Perception of a city is an ambiguous thing. Historically, Baltimore is a town which has been defined both by its poverty, social ills and by its ability to generate unusual artists and personalities, many of whom leave town and never look back. In recent years, Baltimore has also unexpectedly joined cities like Chicago, New York, Seattle, San Fransisco, and Montreal as a rare center for avant-garde musical activity in North America. Fueled partially by an intense group of original players and inventors organizing a concert series at The Red Room, the Baltimore scene has received continual praise and critical attention since a sort of renaissance which began in 1993. HIGH ZERO is an outgrowth of this cultural momentum, forming musical bonds between experimental players from different cities and subcultures and focusing the attentions of a broad audience for four days on this art form which is, at base, all about inspiration.

If you are visiting Baltimore for the festival, here are some recommendations:

The American Visionary Arts Museum : Similar to Jean Dubuffet's Art Brut museum in Switzerland, this is a highly stimulating museum dedicated to the creativity of the untrained, marginalized, and highly singular. Well worth a visit. It was also the site of the opening night of High Zero 2000.

The Brewers Art Restaraunt : The official restaraunt of High Zero 2001 has amazing food, a formal dining room, a noisy grotto pub, and a huge selection of European beers, if you like that.

Normals Books and Records : Home of The Red Room performance space, this is a ten year old, collectively-run store which has won either "best used book store" or "best used record store" for ten years running in the City Paper. Prices are usually considered extraordinarily cheap by out-of-towners, and the selection is vast and weighted towards the obscure.

The Baltimore City Paper : A big slice of listings of things you can do in town.