Last Tuesday, I happened upon an announcement for the "Country karaoke" show at Tony's Sports Bar in Kingsgate. I'm not real big on Country music, but that theme intrigued the hell out of me. They also advertised half-off all drinks from 9 to midnight. As dead as Tuesday karaoke nights usually are (especially on the east side) this place had a shot at being good, but I brought my buddy Juan along for some rotation reinforcement just in case.
We got there a around 8:45. Unlike the strip-mall pubs I usually encounter in the Kirkland suburbs, this place has its own building and a nice one at that. The all window triangular pitched facade made me feel like I was entering a chapel. The interior has high ceilings with exposed beams and LCDs stretch from corner-to-corner across every wall. The bar is located in the very back and the stage is set up on the right side of the room.
It was a pretty good turnout. There were around 20 people scattered throughout the big room. The KJ was standing post at his station waiting for slips. He was a slim guy in his late 20s dressed casually in jeans, a t-shirt under an unbuttoned flannel and a mesh and foam cap. Song books were all over the place but no one was looking through them.
Shortly after he saw us began our search, he announced the start of the show. His name was Rick and he made it clear that despite the country theme, performers could request songs from any genre they pleased. He just loved country music and wanted to play his favorite songs between singers all night. I could respect that.Even though Rick let everyone else off the hook, we challenged ourselves to keep our picks in line with the spirit of this show. Juan was the first singer called. He knew next to no actual country numbers so he decided to go with Rock hits that could pass for country. He opened with "Wild Horses" by the Stones and sang it with some twang. I was next and performed "Take Me Down," an 80s classic by Alabama. Coming down from a chest cold, my voice still had some good rasp to it, so it was a lot of fun to sing. I looked out at the crowd and no one was paying much attention but I didn't mind. It just gave me the freedom to bail on showmanship and keep my eyes focused on the monitor.
Rick put himself in and delivered a very solid rendition of "As She's Walking Away" by Zac Brown Band. Then this dude with long dreads and his buddy followed with a duet of Bob Marley's "Jammin'" and they were the only other act besides us to sing for the next hour.
Juan started the next rotation with The Hollies, "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress." I loved the pick but seeing how strenuous it was for him to sing made me glad I never tried it. I sang "Pink Cadillac" by Springsteen for the first time and it was a lot of fun but huge vocal workout as well.
As Rick sang "You Can't Take the Honkytonk Out of the Girl" by Brooks and Dunn the bartender came up and reminded us how cheap the drinks were so we ordered a couple Cazadores shots. We went on to sing three more songs each and at around midnight this Asian dude walked in solo and delivered a spirited but goofy performance of "You're In My Heart" by Rod Stewart and finally got a rise out of the crowd.