Last Saturday night I was in the mood for some adventure, so I drove up to downtown Edmonds, parked my car, and walked onto the 7:40 ferry to Kingston to drink and sing among the locals. I was headed to the Main Street Ale House, located steps away from the ferry terminal. I'd never heard of it until that day, but I've had this feeling for years that if I just took the 20-minute ride over, there would be an awesome karaoke bar waiting for me on the other side. What I found wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, but it wound up being a better time than I could have ever imagined.
KK's adventure craft.
It was a beautiful night. We got a break from the rain that day, so I got a clear view from the back of the vessel of dusk falling over Seattle. I walked off the ferry at around 8:10. The Main Street is not the first bar you see as you step onto the street from the terminal bridge. It's the bar right after it. I took a peek inside--the show hadn't started and the crowd looked pretty mellow, so I decided to start things off next door. After three Rolling Rock pints (at the place where over the years, I have probably drank at five other times while waiting for ferries, but never remember its name), I was ready to go.
I walked back in to the Main Street just before nine. This place is cozier than the sports dives I've grown accustomed to singing in on the east side of the Sound. It was an older crowd, mostly people in their 40s and 50s--no chicks, but plenty of women I would do in a heartbeat. I took a stool in the back-middle of the room at this stretch of tall, narrow tables that separated the bar and the dining area. The KJ station was located on the front west corner of the room. A few moments before the show started, I could hear the KJ practicing "After the Lovin'" a cappella. I never got that great a look at his setup, but I believe he was working off CD-G discs.
The first singer of the night was a graying but still youthful-looking man in his 50s named Brayden. He opened with some obscure Jackson Browne, a song called "Rosie," and I was very impressed by that. Whenever the lead-off singer turns you on to a great song you've never heard by an artist you love, it's a pretty good sign there'll be more gems to come.
Singer #2 was one of the only other performers of the night who looked around my age. His name was Cory, and like me he's a '70s/classic-rock kind of guy through and through. He sang Jim Croce's "I Got a Name." This song's a lot harder to sing than it sounds because Croce has a sneaky, tough voice, and trying to copy him doesn't translate well for me. This is one of those numbers where it's best to just tap into the beauty of the words and sing it in your voice, and that's exactly what he did.
Next up was the house "Parrothead." He wore a black Hawaiian shirt with rows upon rows of assorted tropical cocktails and sang "Key West Intermezzo," Mellencamp's last great hit. At that point I felt right at home. If this was the type of music the crowd liked, I was going to deliver them some treats. I opened with one of my favorite early Beatles songs, "I Call Your Name." It was a simple enough introduction to me, but it immediately grabbed everyone's attention. The happy, confused looks on their faces as they watched me deliver this oldie is the reaction I live for. It's the look of surprise that a guy my age would sing a song so before my time so well. They hadn't seen anything yet.
Juice Newton's "Queen of Hearts" was sung by the first female performer of the evening. The gal nailed it, and it was weird--that song is such a fun 80s classic, I'm shocked that it's not one of those numbers that is completely oversung everywhere. I'll go as far as to say I never hear it. More women need to add that one to their repertoire, because it is a big-time crowd-pleaser.
The best singer of the night was a slim black guy dressed very slickly in designer jeans and a black button-up leather jacket. His name was Carlos and he opened with the AM gold classic, "Brandy" by Looking Glass. Everyone that night had good vocal skills, but soul is soul--either you got it or you don't, and Carlos had a ton.
The crowd size doubled by the time KJ Scott finally got to sing his Engelbert number. Brayden kicked off the new rotation with "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen. He was followed by a beautiful black woman with long braids named Eugenie. She was a close second to Carlos in vocal ability. Her rendition of Aretha's "Chain of Fools" officially kicked off a dance party that lasted until the end of the night. The Parrotheaded, cocktail-shirted silver fox had some fun with lyrics and swapped in the name "Kingston" as he sang Jimmy Buffett's "Livingston Saturday Night."
These folks were partying. A group filled in the chairs around me and I started to mingle. I'd already matched my total of Rolling Rocks with Guinness-sized glasses of Harp. For my second number I went even older and unleashed a stellar rendition of "Sheila" by Tommy Roe. I picked up that song earlier this year in the Philippines, and it's a number that has worked out very well for me stateside. Cory came up to me afterward, told me he liked the song, and asked who sang it, because it sounded like Buddy Holly, but he knew it wasn't. I loved how friendly everyone was there. They totally took me in.
As Carlos took his game up 10 notches with a buttery-sweet performance of "Too Late To Turn Back Now," I started monitoring the time. It was just a under a half hour until the 11:10 ferry departed back to Edmonds. I wasn't sure I was going to get my Springsteen number in. Then Brayden opened the third rotation with "Born to Run," and I said "fuck it." I'm taking the 12:25. After Eugenie killed again with the Ronettes' "Baby, I Love You," I unleashed my best "Prove It All Night" performance since that night at Changes in the fall of '09. It was all balls. Carlos came up to me after, shook my hand, and told me how great he thought it was.
At 11:15, I chugged a full beer I thought was mine but immediately realized was Brayden's and ran out to see if the Ferry Spokane was still out there, but it was long gone. I re-entered the bar to Carlos with a tambourine singing "I'll Be There" by the Spinners. I was so happy to stay and wished there was an even later ferry. I bought Brayden a new Manny's to cover the one I stole and handed Scott another slip. My last two numbers turned into duets. I sang "Lady" by Little River Band and Brayden jumped in--and finished my night with Elton John's "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" and Cory jumped in.
It took me three minutes to walk back onto the ferry. Halfway back to Edmonds I looked behind me and saw Brayden passed out across one of the booths. We walked back to our cars together. It turns out he lives in Shoreline and takes the boat over to sing there all the time. I'd do the same thing if I lived any closer.