Charm City Slickers: The Bridge, 'National Bohemian,' at 9:30 Club

February 2, 2011


Despite what Wikipedia may lead you to believe, the Bridge did not appear on HBO’s Baltimore-set drama “The Wire.”

“It’s the best show that was ever on television but no, we were never on ‘The Wire,'” says Cris Jacobs, singer and guitarist for the Baltimore-based roots rock band.

It’s not preposterous to assume the band appeared on the show — the Bridge practically bleed Baltimore, having spent the last nine years building a modest, but fervent fan base in the city. The band consistently sells out their annual Thanksgiving weekend show at Ram’s Head Live! and a yearly summer residency at the 8×10 in Federal Hill.

“We feel such a strong connection to Baltimore,” he says of the city where five-sixths of the band lives. “Whenever we go out on the road, we try and represent Baltimore and let people know that’s where we’re from. It’s because of the Baltimore community that we’re still a band — plain and simple. Their support is what has driven this band to keep going.”


As a tribute, the Bridge named its fifth album after one of the city’s (former) biggest exports: National Bohemian Beer. Produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, “National Bohemian” marks the next step in the group’s progression from impov-heavy jam band into a wide-ranging Americana outfit.

Jacobs says Berlin “opened us up to the possibilities of what the band could be capable of doing, the kind of music we could be playing, the kind of songs we could be playing; whereas maybe before we felt boxed in to a certain type of genre or certain type of song.”

On the album, Jacobs trades vocals with mandolin player and percussionist Kenny Liner on 11 soulful, funky and sometimes somber songs. Bassist Dave Markowitz, drummer Mike Gambone, saxophonist Patrick Rainey and keyboard player Mark Brown round out the band’s lineup. With the Bridge’s 10th anniversary coming up around Thanksgiving, Jacobs sees no signs of slowing down.

“It’s hard to wrap my brain around that,” he says. “It’s pretty much longer than any relationship, other than family, that I’ve ever been involved in and it’s great that the band has continued to evolve. If we felt like we were not still going upward, we probably still wouldn’t be doing it. But the good thing is we continue to evolve and develop. It’s definitely trippy to think about but we just keep looking forward.”

You can put that on Wikipedia.

» 9:30 Club, 815 V St NW; with Tea Leaf Green; Fri. Feb. 4., 8 p.m., $17; 202-265-0930. (U Street- Cardozo)

Photo by Alicia Rose

Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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