Surprisingly Good Sound & a Lifeless KJ at Tukwila's White Horse"/>
The White Horse Bar & Grill in Tukwila was a table-and-a-half away from having zero people for karaoke the Saturday Seattle Weekly editor Mike Seely and I decided to sing there. If we hadn't shown up, their rotation wouldn't have broken five singers through midnight. We didn't mind, but something is seriously wrong if a place can't draw a crowd to sing on a Saturday night.
We got there at 8:30--an hour before showtime--and got acquainted with the bartenders and a couple of the regulars. They were very friendly folks. The layout gave me immediate concern that the place could have issues getting people to pay attention to the singers. It's a long, narrow space where you enter in the middle to a bar that stretches down the left side. The microphone and KJ station are located in one corner, and all the way at the other end are the pool tables, which may as well be on another continent. If the crowd gets pulled to the pool-table end, it makes the karaoke side look like no-man's land--and the singers end up basically singing to nobody.
At 9:30, the KJ kicked off the night with "These Boots Are Made for Walking." There were around seven people sitting at the tables in front of the stage, Seely and I were bellied up to the bar, and there was a couple shooting pool. I found the overhead sound and microphone quality to be surprisingly great. They haven't upgraded to a computerized setup and are still working off old-school CD-G and laser discs, so I assumed the equipment would sound rundown. But it actually sounds better than a lot of the higher-tech spots in town.
It was an older crowd, for the most part, and Mike and I knew what to deliver. I led with classic rock--"Day After Day" by Badfinger--and Mike went country with Alabama's "Mountain Music." Those numbers are rarely ever picked, so the crowd was caught off-guard and thoroughly entertained by both.
All the singers could carry a tune, but there were no ringers. Corky, this guy at the bar we buddied up with, sang a catchy country number called "Holy Water." But aside from the KJ, the only female singer was the KJ's friend. Many vocalists sang duets with the KJ, who ended up doing most of the singing. She had a good voice, but not much personality. A more dynamic host could easily pack the place.
White Horse Bar & Grill,14935 Interurban Ave. S., 242-2842, karaoke Friday and Saturday nights, TUKWILA