Day 17 – June 24, 2013 at Bridgett’s Last Laugh

Day 17 – June 24th at Brigett’s Last Laugh in north Phoenix

by Rachel Enger aka Rac Hellion


I have heard others mention Brigett’s Last Laugh off and on for a number of years now. Way before I took karaoke too seriously. It had always been lauded as the best place for karaoke in the valley. Followed quickly with the caveat that it’s always crowded too. I’m told it’s difficult to get a chance to sing.

I had never been there before. Mostly because it seemed like quite a drive. Also, it seemed like a lot of trouble for a place – though reputably awesome – where you may not get to sing.  So I had never gone out of my way to check it out for myself. Whenever seeking a karaoke experience, I looked for places closer to home. However, since the karaoke-dokey project took shape – and consequently I’ve taken karaoke much more seriously – we needed to include the famed Bridgett’s.


Five Star Dive Bar

Bridgett’s claims to be your “5 Star Dive Bar” and “Karaoke Kapital”, boasting karaoke seven days a week, plus on some nights they offer comedy shows, or team trivia. They also serve food, and the kitchen is open until 10 pm (on weekdays).

Bridgett’s looks good from the outside, and doesn’t not really appear to be a dive bar. But perhaps as they claim, it’s a Five Star Dive Bar. From the entrance – which is in the center of the building – you can turn to the right into the karaoke section, or go to the left and find yourself some pool tables. In between these two areas is the horseshoe bar with stools about. The karaoke area – where we spent most of our time that night – had twenty or so tables and seats. On the other side of the bar with the pool tables were more tables and some booths, for those less interested in all the singing. Although it’s difficult for me to imagine how that could be.


Karaoke Every Night

Karaoke starts at 9 pm every night. Suze and I anticipated it would be crowded, so we went on a Monday, hoping it wasn’t so bad. We arrived at about 9:30 and stayed a few hours. There were already plenty of singers there, about twelve on the list. By 11:30 pm it was back down to 15 singers, after peaking at 24 in the rotation. The bar area set up for karaoke had plenty of patrons. It started with about a dozen people and grew. By midnight, it was crowded and noisy. This is on a Monday night.

I was told by people there that it gets really busy on weekends. With many singers waiting a long time to sing. So the rumor was true. I was glad to be there with a lively group of karaoke-positive people. Suze and I were able to sing a lot, mingle a bit, and hang out in a party atmosphere rich with camaraderie.


The Songs:

I was able to sing five songs that night.  I sang Adia (Sarah Mclaughlin), Ready to Go (Republica), and Rock Steady (Aretha Franklin) – all of which went pretty well. Then came the duet, with Suze. We chose Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart (the Elton John and Kiki Dee song from the 70s), mostly because we both knew it. Or so we thought.

The track sounded like an extended disco version of the song. Right from the start, the intro had a crazy synthesizer beat, instead of the familiar strings and keyboard. It was difficult for either of us to find a starting pitch. But we forged ahead, and jumped in with some kind of notes. I struggled with trying to stay in tune with the very strange accompanying music track. I thought about picking notes that sounded right with what Suze was singing. And I probably employed a little of both strategies, never feeling entirely successful. By the end, I thought I was singing correctly, but it still didn’t match Suze. I believe we both thought it was the other who was off-key at times, or at least not singing the melody correctly. It’s possible neither of us was doing it right. It was something of a train wreck. If we had a recording of it, perhaps we would be able to go back and figure it out. Thankfully no recording of our failed attempt at singing this mediocre song exists.

I also sang a fifth song, a request from someone in the crowd. She was there with a friend – who had been singing all night – but she herself wasn’t singing. She asked me to sing a Barbra Streisand song. So I agreed. I know a few of Streisand’s songs pretty well. We checked the list, and I suggested a couple. No, it has to be Don’t Rain on my Parade. This is a very challenging song. Okay, I’ll try it. Sure, I’ve sung it at home. But never at karaoke. It was a show stopper! I’m not sure I can duplicate the experience, but I know I’d like to try.

The KJ & Set up:


The KJ was a guy named Crooks (his last name), who was filling in for the regular KJ (Terry AKA Papa T). There was a good selection of songs, in large binders. The regular KJ (Papa T) is an independent, with his own karaoke service, Papa T’s Darkside. 

The sound system was good, and there were four monitors placed strategically throughout the karaoke area, so a singer could see the words from many different vantage points. There was also an ominous neon sign proclaiming “Darkside”.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to meet Papa T that night.

Still Crooks took good care of us. He took slips of paper for song requests, or you could write them down on a list he kept near his laptop. There were also those mysterious – to me, anyway – black cartridges that contain songs, apparently. Many of them. How they were used in conjunction with the laptop technology I’m really not sure at all. But I’m happy to say Crooks played the music tracks, and kept everyone singing throughout the night.

Many of the regulars knew Crooks, who apparently is a regular himself. Unlike all the other KJs we’ve met, Crooks doesn’t take his turn in the rotation singing. I don’t know why.

