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Karaoke — A cultural phenomenon of Carson

Karl Horeis

According to a history of karaoke published in Karaoke Scene Magazine, singing along to music with the vocals removed originated in a snack bar the Kansai area of western Japan about 20 years ago.

It has now become quite popular in the Carson City area. So popular, in fact, that it takes up about half of the items listed on the Appeal’s “ongoing events” calendar.

Appeal staff writer Rhonda Costa-Landers, known to many readers through the Raiders Booster Club, maintains that calendar, and when I asked her about the Carson karaoke scene, she was happy to help.

We discovered that the popular pastime for closet vocalists is offered at area watering holes everyday except Monday and Sunday — until you include Kathy’s Someplace Else. Kathy’s, you see, has karaoke every day. Maybe we should call her “Kansai Kathy.”

“Karaoke” is a Japanese abbreviated compound word, according to Karaoke Scene. “Kara” comes from “karappo” meaning “empty,” and “oke” is the abbreviation of “okesutura,” or “orchestra.”

With the dominance of the “empty orchestra” scene in town and having been recently invigorated by a session behind the mike in the way Japan’s corporate soldiers do, I decided to take a closer look at karaoke in Carson City.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll sample karappo-okestura offerings on Hump Day at Red’s Old 395, on Fridays and Saturdays with Rich and Natalie Blaver and on Tuesdays Family Karaoke with Psycho Attitude at Joe Bob’s Roadhouse.

In order to test each venue’s capabilities, I’ll perform three songs from three genres: Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife,” Young MC’s “Bust A Move” and “All Shook Up” by the King. Time and availability permitting, bonus tracks may include “Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot or “Travelin’ Man” by the Allman Brothers.

Each week, I’ll give a review of one karaoke setup, considering DJ skill and stage presence, technical quality of the equipment (sound quality, readability of the TV screen, etc.) and other factors like lights, food and drink specials and audience enthusiasm.

Venues so far on my list are Joe Bob’s Roadhouse,1510 Hot Springs Road, 883-7799; Cheers, 3680 Goni Road, 882-0772; Mo and Sluggo’s on W. Telegraph St., 885-1888; Mr. Poor’s Roadhouse Restaurant and Cockpit Lounge, 2600 Graves Lane, 883-4363; Comma Coffee , 312 S. Carson St., 883-2662; Red’s Old 395 Grill, S. 1055 Carson St., 887-0395; Kathy’s Someplace Else, 4750 Highway 50 East, 882-6565; and Dayton Inn at Highway 50 East and Dayton Valley Road, 246-5666. Please call if you know of another venue.

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Other items this week:

— The Motifs perform at the Carson Nugget Show Lounge, 501 N. Carson St., from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. today, Thursday and Sunday, and 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Call 882-1626.

— Chazz performs through Saturday at the Carson Valley Inn Cabaret Lounge, 1627 Highway 395, Minden. Call 782-9711.

— Groove Fact’ry performs at Joe Bob’s Roadhouse tomorrow and Friday at 9 p.m. No cover charge, but drinks go up 50 cents during the music. Call 883-7799

— Dean Everett Band performs Saturday at 9 p.m., and Bobby Joe and Blues Groove perform every Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Daddy Dick’s Tavern. Call 885-0558.

Karl Horeis can be reached at 881-1219.