2017 … what a year … there were certainly some low moments but there were also a lot of amazing things that happened. Before we head into 2018 – we’d like to take a moment and reflect on some of our favorite 2017 memories –
Private Artist Showcase with LP - January 25, 2017
We started 2017 Private Artist Showcases with LP after falling in love with her single, ‘Lost on You’. I don’t think anyone was ready for what happened on that cold Wednesday morning at Rams Head on Stage. LP gave an honest, raw, and haunting seven song performance that left everyone stunned. Oh yeah - she can whistle real good too
Meals with Musicians – Jain – January 31, 2017
Two of our favorite things – music and food! We took the concept of Meals with Musicians off Main St and to the Blackwall Hitch for a private happy hour, complete with French inspired cuisine from Chef Sennigan and a private performance by Jain!
Holistic Health Fair – February 18, 2017
For the 5th year in a row, we took over the Loews Hotel for a day filled with holistic health practitioners, products, services, counseling, educational information, alternative and complementary therapies, mind body and spirit modalities, lectures, workshops, and demos! Details on the 2018 event coming soon!
Private Artist Showcase - Hamilton Leithauser – February 23, 2017
We love Hamilton. We love that he tours in his SUV, we love that he brought his kids to Rams Head on Stage, and of course we love his music!
Carrie played hooky with listeners at Ski Liberty – February 24, 2017
The ski conditions weren’t ideal – but hey, a day on the slopes beats being in the office every time, am I right?
WRNR Debuts ‘Feel it Still’ by Portugal. The Man – March 2, 2017
It’s no secret we love Portugal. The Man. I mean, they gave Carrie a lifetime backstage pass after hanging with them a few years ago. When we got the single for Feel It Still in the mail back in March, we knew the song was a hit – but we had no idea the success the band had in store for the rest of 2017. Proof we liked the band before they sold out? Here’s a pic of Carrie drinking buds with the boys from Alaska in the Fire Fly parking lot!
Carrie Shaves her head for St. Baldricks – March 12, 2017
Carrie loves the kids. So much in fact, that was willing to shave her entire head for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation at Fado in Annapolis! Carrie raised over $4,000 for children’s cancer research and we couldn’t be more proud of her!
Cage The Elephant records Unpeeled in Washington DC – April 22, 2017
After Carrie shaved her head – we ran a fun promotion giving away 3rd, 2nd and 1st row tickets to see Cage The Elephant play a ‘stripped down’ show in DC. Little did we know they were recording the show for a new record called ‘Unpeeled’ and that it would have one of our favorite covers of the year on it – Whole Wide World
Private Artist Showcase – Dispatch – June 1, 2017
When the opportunity to have a Private Artist Showcase with Dispatch came up – there was no turning it down. Have a band, with a new amazing record out, who is headlining Merriweather Post, come to Rams Head on Stage and play an acoustic set for us? Yes please!
Meals with Musicians at Merriweather – Jack Johnson – June 11, 2017
How would we top Meals with Musicians with Jain? How about giving a few eco-conscious listeners the chance to break bread with Jack Johnson before his show at Merriweather Post!
Rockin River Cruise – Hippo Campus – June 14, 2017
Boy did we have some fun on the Harbor Queen this summer with the Rockin River Cruises! A little band from Minnesota called Hippo Campus started our summer series off in June with an amazing set and an even more amazing karaoke session during load out!
Firefly Music Festival – June 15-18, 2017
We were back at the Woodlands once again for Firefly weekend. Highlights included Muse, Bob Dylan, Mondo Cozmo, The Shins, and of course the infamous Waka Flocka / Sign Language incident.
Travis Pastrana brings his Nitro Circus to Navy Stadium – July 26, 2017
When local motocross star Travis Pastrana said he wanted to bring his Nitro Circus to Annapolis, MD – he was met with a lot of resistance. But we helped his grassroots charge and he eventually won the fight and he was able to bring his team of high flyers to his home for a show no one will soon forget #NapTownNitro
Meals with Musicians at Merriweather – Spoon – July 3, 2017
One of our favorite albums of 2017 was Spoon’s Hot Thoughts. And one of our favorite nights was inviting some friends (who posted Spoon inspired art to social media with the hashtag #RNRSpoonfed) to break bread with Britt and the band before their show at Merriweather.
