Day 10 – June 17, 2013 at Ernie’s and El Dorado Bar & Grill
Ernie’s in (north) Scottsdale:
Suze and I arrived at Ernie’s early – about 9 pm on a Monday night – and there was no one there! Only the KJ Heather, and the barkeep.
We each order a Kiltlifter – which has been the drink of choice during much of our adventure – and take a seat close to the open “stage” area.
Karaoke every night in the “karaoke building”
The karaoke is housed in one building, but right outside this karaoke building, there’s a covered patio with another bar. Ernie’s has karaoke every night. Yes. They do.
The karaoke building has a large oval-shaped bar in the center of the room. Beyond one end of the bar itself, is a small area that faces a large screen, upon which the karaoke lyrics, etc. appear. In this stagey/dance area the singers can stand and face the screen, or you can sit anywhere nearby while you sing. There are seats, naturally, around the large bar. And there are also a few booths and tables surrounding it, at the outskirts of the large room.
I do my usual meet and greet with the KJ, Heather, who’s already started singing on her own. I do wait until the end of the song, to tell her of my quest, and her unwitting involvement in such. She’s nice and supportive, and gives us a few other places to think about visiting. The provider is Dwayne Oliverson, and I’m familiar with his book. Also, I just find it expedient to talk to the KJ directly. I come prepared with my list, of songs I may want to sing. In addition, I’ve starting taking with me the list of songs I’ve already sung (so I’m sure not to repeat any). It’s getting to be quite an undertaking.
Since there are literally NO Other Singers there, we get our songs in right away.
First, I sing Fifty Ways to Say Goodbye (Train) which I’ve wanted to try. It goes okay, but I realize I need to learn the bridge. There’s no one to notice except Heather. Suze doesn’t know the song. Then she counters with Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover. Nice one, Suze.
Then I ask Heather to sing a duet with me. I want to mix it up, and try duets with different people, see which songs they’ll suggest. She says she knows all of Stevie Nicks’ songs. I love Stevie Nicks’ duet with Tom Petty, Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around. So we do that one. It goes great. Heather is good at harmony, and I decide I’d like to do this song again sometime.
If you know me, there was dancing. So guess what? That’s right.
My original song done, duet done, and the dancing too…I can go home. No, that’s just silly.
A few more people came in: a couple sat at the bar, and started poring over the karaoke binders. Good! They’re here to sing. Another couple sat in a booth, on the other side of the bar. Just hanging out. A loud drunk couple came in. Well, one half of the couple was drunk, and he proceeded to announce that the man with him was his husband, and as he introduced himself, breathed all over me. You just have to meet my husband, he insists. So I do. Very charming couple. The bartender keeps a watchful eye on them, and clucks under her breath once in a while. They’ve had a bit much to drink, don’t you think? Yes, I do.
I have to tell you there are archetypes throughout bars – especially karaoke time – and the loud, touchy-feeling drunk is certainly one of them. He asked me what I was going to sing. Next up some Barbra.
The wait shouldn’t be too long now. Still only two – maybe three – singers. My song is queued up. The intro begins.
Whoops! I’m not ready. Getting my requisite water, and taking a long drag before attempting to sing Evergreen.
Damn! Missed my cue. No problem. Heather is going to back it up, and start over. Happens more often than you’d imagine, and KJs are super-accommodating about helping a singer out.
I wait, microphone in hand, for the song to start again. I wait some more. She’s having technical difficulties.
I give Heather back her mic, and go sit with the Kiltlifter.
Suze tries to help Heather with the equipment. The guy from next door at the other half of Ernie’s comes in and tries to help. Seems the entire sound board is not cooperating. She can’t get the track, and she can’t get any songs, can’t get anything at all to happen. She calls Dwayne Oliverson. Now Dwayne is on his way.
Hmm. Empty joint. No music. I’ve satisfied the rules. Time to go home? Nope. Time to hit up another place. We’d heard about El Dorado from a few friends of ours. It’s just down the street practically. On our way home. So time to check it out. We were definitely not done yet.
