Crazy For Karaoke

Giving dreams a voice and melody

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Before the video game Rock Band existed, there was a simpler and cheaper way to get down and let your vocal cords free -- karaoke.

Not for the bashful, karaoke is a time to strut your singing skills and flaunt your ability to read lines off a TV screen to the tune of your favorite song.

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Cari and Greg Day sing harmony during a karaoke night at Main Street Grille.

Karaoke DJ Steve Stevens sets his equipment up every Thursday night at the Main Street Grille, Fridays at the Elks Lodge and Saturdays at the Moose Lodge.

Stevens said his shows are all about letting people sing. He avoids singing the whole night himself or playing dance music.

"People that really want to sing gravitate to my shows," he said.

Stevens said a lot of DJs hog the spotlight.

"Part of the reason I got into it was because I am a singer and I was frustrated in going to shows and seeing the karaoke DJ sing the whole time," Stevens said. "I start the evening off and then I back off."

On a typical night at Main Street Grille, 25 people come to sing. There are also those who come just to listen, Stevens said.

Most singers are regulars, who have their favorite songs.

Chris Kirkingburg, 20, who has been singing karaoke for a year, said he comes every week to Main Street Grille and always sings Poison's "Every Rose Has a Thorn."

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Cari and Greg Day leave the work of running their own restaurant, Macky's Grill, to have some fun at a neighboring eatery, Main Street Grille during karaoke night.

"That is my song," Kirkingburg said. "No one can sing it better."

Kirkingburg said he has dreams of auditioning for "American Idol" next year.

"Multiple people have said I should do it," he said. "And it's the crowd that makes the singer."

And at Main Street Grille the crowd gets into the song as much as the singers, often singing along.

"I don't think it is impolite to sing along," Stevens said. "They are up there leading the crowd."

For the novice karaoke singer, getting up in front of a crowd can be nerve-wracking.

Kirkingburg said it is all about practice.

"At first I was nervous. I could not sing," he said. "But now I have no nervousness."

The key is confidence.

"If they think they can sing it, then they'll do fine," Kirkingburg said. "I have never seen someone do badly who had confidence in themselves."

Stevens said the good and bad singers are all part of the fun of karaoke.

"Sometimes there are the folks who feel they need a little courage juice to get up there," Stevens said. "But, we are not here to criticize."

Being the best singer is not the point, Kirkingburg said. It is about having fun.

Even children get into the act, singing along to Hannah Montana.

"Sometimes they love it and sometimes they are scared to death," Stevens said.

Over at the American Legion, DJ Big Bob Slauterbeck said he gets a mixed crowd of young and old.

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Karaoke is for all ages. Just ask Allie Day, 12.

"We have all been singing all our life," he said. "I did not have a passion for singing until I tried karaoke."

Besides the entertaining benefit of singing, it also has health benefits, Stevens said.

It increases lung capacity; relieves stress and singers live longer. Stevens has been singing karaoke for more than 25 years and has no plans of quitting.

Singing Steve's karaoke tips:

Remember that the voice is a wind instrument. You need to take deep, full breaths.

Sing from the diaphragm.

Sing as if you are in the shower, as if you don't care who is listening.

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