Rockin River Cruise – Bay Ledges – August 10, 2017
The August weather was hot but that didn’t stop our cruises – and in August the coolest band from California, Bay Ledges, joined us on the Harbor Queen for an amazing night.
Pop Up Show – Deer Tick @ Rams Head Tavern – August 15, 2017
Carrie had a crazy idea- lets bring some of our favorite up and coming artists to town and have free pop up performances. This crazy idea came to fruition in August when Deer Tick showed up and played on the back patio at Rams Head!
Rockin River Cruise – Eclipse Edition w. Vance Joy – August 21, 2017
Where else would you want to see the moon eclipse the sun than on a boat in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. Oh yeah, did we mention we invited Vance Joy along too? So much fun … when’s the next eclipse?
First Taste at Great Frogs – Jack Johnson Listening Event – September 8, 2017
We celebrated the new fall wines at Great Frogs with a listening party for Jack Johnson’s new album All the Light Above it Too. Oh – did we mention we also gave someone a trip to see Jack in Atlanta?
Win Butler’s Butlered Suite – Arcade Fire at Capital One Arena – September 16, 2017
Sure you can go to an Arcade Fire Concert – but what about seeing Win Butler and the band from a butlered suite? Well – that’s what we did for a lucky winners – hooked them up with sweet suite seats!
Rockin River Cruise – Anderson East – September 21, 2017
We had our last cruise of the season on the last day of summer. And Anderson East certainly brought the heat aboard the Harbor Queen. Not a bad way to end the summer.
Manchester Orchestra Live in Studio – October 3, 2017
We had really been digging The Gold by Manchester Orchestra – but when they stopped by the studios to perform it live – it was game over. This still gives me chills to hear!
WRNR debuts Life Lines: A Bridge to Recovery – October 8, 2017
Having seen the tolls the opioid epidemic has taken on our community, we decided to stop the music once a month and start a new conversation on addiction and recovery. Life Lines features medical experts, musicians, and is also an open platform for listeners to contribute on the phone or via the web.
Eastportaricans for Puerto Rico – Eastport Democratic Club – October 21, 2017
After a relentless hurricane season, the damages sustained by the island of Puerto Rico were catastrophic. We wanted to raise some money and awareness for the situation – so we invited some bands to play (including Moon Taxi, Common Corpse, Alexander Peters, Swampcandy, and Van Meter) and raised over $6,000 for Friends of Puerto Rico.
Private Artist Showcase – The Lone Bellow – November 10, 2017
We closed out the PAS schedule for 2017 with The Lone Bellow at Rams Head on Stage. The show was high energy and the band got personal with the fans- answering questions and telling fun tour stories.
Pop Up Performance - Amy Shark @ Fado – November 18, 2017
We had such a good time with the Deertick pop up – we brought in Amy Shark to play a matinee at Fado. Once the soccer fans had cleared out – the Amy Shark fans filled the room and got a free pop up show from one of our top discoveries of 2017
Pop Up Performance – Brandi Carlile @ The Avalon – December 4, 2017
Sure the first two pop ups were fun – but you know how we do – go big or go home. So for our final Pop Up Performance of 2017, we brought Brandi Carlile to the eastern shore. A few hundred lucky fans piled into The Avalon in Easton for a once in a lifetime experience
Soundcheck with The National @ The Anthem - December 5, 2017
Speaking of once in a lifetime … some bands don’t like to pull the curtain back too much…Count The National as one of those bands … except when we’re involved. The band graciously invited us and a few listeners to an exclusive soundcheck before their show at The Anthem. This was the ONLY time they have EVER done this!
