Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Karaoke Chronicles: The Eighth Night of Russmas

The Eighth Night of Russmas experienced an eleventh hour surprise, as I decided to change the scheduled venue from Westside Bar & Grill in Costa Mesa to Loffler's Sports Bar and Grill in Anaheim. My usual karaoke crew and I have already been to Westside, hosted by our favorite K.J. Kevin, and since we were excited to see him at Durty Nelly's the next night, I figured why drive to south Orange County when there's so much undiscovered karaoke country in our own backyard? Considering Loffler's, "country" was the right word, indeed.

A few friends were already at Loffler's when my girlfriend and I arrived, and they quickly warned us of the country music trend sweeping the karaoke stage -- and claimed that we just missed an entertaining bar brawl. When they left, the tide started to turn toward different genres, and I decided to turn in Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer," a karaoke standard that straddles country western appeal and the rest of the country. I spent the wait before my performance marveling at the size of the joint; Loffler's is its own building, unlike some of the strip mall dives we've recently frequented, complete with two bars if the crowd demanded it. Later a friend mused that the extra space could be utilized for line dancing, a probable deduction considering the country-friendly crowd. They like their open spaces.

Also, I couldn't help but notice the K.J.'s enthusiasm, particularly manifested in her introductions for each singer. She announced the next person to the stage like a D.J. throws to a song on the radio: "And now, singing Bon Jovi's 1986 hit 'Livin' on a Prayer' . . . Russ!" Some might not appreciate having their tune revealed prior to their performance, often as a crowd's collective woot for their song choice is almost as satisfying as performing the song itself, but I appreciated that the K.J. utilized her time in front of the mic effectively this way, rather than by inserting herself into the rotation. She scored her fifteen minutes (spread out into several fifteen seconds), the singers just kept comin'. For me, that's an answered prayer.

As a humorous aside: I opted not to sing the final few "woh-oh's" during the songs fade-out, as I was suffered from a bit of a cold and I didn't want to threaten future nights of Russmas with a sore throat. My girlfriend told me afterward that the chick sitting at the table in front of us uttered a "Whaaat?" when I passed up the guttural exclamations. Dare I remember you, karaoke literally means "empty orchestra," and I'll fill that void any way I please, but I do take comfort that some still treasure the sanctity of a song's original performance. As the song's title implies, "Livin' on a Prayer" is darn near gospel, at least by way of karaoke -- no matter what temple you decide to sing it in.

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