Party People


There were a lot of fun people there at Bridgett’s. I met another blogger, named El, and traded information with her. El was at Bridgett’s that night with a friend, to celebrate her birthday. They joined a group of people at a table near ours. This group had been singing and dancing most of the night. A couple sitting nearby at the bar got up to dance several times during all the singing. There were a few other small groups of cheerful party people seated at tables in the karaoke area. Crooks too joined in the dancing as he mingled about the crowd. It’s not uncommon during karaoke to see some dancing, to hear a fair amount of cheering, and seeing smiling faces. However, it was refreshing that Suze and I weren’t the only dancing people in the place. This was a fun group.  The camaraderie that’s a common feature in karaoke crowds was in abundance at Bridgett’s. This may be why so many have recommended coming here. Although through my karaoke-dokey experiences, I have grown certain there is a fair amount of revelry and karaoke inspired fun in almost any neighborhood.  


Manic Monday

After a long day at work, and facing down the rest of the week, it’s nice to go someplace that has a relaxed atmosphere, or even a party atmosphere, to chase all the stress away. This night we enjoyed the company of many boisterous, fun-loving party-types. We all were having a blast singing, dancing, cheering, and yes, drinking. Some were seeing old friends, some were making new ones. This was a festive time, even on the most mundane day of the week.

Maybe it’s not unusual in the karaoke world to carry on as if nothing is too serious to get you down. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Music is joyful. You always hear how music can bring us together. And despite what some may believe, karaoke is joyous musical expression.

There’s a whole world out here. A whole beautiful, carefree world. Yours for the taking. Every night of the week.


Day 16 – June 23, 2013 at Plazma Video Bar in Phoenix

Day 16 – June 23rd at Plazma Video Bar in Phoenix


Suze and I set out on Sunday for Plazma Video Bar in central Phoenix. This is a gay bar that had been recommended by several of Suze’s theater friends. We wanted to include a variety of places, and there are many to choose from, but we tend to value others’ input on where to go. So Plazma was it.


I had wondered at the name…but after you get a thorough look around the place, it is clear. There are monitors displayed everywhere! You can see the screens elevated throughout the bar, at every turn. There are several on the patio, and even in the bathrooms. I don’t know if they are all actually “plasma” (or plazma) tv monitors, but you know what, who cares? That’s commitment!

Another dive bar:

So these dive bars start to look kind of the same after a while. The parking is in the rear, and so is the entrance to the bar. As you enter, one end of the bar is right there in front of you and continues along the wall. As you pass the bar, to the right, there is a pool table, almost directly in the center of the medium-sized room. Beyond the pool table there are a dozen bar stools and round “bar” tables filling up the rest of the space. 


In the far corner to the right, there is a little elevated area, not quite large enough to be a stage. This is where the KJ has his immense black box of songs – sound equipment of some sort. Ironically, standing upon this “stage” seems to be the only spot from which one can’t see any of the monitors clearly. Believe me, I tried. If there’s a stage, I’m climbing up onto it. But there was little room, and it’s difficult to read the lyrics, so…not so much.  


There is also a door exiting to the patio, which was walled in. In addition to another dozen tables, there were of course more monitors. You could literally sing from the patio – with the door closed – isolated from all the bar activity inside. While those inside the bar could still hear you singing. Interesting arrangement. Good for the nicotine-addicted and the shy as well.

The KJ and set-up:

The KJ at Plazma is Stephen. His is a pretty arcane system. I didn’t recognize the console he worked with. To me it just resembled a big black box, which the songs dwell within. (I’m not a sound engineer myself, can you tell?) Beyond that I don’t recall much, except that I didn’t understand it.

To get on the list, singers write down the song title from the binder and its corresponding number. You hand it to Stephen and he punches in the number. There is no laptop, and no database of selections, no downloads. It must be difficult to add new songs.  Suze suggested that perhaps KJ Stephen may have inherited this system from someone who compiled all the music long ago. Maybe he has neither the funds or desire to upgrade. Maybe. But I’m just reporting what is. There are obvious advantages to going with a more modern system.  

The Songs:

We arrived at this dive bar at about 9:30 pm, and as usual stayed late. There weren’t many others in the joint. Maybe a dozen total, half of us singing karaoke that night. With only 5-6 singers in rotation, it was possible to sing a lot. I sang six songs total, including a duet.

I sang Clocks (Coldplay), We Belong (Pat Benatar), Killing me Softly (Roberta Flack), Chuck E’s in Love (Riki Lee Jones), This Love (Maroon 5), and for the duet You’re the One that I Want (Olivia Newton John & John Travolta).


New pals

I had been peering over the pretty meager binders, trying to find selections from my list (of 70-80 songs that I bring with me every night). However, I don’t bring reading glasses in to these dark haunts, though I know I should. So I seek out pockets of light. The best one here was over the pool table. I placed the binder on the pool table, and leaned over straining to read the normal-sized print on the pages.   A drunken man took an interest in my frustrations, and kept passing by and teasing me, “Haven’t you found anything to sing, yet?” Yes, I had. I just kept putting more songs in to the KJ, and needed more.


Plus I had to sing a duet. Despite the variety in KJ delivery systems and styles, every book has You’re the one that I want (from Grease). Almost every night at karaoke, someone(s) sings that song. I might as well join them. It’s fun to vamp it up like Olivia Newton John. So I asked drunken David, and his pal Brian, if either would sing with me. Brian said he would, and we settled on the Grease tune.


