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Best Jukebox Bars In Baltimore

October 13, 2011 5:00 AM

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By Karlyn DeSteno

Where have all the good jukeboxes gone? Sometimes there is nothing better than putting a few dollars into a jukebox and hearing your favorite songs. Here are our picks for the best jukeboxes in Baltimore for your night of dollar DJing old school style.

10 13 nightlife and music best jukebox bars mount royal Best Jukebox Bars In Baltimore

Photo Credit: Karlyn DeSteno

Mount Royal Tavern

1204 W. Mount Royal Ave
Baltimore, Md. 21217
(410) 669-6686
Hours: Mon to Sun – 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Reviews, Directions & More Info

A true jukebox has personality. It has to have spine. There was a time when jukeboxes were a bar’s way of taking a stand on what separates the good from the bad life and music, and some of us miss those good old days. That’s why our pick for Baltimore’s best jukebox is that of the Mount Royal Tavern, whose lovingly crafted collection of folk, blues, rock, zydeco, and classics will stagger almost any fan of those genres, while pandering to no man. It’s a songwriter’s song mix, full of obscure Dylan tunes, Townes Van Zandt tributes, and doses of John Prine and Hank Williams, and it’s heavy on blues and obscure classics from Mississippi John Hurt to Edith Piaf and Taraf de Haidouks. But the real gems of the Mert’s jukebox, as any of its veteran bartenders and doormen will proudly tell you, are its compilations, crafted song by song over decades with obvious care. You could spend untold quarters exploring its annals, if you can stay standing—the MRT only serves doubles.

10 13 nightlife and music best jukebox bars club charles Best Jukebox Bars In Baltimore

Photo Credit: Karlyn DeSteno

Club Charles

1724 N Charles St
Baltimore, Md. 21201
(410) 727-8815
Hours: Mon to Sat – 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sun – 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Reviews, Directions & More Info

There’s something for everyone on the Club Chuck jukebox, from Bowie and Sonic Youth to Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye, plus a bevy of more recent pop and electronica. Well-represented and oft-spun local luminaries like Future Islands and Dan Deacon round out the collection and keep this classic neon drinkery thoroughly local. Pair all that with a few off-the-wall concept compilations (“Epic Balladry of the Late 20th Century: A Historical Review”—featuring Kate Bush and Elton John—is a favorite) and a few cult classics (Caetano Veloso, Donovan) and we have a winner.

10 13 nightlife and music best jukebox bars thinkstock jukebox Best Jukebox Bars In Baltimore

(Credit:Thinkstock Images)

Molly’s Public House

400 W. 23rd St.
Baltimore, Md. 21211
(410) 637-3089
http://www.mollyspub.com/

Maybe Molly’s Public House is cheating by having an Internet jukebox, but for control freaks, obscurest, or anyone sufficiently tired of hearing the same five classic rock tunes again and again, the ability to call up just about any song in the known universe for a quarter or two is a heck of a thrill. And Molly’s, nestled in Hampden away from the main strip, is the sort of bar you can pretend is your living room anyway. Go ahead, play your favorite album. Come with tunes in mind, and be prepared for diversity.

2109400 Best Jukebox Bars In Baltimore

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Ottobar

2549 North Howard Street
Baltimore, Md. 21218-4506
(410) 662-0069
Hours: Daily 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Reviews, Directions & More Info

From Iggy Pop and the Clash to the Smiths and local favorites like Oranges Band, the Ottobar’s juke is built for volume. As Baltimore’s premier bar venue for sub-mainstream music (and for dancing, sweat and strong drinks), this semi-punk spot takes its tween-concert juke playing seriously. This is a quality mix that can take you from a sullen afternoon to a wild night without a dud.

Karlyn DeSteno is a writer and artist living in Baltimore, Md.

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