No two Karaoke experiences are alike. In the past week, I’ve been to three restaurant-based Karaoke gigs this week that couldn’t have been any more different. Each time, the venue and the DJ combined with a pretty sparse audience for a unique experience.
Dos Charros, Rowlett
(Pegasus News venue link)
Houston Stuckey of Two Hats Karaoke held a two-part Karaoke “Kontest” on Friday (I previewed it here). Karaoke started at 7, me and Bibi got there close to 8… and aside from a table of Houston’s long-time singers, that was it for the night.
The contests went on anyway, though. There were only seven singers, so we each sang two songs. There would be a couple of ways to do that — back to back, or round by round. Houston chose round by round, where all the singers sang their first song, then all the singers sang a second song. I think that way is best, because it keeps the audience (which is, of course, also the contestant pool) more involved in the show. I sang “Pretty Woman” and “Tragedy”, coming in second for $25. The first-place singer does an amazing Stevie Ray Vaughan, and was clearly the best singer of the night.
The next round was Kamikaze Karaoke. The original plan was to draw from one of three hats: ’60s “oldies”, male Country, and female Country. But with only a handful of singers, Houston poured them all in the same hat — with marvelous results! One guy got Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” — I felt sorry for him, because that’s a long, slow song. I drew “Grandpa” by The Judds, which I was able to pull off pretty well in falsetto! After me came a lady who drew Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds”. I can’t remember what song the winner sang, unfortunately… but I do remember he did a great job of taking a female Country song and making it his in the funniest ways.
Houston wrapped it up right on time at 11pm. Dos Charros had said they’d be willing to go later if there were enough people drinking… but the Karaoke crowd didn’t reach that point.
And the truth is, there’s not much chance that Dos Charros will get the sort of crowd that makes a bar profitable until they figure out how to run a bar. They still don’t have a bartender, and if they did he or she wouldn’t have much to work with — their selection of alcohol was just as sparse as it was the first time I visited. But the food is excellent, and the waitresses are friendly and attentive. It’s a great place to eat and sing.
As soon as I saw Rick Stephens’ post on the Dallas Karaoke Facebook Group that he was hosting a 5pm-9pm Happy Hour Karaoke gig at Joe’s Italian in Addison, I knew I’d have to check it out. It’s a couple of miles from work, easily on the way home, and so early! I could stop by on Tuesday, or even squeeze a song in before going to choir on Wednesday, depending on the crowd.
That’s just what I tried this week, pulling in to the converted Bennigan’s space just after five. Rick was set up in a corner, crooning a ballad to an empty house, with the wait staff his only audience — and Joe, the cafe’s very hospitible owner. I sat down and ordered a Minestrone soup, which was delicious, and proceeded to sing four songs before heading out!
It may be premature to judge the “vibe” when there is literally nobody else singing but me and the DJ, but it’s pretty easy to tell that Rick Stephens knows how to run a professional Karaoke show. He’s got a full selection of songs, a great personality, and lots of stories to tell.
We talked about how Karaoke seems to bring out the friendly side of any crowd — even with all his bar gigs, he only sees maybe three fights a year (I only saw my first one recently, and it wasn’t all that bad). I also found out that Rick sings at Senior Centers during the day — what a sweet way to put the Karaoke equipment to good use!
I’ll go back to Joe’s Italian Cafe as often as I can. A round or two of Karaoke would be a great way to forget a stressful day at work, and I can hardly wait to see if their entrees are as delicious as their Minestrone soup. I’m pretty certain they will be.
After the jump: A bit of a mixed bag at La Paisanita in Dallas
Read more about Three in a Week: Dos Charros, Joe’s Italian Cafe, La Paisanita »