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Country western bars in and around Greater Baltimore

It's safe to say that the Baltimore region is not country-western territory. The Irish-style pub rules here.

PBR is easily the biggest, flashiest country bar/club in the city. For others, you'd have to go into the suburbs and as far as Annapolis.

But country fans shouldn't fear — there are a few places where 93.1-FM WPOC is the default radio station and where you're free to wear your cowboy hat without getting mocked.

In Sparrows Point, you'll find Pop's Tavern (4343 North Point Blvd.), a mainstay for more than 70 years. In 1933, the quaint tavern got the second post-Prohibition liquor license in Baltimore County. In all that time, it's been owned by the same family, the Hurds, who've kept it a destination for country fans.

Country bands from the region play there regularly on Friday and Saturday nights for an appreciative crowd that is not afraid to take to the floor to dance. Beer is cheap, ranging in price from $1.10 for glass mugs during the day to $3 at night.

You'll find actual swinging saloon doors at Ellicott City's The Friendly Inn (11074 Frederick Road). The bar is decorated with genuine country flavor — there are mandolins on the walls — and there is even a Jagermeister tap.

But the biggest attraction here is the music. It is to country-western what J. Patrick's is to Irish folk music. There are live bluegrass sessions as well as country nights. Jam sessions are not uncommon.

In Hanover, the PBR role is played by Cancun Cantina (7501 Old Telegraph Road). It is as as intimidatingly large — more than 3,000 square feet — as its Baltimore counterpart, and on weekend nights, it can draw crowds just as impressive.

Erik Maza

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