PART II – Day 11 – June 18th
(in Mesa & Chandler)
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.
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.
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.