Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Announcing our new venue: Kafé W!!

Drum roll, please...!

As of November 15, 2019, our Friday-night karaoke home will be Kafé W (Kafé Wow Too) at Salida a Celaya #16, across from Panio and La Casona. Start time 7:00pm, wrapping up at 11:30pm or so.

This cozy café offers the same seating capacity as The Beer Company and Oso Azul, but a bit more comfort plus an outside patio. We'll start with one TV screen mounted above the bar, and you can sing from your seat or create your own stage anywhere in the room.

In addition to a full dinner menu and snacks for later, Kafé W serves beer, wine, mezcal and tequila (soon to add a full liquor assortment) as well as juices and sodas. Arrive early for 2x1 margaritas during happy hour from 7:00pm to 8:00pm.

In an attempt to save trees, I'm creating a single songbook that includes Spanish, English, and a handful of songs in other languages, and we'll find a central place for that. If you'd rather, you can access the Karaoke Annie Entertainment songbook at http://karaokeani.com and download the searchable PDF files.

Note that the Kafé W staff has a previously scheduled event on Friday, November 29 (the day after Thanksgiving), so we'll either find a pop-up location or skip that day (in which case I'll be hanging out at Aarón's karaoke show at La Choperia, and everyone's invited to join me)!

So excited!! See you Friday!!

Karaoke Annie

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

¡Cambiarémos el lugar de viernes! / New Friday night location TBA!

2 NOVEMBER 2019 — After two great years at Oso Azul under Jens Møller's ownership, we gave the place a trial run under the new ownership and it just wasn't the same. We have decided to move on. Stay tuned for the announcement of our new Friday-night karaoke location, coming soon!

2 DE NOVIEMBRE DE 2019 — Después de dos años exitosos en Oso Azul bajo la propiedad de Jens Møller, le dimos al lugar una prueba bajo la nueva propiedad y simplemente no fue lo mismo. Hemos decidido seguir adelante. Quédense atentos para el anuncio de nuestra nuevo lugar de karaoke los viernes, ¡próximamente!  

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

LUGAR NUEVO: Don Lupe Grill

Ahora disfruta de una noche de karaoke con Karaoke Annie Entertainment en 3 lugares de San Miguel de Allende!

En el mes de enero de 2019 añadimos los sábados a partir de las 7:00pm hasta la medianoche en Don Lupe Grill! 

Ven con tus amigos y tu familia (sí, con los niños también) para cenar y cantar en el ambiente mexicana contemporánea, con comida excelente de precio accesible. 

Se encuentra en Salida a Celaya #6, Col. San Antonio, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. Reservaciones en 415 121 3820.

Además de los sábados en Don Lupe, continuamos con los viernes de karaoke en Café Oso Azul (Zacateros #17) a partir de las 7:00pm hasta las 11:00pm...

y los martes de karaoke en La Choperia (Canal #21) a partir de las 8:00pm hasta las 12:30am.

¡Esta semana vamos a cantar! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

For Learning English, A Song Of Freedom

by Grant Blankenship (@Grant_Blank_, grantblankenship.com)
Georgia Public Broadcasting
March 16, 2017
Reprinted by permission of the author.

We use singing to teach English, and they're going from pre-Kindergarten English to 8th grade English in two to three years. The easiest way to learn something is singing it. 
(Elise Witt)

The middle school students of the Global Village Project during a visit to the Tubman African American Museum in Macon.  GRANT BLANKENSHIP /  GPB
Learning English is not easy.

That can be true even for immigrants to the United States who have had the benefit of the best education available in the countries where they grew up.

Now imagine you're a kid from a country torn apart by war or political unrest. You may be lucky to be literate in your first language. Taking a child like that from speaking no English to speaking the language well enough to go to high school is no mean feat. 

Yet that is just what the Global Village Project has done in Decatur, Ga. for the last eight years. There they teach about 40 middle school age girls, all political refugees, speaking something like 17 different languages. Among the tools the school uses to teach English is music, in particular singing. In this short video, hear how singer/songwriter Elise Witt uses Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" in the curriculum. Witt says the power is in the verses you may not have learned in school.