RNR Snowball w. Dispatch, Grizfolk, & Andreas Moe @ Rams Head Live – December 20, 2017
How do we cap off an amazing year – we convince one of our favorite bands, Dispatch, to extend their tour one more night and play our Christmas Party at Rams Head in Baltimore! They even brought some friends along – Grizfolk and Andreas Moe.
So that’s 2017 in a nutshell. But you know us – we’re already working on topping this for 2018!
Death is inevitable – and year after year – we are faced with the passing of our favorite musicians. We feel a special connection to these musicians through the art they share with us. It gets us through tough times. It helps us celebrate the good times. And it’s there for us all the times in between as well. So it is no shock that when an artist dies, it hurts. It’s as if we lost a close friend – that we have never met. But as we reflect on some of the lives the music world lost in 2017, we will always have their music to remember them by.
Tom Petty (1950-2017)
News of Tom Petty being hospitalized for cardiac arrest came as a shock … maybe TMZ had bad info? They almost never do though… Then reports of his death surfaced and were announced prematurely – so maybe he would pull through? Unfortunately, he would not and at 8:40pm on October 4, 2017, the world lost one of the true rockers – Thomas ‘Tom’ Earl Petty.
In his 40+ year career, Tom sold more than 80 million records, headlined the 2008 Super Bowl Halftime Show and was a 2001 inductee into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. While best known as the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Tom was also a member of the supergroups – The Traveling Wilburys and Mudcrutch.
In 2017 – Tom Petty embarked on what would be his final tour – the Heartbreakers 40th Anniversary Tour. The tour stopped in Baltimore on July 23rd and concluded at The Hollywood Bowl on September 25, 2017. The final song Tom performed? The timeless - American Girl.
Walter Becker (1950 - 2017)
Steely Dan co-founder, guitarist, bassist, and co-songwriter Walter Becker passed on September 3, 2017. Steely Dan has been dubbed one of rock’s most influential bands by numerous media outlets, including VH1. News of Becker’s death was shocking as it came just weeks after the Steely Dan Band had announced a fall tour. The tour went on though, with Becker’s Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagen vowing to "Keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band."
Chris Cornell (1964-2017) & Chester Bennington (1976-2017)
2017 was a tough year for alternative rocker icon’s lives being cut short due to their struggles with substance abuse and depression. On May 18, Chris Cornell took his own life in a Detroit hotel room just hours after his band, Soundgarden, had performed in concert. Cornell was a major influencer in the 1990’s and 2000’s with his bands Audioslave, Temple of the Dog and the afore mentioned Soundgarden.
Just two months later and on what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday, Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington committed suicide by hanging in his California home. The two were close friends and Bennington was the godfather of Cornell’s son, Christopher. Following Cornell’s death, Bennington had written on Instagram - "I can't imagine a world without you in it."
Gregg Allman (1947 - 2017)
On May 27th, Gregg Allman passed away after a bout with liver cancer. In 1969, Gregg formed the Allman Brothers Band along with his brother Duane. The Allman Brothers Band would go on to become one of the greatest bands – with a unique blend southern rock/jam/jazz/country music. Their live shows, especially at Merriweather Post Pavilion are legendary… In his autobiography, My Cross To Bear, Allman reflected: Music is my life's blood. I love music, I love to play good music, and I love to play music for people who appreciate it. And when it's all said and done, I'll go to my grave and my brother will greet me, saying, "Nice work, little brother—you did all right." I must have said this a million times, but if I died today, I have had me a blast.
Pat DiNizio (1955-2017)
On December 12, 2017, Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens passed away following several years of declining health. The Smithereens enjoyed a 26 year career with the original lineup (!), were named after a Yosemite Sam quote, and still get turned up to full blast whenever Girl Like You comes on the radio. Interesting fact about Pat? He ran for US Senate in 2000 and finished in 4th place.
Malcolm Young (1953-2017)
You know them … you love them … the original thunder from down under was AC/DC – and on November 18th, cofounding member Malcolm Young passed away.Minus a brief period in 1988 – Malcolm was in the band from 1973 to 2014.While many people consider AC/DC a heavy metal band, they always referred to themselves as "a rock and roll band, nothing more, nothing less”.Malcolm Young – we salute you.
