Day 19 – June 26th at Rum Runners in north Phoenix
Rum Runners – Pirate Bar
Okay, so maybe you’ve read about our visit to the Gypsy Bar (Day 18) where we met the memorable Mystic Molly.
Tonight, we’re off to Rum Runners – which just happens to be Molly’s regular off-duty bar. I had of course told her of my quest (the 22 days of karaoke). She knew I’d be at her hang out – Rum Runners, a pirate bar – the next day. So Yay! I was welcomed warmly when I arrived.
Yet, the reason we had selected Rum Runners is because an old high school chum of Suze’s, Nora, had invited us. It is her regular karaoke bar too. Yay! More people to welcome me! Thanks, Nora.
I say welcome me, because it turns out that Suze was tied up that night, very busy until late. A story in itself. Unfortunately, she never made it to join me at Rum Runners that night. Boo! So ended her karaoke-dokey adventure with 16 days of successful successive karaoke. Oh, she joins me on the last few days of my 22, but her streak was interrupted on this night.
Red carpet welcome
When I arrived, I saw Molly outside smoking, with a few friends. In fact, just about all present at this small dive bar are friends of Molly. She introduced me to everyone including owner Debbie, and showed me to a table, where she had saved a spot for me. I am touched, and want to join them. However, I had to find Nora, as she was also waiting for me. I located her shortly, and we took our seats near Molly and company. Everyone is friendly, and I feel right at home.
Nora wondered, “How do you know everyone?” I can’t really explain it. I had only met Molly yesterday, but apparently we had both made an impression on one another (see Day 18!). I was glad to be welcomed to her bar, her neighborhood, and into her entourage, if even for one night. I must say too that Nora was sweet to look after me, and though we missed having Suze with us, had a good time hanging out.
Okay, as far as décor this bar is pretty typical of the dive bar variety. There is a pool table near the front door. There is a long bar along one side of the room lined with fifteen tall stools. As the bar fills up, so do these seats, with almost a dozen regulars. There are about five tall round tables in the center of the room. Along the other side of the room is a shuffle board. And the restrooms are in the back. It’s a small, narrow space, filled with friendly patrons who mostly know each other.
One notable distinction. Rum Runners is crazy for signage. On every wall, in the bathrooms, and even the ceiling. Some are informative and some are humorous. Some advertise and some warn: for example, no drama will be tolerated. And they serve all customers, but will choose which of us are customers, and which are not. Okay. I will be on my best behavior.
KJ and Set-Up:
The KJ is a lovely gentleman named Thom. He is the second person I know personally to use the “h” in his nickname. He has a resonant and robust baritone voice, and specializes in Neil Diamond songs. Sounds great singing other selections too.
Thom has binders like most KJs, and singers write their selections onto slips of paper. He also doesn’t mind if you ask him directly, as he looks up your songs on his laptop. His console is set up in the corner, beyond the tables, and across from the bar. One monitor is perched above the KJ area, another one above the bar, and a third above the shuffleboard. No worries – you can pretty much see a monitor from almost anywhere in the bar. It’s compact in there, so find a spot to sing, plant yourself, and hold your ground.
Singers and Songs
At first there are only about six or seven singers in rotation. As it got later, a few more singers showed up. However, I was able to sing an unprecedented seven songs that night, including two duets. Whoo-hoo!
Nora had been following my blog, and was aware of the karaoke-dokey rules I’ve imposed upon myself. She was determined to follow the rules along with me. So we danced, and we sang a duet together: The Beat Goes On (Sonny and Cher). I got to sing Sonny’s part. Both parts are in a low range, so it hardly mattered. Plus I can be flexible. Why not?
I also sang several new songs (for me): Wild Horses (the Rolling Stones), Take a Bow (Madonna), and New York State of Mind (Billy Joel). I wasn’t wild about my rendition of Wild Horses, but Take a Bow has become one of my favorites. I also love New York State of Mind, but it is rather long.
I started off with one of my clinchers, I’ll Stand by You (Chrissie Hynde), and sang another later, Ooh Baby Baby (Smokey Robinson). There was so much opportunity to sing that I couldn’t resist. I also got the chance to sing a duet with KJ Thom! – You Don’t Bring Me Flowers. That was fun.
New voices and new faces
Molly and her friends all sing well, and that just made the night more engaging. A really friendly and fun group of people. Of course, we cheer everyone who’s taking the microphone. That is after paying attention in the usual looking-as-if-you’re-doing-something-else-entirely karaoke crowd style. And this being a bar, drinking was also on the agenda. I can’t say I indulged much that night, but let me put this another way: this is a fun group of people.
I also had a good time getting to know Nora. She’s another one with a nice voice, both sweet and powerful. But it was weird with no Suze. She was definitely missed. Suze and I would have to come back another time, together. During my stay at the pirate bar, my BFF Teresa stopped by to give me support in my on-going karaoke ventures. However, she stayed only a short while, and left without singing or drinking. ‘Tis a shame.
I suppose this will be a night of making new friends. I’m fine with that.
Rum Runners is a cool place, if you give it a chance, and leave your drama at the door. There is much good karaoke fun to be had, and a lively crowd to share good times with. As I left, I said good-bye to a small group of drunken smokers outside on a bench. Molly was there amongst them. It was where I first encountered her that night, although she was closer to sober earlier. It is a bit of a drive for me, but I vowed to return. There are many dive bars, and many offer karaoke. Some other bars may have a group of people who like to party on a Wednesday night. At Rum Runners, they took me in and made me feel welcome. A pirate’s life for me!