Video: Mastering English is hard. So at the Global Village Project Middle School in Decatur, Georgia, musician Elise Witt uses song to make make English easier for students who are also political refugees. Here’s Witt and the students with Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land. Witt says the power is in the verses you probably didn't learn in school.

Link to the original article at GPB.org: http://www.gpbnews.org/post/learning-english-song-freedom

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Beer Company is closed; Oso Azul is SMA's new karaoke hotspot!


'Twas a sad day September 2 when we sang our last songs at The Beer Company, after four years and eight months of karaoke every Friday night. Nothing can replace Harold's hospitality.

But thanks to Jens Kristian Møller, we have a new hotspot for karaoke Friday nights: Oso Azul at Zacateros 17! We start at 7pm and wrap up at 11pm (unless the staff is okay staying later...then we close the doors and keep on singing!).

Fun facts about karaoke at The Beer Company:
  • Number of total minutes of karaoke (actual singing time): 72,000
  • Total number of singers who performed at The Beer Company: 450-500
  • Countries represented by singers: Mexico, USA, Canada, Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, Brazil, England, Germany, France, Holland, Sweden, Croatia, Turkey, Australia, China, Japan and maybe more
  • Karaoke Annie with Harold Dean James
  • Largest repertoire among singers whose archive contains more than 50 songs:
  • Hosts Annie (265) and Aarón (255)
  • Fred Collins (213)
  • Victor Guzman (147)
  • Barb Shaw (133) and Dilia “Dee" Suriel (133)
  • Juan Mandujano (129)
  • Gina Giampaoli (99)
  • Adriana Cruz Hardesty (98) and Alma Miranda (98)
  • Dan Brill “El Brillo” (87)
  • Blanca Betancourt (82)
  • Kike Carrillo Delgado (77)
  • Jorge Catalan (75)
  • Jorge Cuaik (65 + 35 duets with Julia Hackstaff)
  • John Alderton (64) and Harold Dean James (64)
  • Alex Gutierrez (63)
  • Allen Zeesman (56) and Lourdes Grisell Abundiz (56)
  • Record for the most number of times singing the same song: Victor Guzman with “Mack the Knife” (sung 81 times!)
  • Celebrities who sang with us: 
  • Tony Gonzales, former tight end for Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs, now a Fox NFL pre-game analyst
  • Total number of karaoke photos and videos uploaded to Facebook: over 10,000 (plus yours!)

Fortunately we were able to start up at Oso Azul just two weeks later, September 15, for Mexican Independence Day! Five fun Fridays later, we're filling up the place and we've attracted a few new "karaoke victims" who are becoming regulars.

Hope to see you Friday nights at Oso Azul!

For more karaoke nights and venues, click here.

UPDATE 2 NOVEMBER 2019: After two by great years at Oso Azul under Jens Møller's ownership, we gave the place a trial run under the new ownership and it just wasn't the same. We have decided to move on. Stay tuned for the announcement of our new Friday-night karaoke location, coming soon! 

ACTUALIZACIÓN 2 DE NOVIEMBRE DE 2019: Después de dos grandes años en Oso Azul bajo la propiedad de Jens Møller, le dimos al lugar una prueba bajo la nueva propiedad y simplemente no fue lo mismo. Hemos decidido seguir adelante. Estén atentos para el anuncio de nuestra nueva ubicación de karaoke los viernes, ¡próximamente!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Guest Post by Harryoke (excerpt): "Keep Poking The Dog and Wonder Why He Barks"

A fellow member of one of the online KJ groups I belong to is a karaoke host and blogger under the name Harryoke. His real name is Harry Smith, and I asked his permission to publish the following excerpt from his March 28, 2014 blog post titled "When I Am Not At My Best In Public"...or "Keep Poking The Dog and Wonder Why He Barks" (ROTATION RANT) LOL. 

