Karaoke Korrespondent Seeks a Temporary Rickshaw Replacement at Kathy's in Bitter Lake

The proud Joel Harvey
As many are aware, the Rickshaw, arguably the most popular karaoke bar in North Seattle, is under repair from a grease fire they sustained on March 24th. It happened at around 11 p.m. in the middle of Joel Harvey's perennially slammed Saturday night show. No one was injured, and firemen were able to contain the damage to the kitchen, but it may take up to two months before they can reopen.

Fans of Joel and his equally beloved associate, Patty, need not despair. It barely took a week for nearby venues to capitalize on their temporary availability. Kathy's in Bitter Lake snatched them up for Wednesdays and Fridays, and the Baranof added Thursday and Sunday night to their schedule to try and draw in their loyal fan base. Joel already has an established Friday night gig at the Ould Triangle five blocks away from Rickshaw, so they've barely skipped a beat.

I attended a special event Patty hosted last Monday at Kathy's, where a large group of staff and friends from the Century Ballroom (who regularly gather to sing at Rickshaw) were celebrating a birthday that night. This sports bar used to be a diner called Mr. Bill's, and before that it was a Farrell's. I have fond memories of my folks taking me here when I was a little kid. The big TV room with the glass block windows where they have the stage set still resembles the old ice cream parlor.

Aside from the 35+ who took over one side of the room, I was one of about three stragglers who weren't among that party. Patty was set up in a designated DJ nook at the entrance of the room. Singers performed at that end and had many options of monitors to read the lyrics from.

Everyone from that crew who sang appeared as though they had extensive background in theater, and most of them sounded vocally trained. They all had such great stage presence that it made me realize how much of a stiff I am when I'm up there. I felt like I was ambushed by a bunch of ringers. They turned the simplest songs into something special to watch. I witnessed the best performances I'd ever seen of "Heartache Tonight" by the Eagles, Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do it for You," and "Don't Cry" by Guns 'n' Roses. Even a semi-botched duet of "Under the Boardwalk" came off sounding awesome. I delivered a decent rendition of Springsteen's "Thunder Road," but it wasn't good enough to make me feel like I was able to hang in with these folks.

Kathy's is a fine venue for karaoke and should continue to host it after Joel and Patty resume their nights at Rickshaw. Other options to sing in the area are Yen Wor Garden and Mandarin Gate, which both offer karaoke every night of the week. Heads or Tails Tavern does it from Thursday to Sunday. And two blocks away from the Rickshaw, the new Tim's Tavern does it on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

KATHY'S, 930 N 130th St, 829-9251, BITTER LAKE

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