The End of an Era: KJ Paul’s final night at El Rio

KJ Paul El Rio Final Night

Sure, I can get my karaoke kicks elsewhere. And KJ Paul will find a new home for his KJ-ing. But there was something truly special about Wednesday nights at El Rio with KJ Paul. He brought every type of person into one room mid-week to belt their hearts out. There were no barriers, no stage – just a space and a microphone and everyone crowded around you.

I didn’t do karaoke before I found KJ Paul. I thought it was stupid. I thought it was scary. Then one night in 2011 I found myself in El Rio with a bunch of new friends, and I found a new confidence along with a home where we would all come together every week and not give a shit. There were also always the fixtures, who I think of as KJ Paul All-Stars. These people are pictured below and are just a few of the characters that made this night so special, whether it was with their impressive chops, their erratic dance moves, or just their natural charisma. El Rio on Wednesdays was a community of friends and strangers who all found their happy place singing along with KJ Paul, and it will be missed by many.

King Dusty El Rio

Mike C El Rio

Viola El Rio

Juicey El Rio

Chauncey El RIo

karaoke heartthrob

Lights, fog and magic with KJ Paul

I hadn’t been out to El Rio for KJ Paul Karaoke in a few months, so when I went last night my mind was blown. KJ Paul has seriously upped his game by adding in multiple wild disco lights and a fog machine, which makes singing feel way cooler than it already is. And if you’re nice to him he may even give you the remote to blast the fog freely. So fun.

'Whoever Stole The Goddamned Microphone, Shame On Yo' Ass'

This was the unfortunate scene at Nap’s III last Friday night. They eventually moved on, but it turned out some drunk chick ran off with the mic to the back patio and returned it just in time for her song. I guess she didn’t like duets.

When I raise enough money to start the next franchise (Nap’s IV) I’ll probably stick to non-wireless microphones.

Striped Shirt Boy Has Mass Appeal

On a nondescript Sunday at the 500 Club, one particular karaoke crooner’s artful rendition of a George Michael song managed to attract the attention of members of both sexes, so much so that they each posted competing Missed Connections vying for his affection.

He must be doing something right!  Team Vag fired the first salvo:

500 Club karaoke – boy in the striped shirt – w4m (mission district)

i liked the way you sang george michael.

i was with my roommate and we split really fast when we realized we were running late to a show.

wish i would have talked to you.

i was the one in the white dress.

p.s. i’ve never posted here before. yikes.

Sensing that the opportunity was slipping way, Team Penis finally got on the board later that night:

Singing George Michael at 500 club on Sunday – m4m – 25 (mission district)

You were singing George Michael at 500 club on Sunday. I’m shy and wearing a green sweater — which is why I didn’t say hi. Email me if you want to grab a drink at 500 club sometime.

No need to fight!  I’m sure there’s plenty of him to go around.  And I wouldn’t have said hi either if I was wearing a green sweater.  The point is that I think it’s safe to say that striped shirts are back (though neither poster specifies vertical or horizontal–this is important, people!).

Stay tuned for more hyper-hyper-hyper-local news!

[Photo (probably not of boy in question) by Scott Annechino, karaoke photographer extraordinaire]

Let's Talk Karaoke

I have mixed feelings about Nap’s 3 karaoke night, which takes place on Fridays and Saturdays.

"When's it my turn? Wouldn't I love; love to explore that world up above? Out of the sea; Wish I could be; Part of that world"

On the one hand, the bar has a refreshing clientele of alcoholic old-timers who aren’t too proud to high-five the oddly-dressed young folks who happen into the place. Rarely was there more than a 3-song wait before your time to shine. Also, the exceedingly jolly KJ has a kick-ass raspy, soulful croon.

No, really. How deep is it?

On the other hand, their book is rife with glaring song duplicates and some surprising omissions. No Huey Lewis And The News or Boyz II Men? Every Tom Jones song except for “What’s New Pussycat” and “It’s Not Unusual”? I can think of 20 Nirvana songs I’d want to sing before their only suggestion: “All Apologies”. I didn’t check if they had Sinatra’s “My Way”, but maybe that’s best left unknown. Furthermore, the bar had a baffling “no beer, just $7 cocktails” last call policy.

So what’s the best place for karaoke in the Mission? Good karaoke spots are a delicate balance of a good song book, stiff drinks, not too many intimidatingly talented regulars (e.g. the Mel-o-dee, El Cerrito), and not too popular so you can actually get some songs in.

My vote might have to go to Amnesia’s Tuesday Rock-Out! Karaoke with Glenny Kravitz. I went a couple of months ago and have never seen so much spontaneous broomstick-air-guitar in my life. Although, who knows if the lines are still short.