Chuck Berry (1926-2017)
If you look up rock n roll in the dictionary – don’t be shocked to see a picture of Chuck Berry. According to Bruce Springsteen - "Chuck Berry was rock's greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest pure rock & roll writer who ever lived". Chuck Berry might not owe his career to his career to cousin Marvin like the film Back to the Future would have you believe – but we owe a debt of gratitude to Chuck Berry for giving us rock n roll. Chuck Berry passed on March 18, 2017.
Fats Domino (1928-2017)
Chuck Berry wasn’t the only rock n roll pioneer who passed in 2017. On October 24th, we also lost Fats Domino. While his shyness and humility may have caused his career to be overlooked – he is surely not forgotten.
Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul have reimagined and brought their one of a kind sound to The Ramones' classic song - "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight). Little Steven and the Disciples recorded their version live at a soundcheck(!) before their show on November 28th in Utrecht, Netherlands. The new version includes a third verse about Frosty the Snowman and Christmas Carolers. Check out the video below
We asked our winner, Theresa Sanchez, if she would let us come along with her - virtually - and she agreed - check out the experience - in her words, photos, and videos below.
Anticipation. Rocky Horror has mocked it. Carly Simon has sung about it. I was now feeling it. My eyes darted all over the tiny, dimly lit Lower East Side authentic Prohibition-era speakeasy known as the Back Room. Posters with images of U2 and their 14th studio album adorned the bar mirrors and the red velvet-covered walls. The bathrooms even had song lyrics strategically displayed at the sink stations. Sensory overload extended from sight and sound to taste. A constant delivery of delectable hors d'oeuvres (single serving Shepherd’s Pie anyone?), liquor-filled teacups, and brown-bag beer, satisfied my appetite but did little to calm my nerves. Yondr and their lockable technology pouches made fiddling with my phone impossible. What was a U2 super fan to do?
A copy of William Blake’s illustrated poems “Songs of Innocence and of Experience” briefly helped occupy my mind. Fellow fans shared stories attesting to their U2 fandom and debated why only three chairs occupied the stage. A spotlight illuminated thirteen song titles printed on the left side of the large wall facing the small seating area. At about 8 p.m. the room darkened and people with all-access credentials started swiftly moving about. One man pulled out his cell phone and plugged it into a cable connected to the main sound booth towards the rear of the room. The listening party had officially begun.
The album ended about fifty minutes later to resounding applause. More people then entered the room and two additional chairs were placed on stage. Finally, the moment everyone had been waiting for arrived. Documentary filmmaker and local resident Morgan Spurlock took the stage and introduced himself as the moderator. He noted: “This is an incredibly special night on so many levels.” He also acknowledged U2 felt it was “incredibly important” to share their new music with their biggest fans. This was the third of three listening parties, the other two being in London and Los Angeles.
The Edge [Daniel H. Evans] and Adam Clayton emerged from the bookcase door and sat in the seats stage left next to Spurlock. Larry Mullen Jr. followed thereafter and sat right in front of me and my friend to stage right. Bono [Paul D. Hewson] was the last to arrive, having been delayed by what Adam and The Edge jokingly called a “most exciting pee.” Each member’s long-awaited entrance prompted emphatic applause, but that of bespectacled Bono’s certainly invoked the longest and loudest.
Not to gloat, but our proximity to these four Irish rockstars was both astounding and surreal. We were sitting so close to them that I could see the detail of the yellow threading on Adam’s $630 black “Dublin Star Bee” Slip-On Gucci sneakers.
The primary purpose of the night’s event was to experience the band’s thirteen newest tracks. Given that, Bono asked everyone if they liked what they had just heard. The cozy crowd hollered various affirmative exclamations, while clapping and cheering. He then inquired about specific favorite song choices, to which the audience enthusiastically obliged. I praised the record’s fifth track, the anthemic tune, “American Soul,” and got a nod of approval from the burgundy-haired, scarf-wearing singer himself! [I later learned it’s the band’s second collaboration with Grammy-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar. It’s an alternate version of the single ‘XXX’ from his fourth album, Damn (2017). Lamar also worked on ‘Get Out of Your Own Way.’ Bono revisited it later in the evening’s discussion.]