Read this and you'll understand more about the work of every karaoke host at every venue all over the world!

Florida KJ Harryoke
I love my job and love my people BUT if you have seen me flustered or anxious or excitable on a busy night, here is your explanation. I don't want anyone to take away from this read that I am frustrated, burned out or unhappy...that is NOT the case. This is just the darker side of what I deal with at work.

As a host, the hardest part of my job, HANDS DOWN, is rotation management on a busy night. Beyond 25 singers or so is what I would call a busy night. When the number goes more toward 50, you are ENSURED of having drama. Drama relates to rational people curious when their turn is, and irrational people who ask for things you CANNOT deliver, then refuse to accept NO for an answer.

The following are a few of the people and activities that set me off regularly on BUSY BUSY nights (keeping in mind the busier it gets, the greater percentage of the group that will become high-maintenance, AND the longer the wait, the more low-maintenance folks will become high-maintenance:

THE "WHEN AM I UP" FOLKS - "When am I up?" is a fair question. Once. Maybe twice. Beyond that they are becoming high-maintenance. If you are told you are 10 away, and come back to me after 2 singers, what do you think my answer will be? If you said 8, you are rational...but should not have asked me. If I said 8 and you complained or disputed me, you have become my new problem. The other problem with these folks is they wont take an approximate answer, it has to be exact, or I become the bad guy. Sometimes it is so busy, I cannot answer exactly. [And] when I am not exact, there is always someone [who will] stand in the audience telling everyone what an @$$hole I am for having such a long list and not getting them up soon enough. The variables on a busy night are people who sign up and leave, and people who do not hear their name because they ran upstairs or are out smoking, then return to find they missed their turn and are put back in. Given that info, if you come to me on a busy night and I tell you that you are 10 away, and 5 of those folks are no shows, you are then 5 away. You thought you had 40 minutes and went outside or upstairs, but I called you up in 20 minutes, you missed your turn and it's my fault.

THE "I HAVE TO LEAVE, BUMP ME UP SO I CAN LEAVE" FOLKS - That just works on NO level. They always say "no one will notice" but someone always will. My job is to put people in seats to put cash in the register. That is the clientele I cater to. I can't show favor to someone leaving OVER someone who is staying and will probably spend more. Economics aside, it is just wiser to run a fair rotation and not juggle. Waiting 2 hours to sing is easier when the singer know everyone is waiting. When a host shows favor to those leaving, it sends a horrible message.

THE "LET ME SING NEXT BECAUSE THESE SINGERS SUCK AND I AM BETTER THAN THEM" FOLKS - The fact that came out of your mouth explains why it is not going to happen, but I am sure you are going to stand here and argue with me about it.  

THE "YOU SKIPPED ME, I HAVE BEEN WAITING AN HOUR AND THAT PERSON HAS SUNG THREE TIMES ALREADY" FOLKS - Happens at every busy show. My rotation is in ink, I will show it to you. If you can show me the singer that sang three times and tell me the songs, I will give you $10,000. It did not happen. Yes you have been waiting an hour [because] it is a two-hour wait to sing tonight.

THE FOLKS WHO DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE WORD NO - Occasionally I get to a point in the night where new sign-ups are impossible, and maybe some signed up will get bumped. It is at the end of the night, when I legally have to shut down to close the venue...that is the time when it really gets ugly. I explain that I cannot say past closing time, and people keep asking how I can do it. Yelling at me won't accomplish that, but they try. They are shocked that I won't take their money. Money cannot buy the impossible. When something is impossible, I say no. Somehow, they think I am not serious.

THE FOLKS WHO INTERRUPT YOU WHEN YOU ARE MULTITASKING - The people who ask you questions or talk to you while on mic making announcements or the people who see me running sound for a singer on stage, and dealing with a line of 2 or 3 singers with a question, and feel that coming in behind the singer and talking in my other ear is a great idea. Yes. It happens...all...the...time. The busier it is, the more it happens.

