We left the amazing bar in Pennsylvania for a two-fer; two new singing states in one nigh. But alas, The bar from my two states in one night was a total dud. We arrived at 11:30, and they hadn’t really started yet. The KJ and her posse of 20-somethings (they could have been younger, but I’m going to assume the legal drinking age was honored at this place) were the perfect stereotypes of blasé townies, figuring they might as well get the ball rolling since someone there actually wanted to sing. The ample disco lights swirled around a completely empty stage area. Both the bartender and KJ were smoking, so maybe my assumption that the karaoke crew were of legal drinking age might be unfounded. Given the atmosphere, I fell into Hold on Loosely by 38 Special. Then I stopped caring where I was, I belted out Edge of 17. So there.
The next day, Tammy, her partner, and I met my best friend from grammar school at a diner (when in New Jersey…). There I was (re)introduced to Taylor ham, a Jersey staple to have with eggs or on a sandwich. After our meal, Tammy and I parted ways and Brenda and I set off for a “day of nostalgia” that included visiting our old schools, the cigar shop where we used to ride our bikes to get candy, and the beaches we used to spend our summers.
Despite the long day, and the fact that I had already sung in NJ, Brenda and I set off again for a “New Jersey Take II” quest.
First place didn’t have it, despite their web site stating otherwise. Another internet search in the parking lot uncovered a backup option and away we went. The true sign of a best friend – not giving up on the other’s goal at the first obstacle.
We pulled into the parking lot of PUB right as another car was arriving. That car was an orange Lamborghini. And out of that car stepped a tall, lanky man in his 50s with long hair, skinny jeans, and a black leather jacket, circa 1985. Outstanding. This was going to be fun.
As we entered, the KJ was singing Angie by the Rolling Stones. His face was as animated as any I’ve seen that stays in tune; I loved his facial expressions and raised eyebrows. The crowd was primarily middle aged, many sidled up to the bar watching NCAA football (Oregon was getting their butts handed to them by Utah in a crazy upset). Lamborghini man was next, taking his song selection, Elton John’s Tiny Dancer, very seriously. His partner, a blonde with a great boob job, gazed approvingly.
The space was small and the setup unconventional. No paper slips to submit your song – just walk up to the KJ, Alan, and make your request. He introduced himself to me when I first got up there, and as the evening went on it was clear this was a tight-knit community. Alan knew his people and their songs. People cheered for each other and danced to all sorts of selections –Alan’s applause soundtrack helped fill the room with more support.
Billy Joel night! I was already considering singing a Billy Joel song, but when the guy before me busted out Only the Good Die Young, I knew I needed to continue the vibe With Say Goodbye to Hollywood. Though it wasn’t a pure double-shot, as in between our Billy Joel songs was a beautiful rendition of You Make Me Feel Brand New sung unsuspectingly by a meek-looking gentleman in brown horn-rimmed glasses and a pink plaid shirt who never got up from the bar to sing – just sang right from his seat. Then another person got into the act and sang Just the Way You Are. Triple shot of one my favorite artists growing up.
This was the New Jersey experience I was looking for.