No. 28

November 01, 2015

There have been rumors floating around for the past several years that Hammerjack's will reopen at a new location in Baltimore, Maryland. It is being advertised that on Sat November 7th at the venue Game on Warner Street in Baltimore, they will be holding an event called "Hammerjack's Rocks The Red Carpet" where an "Official Announcement" will be made. It is anticipated that this announcement will be about the reopening of the iconic music venue. The event is being sponsored by 98 Rock and 24-7 Entertainment, to be hosted by DJ Kirk McEwen.

Hammerjacks opened in the 1970's as a tavern on South Charles Street. One of its partners was Louis J. Principio, Jr. who was a part of moving the business to South Howard Street, where Hammerjacks became a staple in Baltimore's landscape as a premiere live music venue in the 1980's and 1990's. In 1991 Louis Principio, Jr. died of cancer at St. Agnes Hospital and the business was taken over by his son Louis Principio III. The club attracted many big-name national acts, as well as supporting some of the bigger local acts such as Kix, Wrathchild America, Mystic-Force, and others. The club was featured in the 1994 John Waters film Serial Mom, where actress Kathleen Turner's character Beverly Sutphin was arrested for murder. The Hammerjacks logo also appears on a sign in the artwork for Iron Maiden's album Somewhere In Time. Hammerjack's was considered one of the largest nightclubs on the east coast. In the wake of Baltimore acquiring a new football team after losing the Colts, who moved to Indianapolis, the City of Baltimore made plans to build a new stadium downtown. The lot for the proposed stadium involved acquring the Hammerjack's location on South Howard Street, it was sold for 4 million dollars, and in June 1997 was torn down and made into a parking lot for the new Raven's football stadium.

A third version of Hammerjack's was opened on Guilford Street but it never reclaimed the glory of the "Old" Hammerjacks. The music scene by that point had changed being served by new venues. Sonar, a refurbished warehouse near Hammerjacks on Saratoga Street opened with a 1,200-person capacity, followed by Rams Head Live which opened in 2004, a concert hall in Power Plant Live that cost more than $10 million with a capacity of 1,600 people. The new Hammerjack's failed to become a success and eventually closed its doors for good in 2006. In 2010, the trademark for the name Hammerjack's lapsed and was acquired by Kevin Butler, resident agent for HammerHouse Designs, LLC. who opened a website at http://www.hammerjacksonline.com , selling T-shirts and other merchandise bearing the Hammerjacks logo. The advertisement lure was "Remember the hair, lights, sound and people. Now you can let everyone know you were there. Order your official Hammerjacks black T-shirt and celebrate the 80's." - Welcome to HammerJacks!". At this point it was just an exploitation of a famous name to make money off merchandise while rumors began circulating that Kevin Butler was making extensive plans and investment to open a new 57,000 sq. foot nightclub nearby the old location. The plan will include a 50,000 sq. ft. music club and a 400+ car garage. A space has also been reserved at Lot N which could potentially be used in the future for a boutique hotel. The concert area at Hammerjacks will hold 2,500 people, but can be flexed down to a capacity of 1,000 for smaller and more intimate shows. There will also be a 1,500 person sports bar-style area to host parties for stadium events, as well as NCAA tournament viewing and more. They are also hoping to eventually have a rooftop bar. “This will be a world-class music venue with great sound,” said Butler.

The project was still going through zoning in 2013, where Butler and team were hoping to break ground with contractor Chesapeake Construction in early 2014. Clearly there have been delays with their breaking ground and it is anticipated that this upcoming "Hammerjack's Rocks The Red Carpet" on November 7th will be the offical announcement. Not only will it be a music venue but it will serve as sports bar to catch the flow of patrons from the stadium. It could add several hundred jobs in Baltimore City, in a time when the city is suffering from the effect of an economic depression.


The infamous Hammerjack's at South Howard Street in the 80's and 90's

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