Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fun facts about your favorite artists

Irving Berlin
Every once in a while, I run across tidbits of information that enlighten me about a popular song or artist. Here are just a few of them. Feel free to add your own in the comments section!

So sweet! Irving Berlin wrote "Blue Skies" in 1926 after his first daughter's birth as a song just for her. It's about how he felt about being married and a father for the first time: "Blue days, all of them gone; nothing but blue skies, from now on."
At Karaoke Annie we've got the Willie Nelson version and a jazzy version by Ella Fitgerald.
Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett's given name is Anthony Dominick Benedetto. He fought in World War II, when the armed forces were racially segregated, and got himself demoted by having dinner with a black friend from high school. After that, he sang with the Army Special Services Band under the name Joe Bari. It was Bob Hope who gave him the name Tony Bennett.
Karaoke Annie has several Tony Bennett songs including a famous one recorded the year I was born: "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."
Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline was only 30 years old when she died in a plane crash in 1963, but during her short career she became one of the most influential singers of the 20th century. Patsy hated "Walking After Midnight" and "Crazy" (written for her by Willie Nelson), and almost didn't record either one of them. Ten years after her death, in 1973, she became the first female solo artist inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.
Want to sing Patsy Cline? We've got all her greatest hits at Karaoke Annie shows, including this favorite: "I Fall To Pieces."

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Research shows "We're wired to sing"

When I lived in Minneapolis, I hosted a radio program called Night & Day with Anne Nicolai, about arts and culture happenings in the Twin Cities area and throughout Minnesota. My mantra—which I repeated every show—was, "Art is not optional. Without it, we would die."

I said that partly to cause controversy, and it did—people called in to argue with me. I'd quote research and real-life examples to support my point that orchestrated sound, color, shape, texture, movement, etc., gives us the information we need to survive. A friend owns an antique medicine bottle with ridges in the glass on one side to warn the user of its contents should it be grabbed in the dark. A sculptor made that bottle, not a scientist.

There are many, many examples of art as essential to life, and today I found an article in the online magazine that sheds more light on the subject. It says that art—including music, dramatic storytelling, applying certain shapes and colors to our environment, and other forms of artistic expression—is an urge all of humanity shares.

"Like sex, hunger and religion, art emerges, somehow, from our biology," says David P. Barash, in the article reprinted from his book Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature (2012, Oxford University Press).

“Art is not optional. Without it, we would die.”

In other words, "we're wired to sing," as the headline of the article says—and to dance, and to care whether the walls in our house are blue or yellow, and to chuckle with pleasure when a toddler spontaneously bobs to the beat of a salsa band playing in the Jardín.

As a karaoke party host, of course, I love coming across research that helps me to corral people into singing. Yesterday I met a man who's here with a friend from Las Vegas, where karaoke bars are plentiful, and when I invited him to come out and sing with me, he said, "Oh, ha ha, no, you wouldn't want that. I can do a lot of things, but I can't sing."  

Au contraire, my friend! As it says on my business cards, EVERYONE can sing. No one said anything about being in tune, or on the beat—it matters little compared to the exercise of it. Creating a joyful vibration in the body is the point; that and strengthening the social bonds that form whenever people sing together.

Am I saying karaoke is an art form? Well, speaking from the perspectives of psychology, sociology and evolutionary biology, yes, it is! And while I wouldn't substitute karaoke for art in my mantra that without it, we would die, I do encourage everyone to grab a microphone once in a while.

You're just as "wired" for singing as Celine Dion or José Alfredo Jiménez ever was!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Goodbye Vecindad ... hello Pamplonada! Adios Vecindad ... bienvenido a Pamplonada!

When La Vecindad closed in December, it was a sad day for fans of David Cruz, his wife Sara Chavez and son Christian, who hosted karaoke there every Friday and Saturday night for a few years.

Cuando La Vecindad cerró el diciembre pasado, fue un día triste para fans de David Cruz, su esposa Sara Chavez, y su hijo Christian, quienes fueron los anfitriones de karaoke en ese lugar cada viernes y sabado desde hace unos años.

