For one of their own

The Baltimore Sun

For years, Michael "Jersey Mike" Baumiester supported the region's hardcore rock music scene.

Nearly every weekend, he went to shows in Maryland and such nearby states as New Jersey, Pennsylvania and even New York, his friends say.

When Baumiester was killed in a car crash this past Valentine's Day, some of his favorite local bands came together to help raise money for funeral expenses.

Saturday, the Sidebar Tavern is hosting an all-day outdoor tribute to Baumiester that benefits his family and his 15-month-old daughter, Chloe.

"He was one of us," said Megan Bradford, a bartender at the Sidebar who helped organize the event. "Our little scene was like one big family. It's like a family member passed away."

The Nanticoke, Pa.-based hardcore outfit Strength for a Reason is one of several bands performing Saturday. The band's singer, Karl Kivler, met Baumiester about six years ago, and the two quickly became friends.

"There's some nice people in the world, and they make an impact on you," Kivler said. "Whenever you play a certain area, there's always certain kids that are there from beginning to end. He was that kind of kid."

Baumiester, a 29-year-old native of Browns Mills, N.J., was driving on the New Jersey Turnpike to visit Chloe when he stopped to tighten the lug nuts on a tire. It was snowing heavily, and a car slid out of control, hit and killed him.

The hardcore community organized the initial benefit for funeral expenses that week, and started planning a larger event, which evolved into Saturday's show.

Some of the other bands on the roster include Stout, Wisdom in Chains, Crown of Kings, NJ Bloodline and Bring it On. There are about a dozen bands in all.

"It amazes me that Mike has such great friends that cared about him so much to set this up," said Megan Ward, Baumiester's ex-girlfriend and mother of their child. "They care so much about me and my daughter to do this for us and his family."

Though the hardcore scene in the region is large and includes many bands and fans, it is also a tight-knit community, Bradford said. For the most part, everybody knows everybody and is willing to help out when they can. Bradford canceled a vacation to Tennessee so she could serve drinks Saturday.

"We're all family," Bradford said. "We all look out for each other."

The Benefit for Jersey Mike starts at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Sidebar Tavern, 218 E. Lexington St. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. Drinks will be served indoors and can be taken outdoors to the parking lot next door where most of the bands will play. For more information, call 410-659-4130 or go to

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