El Dorado Bar & Grill in (south) Scottsdale – voted “best neighborhood bar”
El Dorado is a bit of a dive bar. And also a neighborhood bar. I’ve noticed that the dive bars we’ve been to tend to be frequented by those from the neighborhood. But on karaoke nights, they may attract people – like us – seeking an opportunity to sing. Like many neighborhood dive bars, the “neighbors” are pretty friendly, even if you’re not from around there.
The exterior looks non-descript, and the interior too. There is a small stage to the left as you enter. The KJ area is located right next to the stage, further from the front door. (There are other karaoke providers on different nights of the week at the El Dorado, so they may do things differently.) There is a bar off to the right, and further back on the left beyond the stage, there is a pool table. The bar is oval shaped with stools encircling it. There are a few other tables near the entrance, facing the stage. The place is fairly small. While we were there, there were about a dozen people, only a few of which were singing that night. The atmosphere was casual and relaxed.
We were there for karaoke and took a spot near the bar, where there were several tall round tables with stools. Bosco had been on his way to meet us, when we had our change of plans, so he caught up with us at El Dorado. The three of us pored over the binders, and selected songs. I had wanted to sing Evergreen, so I asked the KJ Tammie if she had it.
KJ & Set-up
Tammie is an independent working with her brother, and a very old-school system he had set up. Binders and binders of CDs with karaoke selections on them. The binders we were looking at had lists of songs, with an accompanying code and numbers. This code told Tammie which CD to find from her enormous selection, and which number song from the CD. Very outmoded technology. Most of the KJs we’ve encountered have laptops and everything is digital. They can do a search pretty easily by artist or song title. A few KJs have some pretty interesting set-ups too, but we hadn’t seen anything this outdated. On the up side, Tammie has an eclectic book of songs, and some pretty obscure selections. For example, Southside Johnny. I don’t wish to sing We’re Having a Party, but I was glad to know someone could.
Tammie is personable and friendly, and glad to dig through her portable library to find her Barbra Streisand CD, and yes, she has Evergreen. So I sing that first.
We were there from about 10 pm until midnight, enjoying each other’s company, singing, and drinking too. Next I sang Blue Bayou (Linda Ronstadt), then What’s Up (Four Non Blondes) which was a Bosco request. Before leaving I gave a rousing rendition of Give it away by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
I love rock! But I don’t often sing rock songs – just not my forte. But occasionally, I just like to let it fly. Also, part of the challenge to myself during the karaoke project is to step out of my comfort zone. It was so fun tearing it up, and dancing around on stage. It’s a tough song, because it keeps moving, with little time to catch your breath. Plus it’s not “pretty” like so many of the songs I like to sing. For this performance, no finesse. Just abandon and energy and precision, and…lots more energy. I had FUN.
Rant & Rave
In my karaoke travels, I’ve met a number of regulars. Hell, I’ve even become a regular of a few places. I used to wonder, when I’d go out to bars occasionally in the past, what was the draw (for the regulars). It’s certainly cheaper to drink at home, if it’s the alcohol you’re after. I’ve been drinking a lot more often than I’m used to, and I tell you, it can get expensive. What will keep bringing me back – after the challenge is over? The love of performing, singing for an audience…sure, that’s a big part of it for me. And many – if not most – karaoke fans.
More than that though, it’s the people. I like to hang out with and meet people. And I think that’s true of many others who frequent dive bars, sports bars, restaurant/bars, rock ’n roll bars, country bars, and the odd eclectic bars. Etc.
They – okay, we – want to hang out with other people. Not in our homes, not at our place of work. Someplace where there is nothing to attend to, no responsibilities. Well, except the drinking. You must attend to the drinking, usually. For some, that may be the main thing. But mostly, bars provide a casual social environment to just be around other people.
So I say: Hey, get up off your couch once in a while, and go out and visit a bar. I know it sounds degenerate at first, but your neighbors, diversity, America is out here – just hanging out. Drinking, yes, and smoking, often, but that’s no excuse not to join them. Okay, us. Not only can we get along, but we are getting along. And if you come out for karaoke, there’s always a good time to be found.