The binders didn’t have a lot of the more common karaoke songs (e.g. past hits, and current pop hits). However, there were a lot of selections from musicals, which was great for Suze. Her forte is showtunes, and her knowledge of such is abundant. They had quite a few songs she had been seeking, for example, tunes from Spring Awakening. Suze had been in a recent production of the show locally, in addition to other local theater shows. She is making a bit of a name for herself, and is often recognizable to those in the know.  And lo and behold, there were theater people in the place, who had seen the show, and had heard of her involvement in other productions as well. They all exchanged credentials – who knows whom, and who’s in which show currently, or up for a part, etc.

It’s a wrap!

Like many nights out enjoying karaoke, we met up with some friendly people, and had fun singing, and schmoozing. Onward to Day 17!

The Karaoke-dokey Song List ‘o songs

Some have expressed an interest in seeing the list of songs that I sang during the entire 22 Days of the Karaoke-dokey project – from Day 1 (June 8) – Day 22 (June 29).

In no particular order…I am providing the list (below).

  • There were only three songs that I repeated in the first few days. I’ll put these in blue.
  • I’m noting the duets with an asterisk.
  • At some point I started adding the latest songs sung to the bottom of the list, so I left it that way. I have not tried to group them in any way – by artist, alphabetical, etc.

There are 102 songs on the list!

You know I’m no good (Amy Winehouse)

Jar of Hearts (Christina Perri)

*Lady Marmalade (LaBelle)

Baby I love you (Aretha Franklin)

Hopelessly Devoted to you (Olivia Newton John)

Uninvited  (Alanis Morrisette)

Rolling in the Deep (Adele)

*Try (Pink)

At last (Etta James)

Like a Stone (Audioslave)

Mercy (Duffy)

We’re all alone  (Rita Coolidge)

What’s Up  (4 Non Blondes)

Look what they’ve done to my song, ma (Melanie)

Born on a bayou (CCR)

Zombie (the Cranberries)

Borderline (Madonna)

Since I fell for you (Lenny Welch)

Fake Plastic Trees (Radiohead)

50 ways to say goodbye (Train)

Sara (Fleetwood Mac)

Evergreen (Barbra Streisand)

Just Give me a Reason (Pink)

*Love Shack (the B-52s)

*The Rose (Bette Midler)

Give it away (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Blue Bayou (Linda Ronstadt)

*Dream a little Dream (Mama Cass)

Gloria (Laura Branigan)

*Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)

Harden My Heart (Quarterflash)

*Mocking Bird (Carly Simon & James Taylor)

*Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty)

Mean to me (Linda Ronstadt)

Like a Prayer (Madonna)

Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul McCartney)

Mama’s broken heart (Miranda Lambert)

Maybe This Time (Liza Minnelli)

*Sentimental Journey (Doris Day)

White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane)

True (Spandau Ballet)

Son of a Preacher Man (Dusty Springfield)

Oh, Darling! (the Beatles)

What I Did for Love (from A Chorus Line)

*Unforgettable (Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole)

*Satellite of Love (Lou Reed)

Torn (Natalie Imbruglia)

Wild is the Wind (David Bowie)

*Sorrow (David Bowie)

I never loved a man (Aretha Franklin)

First Cut is the Deepest (Rod Stewart)

*Help! (the Beatles)

Starlight (Muse)

Back to Black (Amy Winehouse)

*Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (Elton John & George Michael)

I Put a Spell on You (Creedence Clearwater Revival version)

*The Boxer (Simon & Garfunkel)

Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinead O’Connor)

*Everybody Hurts (REM)

Atomic (Blondie)

This Love (Maroon 5)

*You’re the one that I want (Olivia Newton John & John Travolta)

Chuck E’s in Love (Riki Lee Jones)

Clocks (Coldplay)

We Belong  (Pat Benatar)

Killing Me Softly (Roberta Flack)

*Don’t go breakin’ my heart (Elton John & Kiki Dee)

Don’t rain on my parade  (Barbra Streisand)

Adia (Sarah McLachlan)

Ready to go (Republica)

Rock Steady (Aretha Franklin)

Gypsy (Fleetwood Mac)

So in Love (from Kiss Me Kate)

*Time of the Season (Zombies)

Ruby Tuesday (Melanie version)

New York State of Mind (Billy Joel)

Take a Bow (Madonna)

Wild Horses (Rolling Stones)

I’ll Stand by You (Pretenders)

Ooh Baby Baby (Linda Ronstadt)

*The Beat Goes On (Sonny & Cher)

*You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (Neil Diamond & Barbra Streisand)

Express Yourself (Madonna)

A Change is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke)

Cry Me a River (Barbra Streisand)

*You’re so vain (Carly Simon)

Is it a Crime? (Sade)

If love is a red dress (Maria McKee)

*The City (Journey)

Drops of Jupiter (Train)

*Gimme Shelter (Rolling Stones)

My Man (Barbra Streisand)

*Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (Andrew Sisters)

Holiday (Madonna)

*Under Pressure (David Bowie & Queen)

Joey (Concrete Blonde)

Hallelujah (Alexandra Burke)

*Emotion (BeeGees)

Get into the Groove (Madonna)

Song #100    Dr. Feelgood (Aretha Franklin)

*Shiny Happy People (B-52s & REM)

*Islands in the Stream (Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers)

Day 13 – June 20, 2013 – at Pho Cao in Tempe

DAY 13 – June 20th at Pho Cao in Tempe

by Rachel Enger aka Rac Hellion


Teresa and me


Suze and Teresa

This night Suze and I were joined at Pho Cao by my good friend Teresa.

