There is a rite of passage that most artists or musicians will go through in Baltimore: Somebody calls in a code violation and your DIY space gets shut down. I remember when it happened to CP Photo Editor J.M. Giordano at Load of Fun. And CP photographer Noah Scialom, Barnyard Shark and composer Ruby Fulton, and a bunch of others at the Broom Factory Factory. And dozens of others at dozens of other spaces.
And now it’s happened to me, my band the Barnyard Sharks, and all of the other bands who practice and at the Hour Haus. We’re kicked out and they’re shutting it down and turning it into offices.
You know, people talked about Load of Fun as a pioneer kind of place—and for how fucked up that language is, please do yourself a favor and read Eula Biss’ “No Man’s Land”—but Hour Haus predated it by more than a decade. And even now, at the end of its line, it hosts bands as diverse as Infinite Honey, J Pope and Funk Friday, Choke Motel, and the Barnyard Sharks. You never know what you will hear in there. And the view out our window of the train tracks and the light rail and the electrical poles inspired most of our most recent songs.
But everything changes. I just moved into the Psychic Annex, on Park Avenue, where Psychic Readings (which really changed the entire landscape of the stage scene with a spectacular two-night run of “Garbage, Death and the City of Baltimore,” which made so much of our local theater feel overproduced and fake), Annex Theater, Le Mondo—the group of several theater companies working to develop three properties on Howard Street—musician Ami Dang, and Ric Royer (who runs Psychic Readings) all have spaces in the new Bromo Arts District. But it is my writing office and it’s not big enough for the band and besides, there are going to be plays there most weekends. And I now feel a certain fear—any success here will ultimately help fuck up the neighborhood and bring in the big rich foundations.