Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Karaoke review: White Rock Sports Bar and Six Flags over Texas
Robert Brooks tells the tale of his ongoing karaoke exploits.
I’m trying not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I want to do a large-scale writeup of every karaoke night, but all I end up with for my efforts is a half-written draft on my desktop, and nothing on the blog. So here’s the first installment of a hopefully-frequent blog entry: Quick Hits, a short review of my most recent karaoke exploits.
White Rock Sports Bar (second Friday of the month)
As I noted in the last Inbox Update, Carmen Gulledge (famous for Sundays at The Goat) sent me a note to tell me about her upcoming monthly gig at White Rock Sports Bar — I was a little fuzzy on the name, but it was right where Carmen said it would be. Being fuzzy on the name led to an interesting situation, though ... I didn’t catch the “Bar” part, so it was just a little dicey bringing the kids. It was me, Bibi, my son, and also Delilah and her daughter Vanessa — but inside the building, there wasn’t any problem.
The singing was great, and Carmen was a wonderful Karaoke hostess as usual. I didn’t get a chance to sample the drinks, though I was encouraged by the fact that they *don’t* have drink specials. That should hopefully mean that all the drinks are priced fairly. It’s not a dinner destination, though — the menu is exclusively bar food. Cheese fries were free of any garnish or spices, and a grilled chicken salad would have been better off without the salad part.
The show started at 8:30, but the crowd didn’t start building until late. In fact, it seemed really empty until we were heading out — everyone was on the patio, smoking. Bibi went out ahead of us and experienced one of the reasons most bars kick out the kids after 9 p.m. ... grownups behaving badly. She saw one lady who was quite enamored of her well-endowed bosoms, which inspired her tablemate (who may or may not have been an acquaintance *before* applying alcohol) to check them out for himself, with his hands down her blouse. Ahem. Perhaps it’s better to let the grownups be immature on their own and just keep taking the kids to shows like Paradise Burger Company.
Six Flags Over Texas (every day the park is open)
The next day was my son’s annual middle school band trip to Six Flags over Texas. Like last year, he rode the rides and I sang karaoke. But this year, my fiancee Bibi was with me, which made for a much more enjoyable time. We even rode some rides — nothing wilder than the Mine Train, though, because I hate drops and she’s just not into rollercoasters any more. But we kept coming back to the karaoke pavilion, along the walkway from the Oil Derrick to the Texas Giant, in front of the Yosemite Sam/Bugs Bunny kiddie ride.
Gone was the promise of Dance Dance Revolution — the sign was gone, and the Six Flags Karaoke sign was now front and center. DDR at Six Flags was an idea that probably sounded good at the time, but would have been a sweaty mess even if they’d been able to keep the pads working. Hardcore players would be perfectly happy playing DDR at the arcade — it was in surprisingly good condition, and I even drew an unexpected crowd for my dance. One caveat: The life meter is set to drop extremely fast.
The focus on karaoke also included changes to the stage area. They removed the decorative blocks that previously occupied half the gazebo, and replaced them with a faux light bar in the back. The DJ station was moved to the main gazebo entrance, next to the sign in sheet. A more organized line had been set up for viewing the book and signing up, and the book itself had been replaced with a new one ordered by song name instead of artist. The process worked even more smoothly than last year.
There was still no place to sit, though. Which was too bad, because this year there were several high school choir groups at the park — and did they put on a show! Several times, the other choir members would line-dance behind the singers, and the singers themselves were fearless. One teenage boy sang the theme songs from “Pocahontas” and “The Little Mermaid” — in a lilting falsetto that was both amazing and hilarious. That sort of experimentation went on all day.
I went on right after “The Little Mermaid” singer ... and it was a good thing I did. Me and Bibi saw “Ring My Bell,” the cute ‘70s song (the only hit by Anita Ward), and signed up to do it together. But by the time our spot came around, Bibi realized that she didn’t really know the words, so she persuaded me to go on by myself. I started and sang the first few notes low, but it just didn’t work at all — I had to go high.
Maybe it was the influence of the singer before me, but I managed to sing the whole song in falsetto. I’ve never dared to try that on the Karaoke stage before! Bibi said it sounded great ... and in fact, she thought it sounded much better than my low-end growl, the other vocal technique I’ve picked up from karaoke. We talked about making some stylistic changes to prevent me from singing a song like “Careless Whisper” (George Michael) at a full forte all the way through. And I’m working on some new songs that I’d considered to be out of my range ... until that kid sang the “Little Mermaid” song.
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