What is Pho Cao?

Pho Cao is a Vietnamese restaurant/bar with an amazing space for entertainment. The place is named for its gracious owner and host, Victor Cao. The restaurant boasts a favorable reputation for excellent Vietnamese food, especially the pho (a noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and choice of meat –

Honestly, as a vegetarian I have tried few of their menu items (mostly the vegetarian egg rolls, and a vegetable version of sushi). Did I mention they have a fresh sushi bar at Pho Cao? Yes, they do.

I am looking forward to coming to Pho Cao with a healthy appetite sometime, to be schooled in Vietnamese food and recommended items for vegetarians, as I am not well versed. Most of the time, I am there to sing, kick back, and have fun. I order my drinks, and sometimes food. Then carry on.

Pho Cao is a little tricky to find, although its neon sign is quite visible from a main drag through the heart of Tempe. It’s well worth it to take time to find it though. Suze and I have spent more than a few nights here, well after the 22 days of consecutive karaoke were completed.


Night Clubbing Okay, so you really have to go to Pho Cao to appreciate the awesomeness of the space. You enter what seems like the back of the building from the parking lot. Directly to your right is a long bar with seats, attended to by a very capable and accommodating bartender. She can fix up anything. To the left is the main restaurant area, with seats and tables, and at the far end the sushi master’s elevated prep area. There is a patio on the side of the restaurant.


Then there is a whole other room. Past the bar, you round a corner, and spy the ample stage at the far end. Directly facing the stage, at the other end of the large room is a screen where the karaoke lyrics are projected.  In between the stage and the screen are various round dining tables, and leather sofas with coffee tables in front of them. Lined up on one side there are also a few booths. Lots of options for relaxing as you enjoy the music. It is dark in this room, adding to a night club atmosphere. There is also plenty of room up on stage, and in front of the stage for dancing and various other antics. I like hanging out in this large “living room” with good friends and new acquaintances, ready to take in – and take part in – the entertainment for the night. Let the show begin!


KJ Phil Johnson

The set-up

The KJ this night was Phil Johnson with Starz Karaoke. Phil handles the rotation well, seamlessly working in new singers, and keeping everything running smoothly. Plus, he sings divinely in a strong tenor voice – a real treat. We first met Phil on Day 7 at Fuller’s in Chandler. Phil always keeps the atmosphere festive and fun.

Phil keeps his console on the main floor near the stage, handing off the microphone to the singers, who then have the option of going up on stage, or singing anywhere in the lounge. On other nights, Emma Watt (with a competing provider, Wet Whistle Entertainment) is the KJ. She prefers to have her KJ station up on stage, where she sits while overseeing the karaoke singing. She also uses a smoke machine.  I believe the KJs often provide and set up their own sound equipment (e.g. speakers, microphones, etc.).

I mention this because if you take my advice and visit Pho Cao, you may have differing karaoke experiences depending on the provider and KJ working that night.   I can’t really recommend one over the other, as both Phil and Emma are incomparable KJs. You will enjoy it either way.

Some nights, live musical acts are featured at Pho Cao, e.g. a blues band. Always check ahead.


There were a number of other people in the joint that night. Most notably a round table full of young folk, who brought with them a strong vibrant energy. There were two guys (Chris and Matt) who performed their duets on stage in the style of the TV show Glee. Very animated, very theatrical, very committed. Overall very entertaining. And the best part is they could really sing.


This was a night of duets. In addition to the Glee club, in which Chris sang with each person at his table, I sang twice with Teresa. And Teresa sang a duet with our friend David (another karaoke fan who frequents Pho Cao).

Bad News

So…earlier this evening I had heard the news that a friend and former employer, Kim Thompson, had passed away. He had been battling cancer, and I knew this was a possibility. But you know, you kind of hold your breath, and hope for the best. I had a good cry over it. Thought hard about the kind of things you often avoid thinking too much about: friendship, death, legacy, and the passing of time. Then I gathered my thoughts and my things, prepared to go out and sing as planned. Not in the best frame of mind. I hadn’t been close to Kim in a long while, though off and on I kind of stayed in touch. One thing we had shared was a vehement love of Lou Reed and David Bowie.  Tonight I would sing for Kim.

The songs: 


Teresa – who had also known and worked for Kim – and I sang Lou Reed’s Satellite of Love. It was a touching tribute, although I’m not sure it’s the best duet for us.  We could practice? Then another duet with Teresa: Sorrow (David Bowie), an old favorite of ours to sing together. Alone I sang Wild is the Wind (another Bowie cover tune). Really love that song, and was surprised to find in it on the list. Yes! I dedicated all three to Kim Thompson, in memorium. Singing in times of loss always helps to ease the mind.  I also sang Torn (Natalie Imbruglia) and I never loved a man (the way I love you) by Aretha Franklin. I needed to process some heavy emotions that night, and singing strong, emphatic songs with passion really helps. So long, Kim.

Let’s end on a high note!

