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

DAY 15

Will I stay in Dubbo and await karaoke tonight, my second night here? Nope, the locals are not so friendly, so I decide to move on. But before I leave the town, I find a nice shady park in which to sit and get through a couple of hours of emails. I decide to go to Tamworth, then check what venues are listed there for a Thursday, and perhaps stay there.

But Tamworth is a disappointment, and I find that no karaoke runs there on a Thursday - although I do spend a pleasant hour at the Powerhouse Motorcycle Museum on my way out of the town. And, if you're ever in Tamworth, I really do recommend this museum, not just because it is bursting at the seams with some beautifully restored British (and other) bikes from the 1930s-80s, but because the gentleman who runs it and provides the tour is one of life's great characters. He's hugely welcoming, immediately offers you a coffee, or tea, and biscuits (under the pretence that he's just put the kettle on to have a cuppa himself), knowledgeable about all the bikes, and has the kind of enthusiasm that you rarely see. Whilst I was there, I saw three other guys drift in with glum expressions, but leave quite some time later filled with enthusiasm and love for the place.

A search of the where2sing.com listings, and several phone calls later, and I find there's no karaoke in Armidale, Glen Innes or Grafton, and rather than head south, I decide to go across the Coffs Harbour where there's karaoke running on both Wednesdays and Thursdays in a hotel in the centre of town.

There's more traffic on my drive northwest, but it's still several hours before I reach Coffs Harbour on the coast, the last hour in darkness and through hilly country and down little roads as I try to take the direct route.

But at last I'm driving up the coast road into Coffs Harbour, seeing a string of motels suitable for my night's stay, and then on into the town to check whether I'm close to the only karaoke in the area. The hotel is a sprawling older building on the corner of a road near the centre of town, so I go back and find a motel.

As I head back to the karaoke venue, but a little early, I drive around and find that much of the commercial heart of the town lies one street back from the main road, and it's easy to park close to the pub in one of the connecting streets. I wonder what the quality of singing will be like here, and perhaps a few visitors will provide the best entertainment.

Certainly the barstaff is friendly, and it looks as though there's a good 'house' sound system. Even the locals seem to have made an effort to dress up for the occasion - not that there are many people here yet. Music is being played in advance of the karaoke, and it sounds fine, and the host looks as though he's taken the trouble to present himself well. Perhaps this place wll be a surprise - and after two night devoid of such entertainment, I'm looking forward to this.

But it is not to be - as the night starts with something called 'Russian Roulette' karaoke, where poor singers are forced to sing songs they don't know. I hope this isn't going all night, and am happy when the host says that this is just to add a bit of interest until more people put their names down to sing - but I wonder why anyone sticking their nose into the venue would want to stay and sing. It's a great illustration of how not to get a karaoke night off to a good start, and really surprising that a host who takes the time to present himself well would adopt such a tactic.

I pass the time by taking a wander around the hotel, and it looks as though it's a bit of a miss-match of styles. There are some photos around the walls showing the pub and area in olden times, and these are a lot more interesting than the karaoke which still offends the ears but from a distance. Finally, I end up back at the karaoke, consider leaving but feel it is my duty to stay and experience the sound first-hand, and get another beer to ensure I'm there for another half-hour.

Is it really so difficult for a host to run a decent karaoke? Surely it's not rocket-science to plug together a sound system, start on time with a couple of friends or regulars who have been bribed to come along early, and present the sort of show that will be reasonable entertainment to those listening, and a reasonable experience to those who would like to sing? I know that 'Russian Roulette' can work in some unusual situations, and particularly where the host knows what each singer can do, and selects appropriate songs that may stretch the singer's ability rather than destroying it, but this place is running a karaoke that started as bad - and got worse.

I sing. I leave. I write the review (its already on the site). I try and forget this night.

Read more singers' stories, and write your own karaoke story, on Where2sing.com . . .

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