Chops is back, karaoke at Red's

If you saw Chops rock Joe Bob's in January, you'll be excited to know they're playing there again Saturday. Guitar player Dapper Dan, keyboard player and vocalist Scott Hart and bassist Dirty Dan will be joined by a new drummer. Hart's wife of 15 years says the drummer, John, plays like Buddy Rich. Chops, named for their bushy sideburns, plays unstoppable classics by Led Zeppelin and Dire Straits, including a sweet "Sultans of Swing." They closed their January show with a wicked version of Jimi Hendrix's "Fire." Call Joe Bob's for details at 883-7799.

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"Hump Day" karaoke at Red's Old 395 Grill is big, bright and happenin'.

For folks unfamiliar with Red's, the early closing time may take some getting used to, but the immense beers, gaudy decor and buoyant, youthful patronage can make those fleeting moments plenty exciting.

On Feb. 5, for example, the only space I could find when I arrived at around 9 p.m. was the corner at the end of the bar by the painting of the zeppelin and the U-boat.

Lifelong singer Cathy Costa of C.C. Karaoke was operating a karaoke scene so energetic, so vital, it made me think of TV shows like "American Idol."

There was the tall guy with a shaved head doing country songs that honestly could have been heard on the radio. This guy, casually sipping beer from a bottle between lines, even had the country voice warble. And counter to what you might expect from a rock star, he was nice. When I stepped up, blushing, for the old standby "Mack the Knife," he and his buddy gave me an unlit cigarette to hold.

"Point with it for accent," he said. "It's all about attitude."

He was right. When I started jabbin' and stabbin' the air with that little white cylinder, I swear I was transformed into a Teen-Wolf Bobby Darin. "Oh the LINE forms ... on the RIGHT, BABE! Now that MACKIEEEE's ... back in town! ("Look out, old Mackie's BACK!")"

It's singers like me that got the starting time pushed back from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Karaoke is good for business at the bar but not in the restaurant, according to Red's manager Ryan Mack ("Look out, old Macky's BACK"). "It's just due to the noise," he said. "People want to come in a have a nice meal."

Karaoke side note: Thanks to Kathy Aguirre, proprietor of Kathy's Someplace Else, 4750 Highway 50 E., who sang a nice 'Happy Birthday To You" for me Friday. The place was packed!


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