Back in the fall of 2001, Kenny Liner rented out the old Paloma’s space in Mt. Vernon to host the first-ever show that he and his bandmates would play as The Bridge. The concert just so happened to fall on Thanksgiving Eve, making it convenient for a bunch of old friends to hear the band’s debut while back in town for the holiday.
“Like so many other awesome things in life, that part was just a coincidence that wound up being a great idea,” Liner says. “Five-hundred people showed up to a place that could only hold like 200. It was a really crazy, awesome time.”
Although the members of the iconic funk-and-blues collective have since parted ways, they’ve made a tradition of playing reunion shows the night before Thanksgiving each year.
After a brief hiatus last season, the six-man crew—including celebrated vocalist Cris Jacobs, saxophonist Patrick Rainey, bass player Dave Markowitz, drummer Mike Gambone, and keyboard player Mark Brown—is getting together for a sold-out show at Union Collective on November 21. (If you missed out on tickets this time, the band is also playing a two-night New Year’s residency at The Hamilton in D.C. December 30-31.)
“It’s all about nostalgia for us,” Liner says. “We’re definitely coming up with some good ideas to keep people interested, but we know that, at this point, when people are coming to see The Bridge they’re not coming to hear new stuff. They want to hear the songs that they miss hearing.”
Whether squeezing their way through the crowd at the annual Bridge reunion, or heading to neighborhood bars to catch up with old friends, Baltimoreans have grown to embrace Thanksgiving Eve as a requisite kickoff to the fall holiday. Liner credits this, in part, to the area’s tight-knit high school culture.
“So many people are happy to come home and make those connections from their childhood and high school years,” he says. “On Thanksgiving, Thursday is for the families, but Wednesday is for the friends.”
In keeping with that sentiment, we’ve rounded up a few bar specials and events perfect for celebrating with your best buds. Before filling up on turkey, head to these spots around town to jumpstart the long weekend in style.
Thanksgiving Eve at Frazier’s: Grab a group and retreat from the cold at this hallowed dive on the Avenue in Hampden, where regulars like to shoot pool and request their favorite bar songs on the virtual jukebox. Frazier’s is celebrating accordingly with $2 Miller Lite, Yuengling, and Natty Boh drafts, as well as $4 Union beers and $10 ribs with fries and slaw. 919 W. 36th St. 410-662-4914
Drinksgiving at Wet City: Drop your bags at home and make your way to this Mt. Vernon beer bar, which is collaborating with Graft Cider to host a quasi-art show and homecoming party. Guests are invited to meet illustrator Caleb Luke Lin, who creates the can labels for Graft, and browse some of his framed works on display at the bar. As always, there will be plenty of drafts to choose from and confit chicken wings to go around. 223 W. Chase St. 6-12 a.m. 443-873-6699
Friendsgiving at Black Flag Brewing Co.: This Columbia hangout is throwing its fan-favorite Friendsgiving bash complete with $1-off select pints, two new can releases, and discounts on crowlers to bring to your Thanksgiving celebration. Plus, food truck SayCheese will be on site slinging gourmet grilled cheeses from 4-8 p.m. 9315 Snowden River Pkwy., Ste. C., Columbia. 4 p.m.-12 a.m. 443-864-5139
Thanksgiving Eve Shucker’s Ball: Veteran brewpub Red Brick Station is ringing in the holiday with its annual oyster fest. Head to the spot to enjoy Eastern Shore oysters shucked to order, as well as oyster stew, $3 house beers, $5 glasses of Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc, and $5 Orange Crushes. 8149 Honeygo Blvd., White Marsh, 7-9 p.m. 410-931-7827
Thanksgiving Eve Dance Party at Little Havana: With a setlist featuring everything from AC/DC to Rihanna, local cover band The Real Geniuses knows how to hype up a crowd. Hear the familiar tunes live at Little Havana in Locust Point, where the signature house margaritas and mojitos will be flowing all night long. 1325 Key Highway. 8-11 p.m. 410-837-9903
Thanksgiving Eve at Bond Street Social: Spend your Wednesday evening sipping cocktails and sampling hors d’oeuvres at this Fells Point social spot, which will feature music spun by DJ Paul Random. A $10 cover gets you one free drink and passed light fare. 901 S. Bond St. 9 p.m. $10. 443-449-6234
Dranksgiving at Jailbreak Brewing Co.: Garage folk act Skribe is headlining this get-together at Jailbreak’s taproom in Laurel. In the spirit of giving back, the brewery is offering all-night happy hour deals to all patrons who bring in a non-perishable food itemfor Laurel Advocacy & Referral Services (LARS)—a local organization that works to end homelessness. Additionally, $1 of every Feed the Monkey pint sold will be donated to LARS. The evening will also feature firkins, experimental exclusives, Turkey Day-inspired eats, and the award-winning Van Dammit Belgian dark strong available on draft and in cans. 9445 Washington Blvd. North, Ste. F, Laurel. 443-345-9699