Rock and politics take center stage
Mayor: Fans flock to see O'Malley's March perform, showing their
support for the band and the gubernatorial aspirations of its frontman.
By Eric Siegel
March 21, 2005
They came out because one chapter in the life and times of Baltimore
Mayor Martin O'Malley is coming to a close - just as another appears to
More than 3,100 tickets were sold for O'Malley's fifth annual St.
Patrick's Day Celebration and fund-raiser. Some turned out for the
event at Rams Head Live yesterday to see the mayor in one of his last
appearances fronting the Irish rock band O'Malley's March, some to back
his all-but-announced run for governor next year, some to do both.
"I support O'Malley," said Bill McDaniel, 63, who lives in New Freedom,
Pa., but works in the city. "I like what he stands for. He seems to be
on top of everything."
As for the band, which the mayor said last week he was leaving to
devote all his time to matters of city and state, McDaniel said it's
"I'm an old guy," said McDaniel. "Loud music blows my ears out. And I
can't dance because of a bad knee."
Diane Alley of South Baltimore, on the other hand, said she was there
to see the mayor play music.
"I never saw him play," said Alley. "I figured if he's going to be
stepping down, I wanted to see him."
As for next year's gubernatorial contest, a race the mayor has been
saying for weeks he is "laying the groundwork" for, Alley said, "I like
Mr. O'Malley, but I have to tell you, I'm not a registered voter."
But if O'Malley were in a race against Republican Gov. Robert L.
Ehrlich Jr., she added, "I might register."
O'Malley didn't disappoint those who came for politics or music,
offering a dose of both.
Just before the band roared through an hourlong set, O'Malley, dressed
in a black, short-sleeve T-shirt, rather than his signature sleeveless
style, thanked the crowd for past support and for "being ready for the
next thing to come."
He urged them to pick up new green-and-white "O'Malley for Governor"
bumper stickers and campaign volunteer cards.
"You and I know that Maryland can do better," he said. "This is a great
state. There is more for us to do together."
Asked later whether the bumper stickers amounted to a declaration of
candidacy, mayoral spokesman Steve Kearney smiled and said, "It's not a
declaration. It's part of laying the groundwork."
Midway through his set, the mayor invited Del. Bobby A. Zirkin, a
Baltimore County Democrat who was one of several city and state
legislators at the event, to join him on stage in a cover of the Van
Morrison classic "Brown Eyed Girl."
"We're teaching the legislature to sing together," O'Malley said.
After he left the stage, Zirkin said he supports O'Malley, who is
expected to face Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan in the
Democratic gubernatorial primary.
"He's got guts, he's got vision, he's got leadership," said Zirkin,
reeling off the reasons for his support.
Tickets to the event were $40, up $5 from last year. The nearly
$125,000 raised, minus expenses, will go into O'Malley's political
treasury - which currently holds about $1 million.
In addition to the set by O'Malley's March and the political pitch,
ticket-holders got to eat heaps of Irish food, quaff beer in plastic
cups, mingle through the recently opened two-floor club and listen to
two hours of warm-up by blues group the Kelly Bell Band.
Some made the event a family affair, bringing children as young as 10
Mary Ashland of Ellicott City came with her two preteen sons. Ashland,
who said her sons are autistic, said she wanted to know what O'Malley's
policies on disabilities were before she supported him but allowed: "I
wanted to see the band. I've never seen the band."
John Berry, who moved to Federal Hill from Northern Virginia 1 1/2
years ago, had seen O'Malley play before. But he said the event was a
"last chance to see him in his rock 'n' roll mode."
"We also support him politically," added his wife, Anna Berry. "It
would be bad for Baltimore to have him leave as mayor, but it's also
bad for Baltimore to have Ehrlich as governor."
Copyright © 2005, The Baltimore Sun