But now we singers have reason to celebrate because Cruz & Co. will host the grand opening of Pamplonada Karaoke Bar (Calle Juárez #21, Col. Centro, San Miguel de Allende) on Friday, March 30!
Pero ahora los cantantes tenemos una razón para celebrar, porque Cruz & Co. van a encabezar la inauguración del bar de karaoke Pamplonada (Calle Juárez #21, Col. Centro, San Miguel de Allende) el viernes 30 de marzo!

Details/detailles: Friday, March 30, grand opening 10pm-1am. Viernes 30 marzo, 10pm-1am, "Gran inauguracion del mejor karaoke de san miguel de allende, con el audio profesional de dj david cruz, sara chavez, y christian cruz. We're giving prizes & surprises... Tendremos muchos regalos, y muchas sorpresas..."

See you there! Nos vemos alli!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

R.I.P./D.E.P. Whitney Houston

She was found only a few hours ago at a hotel in Beverly Hills, and we haven't been told how she died, but we will miss diva extraordinaire Whitney Houston.

Se encontró solo unas horas antes en un hotel en Beverly Hills, y no sabemos cómo murió, pero vamos a extrañar a la diva extraordinaria Whitney Houston.

If you're inclined to croon in her memory, here are the Whitney Houston karaoke songs on our list for karaoke Wednesday nights 9pm-2am at La Galería:

Could I Have This Kiss Forever (duet with Enrique  Iglesias)
How Will I Know
I Will Always Love You
If I Told You That
I'm Every Woman
One Moment In Time
Saving All My Love For You.
When You Believe (duet with Mariah Carey)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Miércoles 2 Nov: Karaoke de los Muertos y Concurso de Disfraces!

Todos saben que hay karaoke con Annie y Aarón los miércoles en La Galería.

Pero el próximo miércoles es muy especial—el Día de los Muertos!—con un concurso de disfraces con premios para 3 lugares!

  • 1º premio: Botella de Buchanan's Whisky y 20 alitas de pollo!
  • 2º premio: Botella de Johnny Walker Red (etiqueta roja)!
  • 3º premio: Botella de tequila Tradicional!
Ven, canta Y GANA con todos tus amigos! El público será el que escoja a los ganadores!! (Asegurate de traer a tu porra!!!)

El karaoke empieza a las 9pm y el concurso será a las 11pm. No necesitas talento para el canto para ganar el concursosólo el mejor disfraz!

No cover! Reservaciónes: 415 154 4288

Wednesday, Nov. 2: Karaoke of the Dead and Costume Contest!

Everybody knows it's karaoke night with Annie & Aaron every Wednesday at La Galería. But this coming Wednesday is a special occasion--Day of the Dead!—with a costume contest and prizes!
  • 1st prize: a bottle of Buchanan's whiskey and 20 chicken wings
  • 2nd prize: a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label
  • 3rd prize: a bottle of Tradicional tequila
Come, sing and WIN with all your friends! The public will choose the winners, so bring your cheerleaders!

Karaoke begins at 9pm and the contest at 11pm. You don't need singing talent to win the contest—just the best costume!

No cover. For reservations, call: 415 154 4288

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Karaoke songs make fitting tributes to the loved ones we've lost

On a June karaoke night at La Galería, local author and writing coach Eva Hunter and her friend David sang Seven Spanish Angels for fellow writer Wayne Greenhaw, who died unexpectedly during surgery. Eva hadn't sung in front of a crowd before, but the loss of a loved and respected colleague was enough motivation to conquer the usual first-time jitters.

On July 23, when recording artist Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment, her songs received more requests than ever at karaoke venues around the world. There is something about music that brings people closer, consoling us and helping us to accept our grief and pain, especially when we're singing together.

Today I received this note from my friend Amy in Minneapolis, whose brother Terry died in his sleep of a heart attack at the age of 47. Amy writes, "My brother Terry loved karaoke and was, in fact, out singing Karaoke the night before he died. My 83-year-old father wrote his beautiful euology, which included lines from the last song he ever sang… Come Sail Away by Styx:
A gathering of Angels appeared above my head
They sang to me this song of hope and this is what they said
They said, ‘Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me’...."
And then Amy writes: “I know how much you love karaoke—the next time you are out, I’d love it if you could sing that song for me, for my brother, as I am not a singer. It would mean a lot.”

Of course I will. And I'll bet Terry's gonna be singing right along with me.