Oh what a month....the Viejas Casino hosted a karaoke contest sponsored by 94.1...so as a dedicated karaoke singer, I hit the show. Anyone that is involved in this sort of activity knows how much fun singing on stage can be...good or bad or simply fun, there is a lot of support from the other singers and audience participants. The one downfall of competitions is people take it too seriously and get hurt feelings if they don't win. This competition seemed different in the fact that most people were there for the professional stage experience and didn't really worry about the contest.

Week 1: So as the evening rolled on, the mood in line was high and all were ready for singing. We all looked forward to the big stage. The first night was obviously a learning curve for the casino...as they had advertised the contest and some open mic during breaks and after the end of the competition.

There was a huge cattle call of singers lined up outside the Dream Catcher room...appropriately named. And so I stood in line with my friend and we both signed up...the night was nice and we were up for some entertainment. We ran into several other singers we have met over the years at different clubs. Many have become good friends.

All levels of talent were signed up to perform and it was looking like a fun night. There were many really good singers, but the sound was raw and the mics were rather dry...not a great mix...not what I expected for such a nice venue. The contest ended and the line filled to sing open mic, which was what most of us were there for...competition aside, it seemed as though, from the people I talked to, they just wanted to have a professional stage...drinks ordered and all ready to go..the venue and 94.1 folded up the sign in table and told everyone it was over and to, well leave...it didn't sit to well with most and those who bought drinks were obliged 15 minutes to finish and well..uh, exit.

I was told by the bar manager that it was an unorganized competition and next time it would be better....Yes I was a bit disappointed. First the sound was not up to par as far as a professional venue and, they cut off songs; Which according to the rules, that were posted outside, could only be 4 minutes in length..so I give them that one. They often let people sing longer and cut off others which didn't seem right, but what can you do. It's their show. And they failed to announce you couldn't walk off the stage the first night, and I was quickly complained about by other contestants when I did just that....as well as another contestant, that jumped from the stage to the dance floor..... I really didn't care that much, I thought next week will be better..right??

Week 2. We got to the venue too late for sign up and hung around for just a few minutes and decided, why bother, they won't have open mic anyway...so why sit for 3 hours and spend money....off to do something fun, grocery shopping...lol.

Our friends, a husband and wife and their school chum with her companion , made it to the show the second week and said in simple terms "It sucked". My girlfriend is not a regular singer, but wanted to try for the sake of getting over a big fear of being on stage. She mentioned she had a bit to drink, was nervous, for the most part had fun, but her song was, well, really bad. "It sucked." Her words, I wasn't there. Then she told me."You should have stayed, they had open mic!"....Argh! Figures.

Week 3: We got there really early and ended up being placed in the beginning of the rotation; I hate that cause I really need to be inspired to get up. With the competition, I decided who cares just enjoy the venue...I'll just sing a song I like. I knew it wasn't contest worthy; As a matter of personal opinion, it was a slow song, a bit of a snoozer, but I like it and so it goes...lol. I'm sure I bored the audience to tears, but what the heck. And this week I stayed on the stage.

After the show, they finally had open mic, and we got to sing another song. The sound engineer that night really had some talent, and created a nice atmosphere. In general making everyone sound really good. Most, very professional. And those that were new to singing, had a sound as if they had been singing quite a while. As a matter of fact, we had so much fun we couldn't wait for the 4th week.

Week 4: Got there on time, neither of us was in the competition mood, but signed up for the contest anyway. We figured get in a warm up and wait till open mic....yeah.

Lord have mercy, the sound was flat. The first person to sing, sang a semi fast Melissa Etheridge song. She was so nervous and shaking so visibly, I felt bad for her. Then the next singer, a male, sang a ballad and still a horribly dry mic...you could have been calling bingo it was so bad. When the audience started talking so loud and telling jokes to amuse each other and squeaking their shoes on the dance floor, you know it was a lost cause...and it was ballad after ballad, and it seemed no relief in sight.

I changed my song at the last minute and so did my friend and we chose fast songs...probably not the best move in the world, cause when I hit the stage, the music was not on the monitors and it was all vocal. So I had to hope I was singing in the right spots and on key without hearing music...and probably to the horror of the audience the sound mix was DRY! But whatever...I got through it and no one died...And no one ran out holding bleeding ears....I shoulda had another drink just to get through it! The next song was my friend and his was fine. Dry mic aside and poor sound mix. You could hear mostly vocals, he had to step back aways from the microphone, the audience loved it and it pepped up the room. Oldies always go over good in karaoke...just a hint if you wanna make the audience happy.

I walked over and talked to the 94.1 sponsors and asked if they were ready to go to sleep or borrow ear plugs, they looked a tad bored...not due to bad singing, just no real energy in the room...lordy I get so bored if the energy is non existent...and this night it was exactly that MIA..Missing in action!

I'm under the impression the sound mix engineer was not interested cause the vocals were so flat and many complained the sound was out of balance. And from an audience point of view I can honestly say...it was B-A-D! There just simply was nothing special about the venue this night, for what it represents and the professional stage and atmosphere. It could have been so much better. They had the ability to create a great moment for the singers.

I've been there for many weekend shows and this did not sell me on wanting to come back for more...which is probably what they were going for, cause at the end of the shows, they simply said "that's it. last song." and then quickly ushered people out the door. Never a thank you, hope you had fun or goodnight. I'm pretty sure they won't have a regular karaoke show there. Which in a way is too bad, cause a lot of singers will never have a chance to sing on a professional stage such as the one in The Dream Catcher Room and it may be their only chance, but hey whatever, we have our weekend fun in our favorite venues, with our favorite hosts.

At the end of it all they gave away $2000.00 dollars over 4 weeks and probably brought in 10 times the amount in drinks alone, not to mention the gambling and food...but it was a bit disappointing. A lot of us didn't feel welcome, management kept a straight face, even in conversation, I never saw the bar manager smile...it was so uninviting at times. Which is probably the reason I don't really go there that often...I do have to say that one of the security men was very nice and seemed to have fun during the shows. I did enjoy his conversation and he was always smiling and friendly. As well the bar staff was accommodating, the bartender, was also energetic and an all around cool dude. The karaoke host ran a pretty smooth show, but unfortunately there was nothing he could do about the sound mix. Too bad, cause we've been to his past shows and he does an outstanding job running karaoke. As far as the 94.1 team, they did a decent job...

But for the most part, you felt as if you were an imposition, like 94.1 rented the room and Viejas was just putting up with you...it was just a bit too uptight for me. I kinda felt like I was in court wearing the wrong clothes. I like to have fun. Feel relaxed. Like they want your business.

So all in all, the karaoke was fun, but it lacked the flare that karaoke shows usually have...after all it's your five minutes, uh err, four minutes on stage to be the kind of star you want to be, and pay homage to your favorite artist the best you possibly can. Most sang well, but walked away discouraged. As for me well, I think I will stick to the smaller venues. I've sung in bigger places and I've had that fun...so back to the tiny clubs and friendly supportive patrons. Friends with the same attitude to enjoy the night and sing our hearts out.

And for the karaoke community, this ones for you! A little Neil Diamond...

Sweet Caroline...bom, bom, bom... Good times never seemed so good...{{so good, so good, so good}}....lol!

Every karaoke singer in town knows what I'm talking about...rock on singers.


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