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Scene, Heard

By Jess Harvell | Posted 3/22/2006

A major fire broke out at 2118 W. Pratt St. in West Baltimore Friday, March 17. The former doctor’s office is better known in local and national underground music circles as Tarantula Hill, the performance space-cum-home base owned by Nautical Almanac’s Carly Ptak and Twig Harper since moving from Chicago in 2001. No one was hurt—Harper and Ptak were out of town—but the damage is extensive.

Harper says the fire started around 3:30 p.m. on Friday. “It was a fluorescent light, some kind of electrical thing,” an obviously fazed Harper says by phone. “But we’re not ruling out government action.

“We’re hanging in there,” he continues. “We’re still in shock, really. Carly’s on her way to update our web site right now, so that’ll be the best way [for people to keep up to date]. People are apparently already planning benefits all over the world.”

Just how extensive remained to be determined as of press time. As friends and local musicians helped to dig out the rubble this past weekend, the first floor—which contained the recording studio and recording archive of Nautical Almanac and its HereSee label—appeared to be destroyed. Damage to the second floor, which contained the duo’s living space and personal affects, is still being assessed as of press time.

Plans are already underway for local benefit shows to offset both the financial and mental costs of this saddening twist of fate. Hampden record store the True Vine is readying a series of benefit concerts, welcoming all comers—provided all proceeds be donated to Harper and Ptak. More information on benefit concerts, ways to donate, or otherwise help out will be available at and

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