Teleprompters are for middle managers, not the Boss.
For those who have never heard of it, Rockaroke is karaoke backed by a live band. Conor


Who's the Boss? At the Croc, It Can Be You

Teleprompters are for middle managers, not the Boss.
For those who have never heard of it, Rockaroke is karaoke backed by a live band. Conor Byrne brought in a band that did it a few years ago and it was pretty fun, but the problem was there was no prompter to read from. If a singer didn't know their selection by heart they had to read the lyrics from a sheet of paper, which barely helps because you still need to know when to sing. The band had a great list of songs to chose from, but without the security of a monitor they weren't getting too many people up to try it out. Most of the performers were friends of the band. I pulled off a decent "Don't Do Me Like That," but I remember my buddy totally dying on stage trying to remember the lyrics to "Against All Odds."

A few Fridays ago I hit the Crocodile for their debut night of Rockaroke (the next edition is Wednesday, Sept. 1). When I checked out the link that announced the event it provided a song list, and I was impressed by the depth of songs from each genre they were able and willing to perform. They could do it all: rock, country, pop, hip-hop, standards, you name it--but all I was looking for was something simple I knew every verse to. I wasn't about to take any chances on something I did not know backwards and forwards. I got to the bar ready with a short list of a couple Steve Miller and Eagles songs.

I arrived around 8:30 and there weren't many people there yet. The song being performed as I arrived was Lita Ford's "Kiss Me Deadly," and I could tell by the looks and vocal ability of the gal singing that she was a member of the backing band. It was loud and they rocked out on that big stage, and I remember thinking the five bucks I paid to get in was a more than fair price to get a feel of what it's like to be the lead singer of a band. There was an old bearded guy entering song requests on a laptop at a podium just below the stage. I turned in "The Joker" by Steve Miller.

The first non-bandmember performance I saw was a guy named John who sang the Petty/Nicks duet "Stop Dragging My Heart Around." John sang it like a pro and the gal did a great job backing him up with the Stevie parts, but he definitely was someone that was no stranger with this format. The first real "karaoke" performer was a gal named Lauren, and she did Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." The way I could tell she wasn't another Rockaroke ringer was I could see her looking down at something as she sang. It was like she was reading from something. I walked up to the front of the stage where the request booth was to take a closer look, and sure enough there was a monitor set up on the floor. That device just took this game up ten notches.

I immediately changed my pick to "Born To Run." It's a song I'm never comfortable doing in a regular karaoke bar because it's so exhausting and a bit out of my range, but I needed to try it here. It is the Springsteen number everyone wants to hear, I've had a dream for years now of putting together a Bruce tribute band. So I figured this was finally my chance to see if I had what it took to be the Boss.

When they called my name and I took the stage, it was pretty crazy to look down at all the people. Eight out of ten karaoke bars I visit don't have an elevated stage, and the ones that do are about a foot high. I, however, was a good six-seven steps above floor level.

The prompter was front and center, the drummer counted off, and the band kicked it. I noticed immediately the tempo was just a bit slower than any karaoke disc version I had ever sung, but it still felt like it was in the same key. From the moment I sang the first line I knew I would have no problem reaching every note. Most of the song I can hang with, but the ending is brutal if I can't hit the notes. By the first chorus my voice was on fire and I abandoned the prompter. It was the first time I'd ever sung my hero's music with a live band, and I just kept thinking to myself: "I can really do this."

I crushed the ending where Bruce goes crazy with the screaming, and when it was over one of the guitarists turned to me and said "nice work." It was a dream come true.

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