I did back-to-back nights at the Red Onion Tavern in Madison Park last weekend. Friday ended up being such a party I didn't want to deal with trying to remember anything. I just wanted to drink, sing, and enjoy the company of the two girls who accompanied me. Saturday I returned sans chicks and was able to focus on what was going on. What I found was a karaoke show that rivals the best venues in town.
Baby Van Beezly werkin' it.
There was nobody there when I arrived at 8:30 that first night, so I had a nice 20-minute one-on-one with the owner, Cliff. He was a sweetheart of a guy. I told him I was there to sing, and he assured me I was in for a treat. I wasn't worried. When I looked out at the floor and saw how their fireplace made that vintage room feel like an old ski lodge and pictured where the stage was going to be and how all tables and seats were arranged to face it, I knew the place would draw a flock of singers. Cliff also told me he had the best host in town. He said she was who the people came there to see. That I needed to see for myself in order to believe.At around 9, my friends Tammy and Jamie met up. We hung out for a beer but decided to hit The Attic a few doors down to maybe get some shots in us. The show didn't start for another half hour, and the Red Onion is a beer-and-wine-only establishment. When we returned an hour later, the place had filled and things were in full swing. We grabbed a window table in the corner and dug into the book.
The last time I went out singing with Jamie was a bust. We met at Harvey's Tavern in Edmonds on a Saturday night and it was totally lame. It was totally dead and the sound was shit. This was Tammy's first time hearing me perform, so I decided to open with my best number, "Lady" by Little River Band. She seemed to like it OK but the crowd really went crazy for it. I think the reason that song works so well for me is because nobody does it. Outside of my friend Cary (whom I stole it from), I have never seen anybody request that song, ever. It's the perfect karaoke number because it's cheesy, fun, and totally recognizable. People's faces light up when they realize what it is. I wish I had a hundred more like it.
I really don't remember much about the other performers that night except for the fact that everyone was pretty good, especially the KJ. Jamie and Tammy's first number was something they had been talking about doing for months, "Buffalo Stance" by Neneh Cherry. I was thinking it could be a potential trainwreck because that song moves super-fast and I wasn't sure they could hang with the lyrics, but they totally nailed it. Jamie was the anchor and was completely in pocket, which made it easy for Tammy to roll with. Our table was truly representing that night, and for a guy who usually rolls solo to these things, I was super-stoked and proud to be there with awesome chicks.
We were there until 1:15 and got in a couple more songs each. The thing that made me know I was coming back for more the next day was the crowd. Everyone was all about the karaoke, and they appreciated a good singer. I'd come to learn recently a good audience isn't something I can count on every time. The three of us closed out our night with a "Sweet Child O' Mine" trio. I wasn't much help. That song is way above my skill level, but the girls came through once again.
Saturday night I returned with my friends John and Kristia. The place was jam-packed and the singers were coming through with nonstop crowd-pleasing hits. The KJ is known as "Baby Van Beezly," and I wound up developing a huge crush on her throughout the night. The first number I saw her do was "Believe" by Cher. It was spot-on and she was totally working it. I couldn't take my eyes off her after that.
I decided to go sexy so I delivered a very passion-filled rendition of Springsteen's "Fire" and got the reaction I was hoping for. There was a row of ladies sitting in front of me and one of them looked like she wanted to tear my clothes off. At the end of the number I got screams with the applause. This place really knows how to treat its performers.
Cliff was not bullshitting when he told me it was the KJ everyone came to see. I wrote down all the songs I saw people sing that night, and all the best ones were by Baby V. Beezly. Her rendition of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" was so hot I felt like cracking a bottle over my head, but she wasn't done yet. She closed out her night singing Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten." In the middle of the number she stepped onto a table and poured a full pitcher of water all over herself until she was soaked, then rolled her head and hair around to the song "Flashdance" style. She is without a doubt the best new KJ around.