Lambs Eat Ivy
A March 4
offered what felt like a keyword search-generated list of songs with "Baltimore" in the title. What, if anything, these songs have anything to do with the city is beyond our ken. You know what we're talking about here: Music--a song, a beat, a refrain, a certain riff, a band--can recall a place without having to spell it out in the title.
Instead of posting a flummoxed comment to the article, we decided to ask some of the people who have made, followed, and cultivated Baltimore music over the years what song, piece of music, or band makes them think of Baltimore--and invite you to do the same. We'll start:
arts editor): Baltimore in sound is a jukebox of the silly, outlandish, and just plain outrageous bands to these ears. A first blush with Lambs Eat Ivy (pictured) at the 14 Karat Cabaret shortly after moving here informed me that local music was going to be much, much different than what I knew in Texas. The Matt Clark 5's barroom surf 'n' roll will forever be associated with Sowebo fun-time for me. Dan Deacon's "Wham City" instantly recalls local warehouse recent past. Certain songs--Beserk's "Giant Robots," Cloaca's "Train to Hell," Candy Machine's "Autorepublic," pretty much anything by Buttsteak--immediately bring to mind early-1990s Baltimore. And Miss Tony's "Pull Ya Guns Out," the first exposure I ever had to Baltimore club music--played for me by somebody who was obviously much smarter than I, as it instantly informed me that I wrote off house music in the 1980s
: The movement of Frank Ski comes to mind. His classic use of the "Doo Doo Brown" drum loop was a staple for over a decade. His hit with the catch phrase "Ya Rolling Doo Doo" makes me think of B-more, the B-more I loved and miss so very much. Another artist and song that comes to mind is Miss Tony and her song "What's Up What's Up." The reason these stand out and are classics here at home is simple. They did them. They were not scared to be artistic. They did not duplicate, they innovated. That's the path that I as an artist stick to. Bmore Original Records is built on being "Original." Here in B-more, they tend to get involved after other markets show it love, which is why no major label invests here period! In order to breakthrough the market, the movement must be there during the break--not three quarters later. The ironic thing is as soon as B-more got noticed worldwide for our music, they switched to sound like the Dirty South--B-more's identity went out the window!!! Why would they come to B-more to do Dirty South when they can just go there and get the breakthrough movement with the people RIGHT THERE.
(DJ, Taxlo co-impresario) "Feel Me" by Rod Lee. Not as well known outside of the city as "Dance My Pain Away"--or Debonair Samir's "Samir's Theme"--but this song is the quintessential Baltimore club track in my mind. I feel like, you hear this song and it makes you want to know what the fuck is going on in Baltimore that produces music like this.
(True Vine Records co-owner, experimental musician) When I moved to town in 2000, it was DJ Class' ubiquitous horn riff, heard every weekend on 92Q, seemingly for years, that defined the roughness and beauty of Baltimore. But then, when Blaqstarr released "Tote It" about three years ago, with its hard-as-hell rifle-shot rhythm track and casual-cool vocals, for me, Baltimore had its voice. Every out-of-towner I played it for was as instantly alarmed at the ferocity of it as they were floored by the Bo Diddley-level singular genius of it. For 18 months, I heard it spilling from cars and convenience store boom boxes almost daily and felt that I was actually living through a good time in music.
(Ottobar co-owner, Leg Up Management owner) Jesus Lizard--the first show I ever saw in Baltimore, at Max's on Broadway. Graham Parson's version of "Baltimore." This Heat--
, since Peter Quinn, Lyle Kissack, and Craig Bowen turned me on to it. Dr. Subrimaniam's and Moondog's music since introduced to them by Daniel Higgs and Asa Osbourne. "Isolation" by John Lennon.
(WZT Hearts) I would say the song that still resonates with me the most about Baltimore is the first one I really remember hearing with the city in the title. In my freshman year of college I somehow stumbled upon the work of Scott Walker, through an in-store play copy of his best of that was in the rotation at a Borders I worked at in Gaithersburg. I began to buy up whatever Scott Walker albums I could find, leading to some ill-advised purchases of '80s country records of his . . . but along the way I bought an import of
. I immediately fell in love with "Lady Came From Baltimore," which I later found out was a Tim Hardin song, an artist I have since come to love as well. Growing up outside of D.C., I never really put much mind into Baltimore at all--except for O's games and whatnot--and I thought it weird that a British, by way of Cleveland, singer would even think of the city. Years later, after becoming disenchanted with Chicago where I had moved in the late '90s, I randomly decided to move to Baltimore into a house an old high school friend of mine had. I still knew next to nothing about the city, but I remember loading up a mix CD for my bus trip out here that started with this song.
(songstress) "Peanut Butter Jelly"!