DSCF6096  DSCF6069

It was a good night for singing. We all had fun. We will be back, undoubtedly, to Pho Cao. There was a friendly crowd, of silly and competent singers. We were all in the hands of a capable KJ. I got to hang out with my dear, sweet friends: Teresa and Suze. And…Victor Cao took some photos of us while singing. Then decided to use a pic of me on his stage in an internet ad promoting Pho Cao. Nice! Thanks, Victor!


Victor Cao, owner Pho Cao

Day 12 – June 19, 2013 – Tukee’s in Ahwatukee

Day 12  – June 19th at Tukee’s in Ahwatukee / Phoenix


The decider is once again influenced by her co-conspirator. Suze said her brother Ken would join us if we went someplace in the east valley on a Wednesday. We considered our choices. Tukee’s in Ahwatukee (a neighborhood of Phoenix) stood out. It was definitely close enough for Ken to join us easily. Plus the KJ at Tukee’s had been a member of the crew completing the infamous 21 consecutive days of karaoke. The very record I was attempting to beat. I had heard that KJ Chelsea had only made it to Day 7 or 11 of the 21 days. I already had that beat! This was Day 12. I wanted to meet her, so Tukee’s was it!

Tukee’s in Ahwatukee


We arrived at Tukee’s a little after 9 pm, and it was crowded. Parking was just the first challenge. A popular place reputed to have good food, as well as karaoke. You pass one part of the ample patio on the left as you go in, and you can already hear the music. However, it was due to an acoustic performer on the patio finishing his last set. Just on the other side of the patio door is the bar and the KJ’s karaoke station. There were competing musical strains. The karaoke singing had already begun.  As you enter the building, the restaurant area is to the right, the bar area to the left. Both were large and well-populated.


We entered the bar area which was also where karaoke took place. The bar itself was to the right. The place was packed! The patio was pretty full, the bar and the restaurant too. The bar had many tall tables and stools full of patrons, crowding up against each other. There was barely any room to squeeze through. We found a table for four, but ended up adding a few extra seats. Contributing to the clutter and clamor.


Suze and I were joined by her brother Ken, naturally. His daughter Kendra and his friend Ryan also stopped in. Suze’s friend Caroline and our buddy Bosco rounded out our group of seven.

Did I mention it was crowded?

There were lots of patrons at Tukee’s that night, enjoying the bar, food, karaoke inside, and acoustic music on the patio. Even after the live patio music stopped, it was still lively out there with conversation, smoking, and laughter. There were lots of interesting looking people. Normally, I would have loved to chat them up. I even went about taking some photos, and struck up a few conversations. However, I felt a bit stifled. There was already a large group at our table, several of whom I had never met. I turned my energies – somewhat – toward getting to know those at my table. Our group was pretty insular, not a lot of extroverts.

Even though I didn’t go wandering much that night, Suze did her blog-business-card schmoozing project. (Read Day 11 for more information.) In short, we have business cards made up with my blog information and announcing the project’s goal of 22 days of karaoke. Suze would mostly approach the other karaoke singers, who might have an interest in this sort of thing.  

Many folks were there that night to sing. There were a number of tables set up near the karaoke console and monitor. The bar area extended back beyond the bar itself, and most tables were occupied. It seemed at first that the karaoke list had about 15 singers, which is manageable. Then the rotation grew to as many as 20 or 25. Good for Chelsea, and good for Tukee’s. But not so good for singers awaiting their turn.

The set-up & KJ:


The KJ Chelsea works for UR Entertainment. The binder of songs was pretty thin, although we all did find selections we liked. I introduced myself to Chelsea, and gave her a hug (she was a friend of Bosco’s after all). I told her I had heard about her involvement with the 21 days of karaoke, and of my quest to break the record. She didn’t seem all that impressed. I get mixed reactions all the time. So no big deal. Although I often chat up the KJs when we go out, I didn’t get a chance to talk much to Chelsea. During much of the singing she was on the patio smoking.  

So we’d give her slips of paper with our song requests, and Chelsea would lay them out next to her console. I like to check the list, find out when I’m coming up in the rotation. This is difficult to do with Chelsea’s system. She doesn’t maintain a list on her computer. She has all the pieces of paper in an order of her choosing.  She explained that she uses the Mike Henry system of working in new singers after waiting an hour.  I found that confusing too. I didn’t think that’s the way Mike normally does it. New singers are worked into the existing list, but waiting an hour first? Why?

img_5394_0091   img_5393_0009

Sidebar nod to Mike Henry:

[Mike Henry is a well-reputed and popular KJ who has trained a lot of the KJs working currently in the valley. He has his own company now:  Rockstar Karaoke. Suze and I have been to a Mike Henry show, but not during the 22 days of Karaoke project.]

Back to my rant

Adding to the frustration of not being able to check a list is that you wouldn’t know it’s your turn to sing until it’s actually your turn to sing. No warning whatsoever. Surprise!  That’s what Suze said when I mentioned it to her, in consternation. “It’s a surprise!” Yes, it is. Not a good thing.  I don’t know when I’m able to take a bite, take a swig of my wholesome Kiltlifter, when to clear my palate with a nice long draw of H2O. Or even when to go to the bathroom.

