according to bartender Joe Beitman. It has freshly ground black pepper, a dash of Worcestershire and freshly grated horseradish. But it doesn't have Tabasco, or any other hot sauce, and if you're used to Bloody mixes with the strong taste of hot pepper sauce, tasting a mix without it is a little revelation. The flavors are much brighter and cleaner. I'm a fan....

Read more
'Dancing with the Stars' finale recap, The winner is ...

The show opens with the Dance of Contestants Past, culminating with our three finalist couples -- Alfonso Ribiero & Witney Carson, Sadie Robertson & Mark Ballas and Janel Parrish & Val Chmerkovskiy -- front and center.

Each of the finalist couples were given a piece of music and two dance styles they're required to fuse together for a judged performance tonight.

In highlights from last night, we don't really see much of anything interesting. They do show Bethany Mota's slip up and judge Carrie Ann Inaba commenting on it. Bethany's already been eliminated, so this seems a bit mean-spirited. In a clip from last night of Derek Hough talking to Bethany backstage, a crew member is holding a tiny electric fan up to his face to dry some of the sweat. Secrets explained!

Apparently for a freestyle encore, we, as in Twitter, chose Bethany

Read more