From there, Spurlock commenced with the pre-submitted fan questions (one was mine!), beginning with band influences and song covers.
[Queries were addressed to the entire group, while others targeted specific members. At times, one member would finish another’s statement or pick up where another left off. Unless otherwise noted with quotation marks, the majority of the answers have been paraphrased from detailed shorthand notes.]
Influences and Favorite Covers to Perform Live:
During this past year’s massive worldwide 30th anniversary tour for TheJoshua Tree, the band interspersed lyrics from David Bowie’s 1977 hit ‘Heroes’ into the 1984 single ‘Bad’ (The Unforgettable Fire). This isn’t the first time they’ve done it, but it’s turned into a special tribute following Bowie’s 2016 death. Over the years they have incorporated lyrics from 50+ songs and other salient snippets into live performances of this fan favorite. Many recent shows took place in outdoor venues. Bono would look up into the night sky and point out different constellations while the band played an extended instrumental of “Bad.” Here is what they had to say:
The Band: Sometimes you just stumble into something. ‘Heroes’ is very special to us. David Bowie was a gigantic person in our life. He lived in this city and loved New York. It gave him a freedom he didn’t get anywhere else. All of us had his posters in our bedrooms. He was a teenage idol. He was a strange creature who gave people permission to be different. It’s strange when you get to know someone as famous as Bowie. We played him an early version of 1991’s ‘The Fly’ (Achtung Baby). He said, “I think you should record it again.”
Bono:David Bowie was there producing us, and “we didn’t take his advice, even though after the fact, I think he was right.”
Adam: “The group was most unfamiliar with playing ‘Red Hill Mining Town’ live, and this past tour was the first time we had ever performed it in concert.” We could only do it after adjusting the vocals. An additional brass component was also added.
The Edge:“I didn’t appreciate ‘Bad’ enough until we played it live.”
Larry:“The audiences are the arbiters at the end.”
Bono: “The title of ‘Bad’ comes from when we were teenagers and Andy Warhol made a movie called ‘Bad’ (1977). We went to see it trying to feel artsy, bohemian, and interesting. We saw this sort of art film and we had a spectacular argument about the film. A friend of mine [Gareth Spaulding] ended up being a heroin addict [who overdosed in 1987 on his 21st birthday].”
Concert Audience Size:
The next question was a shorter version of the one I crafted with my friend Susan Gibbons. “December 6, 2017 marked the 37th anniversary of their first U.S. live performance at The Ritz in New York City. Can a band of this notoriety ever play smaller, more intimate venues again – maybe under an alias as a surprise to fans? The moderator conveniently left off the part about playing a rooftop pop-up concert like the one they did in 1987 for ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’.”
Two days later, on December 2nd, they showed up on a NY street corner to play their newest material! Coincidence? To think we had any kind of influence on this super band is incomprehensible, but reassuring this day and age.
Larry:“All gigs for a band like U2 come with a big sign. Performing can be intimidating because we have become accustomed to pushing boundaries and our fans expect that. Size does matter!” [The double entendre evoked laughter].
Adam: “We always try to make our shows as intimate as possible. [I remember] that first show and it felt very big and I felt very small. The combo of going on late and jet lag didn’t help. It wasn’t one of our best nights.”
Bono:“Anyone who went to that probably thought it was the best gig they ever saw, but it really wasn’t. We went to the Mudd Club [counterculture nightclub operating from 1978-83] afterwards. What’s that Groucho Marx quote? ‘Who would want to belong to a club that will have people like me as a member?’ Madonna and Basquiat went there.” We knew people who could get us in, but they were outside with us. Our great friend/promoter was knocking on the door. He climbed up the scaffolding and eventually got us in.