Purpose of this blog

I’m making this (albeit negative) observation because 1) the whole point of this blog is to share information with you all, 2) that another point of the blog is to share my experiences and how I felt, and 3) to compare it to other karaoke experiences.

You can make up your own mind where to go to sing.  There are plenty of KJs who kindly let you know when you’ll be up – often in person. There are a few who have the list of upcoming singers displayed on the monitors as intermittent reminders. It occurs to me that if Jen, Thom, and FrankthaTank can do that, then so can many others.

If I’m brutally honest in my report of karaoke experiences, maybe KJs and Karaoke providers will realize which features please their patrons. I hope to be a service to all. As well as slightly entertaining…?

 And another thing…

At Tukee’s there seems to be no good place to stand while singing. Did I mention it was crowded? If you try facing the monitor by the patio door, invariably someone with jostle you as they walk past. If you are out in the crowd somewhere, among all the tables and chairs, there are myriad servers and patrons going by. Not an ideal situation.

On a positive note

I must say, however, something good about the Tukee’s experience. The staff was very friendly and the service topnotch. Quite an accomplishment for such a busy Wednesday night.  The food at Tukee’s has a reputation of being good too. I tried a small portion of their mac ‘n cheese dish (something a lot of the finer dining establishments are featuring on their menus these days – an adult version of a homey childhood favorite). It was pretty rich, and though a side portion, I couldn’t finish it. However, it was tasty. Everyone who ordered food at our table was well satisfied.


Okay, the songs:

During the three hours we were there, I only got to sing three songs – including the requisite duet. On average, I’ve been able to sing four songs a night. Although I must say I was pretty satisfied with all three.

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I sang Oh Darling!, my one Beatles ringer. I tried singing What I did for love (from A Chorus Line) – the first time I’ve performed it since I was a teenager. Definitely a keeper. For the duet, I sang with Suze’s brother Ken. He selected Unforgettable (the duet Natalie Cole recorded with her father Nat King Cole’s older recording). It was smooth. I’d really like to work on this one, and try again. We guessed at some of the harmonizing, but it went over well. There was even an off-duty KJ there that night who got up and danced with his wife during the song. Very romantic.


To sum up:

Overall, not a bad night. For karaoke, though, there are many other options. Suze and I will keep you posted.

Day 11 – Part Two – June 18, 2013

PART II – Day 11 – June 18th

 (in Mesa & Chandler)


Not sure about the number of fingers…? Should be ELEVEN! It is the correct date.

Goat Head Saloon in Mesa

Yeah, this is my kind of hole in the wall, divey rock-n-roll bar, tucked in the corner of a strip-mall. So remote, so non-descript, so inauspicious, that a fellow had wandered in that night thinking it was a strip club. And remarkably, he stayed for karaoke. And sang a few songs too. Goat Head Saloon has karaoke on Tuesday nights, but often has live acts – music that is – other times. They also host an open mic night. Very cool, and laid back atmosphere.


As you enter, there are pool tables straight ahead, and around to the left and down a slight incline, there is a bar with seats. There are a number of high round tables and bar stools about, in the large, dark room. There are also a number of lower tables with regular dining chairs. We took a seat at a couple of bar stools, and set the large karaoke binder under a hanging light on the small, round table. My eyes are going bad due to age, but I seem to be in fierce denial. I have several reading glasses stowed away in various places, but never carry them into these dark spaces. I always seem to be hovering under a light, or holding pages at arm’s length. Pathetic, really. But true.


There is a stage, large enough for a band to set up and play. It’s raised a couple feet off the ground. The KJ Dan Dan has his console on the stage, off to one side. There’s plenty of room for dancing about on the stage. There is a huge screen at the back of the stage with the lyrics, etc. There are also other monitors placed about the venue. Someone could stand on stage and sing, as we do. Or you could sing facing the stage and the huge screen. Or you could sing at your seat, or pretty much anywhere in the joint. I think Dan Dan has a lot to do with monitor placement, as I’ve seen his show in a brand new place recently (Castaways in Phoenix). He was talking about adding more monitors in different locations, very attuned to the needs of his singers, and the owners.


Dan Dan & Priscilla

The KJ is Dan Dan, along with his partner Priscilla, of Arizona’s Top Karaoke. Theirs is an independent, not a “corporate” enterprise. They are both unique and fun individuals. Their duets together are a blast, very original material, and sweet renditions, with a splash of vulgarity. I definitely like hanging out with these two.

Dan Dan tells me – after introductions are made – that his karaoke show is the best, that it is different from the rest. This is not an uncommon claim. Mike Henry (of Rockstar Karaoke) also claims to be the best, as do many of his followers. Mystic Molly (of Starz Karaoke) definitely can claim that her shows are unique, and she is proud to offer a great “party” at each. No lie. Her shows are both exceptional and festive. Emma Watt (of Wet Whistle Entertainment) definitely can put on a wild show too. There is a lot of competition out there. There is a lot of entertainment, and a lot of fun to be had. So…you know, I was a bit skeptical. I’ve been around. Not my first time at the rodeo.

That said, I’d have to agree with Dan Dan. His shows are special. In between the karaoke singers, he occasionally interjects the songs with video – off the wall stuff. I discovered a rock-a-billy group from Germany – the Baseballs – who re-work covers of American pop songs with a rock-a-billy flavor. Thanks to Dan Dan. There is more to say about all that for sure, but you’ll have to check out one of his shows to partake. It’s never the same. Always entertaining.

