North Seattle has four karaoke bars that get a ton of action on the weekend. Living in Greenwood, I know through years of experience that by 10:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays, the Baranof, Rickshaw, Mandarin Gate, and the Yen Wor Garden are all packed and have rotations exceeding 20 singers. That's great for people who don't care to sing a lot and just want to party, but then there are the rest of us, who get very antsy if they don't get a chance to show their stuff at least once every 45 minutes. A couple weeks ago I found an untapped venue right near these hot-spots that can more than handle the spillover.
Heads or Tails Sports Bar on Aurora has karaoke from Thursday to Sunday night. It's a small room with the bar along the left and tables pushed together in the back corner to surround the stage area. The run-down look of the place reminded me of the old Beacon Pub, one of my favorite karaoke dives that no longer exists.There were about a dozen people there when I showed up. Cindy, the frizzy blonde-haired host, was the first performer I caught as I walked in. She was in the middle of a very heartfelt rendition of Guns 'n' Roses' "Patience," and the song was really bringing her guts out of her. The regular crowd was mostly in their fifties and sixties, but there were a few couples that looked my age (late-thirties).
Cindy got a huge round of applause when she was done. Heads or Tails' scene is like a private party with old friends who go way back. Everyone applauded every singer's song choices as Cindy announced them and everyone got a lot of love no matter how well they performed.
The small crowd broke out some classics that night. One of the old-timers absolutely nailed Willie Nelson's "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain." He was followed by a youngster who actually pulled off a decent Karen Carpenter--a very rare sight. She sang "Yesterday Once More" and it actually got me a little choked up. After her was this guy that went all out with "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and it made me realize these older spots are where I'd rather be every time.
I've been trying to hang in the younger venues lately and have not received the love I've grown accustomed to from the Classic Rock standards I've mastered over the past 15 years. It was so great to be back with a crowd that appreciated what I had to offer. I went straight for Bob Seger's "Against the Wind," and it made everybody happy.
This place is dying to be taken over with talent. The sound is good and they have a thick song book. They also have a fun contest to try and attract more singers: Everyone who takes the stage receives a raffle ticket to win a trip somewhere (Hawaii is the current destination). Cindy answered my Seger with "Night Moves" and closed things down with an Elton John sing-along during which everyone took turns crooning a verse from "Tiny Dancer." It was a great way to end the night.
Heads or Tails, 12534 Aurora Ave N, 440-3288, BITTER LAKE