A few times a year now as opposed to weekly like when I was a young lass, Mitch and I venture out to sing a few songs at a local bar. We are still exploring the area around us in Washington and other points south of Pittsburgh. We are also old now so instead of going out at 10 pm, if I can find a karaoke bar that starts at 8 pm, I jump up and down. Add the idea of a NONSMOKING environment and this is the trifecta of perfect karaoke. We recently had one of those nights and it got me thinking.
A few weeks ago, I was in line at the local post office where I often find myself and instead of scrolling through FB or IG I am known to engage my fellow waiters into conversation. These are always fun chats. I meet the most interesting humans in lines and it passes the time as well as opens the doors to new friendships. It also gives me a chance to try and spread the word about my personal chef business. I literally carry my business cards in a Seresto collar tin. It is the perfect reuse for something that I hated throwing away. I can’t tell you how confused everyone is when I pull that out of my purse! 😊
One such day I was chatting up the person in line behind me and passing out cards when a stout little smiling man came in and asked about a photocopy machine. He was told there was one up the hill at the Shop n Save.
I happened to glance at what he wanted to copy and saw it was a flyer about karaoke on Wednesdays 8 pm at the Bradford Lounge. I knew exactly where that was. I had toured the George Washington Hotel in the hopes to have Mitch’s upcoming 60th birthday party there but it was sadly booked. This bar was part of that cool old venue.
“Hold it,” I said. “I need a snap of that flyer.” He gladly obliged.
This place is smackdab in the middle of town across the street from the beautiful and historic Washington County courthouse and steps away from Bradford House for which I’m guessing it was named. Festivities for the Whiskey Rebellion are held every summer right in this area. That is a terrific 3-day event full if history, music, storytelling, reenactments including a REAL tar and feathering and endless fun.
Washington like many such towns in the Pittsburgh and surrounding areas have seen some hard times through the last several decades but just in the almost three years that we have lived here, I can see sparks of resurgence happening and I hope a continued trend upward becomes the norm.
We have enjoyed some really tasty meals at several GREAT restaurants in town too but had yet to wet our whistle at this place. I was excited!!!
At 8:05 pm we showed up and ordered drinks. A quick look around the bar showed just 3 others in the place all crowded at the far end of the bar. Mitch told me at that point he thought this was going to be on the boring side where we would sing a couple of songs and quickly go home. That didn’t happen.
I informed the karaoke guy who was set up right at the front of the bar that we were there to sing and he smiled and gave me slips of paper and a pen. OLD SCHOOL is what I thought.
Back in the early days of karaoke, there were actual books, papers and pens all over and you pored over the books and wrote down your song choice titles, the artist’s name and your name and then passed it to the karaoke people and waited your turn. Usually in every karaoke place I go, people are shy or need a drink or two to sing, so I start the karaoke, but this place was different. People kept arriving and adding their songs to the lineup and list. I was 3rd in the rotation and everyone was WONDERFUL. We quickly made friends, started sharing business cards and cheering each other on. What we loved SO much was the many different kinds of songs everyone was singing. It was glorious because this group was all folks in their 50-60s I would guess and the music and talent was incredible. NOT that karaoke is about being good, but it certainly makes it more interesting when the singer can hold a tune and he or she chooses really cool music.
Who knew we would be in the company of Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, Dennis DeYoung from Styx and more legends of the good old days?
The bartender who as soon as we started singing seemed to be a bit more generous on my pour, (Mitch was driving) came up and helped me sing The Chain by Fleetwood Mac. She just ran around the bar, grabbed onto the mic and started belting it out with me. I was thrilled she loved the song as much as I did. The fact I had never sung that song in public before is amazing. I keep waiting for more members of the band ( I have yet to find a Lindsey Buckingham) to show up and sing with me, but since karaoke has all the backup vocals, it was high time. What a thrill!!!
During the next three hours, I did more Stevie Nicks, some Walking After Midnight from Patsy Cline, sang a little Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and more Fleetwood Mac. It was an old time karaoke night for me which I adore. Mitch sang a great Rolling Stones tune, some Mark Cohn, Tom Petty and rocked the whole place.
The lady sitting next to us who sang some fun songs too wanted to tell me about her teenage years going to concerts at the Meadows, a local racetrack that has entertainment. I can’t even imagine what the place was like in the 50s! She regaled me about a night when she was a teenager and saw the Platters, the Drifters and The Coasters together and seeing the Beach Boys in her youth too. I loved hearing her fun musical memories.
Everyone there shared stories of the bands that all have played in or still play with and the great musical acts they have seen. The gigantic smiles of everyone there was a sure sign everyone was connecting through music.
Being the only child of a single mother, I often stayed home by myself while she worked. I played her records over and over and learned about singing harmony from the Mamas and The Papas, practiced my Soprano with Barbra Streisand and am still haunted by the song Suzanne by Judy Collins.
The thousands of hours I spent listening over and over to those records seriously created the foundation for my musical tastes today.
I could recite albums front to back, and would never tire of listening to music. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, music is my favorite thing and for my 40th birthday I had help creating a double CD of my favorite songs to gift all the party guests. One CD was For the Heart and included love songs and the other was For the Feet and a dance compilation. I borrowed that idea from the late George Michael.
For my 50th birthday party, I made a thumb-drive with my favorite 50 songs of all time with MP3 files.
I wonder what technology will exist for my 60th. I am already thinking of what that musical gift will be and jotting down long forgotten tunes.
#musicmemories #singkaraoke #karaokerocks