THE FOLKS WHO THINK A TIP IS A BRIBE or are otherwise generally ungracious -  I have seen people obviously offer me bribes...which I don't take. The real aggravation is when someone drops a couple of bucks in the jar or buys you a drink, then later when you can't fulfill a demand for them, they throw that in your face. Yes, that happens...even worse...it is no secret that I had a major accident back in 2004 and there was a fundraiser held to help keep my head above water. People have come to my show, and asked for something I could not do, and told me how much money they supposedly donated to me at that time and acted frustrated about that. And "I" am the ass in that scenario?

THE FOLKS WHO CAN'T READ THE BOOK BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE THEIR GLASSES SO COME UP AND ASK WHAT SONGS YOU HAVE BY A CERTAIN ARTIST AND MAKE YOU READ THEM ALL TO THEM...OVER AND OVER - Which on a slow night is not a big deal. But when it happens a lot on top of a busy night it becomes high-maintenance. THE WORST is when they ask for a certain song by a certain artist. You pull it up on the computer and tell them NO, I DON'T HAVE THAT ONE unfortunately. They then stare at your computer screen and say "are you sure?" YES, I reply, looking again, trying alternative spellings...then they look at the screen a bit longer and look at me again and say..."so you still don't have it?" CORRECT, I continue to not have it. They then say, “I would sure like to have sung that.” [Even when I tell them] I have not seen it available, they say I should get it.

DRUNK FOLKS - While alcohol plays a role in some of the above scenarios, in between are people who are just plain drunk. This is an exception to the rule 90% of the time. We are not surrounded by imbeciles and drunks, by any means...don't think that is what I mean in this blog. However, it does not take many drunks to make a high-maintenance event, and my stories of dealing with them go on and on. Just not here.

There are many more scenarios, and many more stories...BUT, if you have been out on a busy night and seen me beating my head against the wall or pulling my hair out, be on the lookout for these folks mentioned in this blog, as well as others.  Feel free to comment and add your own observations and experience.

Keep Singing...  Harry

To see Harryoke's entire post, click here.

When it seems like 2 hours since you got up to sing...it's just a long rotation

Updated June 12, 2021

¡Hola, mis cantantes! Lately I've had more than the usual number of singers challenge me on the rotation, saying I must have skipped them because it's been so long since they had a turn at the microphone. Fortunately, I can invite these singers to look at the list on my laptop and show them that they'll be up shortly. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do to make the time go faster. As recently-departed Tom Petty tells us, "The waiting is the hardest part."

Karaoke Night One by Cameron Sczerba, aka DJ Cam (caution: strong language)
In the SMA Karaoke Club page on Facebook I posted a humorous video about how KJs (karaoke jockeys) feel when singers beg to be moved up on the list for any number of reasons—all of which boil down to a sense that "I'm more important than everyone else" or "I deserve special treatment even though it will inconvenience everyone else." I don't understand why anyone thinks that. Hey, ALL of you are equally special to me!

Sometimes I move people up in the list because they want to use their turn to sing "Happy Birthday" or "Las Mañanitas" to someone while the candles are still burning on the cake. I don't think anyone minds waiting a few minutes longer for that. But I won't move you up because you're leaving or because you were here earlier and feel you should sing more often.

