Music fans pay attention: A 600-pound gorilla is moving to town. On Wednesday a new nightclub called Rams Head Live starts rocking.
Designed to hold 1,800 people, the 26,000-square-foot space will be more than twice as large as any nightclub in the Baltimore area. The club owners are promising that a room this big will attract national acts regularly.
If the name sounds familiar, it should. The new club is run and owned by Bill Muehlhauser, who also runs the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis and several other small nightclubs in the region. "We are tailoring what we've done in Annapolis, but on a larger scale," said Muehlhauser. In fact, like the hall in Annapolis, the new space even includes a restaurant. But, in Baltimore the diners will be in a separate area.
Muehlhauser expects to book big-name bands 10 to 15 nights a month and invite regional and local bands to play the other nights. The place will be open seven days a week. And, Muehlhauser is hoping to bring in more rock acts than he has had at the 217-seat Annapolis club, which is known for its folksy lineup.
"Now we are able to obtain some of the artists that just couldn't imagine shoehorning into Annapolis," said Kris Stevens, a booker for the new club.
The venue -- in the Power Plant Live complex -- is geared toward an older crowd than typically populates that area. All the shows will be restricted to audiences 21 and older, and the lineup so far includes stuff that appeals to a mature audience.
In the next few weeks, B. B. King, Chris Isaak and Joe Cocker will play there. Gaelic Storm, an Irish band that made a cameo in the 1997 movie Titanic, is the debut performance Wednesday.
The venue is also aesthetically designed for an audience used to creature comforts.
Walking in through the tavern in front, the first thing you notice are the gorgeous exposed-brick walls. Tract lighting casts a gentle glow in the dining room.
The restaurant opens to a cavernous dance floor -- the floors above it have been ripped out, giving the club a chic loft feel. More than 40 flat-screen televisions hang on the walls, and three food kiosks will serve snacks during the concert.
A balcony on the second level provides additional space. There is some bleacher seating here for those who can't dance all night. To the side is a VIP room that will have comfy couches and special service. A third-level balcony is for private groups.
And, as in Annapolis, the club will offer dinner discounts to concertgoers who eat at the tavern -- they will get 10 percent off their food and drink bill, have their concert tickets hand-delivered to them and will be escorted to the show through a private entrance. Muehlhauser said several other restaurants in the Power Plant complex are participating in this arrangement.
The venue will also employ a concierge service to help out-of-town music lovers find hotel accommodations. Muehlhauser and his landlord, developer David Cordish, expect the venue to draw people from all over the region.
And the place is creating quite a buzz in the local music scene. "Personally, I'm excited to see a quality venue of its size in Baltimore," said Paul Manna, who books talent for the Recher Theatre in Towson. "It is friendly competition, I hope, but it will be interesting."
Rams Head Live is in the Power Plant Live complex, next to Maryland Art Place. Call 410-727-5151 or visit www.ramsheadlive.com. Tickets to see Gaelic Storm cost $15.
Rams Head Live
Some of the acts coming to the new music venue in Baltimore:
Dec. 18: The Legwarmers
Dec. 21: Chris Isaak
Dec. 27-28: Gov't Mule
Dec. 30: Pat McGee Band
Jan. 4: B.B. King
Jan. 30: Joe Cocker
For more club events, see Page 32.