But overall crime in the city is down, and the mayor recently confronted the rumors of an extramarital affair, publicly denying them after reports that an Ehrlich aide acknowledged an orchestrated campaign to spread such gossip. The aide, Joseph Steffen, was fired by Ehrlich.
Performing with the band takes O'Malley away from the politics, immersing him in the music he's played 25 years, he said. "It's a left-brain activity that's helped to make a whole person," O'Malley said.
"I'm 41. It gets harder to jump around on stage with a guitar," Mayor Martin O'Malley says.
(Ricky Carioti -- The Washington Post)
At the same time, it's an ideal platform for the mayor to project his image, his message, without having the burdens of being mayor.
Like having to wear a suit and tie. Or even a shirt with sleeves.
"I will vote for him no matter what he runs for," said Erin Gilland Roby, 48, who wore a Kelly-green button that said "Official Leprechaun" to Thursday's concert. "I really, really like the guy."
"He's not one-sided," she said. "This is another facet to the man," she said, gesturing through the smoke at the Recher Theatre, as O'Malley's March was warming up to go on. "Look, he's not at the level of the people you see on TV. But he certainly gives it his all."
The seven-member band plays traditional Irish music with electric guitars and drums, along with covers of more modern fare, such as U2 and the Pogues. O'Malley is the public face of the operation, if not necessarily its most accomplished musician. He writes some of the songs, and sings all of them.
Some fans come to the band's well-attended shows, check out the mayor and soak up the act.
As the show wound down Thursday, Gilland Roby sat at the bar, looking a bit less enthusiastic than when entered.
How was the band?
"Loud," she said.
What about the music?
Gilland Roby made a gesture with her hands and face that said, "Well, so-so."
"I only recognized a few songs," she said before turning her gaze back toward the stage.