The Binder & the Songs


I was thrilled to discover that Dan Dan also has a boatload of songs in his binders. You may not find all the recent pop hits – although you might…I didn’t really check – but I found several songs that no one else has. Very very happy discovery. It’s a huge binder, and it takes time to go through it. I just went up and asked him if he had the songs from my list. However, you have to write your name, the song title and its artist on a random slip of paper for Dan Dan. Each and every time.

This night I sang Son of a Preacher Man (Dusty Springfield), White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane), and a duet with Suze (of course), Sentimental Journey (Doris Day).  Normally, Suze and I sing this song with two other ladies, in a quartet called Harmony Department. I’ve known the song since I was wee. That night the two of us singing Sentimental Journey as a duet was off the hook! We received some of my favorite compliments ever. A sweet older gentleman came over after and said: “I melted into a puddle.” And he added, “You are way above what’s in second place.” What an awesome turn of phrase. I hope always to remember it for the sentiment – but also to use it myself when I wish to credit superb awesomeness. What a sweetheart! He made me melt into a puddle.

The Regulars

There weren’t many people there at the Goat Head that night. Most were singing, and they also seemed to be regulars, who knew each other or at least recognized one another. There were a couple of what I’ll call “old timers”, a karaoke staple at many venues. These are the guys (mostly, although I have seen couples too), who may have their own CDs of songs, (filled with older or more remote selections not commonly found on most karaoke lists). Can’t be too careful, you know?

I like seeing these older gentlemen. They give me hope. I figure that’s going to me someday. After years of the karaoke circuit, frequenting my favorite haunts, I’ll be bringing in a digital selection of my favorite tunes. Gotta keep singing, don’t you know? So there were maybe a dozen people there, some just hanging at the bar. The regulars, and us.

Meeting Strangers

Suze had this idea, and really it became two ideas. One was to create a “business card” with my blog information. That way we could share the blog with people we met at the karaoke outings, and announce our unusual project. Suze would often get on the microphone and announce to all within earshot about my karaoke project, and which number day I was on. She was always so supportive, and cheering me on.

That’s something I’m getting used to myself – public speaking. I’m much more at ease than I used to be. Just as with performing. I could always stand and sing. No problem. I love it. But really performing, and using my body and face to emote…well, that’s been an evolution. I can’t say my face always wants to participate. It contorts into whatever shape is necessary to get the notes out just the way I want them. I don’t worry about looking attractive while I sing. I have some acceptable photos of me singing, and I have some that are, well, less so.

For Suze, it’s kind of the opposite. She has been an actor for some time. Very comfortable performing, always looks great singing, with an easy smile. And public speaking, forget about it. I’ve seen her address crowds of people many times. A pro. However, when it comes to talking to strangers, she’s less comfortable. I can pretty much talk to anyone. And do. But Suze, she needs a reason, a project. Enter Idea #2 – use the cards to talk to strangers. This blog business card really was the ticket.


Day 11 was the first night I had the cards available, and had the blog up and running too. Suze would go up to a group of strangers and pass out the cards, while introducing me. I thought that was odd. She didn’t introduce herself, or take names. But she did get out of her shell a bit, and talk to people she didn’t otherwise have to. This would carry on at least through Day 21. Me, I keep talking to strangers wherever I go. Karaoke or not.

Done? Or well done?

It had been a long day – for Suze especially, coming from rehearsal in Phoenix, and a dance class too! It was about midnight, and we had been there for a couple hours. It was time for Suze and I to go our separate ways. She headed home, and I headed south. To Chandler. What’s in Chandler?

Emma’s show at Iguana Mack’s, of course! And more karaoke.

I thought Emma must have another hour to go. I didn’t really think I’d get a song in, because her shows are usually well attended, with a long list of singers. I knew some of the people who’d be there that night, and I thought I’d stop by briefly to pass out a few of our “business cards” announcing my blog, and the project, etc. Then I’d leave. Good plan.

When I arrived I greeted a few fellow karaoke fans and passed out the cards. Then my friend Aaron said I probably had time to get in one song before I left. I thought no, but checked with Emma (the KJ). She said sure, I’ll fit you in. So six singers later, I’m sipping some water and enjoying all the merriment and hijinks that accompany an Emma show. Sitting at a bar, on a stool waiting. For one more song. Really. Instead of losing steam half way through my 22 days, I’m hanging out in yet another bar at 1 am, waiting to sing.

Then I sing True (by Spandau Ballet). For Emma, because she loves that song. It doesn’t go so great, but oh, well. What an accomplishment! Four songs total that night, and three places, technically speaking, of course. (Word of advice: It turns out you can actually sing more songs if you arrive early and stay in one place.) I do feel pretty good overall. This project is half way and it’s gaining momentum. In fact, it’s taking on a life of its own. My life – and all other pursuits – are taking a back seat. But that’s a story for another day, another blog perhaps…or not.

DAY 11 – June 18, 2013 at THREE Places!

DAY 11 – June 18, 2013 at THREE Places!

