Hammerjacks Concert Hall and Nightclub was a large concert hall in downtown Baltimore through the 1980s and into the 1990s owned by Louis J. Principio Jr. The club attracted many big-name national acts, but also showcased many rising stars in the music world. The bands ranged from punk, glam, and heavy metal acts most commonly associated with the venue (e.g., Guns n Roses, Kix, Ratt, Skid Row or Extreme) to pop (e.g., Badfinger) and alternative rock groups (e.g., Goo Goo Dolls). The club was often frequented by hard core patrons and musicians donning big hair, leather, lace, spandex, and heavy makeup, and was considered a "hard rock shrine." Hamerjacks, however, attracted audiences with other attire as well. It was torn down on June 12, 1997 to make way for M&T Bank Stadium parking lot. Hammerjacks was billed as "The largest nightclub on the east coast."
A third version of Hammerjacks opened in a different location, which had formerly been used as a car wash, in Baltimore. It was then put under new management in 2004, but has now been closed.
The club was featured in the John Waters' 1994 film Serial Mom, with grunge band L7 playing the band Camel Lips. It was the location where Kathleen Turner's character Beverly Sutphin was arrested for murder. Interior and exterior views of the club have been featured in music videos, including the band Kix. An image of a sign for the club appeared on the Iron Maiden album "Somewhere In Time".
As of July 2, 2011, the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) listed five different records pertaining to the trademark "Hammerjacks." The only active application for the trademark was by Hammerhouse Designs LLC. The attorney of record was Lawrence E. Laubscher, Jr. The resident agent was listed as Kevin Butler. The application for this trademark was filed January 27, 2011 and published for opposition April 19, 2011. The other records pertain to abandoned applications and registrations. Official merchandise can still be purchased on the Hammerjacks' website, which is operated by Hammerhouse Designs. In 2010 Kevin Butler acquired the lapsed trademark. Kevin Butler has made extensive plans and investment to open a new 57,000 sq. foot nightclub nearby the old location.
On Saturday 11/7/15 at the “Hammerjacks Rocks the Red Carpet” party held at Game, Hammerjacks Entertainment Group (HEG) Owner and Anne Arundel County resident Kevin Butler, along with partner Andy Hotchkiss, announced that the music venue and club will open at 1300 Russell St. across from M&T Bank Stadium. The 48,000 sq. ft. club will take the place of Paradox as well as a currently vacant warehouse facing Ostend St. that was most recently the home to a ceramic tile company. Paradox recently announced it will be closing.
Hammerjacks originally announced a $20 million new-construction project for the club at Lot N by M&T Bank Stadium. However, as the city was studying the impacts to the adjacent Carroll-Camden Industrial Area to change the zoning at the property, a better opportunity across the street at 1300 Russell St. came about. The site already had the zoning needed for a liquor license and live entertainment. The new project is expected to cost $8 million to complete.
The new Hammerjacks will feature a 2,500-person concert area that can be modified down for smaller shows, a club/sports bar area that will feature smaller 300-person live music shows, and an outdoor courtyard area. Butler told SouthBMore.com he has been contacted by several national entertainment companies interested in booking shows at Hammerjacks. The club can also be modified to various sizes for corporate events, business meetings, high school reunions, weddings, and private events. HEG will also be leasing 4,000 sq. ft. of retail space on the property that will face Ostend St. Butler said “plenty” of parking will be available.
There will also be what Butler is calling “a large outdoor courtyard for seasonal events, sports events, and tailgating” at the venue.
“The process that led up to this announcement has been long and, at times, tedious,” said Butler in a press release, “but that was all part of the effort, by myself and our partners, to make the new Hammerjacks an entertainment facility and a destination that is worthy of the name. I know that our fans and the area business community will be impressed and excited by our plans as we write the next chapter of our long, successful story.”
Butler added that Hammerjacks will be “a cornerstone” of the new Warner St. entertainment corridor.
Lots H and J at M&T Bank Stadium are a tribute to the former Hammerjacks music venue that once stood at its second and most popular location at 1101 S. Howard St. Hammerjacks’ original location was at 1024 S. Charles St. in Federal Hill, the current home of Nobles Bar and Grill, and a later version opened at 316 Guilford Ave. downtown. Butler was unaffiliated with either of the previous three locations, but obtained the rights to the Hammerjacks trademark in 2009 for $1,000.
Hammerjacks’ heyday was from 1987 to 1990 according to Butler when it garnered the title of one of VH1’s Top 5 rock venues. Butler was there for many shows in that era, seeing Guns N’ Roses, The Ramones, L.A. Guns, Warrant, Joan Jett, KIX, and more. “Hammerjacks was so popular that bands like Journey and Def Leppard would hang out there when they were in town for bigger shows,” said Butler. Iron Maiden even had a picture of Hammerjacks in their record sleeve at one point, Butler noted.
To honor Hammerjacks’ former glory, Butler told SouthBMore.com that a large dedication piece with pictures and items from the old venue will be well represented and that they are definitely planning some 1980s events. While honoring its roots, the new Hammerjacks will be a venue for all genres of music.
Butler is very excited about the future of the area. “In one area you are going to have a world-class baseball stadium, a world-class football stadium, a world-class casino and, now, a world-class concert venue,” he said.
Butler has developed a good relationship with Caesars Entertainment (Horseshoe Baltimore) and believes the public will soon see many new taverns and developments joining them in the area as well.
Construction is expected to start in early 2016 and Hammerjacks is slated to open in time for a New Year’s Eve celebration next year.
The original owner, Louis J. Principio Jr, is not affiliated in any way with the new Venture, the new Majority owner is Kevin Butler.