It feels almost shameful to have enjoyed so much Karaoke without telling anyone about it! And it’s been on the most unlikely of days: Wednesday and Sunday nights. Rather than wait forever to write full stories, here are some quick notes from the past few months.
Agave, Rockwall Harbor
After having a great time at the inaugural Karaoke show at Agave, with Totally Twisted Karaoke’s Keith as DJ, it was great to see that they kept the show going even as summer changed to winter. When we returned, Karaoke was clearly a big part of the attraction, and the party atmosphere was overwhelming. There might even be such a thing as too much party — though that’s definitely in the eye of the beholder. On the Wednesday that we went, it wasn’t just busy, it was crazy.
Maybe it would have been different if it was just me and Bibi, but we brought our late-teen and adult children with us, expecting the more restrained atmosphere of the first time we went. It was nothing of the sort. The crowd was loud, and largely involved in their own discussions. Most of the Karaoke singers went virtually unnoticed, maybe because some of the patrons were worthy of their own reality shows. There was the Cougar, on the hunt, sporting a tattoo from her time as one of the American Gladiators. The boys in our group barely escaped with their lives. And then there was the Foursome... two male-female pairs who engaged in a conversational dance that was like a square dance, except that the dancers were within sweating distance, and grasping each others’ butts instead of daintily touching their hands.
Me and Bibi sang a Chicago song, which was barely even heard by the crowd. There was only way to get through to them: Disco. I got up and gave “Tragedy” the full treatment. That got their attention! I played it way over-the-top, and the crowd loved it. The reports from the family were that it was apparently the funniest thing the patrons had ever seen. I’ll take that as a compliment!
The next time we had a Wednesday free, we wanted to go sing with Delilah and her daughter Vanessa, as well as my daughter Samantha. But Agave wasn’t the sort of place we were wanting to go — we wanted to sing, not avoid grownups behaving badly. The best alternative seemed to be Shenaniganz (with a Z), an entertainment center on the far side of Rockwall. It has bowling, a large arcade (sadly, its DDR machine still has terrible pads), a restaurant, a bounce house coming soon, and the Z Lounge.
The Lounge is where Totally Twisted’s Robert O has their Karaoke show... which presented a bit of a problem. At 9pm, the lounge goes to 18-up, which means that Vanessa would only get an hour to sing. But she was out of school on Christmas break — and Samantha had just turned 18 — so we figured it would be worth going to check it out, even if it was a short night.
I hope I don’t get anyone in trouble by telling on them, but we were happily surprised — it wasn’t a short night. There were lots of little kids until well past the 9pm deadline, and even after they had to leave, nobody came around to check IDs. That could change next time, especially if this review jinxes it, so plan accordingly. Things may have been different because of one family, that had been caught in the New Mexico blizzards — their young daughter got special dispensation, which I think is perfectly fair given the circumstances! Whatever the reason, we were sure happy we didn’t get kicked out, and we showed our appreciation by our food and drink purchases!
The Karaoke took place on the bar side, and wasn’t disturbed at all by the free (!) bowling on the lounge’s dedicated lanes. There wasn’t a huge crowd, but there were plenty of singers queued up. Towards the end of the night, a dozen or so singers were judged by audience response in a contest that was laid-back and fun, with Robert O keeping things light.
I sang an REO Speedwagon song, “Can’t Fight This Feeling”, that Delilah said was the best song she’s heard me sing. But the highlight for me was when Barbara sang TTK DJ Leah’s parody version of “I Will Survive”. It’s a bit hard to describe, since this blog is targeted at a mixed audience... let’s just say it’s about a woman who is disappointed with the intimate dimensions of her man, but finds solace in merchandise commonly found at Sara’s Secret. One line goes, “As long as I have Duracell, my love life’s gonna thrive.” If you know what that means, then you will laugh your, um, tail off at this song!
The Stables, Kaufman County (near Forney)
Our family has horses at Palmerosa Ranch Stables, in rural southeast Mesquite. On the way to the feed store in Forney (aptly named Forney Feed), I couldn’t help but notice the sign at a little bar called The Stables (no website) near FM 740 and Interstate 20: “KARAOKE WED & SAT”. One Wednesday night, while Bibi was out of town, I put up the horses at their stables and headed over to check out the “other” Stables for myself.
When I walked in, I was a little bit concerned... the DJ was playing an in-betweener song, a rap that said something about “show your chest”. But I’ve learned from my daughters that there’s a large (if bizarre) overlap between fans of country and rap, and it’s definitely the case that every country bar that I’ve been to seems to play some rap number at some point in the night. At least it’s not Sinatra. One time, before the Dixie Chicks played a honky tonk in Oklahoma City, I had to sit through “New York, New York”. That was painful... a little bit of boob-grabbing rap is definitely more tolerable.
But when the Karaoke started back up, I was back home. The crowd was mostly 20 and 30-somethings, with a handful of older folks who had clearly been going to this bar for a long time.
The DJ was a fellow named Dudley Calhoun, and he had one one of the more unique Karaoke setups I’ve seen. His books, for one thing — the pages were laminated and printed on heavy card stock. They were about as drink-proof as you could possibly get! Probably a bit hard to keep updated, though. He also had a unique singer list. A monitor showed not just the singers in the queue, but also what songs they were going to sing. At first that seemed really strange... part of the fun is never knowing what’s going to come up next. But it could be really handy for figuring out what song would fit best with the night’s mood.
The coolest thing in Dudley’s Karaoke setup, though, was the old-style microphone. You know that big metal “can” style mike in that you see in front of Elvis and Johnny Cash when they’re in the studio? That’s what Dudley has. He has a handheld mike too, but I used the cool mike to sing “Love in the First Degree” by Alabama. I hardly ever sing with a stationary mike, so it was a good experience... it forced me to focus on the vocals instead of the other aspects of my “performance”.
Unfortunately, the club closes at midnight on Wednesdays, and I got in late after choir practice and stall cleaning. So I only got one song in. But I did have time to have one of the most unique Tequila Sunrises yet: shaken with ice instead of carefully layered. The mixing did wonders for the flavor... after all, who actually likes the taste of grenadine? Another nice surprise: the cocktail was just $4, and a Coke to follow it up was just a buck. Of course, I would have once requested a Dr Pepper, but that was before Dr Pepper’s corporate owners betrayed all Texans by forcing Dublin Dr Pepper to give up their beloved legacy.