Peter Parker, said the movement is catching on for a variety of reasons.
"It's therapeutic, it's confidence-building, it's the people's music
[and] it's a lot about support," Parker said. "I've seen people come
together from varying walks of life and all of a sudden, they become
brothers and sisters in this endeavor."
A Japanese businessman is credited with starting the entertainment
craze about 20 years ago.
An evening's show features performers singing numbers backed by
prerecorded music. Karaoke jockeys, known as KJs, oversee the whole show.
Husband-and-wife team Don and Malena Young have been Burbank KJs since
1993. Though karaoke wasn't responsible for bringing them together, they
have watched other couples meet at their events.
"A lot of couples who have met and gotten married, we've then deejayed
the weddings," Malena Young said.
A recent night at the Holiday Inn in Burbank featured Alan "Doc"
Skinner, a 35-year-old producer and local store owner, singing his cover
of Elton John's "Levon." Typical of the eclectic nature of karaoke, he
also enjoys performing folk songs and numbers from "The Rocky Horror
Picture Show." Having surveyed a number of karaoke hotspots, he is
partial to the Holiday Inn crowd.
"These are people who are performing out of personal passion," Skinner
said. "Karaoke has become so popular that it also suffers from a certain
terminal hipness ... I don't go to any of the other places, where it
feels like people are trying to score record contracts."
Proximity to industry professionals might account for the profusion of
Burbank venues, Parker said. Professional singers like Carrie Flaherty, a
Burbank High School graduate, regularly hit the karaoke circuit.
New York native Kathy Bauer worked a recent crowd by coming down from
the stage to sing directly to her audience. The 40-year-old child care
and senior adult assistant is a roving karaoke singer, hitting a
different club each week with her husband.
"I make people happy, and they seem to light up and enjoy themselves,"
IF YOU GO:
Call venues for karaoke schedules.
* Acapulco Mexican Restaurant
3113 W. Olive Ave. 841-4433 * Crazy Jack's
4311 W. Magnolia Blvd.
3413 W. Olive Ave.
* Holiday Inn-Burbank
150 E. Angelino Ave.
* Pirate's Cove
2007 W. Burbank Blvd.
* Que's River Bottom
4201 W. Olive Ave.
* Sensation Village
237 E. Olive Ave.
* Whiskey Bend
1221 N. San Fernando Road