Local Venues for Live Music
If you want to see live music in the Baltimore area, there’s no shortage of popular venues. In addition to the most well-known locales—like Rams Head Live! and the Otto Bar—Baltimore is also home to much lesser-known, but equally great, places to snap your fingers and tap your feet to some live tunes, and a few of these gems are located in and around Towson.
Live Lunch at WTMD Studios
One Olympic Place, Suite 100
Towson, MD 21204
In 2013, Towson University’s WTMD started Live Lunch, a free concert series held at noon most Fridays. Show up at the WTMD studio by 11:30 a.m. to get a place in line and you’ll have no problem getting a seat. The studio seats about 125 comfortably, and it’s generally filled to capacity. The place is cozy with warm acoustics, and even at the back of the room, you’re still only about 50 feet from the stage. The experience is intimate and you’ll likely feel a connection to the performers in a way you might not get at a larger venue. Bring a lunch—something easy to eat—and plan to stay a little more than an hour. The bands usually play six to 10 songs, punctuated by a short Q&A with the hosting DJ. The show is taped, and broadcast live on 89.7 WTMD, so even if you can’t sneak away for a two-hour lunch—that’s about the time commitment—you can still catch the show on the air. Among the dozens of bands that have played in the last four years, a few standouts are Hozier, Kaleo, Puss N Boots featuring Norah Jones, Nada Surf, Rubblebucket, Songhoy Blues and Legends of Et cetera. A schedule of upcoming performances is available at WTMD.org.
Feet on the Street Towson Block Party
Allegheny Avenue, near the traffic circle
Towson, MD 21204
If you prefer the outdoor, music festival vibe, grab a couple camp chairs and head down to Feet on the Street, a lively, block party-style summer music series held from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. every Friday in the summer. Some of the area’s best cover bands, like Crushing Day, Tumble Home and Hit Factor, put their spin on your favorite contemporary and classic songs. If you have kids, bring them—they can get their faces painted, for around $6, and then tire themselves out dancing. Grown folks are encouraged to boogie down too, but you can also grab food, wine, beer and cocktails from one of the many vendors and just kick back and unwind to the music. Feet on the Street is a fun way to spend a warm Friday night in Towson with your friends and neighbors. Check the summer lineup at TowsonChamber.com.
Zen West Open Mic Night
5916 York Road
Baltimore, MD 21212
Maybe you’re not content just listening and dancing to live music—maybe you want to take the stage yourself. If that’s the case, Zen West is where you want to be from 8 p.m. to around 11 p.m. on the last Wednesday of the month. Recently, the long-running Open Mic Night at Swallow at the Hollow ended, but not to worry, Zen West is taking up the OMN mantle. They have a comfortable performance space set off from the main dining area and have even invested in new, top-notch equipment so performers can just come in, sign up, plug in and play.
David Reiter, a Rodgers Forge resident, talented amateur musician and avid open mic participant, says “An open mic night can create a fun opportunity for musicians over a range of abilities to interact. It can be eye-opening to realize how many great musicians live so close by.”
So, if you crave the stage or just prefer to sing along from the comfort of a barstool, Zen West is the place to be on the last Wednesday of every month. You may discover your neighbors have some surprising talents.