I visited three separate places on this date:

Toby Keith’s I love this Bar (in Mesa),

Goat Head Saloon (in Mesa), and

Iguana Mack’s (in Chandler). 

This is PART ONE telling of the short time spent at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar! 

So…you may be wondering how we chose which places to go for karaoke. So many places – at last count over 170 in the valley of the sun – and only 22 days!

I was the decider, which is not to say that Suze didn’t wield some influence – she most certainly did. I favored diversity, and others’ recommendations. Let’s go to different kinds of places, let’s try places we’ve heard about. Let’s try something new!

Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar! 

Right. Suze chose a country bar: Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar! Why? It doesn’t just have karaoke, but something called “rock-aroke”. This is a version of karaoke with a live band. It’s something we’d both wanted to try. I wondered how much it differs to an open jam or open mic situation. I’ve done that before, “sat in” with a band or an artist. It can be fun, and sometimes a little nerve-wracking. You may not know exactly how they’re going to do the song, and you have to just go with it, be flexible. Presumably that spontaneity is taken out of the equation with “rock-aroke”, because you’re following the song “in the style of the artist”. So, no problem, right?

And it certainly will be a unique – and diverse – experience, n’est-ce-que pas? 

There are only a few places I know of that have rock-aroke. One, I had completely forgotten about – at the Sail Inn. Now that I’ve been reminded, we’ll have to check it out (post-karaoke-dokey project). Another is at the Tonic, but we had found out they’re suspending any karaoke until the fall. The third is Toby Keith’s place. And yes, his name is in the title of the bar.

Suze thought – correctly, as it turns out – that the music would be only country. But I thought, no way. Lots of country music these days is cross-over, the bands often sound kind of rock ‘n roll. I’ll bet they have some rock tunes available to sing. I started to rack my brains for songs I might do – beforehand. Rolling Stones? CCR?  

I was so wrong. No rock. Only country.  All right, mostly country. 98%. And I must admit that there are two genres I’m a bit inexperienced with – one of them is country. Admittedly, I could learn some more country songs, and I have throughout this project. It’s just – full disclosure here – I don’t listen to much country. Like, at all. So when I perused the song list – all of 125 songs – I only recognized about 14 songs. Many of the artists I hadn’t even heard of. Boy, am I out of my element! 

There were a few songs I might have been able to muster through: Black Horse and a Cherry Tree (a kind of bluesy song I do like, but haven’t really learned yet); I Love Rock ‘n Roll (very familiar, but honestly, I don’t care for the song, and wouldn’t enjoy singing it); Black Velvet (I like the song and could do it justice, if only I had practiced).

There really is more pressure performing a song with a band. On a legitimate stage. For patrons dancing and such.  

I know, I know. Picky, picky, picky. Yes, I can be.

The Set-up: 

The place is very large. The signage is large. The entrance is large. The lobby is large. The bar itself, straight ahead as you enter past the bouncer/ID guy is hella large. There is an area to the right of the bar that I didn’t explore. It may have been the restaurant. It too was expansive. There was a riding bull on the other side of the long, oval shaped bar. On the southeast end of the bar was a separate room, a VIP room. The walls were windows, so the VIPs could look out while in their secluded area, with fancy furniture. Everything in Toby Keith’s bar looked fancy, and the décor reminiscent of old westerns. They spared no expense.  A large, well-appointed, fancy saloon. 

The stage was also large. Especially compared to the stages that we’ve seen for karaoke, that is when there even is a stage. It was five feet off the ground, big enough to house an entire band, and then some. The KJ was on-stage, located off to one side. Unfortunately, I didn’t meet her. She stayed on stage, announcing which singer was up next, and watching over the proceedings. The people in the audience there to sing seemed to know what to do. They checked the song list, filled out their song request, and handed it to the KJ. The KJ was equipped with a laptop set up in the corner of the stage. The laptop monitor served as the karaoke monitor with the lyrics displayed. There was a microphone on a stand next to the KJ’s station and seat. The singer would stand at the mic, looking at the monitor, while the band off to the far right of the stage played the music. The band played well, and they seemed genuinely supportive of and encouraging to the singers.

Directly below the stage was the dance floor. A sizable dance floor. The whole place may have seemed larger, because there were few patrons there on a Tuesday night. Some were there to sing, certainly. And the singers’ friends there to enjoy and lend support. A few couples ventured onto the dance floor during the performances. A small, but content little crowd, in a very large and overwhelming place.

The Cop Out

Well, I had arrived before Suze, who was on her way from someplace in Phoenix. I had a chance to look over the place and the song list prior to her arrival. And, instead of kicking back and ordering a beverage, I texted her suggesting we move on to another place. Yep, I copped out.

Of course, Suze had to get there and see for herself. And note details for her karaoke database once she arrived. I went to the parking lot to get my list of other Tuesday night venues, and there were a couple in Mesa that weren’t too far away. Suze agreed that we would leave without singing. The only place we’ve done that. Turned tail and sauntered out. Not proud of it, but there it is. 

My apologies to those who like this kind of place. It’s not for me, but no judgment implied. Please, if you favor country music, I do recommend this gorgeous, large country bar in east Mesa. Enjoy!

We decided next to go visit Goat Head Saloon.

You’ll have to read Part II of Day 11 to find out more about our adventures that night!