Monday, June 05, 2006

Back From Outer Space

My wife and I started new jobs on the same day in March and it has been an absolute time warp up to now. For me, I started with a company that I knew no one inside. For my wife, she started back as a professional for the first time since before she was pregnant with our son - nearly six years ago. For a little while we went into survival mode but Memorial Day weekend really marked a point where we've all gotten into our grooves and we're starting to create some time and space for ourselves (as they say in the NHL).

And what a better way to blow off some stress than to help my brother-in-law close down Armida's karaoke bar in Denver. Twice.

My brother-in-law lives in Wisconsin and works on a dairy farm. His girlfriend toured the world with a reggae band and has since become a bar favorite around the upper peninsula of Michigan. I've witnessed the jaw-dropping reaction she gets in bars up there... unfortunately, "jaw-dropping" is not the reaction we got when we took the mic but at least I've managed to expand my karaoke horizons.

The first time I ever karaoked I did just one song: Blister in the Sun by the Violent Femmes. I decided to start off with that one again just to get my legs under me. Unlike some bars that have karaoke off in the corner, Armida's is built around it. You're up front and on stage. So it definitely helps to drop a drink or two and pick a song you can channel, or one where you only have to sound like Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes. The other subtle point I learned is that there are a few songs that are bar favorites and you can't go wrong by taking a shot; it's smart to get the crowd on your side early. Case in point, my next song was Brandy (you're a fine girl) by Looking Glass. This is a song that I didn't nail but can certainly dial in on. And, after having won over the bar with my opener, had two random young ladies grinding me on stage (which actually threw me off because, c'mon, Brandy's just not a grinding song). Then there's the closer. In a crowded bar, this is the one that everyone's pretty much drunk for. And again, for some reason I can do Turning Japanese by the Vapors halfway decently - which is all you really need for the closer. Champagne Supernova by Oasis, though slightly off-topic lyrically, was thrown in there somewhere as well...

The next outing wasn't nearly as successful but nonetheless fun. My set included: Tainted Love by Soft Cell, Everything to Everyone by Everclear, and Turning Japanese again in a desperate attempt to win back a portion of the bar. Along the way I took note of such bar favorites as Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi, Santeria by Sublime, Centerfold by J. Geils Band, and Creep by Radiohead. Look out Michigan, I'll be touring the UP this summer!