Here's how the rotation works:
  1. Two factors determine the order of singers (the "rotation"): physical presence and the order in which I receive your song requests. You can send your song requests ahead of time if you like, but if someone else walks in before you and gives me a request, they'll sing first. 
  2. Please don't text me and say, "I'm on my way over, can you put me on the list?" That doesn't count as physical presence, even if you give me a song request. I will put you on the list once I see that you've arrived, and you will always have time to get settled and order a drink before your turn comes up.
  3. In one hour, there is time for 12-15 songs. If we have only 6 singers, everyone sings twice the first hour.
  4. By the second hour, usually we have at least 12-15 singers, and that means everyone sings only once, if at all.
  5. On a busy night when the rotation includes more than 15 singers, I do my best to be fair and not let one big table take up more than a quarter of an hour at once, even if they give me a dozen song requests. I try to break it up so we have singers taking turns from all around the room. Also, I take myself out of the rotation so you get more time to sing.
  6. NEW: Before the pandemic, if you walked in and gave me a song request just as the last singer in the rotation was up, you got to sing right away, but I'm changing that. Now, each new singer will be placed in the rotation just BEFORE the current singer. That means everyone who got there before you gets one more turn to sing (because you're at the end of that line), and everyone who gets there after you will sing after you. 
  7. HERE'S WHAT FEELS UNFAIR (BUT IT ISN'T): You arrive early to beat the crowd, and you get to sing right away, maybe even two or three times. Then a big group arrives and they all give me song requests. Suddenly you're waiting 60-90 minutes between turns, and before you know it, the night is gone and you've only done half the songs you requested. Maybe your friends beg you to sing one more but you never get to because the rotation gets too long and the show is over. THE GOOD NEWS IS, new singers are now being placed in rotation before the current singer (which may be you). But after that it may be a longer wait, and we may have to close before your next turn comes up. That's why it's never a good idea to save your best song for last, and it's why I cannot accommodate requests to "close out the night" with your song if it's not your turn.
    Karaoke is complicated. This is what I'm dealing with while
    a singer is yelling into my ear in rapid Spanish about a song
    they want me to get on YouTube, which I won't do because I
    operate a piracy-free show. I do my best to be polite, but...
  8. As your host, I reserve the right to change my mind about how the rotation works. But no matter what, there will always be one constant: more singers equals a longer wait. Usually more singers also equals more FUN, though, so it's a good trade-off.
  9. I also reserve the right to cut off new song requests once it appears we have enough to fill out the night (usually about an hour before closing time). 
  10. Duplicate song requests are not permitted. If you submit a request and then hear someone else sing it before you, it means they got their request in before you, and you must choose another song. Remember, you can always change your song when you get to the stage, so don't worry if we don't get to all of your requests in one night. They'll be in your queue for next time!
Now that I've explained how the rotation works, I have TWO FAVORS to ask you, dear cantantes:

First, if you hear someone complaining about how long it takes for them to have a turn, or badmouthing me because they think I'm unfair or that I skipped them or ignored their request, tell them to please talk to ME, since I'm the only one who can show them when their turn is coming up. Shout-out to Barb Goushaw here, as she has explained the rotation to newbies several times, and I consider her a Karaoke Annie Concierge for that reason.

Florida KJ Harry Smith, aka Harryoke,
sticks this sign on his laptop when
customers get drunk and obnoxious.
(Note: Even KJs make mistakes, and if do I inadvertently skip someone, I get them up as quickly as I can. Also, you'd be surprised at how many times I get a request for a song with no name on it, and I do my best to figure out who gave it to me, but you need to fill out the slip or I have no way of knowing that you want to sing.)

Second, if you have suggestions for how to run the rotation better than I do, please let me know. There are two generally accepted practices in karaoke: (1) add singers to the end of the rotation no matter when they arrive, and they sing in turn even if it's right away (so you think you're up next and then all of a sudden you have to wait 20 minutes for five new singers to take their turns)—this is what I did pre-pandemic; or (2) add new singers right before the current singer on stage—which I think will work better now.

Also, I like to show a numbered list of singers who have a request in, so (A) you know if your turn is coming up soon, and (B) if your name doesn't show up when it's supposed to, you know you're out of songs in queue and you should hurry up and put in a request. 

I could show several names with or without songs, but
then some people think they can sing even if they haven't
put in a song request. That's confusing and causes delays.

Love karaoke but feel you never get to sing enough?
The answer is to hire me for a private party, or sing on your own at home with karaoke videos on YouTube. There is nothing illegal about private home use of copyrighted material. But then you won't have an audience—and it's the crowd and the camaraderie that make karaoke so much fun, right? With a private party, you control the number of singers through your invitation list. For more information on private parties by Karaoke Annie Entertainment, click here.

Comments? Questions? Leave 'em for me below. Thanks for reading!