I was late for karaoke at the Dayton Inn after locking myself out of my flat at the St. Charles on Valentine's Day. I walked in the Inn at about 10 p.m. and found a rollicking good time.
Rich and Natalie Blaver were spinning discs on their Yamaha 620 PA mixer, while Russell Clausson was doing a mean "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" on the Shure 58 microphone -- the "workhorse of the industry."
I was impressed by the 24 long-stemmed roses that Inn owner Joe Sbragia had purchased at Bloomers floral for the women.
Clausson was croonin' "Badder than old King Kong, meaner than a junkyard dog" honkytonk style when Donna Sbragia, Joe's wife, came through the door behind the bar and let out a piercing two-finger whistle in front of the "Osama bin Laden: Wanted dead or alive" poster.
Later, seven women sang "Love Shack" on four microphones with Rich Blaver, who doubles as P.E. teacher at Dayton Intermediate School, singing the male lead. When Billy Brown took over, there must have been 11 or 12 women -- the most I've ever seen on one karaoke song. "You're WHAT??! -- TIN ROOF! Rusted!"
With the enthusiasm in the place positively overflowing, not one but TWO locomotion dance trains started moving around the bar. I swear they didn't pay me to write that. The fact is, karaoke at the Dayton Inn rocks.
Donna Sbragia calls the inn the "oldest family-owned and operated" bar in Dayton. It was built by Joe's parents in 1956, and has never left the family, she says. Joe and Donna have been married for 16 years. "Seventeen, come July," says Donna. "It's like a prison sentence," she joked. "Every time I come up for parole, he turns me down."
With the jar of pickled eggs behind the bar and rainbow disco lights rotating around the walls, Jen Dillie stepped up to do "I'm Real" by Jennifer Lopez.
"Jen's like by far the best one," said Paul Carrion, an engineering student at UNR ,who works for Bentley Nevada. Carrion made the drive out from Carson to be with friends.
Steve Fiddler, who moved to Dayton after he met his wife on the Internet, agrees the place is friendly. "Every Friday night, young or old, we all get along like we're family."
Rich Blaver, who went to school with Judge Bill Maddox and played in a band called the Moonshiners from 1961 to 1965, gets a kick out of tweaking his equipment to improve the sound for each singer. He'll raise the mike up or lower the volume for low reverb. "It's just like serving the customer better," he says. "It's really fun when you get the sound right on."
"All right, how's everybody doin'?!" hollered Billy Brown as an intro to Bachman Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business." "Are you all ready to party? Yeah! Right here in beautiful downtown Dayton at the D.I.!"
Karaoke is offered Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to midnight. The "D.I." is at Highway 50 East and Dayton Valley Road. Call 246-5666.