There Is Nothing Better Than Hearing Quality R&B Sung Live"/>
Loafer's is located off of Highway 40 (their Aurora) in Catonsville, Maryland, and looks like your basic Chili's or TGI Friday's from the outside. I entered the establishment to four big brothers singing "The End of the Road" by Boyz II Men in perfect harmony. As I watched them from the bar, I looked down at the restaurant floor and saw it packed with black people of all ages. It was a Thursday night and there were a couple birthday parties going on. The moment the next performer kicked in with a feel-it-in-your-gut, tear-jerking rendition of Peabo Bryson's "Can You Stop the Rain," I knew this night was going to be something special.
Would these ladies scrum over a 140-lb. Filipino guy from Greenwood? You bet your ass they would.
I'm going to break down some karaoke scenarios and let you know how these performers delivered them:
The female duet: This is where I usually see a couple shy gals singing Gloria Gaynor or something off the Grease sound track. But on this night I was treated to a sexy smooth rendition of 1998 classic "The Boy is Mine" by Brandy & Monica. These chicks knew every twist of this song and I was beside myself at how good it was.
The male duet: These are normally the biggest train-wreck performances because the guys are usually smashed and they're always screwing around. These guys, Mel P & Kenny, were having fun goofing with each other on stage, but when it came to trading off lyrics on Trey Songz's "Neighbors Know My Name" they were all business--and it was sweet. This song was all flavor. Most times when I see white guys attempt these types of numbers it falls way short, but with these guys it was natural as could be.
The male/female duet: I see great duets of this nature all the time, but this pair that sang "We Can't Be Friends" by Deborah Cox (ft. RL) took my breath away. Something about that "woo woo" style of singing is so gorgeous. I'm a rock & roll guy, but I have to say there is nothing better than hearing quality R&B sung live.
Classic '80s: Here's where I'm normally used to hearing something like Journey or Vanilla Ice. This kid (couldn't have been older than 22) got up and sang one of my favorite songs from high school: "Every Little Step" by Bobby Brown. This guy's timing was perfect and his moves were so cool on stage. I felt like getting up and dancing, his performance was so inspiring.
The crowd favorite: I was so happy to have a break from "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Sweet Caroline." The two numbers that got the entire bar singing along were The Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman" and "Tootsie Roll" by 69 Boyz. These were the moments when I though to myself I might be in the best karaoke bar in America. I was about to hit New York in a couple days (more on that next week), and knew wherever I wound up would not come close to touching the energy of this place.
My performance: I turned in a slip when I got there and it took almost three hours to get called up. The place had already thinned out because it was almost 1 a.m. At first I was bummed I wouldn't be able to see what the crowd thought of my abilities, but realized it was for the better. I sang Lionel Richie's "You Are" and it was okay (for me), but nothing compared to the R&B clinic I had just witnessed. There's got to be a place like this around Seattle somewhere.