Like last Sunday, I went to J.J Toon’s in South Windsor (still in CT) for karaoke. As always, Bill was the karaoke DJ and the sound was the best ever.
Even though I was supposed to go with my sister Shannon she stayed home and I went alone. This is no big deal for me, I go out most of the time alone anyway, but when you go to do karaoke, you are never really alone, the other karaoke freaks all hang together.
I have written about different karaoke places all over the place and kind of rate them, so I thought I would give my 2 cents about CT area karaoke in case you were heading this way.
A lot of things come into consideration when judging karaoke places, you have to consider the DJ, does he or she have an ego problem and want to sing all night long? Are they fair about letting people sing (or do they have favorites and make one wait for hours?). How is the sound? How does the crowd react? What size is the selection?
There are so many BAD places to do karaoke; it is easier just to mention the good places.
In CT whereever Bill is, you will have the best time and sound. He calls his company “Rising Star Entertainment” and if you email him, you can find out where he is workin’ it:
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-860-568-5814
Bill is the only DJ so far that has all but one song that I like to sing. He doesn’t have “Move Over” yet by Janis, but otherwise he has the biggest selection I have ever seen.
The two best places where he works are 1) Pastoris in Ellington ( can you say “Boon Dots?) it is in cow town but hey, if you are near Hartford, CT or Springfield, MA, it is not that far. He works there on Saturdays, there is a country vibe there, so save your AC/DC for late in the evening after everyone is cocked.
Then there is TOONS on Sunday nights. Tel: 860 289-5457 . Everyone there can see and hear the people singing and they do show love when you sing. There are regulars there that can sing their asses off. One guy is the singer of a country band called Radio Ranch. He is short and decked out in Cow Boy clothing and I mean big time. He must be around 65 years old or so, and is so adorable when he sings.He and his cowboy buddies do Elvis and Johnny Cash etc. One guy looks and sounds like the singer of Lynard Skynard.A guy named John does the best version of Unchained Melody that I have ever heard. Where the hell is American Idol when you need them?
Another good thing about karaoke in CT now is there is NO SMOKING in the bars anymore. Life is grand!
Other karaoke places in CT:
Cippino’s in Ellington on Thursdays: Don’t even waste your fucking time.No one cares that there is karaoke going on, the sound sucks and most go there just to play pool and seem annoyed that people are singing. The service BITES- they have one dumb blonde who didn’t even know what dry white wine was. Idiots. And to think, a few years ago the place was called “The Country Squire” and in 1984 when I was dating Joey Ramone ( oh yes I was waaay too young to be dating him) I convinced Joey to have the Ramones come and play there at the Country Squire. My whole High school ( Rockville High) came in disbelief. They were not let down, the Ramones did come ( 2 hours late thanks to CT cops searching their van for who the fuck knows what). Anyhow, you would think the place would at least be grateful ( I even had the Blushing Brides play there- a Stones tribute band) but no, they have forgotten and make you wait for an hour to get served, then fuck it up AND they turn the clocks 30 minutes ahead to make everyone get out a half hour earlier ( a typical CT bar trick). All of our watches/cell phones said 12:30 but the clock at the bar said 1am) WANKERS.
Ten East Main: This shit hole is in Avon.I went there Tuesday night ( remember, I got the $198.00 speeding ticket?) . Another case of don’t waste your time unless you live directly across the street and need a karaoke fix. Bill is the DJ here but he cannot rescue the atmosphere. They stick him in what appears to be a hallway that connects the bar to the billiard area. The snotty fucking college kids who all wore Tommy Hilfiger and GAP clothes seemed repulsed that people actually DO karaoke. Most probably got a fake ID to even get in. They would not have recognized any songs written after 1999 and just kept rolling their eyes at anyone who wasn’t wearing the standard college khaki colored mall type uniform.
