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From the Where2sing.com stories:
The Great Karaoke Escape 2004/05

Day 2

I left this morning. Car packed, enough clothes, and heading west. But not far, because I'm going to stop by Camden RSL and once and for all put to rest the question of whether Camden RSL sound is poor or good. I can't believe that all the reports I am getting are flawed, but perhaps time has passed and the sound has improved. Is sound an 'objective' thing, or is it pretty subjective - is that why so many people will disagree over a particular venue? No, I think sound can be broadly grouped into bad, average and good. But I've also noticed how the poor sound in some venues can be improved dramatically by a new host, and this suggests that only part of the problem (quality) is with the equipment, and a lot depends on the ears of the host.

Camden is just a couple of hours up the road, but it's nice to leave Sydney behind me, and feel that an adventure is starting. I stop on the way for something to eat, and to sit and catch up on emails for a couple of hours (bless wireless internet hotspots - and long may businesses not secure their wireless internet!). So it's dark by the time I get to Camden.

The RSL is easy to find, and although I find a nice looking hotel close by, the helpful girl at the bar responible for booking in guests tells me that there's a much cheaper place just up the road (I'm not really looking for a cheaper place as this is convemiently close to the RSL, and anyway she should know better than to effectively turn away guests). I follow her instructions and find the place, far up the road, around the corner, and along a few miles, and it's indeed all of $10 cheaper. BUt they want my business, so I book in then head back quickly to the RSL.

The RSL is close to the town, so I do a preliminary wander past the shops. Many youngsters are starting on their night out, and all looking as though they're seeking a quality of fun unlikely to be found locally, and I even poke my nose into a couple of pubs and decide that they're nothing remarkable. The RSL is just a bit out of the main area, but close enough to make the walk extremely short. It's a strange place, looking more like a bowls club out the front, and the walk up the alleyway to the carpark and club entrance suggest this is a place for members only. Even the entrance seems bland, but as soon as I walk though the door I am greeted by friendly smiles, and I can hear good music.

The host is sitting on the stage, and I wonder whether this will be a boring night, but he seems to have the right patter, and the sound is good. And, anyway, it is the sound that I've really come to hear. The equipment is sizeable, and should be able to produce great sound, so the rest is up to the host. I get a drink and sit near the back of the room. The sound is good. I move position to one side of the room, and the sound is still good. So I pick up my drink and head off to the other side of the room, and the sound is still good.

I don't sing, but instead enjoy listening to the parade of singers. I want to see why the host seems to have upset some people - but there's nothing that tells me why. He should recognise me, because we've met and talked at the General Gordon some time back, but I don't think he would expect me to be there, and he doesn't recognise me. He's resident on the stage, and not in an easy place for me to go and say 'hello'. The singers all seem to be grouped at the tables right in front of the stage, but other groups do look at songbooks - although I don't notice any of them getting up to sing. I get one of the songbooks and look through, don't see the W2S insert sheet that should really be in each one, but the selection is good.

Steve is doing a good job - maybe not the most vibrant host I've seen, but every host has his own style, and he keeps the night going well. It does seem to be one of those places where a small number of regulars get up to sing and everyone else is just along to watch, and as the time ticks past I notice that the crowd thins. At a certain point I decide I've watched enough singers, and I also leave.

I'm out of Sydney now, and tommorrow I'll continue heading west. Yep, it's the Great Karaoke Escape!

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