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Baltimore Arts

Best Music Promoter

Creative Differences

You might not guess that Bertha’s’ bartender—the one who looks a bit like Elvis Costello—is one of our greatest cultural ambassadors. Not because of his affable Irish charm either. No, Bernard Lyons’ promotional company, Creative Differences, has helped cement Baltimore on the map of improvisational music. In addition to managing local talent such as Lafayette Gilchrist, Creative Differences brings to town top-notch international acts like Joseph Bowie, Nels Cline (with ROVA), and the Instant Composers Pool. Lyons is more curator than promoter. He is dedicated to difficult music: avant-garde jazz and experimental stuff. Still, he manages to fill seats. The standard line is “nobody pays for jazz in Baltimore.” But Lyons has proven that we will pay to hear free jazz.

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