Tags Posts tagged with "karaoke"


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John Curran performs at the Ritz, and also hosts karaoke at the Island Bar and Grille. – Photo by Tom Stevens

We’re all guilty of singing when no one is looking — the shower, the car — but how about stepping onstage in front of strangers, or even worse, friends, and belting out an old classic? Thankfully, there’s a venue for that. Some of your favorite Island hotspots feature regular karaoke sessions, where the live entertainment is our favorite guilty pleasure: people watching.

The Ritz in Oak Bluffs holds weekly “Stupid Fun Karaoke Nights” on Monday. The show starts at 9:30 pm and goes all night; we’ve heard it gets really good after 11:30. The night is usually capped off with a heartfelt community singalong to a classic by Journey, Elton John, or Billy Joel. MC Tom Stevens has fun, and has created his own alter ego to go along with it.

Owners of the Ritz, Larkin and Jackie Stallings, sing along. – Photo by Tom Stevens
Owners of the Ritz, Larkin and Jackie Stallings, sing along. – Photo by Tom Stevens

Luckily for novice singers at the Ritz, Tom has a background in music and recording, so he’s likely to make you sound better than you actually do. “If the people can’t sing, I give them more reverb or delay and bring the levels down; I’m focusing on the overall sound,” said Tom. “But the worst are the people that can’t sing and don’t know it.” Touché, Tom.

Next door at the Island Bar & Grille, also on Circuit Avenue, weekly karaoke kicks off this Thursday, May 21, with new MC John Curran. John has his own karaoke business, Shining Star Karaoke, and he formerly hosted the Island’s own shining stars at the P.A. Club. John brings 20 years of karaoke experience, and will be organizing a weekly, summer-long Vineyard’s Got Talent contest; the top three will be announced at the end of the season. Contestants will be judged on vocal ability, stage presence, and interpretation. It’s time to start practicing.

If you’re looking to sing your heart out in Edgartown, veteran Island entertainer Dan Cassidy hosts a karaoke show at the Wharf every Friday night (summer schedule may vary). Prior to the Wharf, Dan and John Tiernan, a.k.a. “Johnny Showtime,” used to MC at Season’s, so he knows his stuff. The two have hosted karaoke at the Wharf together over the years, and have made some good memories. “There was one time I got up to sing to get the night going, and I found out later that Kirsten Dunst was in the audience … she didn’t stick around,” said Dan. He appreciates his usual cast of local regulars, and likes to have fun with tourists too. “When people are down on vacation, they want to have their chance for a Vineyard memory, so it’s important, whether you’re a regular or here on vacation, you get your chance.”


You can check out some epic photos from the Ritz’s karaoke nights on their Facebook page at facebook.com/theritzmarthasvineyard. To find out more about John Curran’s Shining Star Karaoke, visit vineyardkaraoke.com or call 575-538-1169.


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Joyce Wagner, Overthinking.
Joyce Wagner, Overthinking.

Joyce Wagner is a freelance writer and author of the book, “Random Overthoughts: The Best (Give or Take) of the Humor Column ‘Overthinking.’” She resides in West Tisbury and is currently at work on two historical novels. Once a week, she will ponder certain Island truths and institutions in “Overthinking.”

Raise your hand if you remember Karaoke at the Atlantic Connection. Hmmm. How about at Season’s? Anyone?

About twenty years ago, I used to meet three of my women friends weekly for Bad Singingstock at Seasons. Not regular churchgoers, and needing a uvular outlet, we carpooled, two and two, every Wednesday night. One would scurry in to secure a table and snatch a handful of the Xeroxed and third-cut slips of paper where we’d write our names and our choice of song. A plastic-enclosed song list already sat on each table. The first in got first choice.

Right around eight, the lights dimmed and we’d pull out reading glasses, pens and a flashlight. The list was in mice type, it was dark, and they only supplied one pencil per table. We knew each other’s preferences, as well as the other regulars’ and seldom chose a tune that we considered “reserved.” If, however, a regular didn’t show up, his or her song was fair game. We’d time our drinking, sipping more quickly at the beginning of the evening to fortify our courage, then carefully rationing to maintain our false bravery without becoming too drunk to read the lyrics.

Our favorite was “Copacabana” by Barry Manilow. One of us sang the lead, while the other three squeezed behind her on the tiny platform for back-up. We had the moves. We didn’t have the voices.

Some of the regulars were five or six special needs people and they usually performed as a group. Because their reading skills were usually not follow-along worthy, it was purely accidental if one sang a word or note at the same time as another. One of us would frequently join them, singing loudly in an attempt to corral the dissonance into a cohesive whole. Although that didn’t often work, the attending year-rounders would applaud as if it were John Denver himself performing “Country Roads.” The tourists turned to each other with confounded expressions. “It wasn’t that good,” they’d whisper to each other.

A guy named Mike, now long gone from the Island, presided over the proceedings. I don’t know what they paid him, but it wasn’t enough. There were many participants who might be referred to as “Perpetually Displeased.” He didn’t call them up soon enough. He called them too soon. He let someone else sing their song even though their slip was in first. He supplied the first note, even though they knew it or he didn’t help them get on key when he should have. When there was a contest, it was never fair. “I was much better than her,” someone would complain. “I think he’s dating her,” someone else would snipe. Please. We were all bad. The contest frequently came down to who wasn’t too drunk or awful.

I won – once. It was a total surprise because I know I am not a good singer. “Oh, you’re just being modest,” you pooh-pooh. No. Although I have my days, it’s pretty much agreed upon that I will never be a famous warbler unless bad singing suddenly becomes a trend. I have a half-octave range and I don’t know how to use it.

I won because I was funny. When I mounted the stage to sing, I said something like, “That’s a hard act to follow. I guess the best I can hope for is Miss Congeniality.” (And now you heard that line and I can’t use it again.) Also, it was a slow night, and the only other person who came close to qualifying had won the last three weeks in a row. But I agreed to believe I won for singing talent.

The prize was, get this, dinner for one at Seasons. Of course you’re going to bring someone else. Clever, these Americans.