Free Spirit:Vernon bar that has been going on since I was born.Kenny is the bar tender there, who used to run the Country Squire. He is a HUGE Ramones freak and it was he who begged me to have the Ramones come to Ellington. They have karaoke on Sundays but it is a weird crowd there. It has always been confusion in that place, no one knows what kind of vibe is going on there. Should you sing Shaggy?50 cent? Led Zepp? They usually play that super annoying techno-reggea shit, I mean the fast version of reggae. Is there a NAME for that shit? It sounds to me like Bob Marley on speed or something. Hate it. I love funk and some reggae, but that shit is horrible. This place was a hang out for coke heads years ago, but I don’t know if it is still like that.It is a dive, everyone knows it, but still goes there.
Colonial Inn:Vernon banquet hall- my senior prom was held there and they do all Rockville class reunions there. They have karaoke there on weekends and it is horrific. All of the polyester clad fat ladies come galloping in after they had their wedding reception or class reunion. Everyone sings in groups of 20 and it always SUCKS. Avoid this place at all cost. The DJ there at the time I went was Cadillac Jack. He likes to sing every 5th song, so the wait is pretty long. He has a good selection but there are too many technical difficulties every time. He has a following, but they are usually very fat girls who love his voice.
Shenanigans:EastWindsor- they have karaoke every Sunday night, crappy atmosphere, all the karaoke fans ( about 10 ) huddle at one table and keep their backs to the rest of the place which hates karaoke. Most go to play pool and eat, not sing. Sound is ok, but they have a different DJ every time I go.It is stiff there, no one has ever let loose.BORING.
The Skyline: Windsor Locks: I could WALK there from my Uncle Jacks, so I have been there a few times. It is FUCKING LOUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The sound system is the loudest I have ever heard, which means you have to SCREAM at the people you are with and by the time it is your turn to sing, you have no voice left! Bring a pad of paper and pens to write to your friends or a chalk board, you will need it! People hear do a LOT of show tunes and country songs, it is too loud, too light, too fucking annoying. DJ is nice and fair, good selection, but if you would tell him it is too loud, he would probably not let you sing.
Jimmy’s Pizza Palace:Enfiled- this is where I lost my karaoke virginity. My Uncles, Aunt and Cousins all made me get up there and sing.The crowd hated me when I walked in, I was wearing a black rubber ( looks like paten leather) dress ( no cleavage, but short) and had my hair up like Princess Leah. The girls (older,fat lumber-jack types) at the bar were whipping beer coasters at me from time to time so it was hard to get up and sing.I pulled off a mean version of Proud Mary and that was that. The DJ there is really friendly and makes wise cracks in between each song.He will make you feel welcome, but the crowd there is closed minded and mean. His sound is good, but selection isn’t the biggest I have seen.
Star Struck: Plainville- ( still CT) This is the most famous karaoke place in CT.They have a tiny room when you walk in to practice any song they have before you get up and do it on the HUGE stage. Which I think is great. BUT you will only get to sing once every 3hours of you are lucky. It is crowded and the DJ is a power/control freak and his extremely jealous girl friend is by his side the whole time hating every cute chick who puts a song in. I am not exaggerating. The couple play out their love drama all night. He makes comments over the mic about how hot that girl was or how sexy that version of Fever I just sang etc, and then there is hell to pay from his jealous bitch. It goes on and on and I can’t believe the owner doesn’t interfere. Two New Years Eve’s ago, I went there with my relatives and I waited 2 hours to sing. I put in “Piece of my heart” but when I got on stage, the jealous girl friend played Nelly’s “it’s gettin’hot in here”! I said, hey, that isn’t the song I requested” she said “Too bad, you are singing it!” and so I was up there in front of about 600 people trying to RAP and it sucked bad. They all danced anyways thanks to the alcohol, but it was the only song I got to sing and it was the worst. I can’t do Nelly ok?It is expensive as hell there and they make people kiss their asses to sing. Hate it. Uncle Jack just told me it closed down.It reopened under the name “Club 290″but no longer does karaoke. Glad to hear it, wankers! He said there is a place called “DE JA VOU” OPENED ON RTE 10 right down the road from the old Star Struck. Hope they have different DJ’s this time.
That is enough karaoke chit chat for now. Moving right along.
I will be working Wednesday at the Joey Ramone B-day Bash, check it out:
I have to go and lend a hand to Arturo and the lads. Gotta get movin’
Greetings from Windsor Locks CT