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

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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?

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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.

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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.

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To sum up:

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

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