Adam:“New York was a lot of fun.”
Choosing Concert Set Lists:
The Edge: “It’s an instinctive thing. You imagine what the best show would be like and you make it happen.As lead singer, Bono has a very particular role. He gets more votes than the rest of us.”
Bono:“We’re not a jukebox kind of band. We’re not playing the songs. We’re playing the occasion. It’s just not the same show night after night. We want to create a feeling and a connection. Forgive me for this – we want to achieve a sort of transcendence. It’s like the Shakespearean structure [of a play]. We’re trying to play the best night of our life every night. One day we’ll get it right.”
Quality of Music Today:
U2 has hope for today’s music and are in touch with all types of genres. They even gave a shout out to the British band The Horrors who just released their fifth album V. Bono specifically mentioned the award-winning English garage rock duo Royal Blood and Irish singer-songwriter Imelda May.
Adam:“There’s always so much good music around. There’s Kendrick Lamar, of course [as aforementioned, they’ve recently worked on two projects together]. Jay-Z too – it was extraordinary for him to admit all he did [on his 13th studio album 4:44].” Twenty One Pilots is good. “There’s this new guy out named Noel Gallagher.”
Incidentally, the “Life” section headline of the November 29, 2017 USA Today available at most hotels read: “Grammy Awards: Hip-hop giants Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar lead the field.” Maybe they read the seemingly ubiquitous newspaper that day.
The New Album:
Bono: “The two albums [Songs of Innocence (2014) & Songs of Experience (2017)] talk to each other.” ‘American Soul’ samples part of ‘Volcano.’ “I wrote a lot about my wife Ali [Hewson] – having met her as a teenager. We were just kids.” ‘13 (There is a Light)’ samples lyrics from ‘Song for Someone.’ There was some preaching of what you had to hear.
What Makes New York City Special To You:
Larry: “In the 80s, in Dublin, nothing seemed possible. New York is full of possibilities. Ireland has changed thankfully. And thankfully, New York hasn’t!” [laughter]
How Has Politics Affected the New Album:
Bono sighed and picked up his beer. That about explains it all. [laughter]
The Edge: “A lot has changed over a year. We try to avoid political processes and political issues. We went through a time period of many years looking at the developing world and truth is - in fact - history zigzags. There was a very long run that one could consider was in a positive direction. In 20 years it may not feel as significant. What’s important is to look at the wider swath of history. The bottom line is that we are still issues based and hopeful. We don’t want to let politics deter us.”
Adam: “I still want to know if Obama was born in Kenya.” [laughter]
Bono: “What the Edge said is a very wise way to look at the world. I’m splintered with anxiety [mentioned Charlottesville, UK, and Ireland]. The Edge referred to the last 70 years. Every day you wake up to things being just a little bit better and that just seems to have changed. What about the past 5,000 years? We are not giving up that progress. Don’t agonize. Organize! Whatever you believe in, get out and vote.”
The musicians ended their discussion with a strong message and even stronger handshakes to many of the fans closest to the stage (yes, I got to thank each one of them!). The lights raised and a quick frenzy ensued as the collective contest winners assembled together to pose for a group shot. I pointed out the obvious: “If you can’t see the camera, it can’t see you.” The Edge validated my advice by repeating the exact instruction to the overly eager throng. After the camera flashed, final brief band-directed salutations were exchanged, and then the Irish quartet departed. Desserts were served, but the ‘sweetest thing’ – a once-in-a-lifetime night with larger-than-life legendary band - was over almost as quickly as it began. We were then directed through the cavernous exit, handed a deluxe gift bag, and whisked off to the hotel in the same luxury coaches in which we arrived. It was hard to sleep after such an unforgettable experience. Good thing we have the 2018 Experience & Innocence Tour coming up. Let the countdown commence! Patience is a virtue, right?
See the full gallery if photos HERE and check out the video of her trip below:
For their 8th Saturday Night Live Appearance - Foo Fighters started with "Everlong" and then went into a medley of Christmas songs - including “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” and “Linus and Lucy.”