Like anyone with an embarrassing social disease, I am loathe to admit it, but I have caught the karaoke fever that is running rampant through Covington.
If you plan to be in this area any time soon, take heed. Avoid other infected persons, especially contestants, and steer clear of late-night music clubs altogether. If you must enter a music venue, under NO circumstances should you pick up a microphone that has been handled by other victims and sing into it. If you do this, consider your fate sealed.
I can only claim ignorance as the excuse for my own downfall, as I had no idea that when I stepped into Rock n Blues a couple of weeks ago that I was stepping into a veritable petri dish of karaoke contagion.
I was part of a group going in support of our young friend Sarah, who is also my kids’ babysitter, in the finals of an eight-week karaoke contest. Sarah is a recent graduate of SCAD in textile design who spins yarn on her own spinning wheel, hosts a weekly “stitch and bitch” at the coffee shop downtown, and is thinking of pursuing a career in make-up artistry in the ever burgeoning local film industry. To the delight of my children, she sometimes practices on both them and herself and then creates weird photo shoots in which she makes bubbles appear in front of our fireplace using some kind of magic cell phone technology.
I had no idea she was a singer, too.
Her performance of “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion in the preliminaries, for which she sported wet hair and a life-preserver, won her a place in the finals and a chance at a $100 bar tab. For her big number she decided to go with a long, gold lame’ dress and Whitney’s ever popular “I Will Always Love You” accompanied by unrestrained fluttering “diva hands” and a few deep knee bends.
She was awesome, and we let the judges know it in the audience participation category. Her competition consisted of a white rapper — extremely rare in our parts, a young lady in a hoodie who looked shocked that she had talked herself onto a stage in front of so many people — and another bartender pal of ours who was so into it (possibly karaoke fever had gone to her brain) that she kept referring to the audience as “you f-ing people” and dropping all kinds of expletive bombs in aggressive, Tourette’s-like, karaoke frenzy. It was all most entertaining and infectious.
So much so that after Sarah won and graciously bestowed drinks on all of us and her competitors with her bar tab winnings, my friend Mark and I decided that we, too, should take to the stage.
Now let me first say that Mark is the guitarist with the Gray Hawk Band and a very talented musician, and I have been known to engage in a duet of “Moon River” with Mr. Roy, the 78-year-old proprietor of the knife and archery shop down the street who plays guitar at all of our art openings. My point is that we are not totally inexperienced introverts.
Mark wanted to do “Hello” by Lionel Richie, and I was adamant that it be “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure. By a happy coincidence, the DJ was a member of the Arts Commission with me, and allowed us the very rare opportunity — really unheard of in karaoke circles — of singing two in a row. “Hello” went over well, despite Mark spontaneously deciding to get down on one knee and do some kind of spoken-word version, leaving me to do the actual singing all alone.
The big surprise was “Just Like Heaven,” which met with such enthusiasm from audience members that we ended up with a back-up singer and another rather large man who bounded onto the stage and decided he should share my microphone. So we finished up the last stanza cheek-to-feverish-sweaty-cheek, reeling in the intoxicating noise of audience participation, and three more victims of the karaoke fever bit the dust.
To quote from Diana Ross’ “Love hangover,” which seems apropos on so many levels: “If there’s a cure for this, I don’t want it!”
KARAOKE IN COVINGTON: