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Come on, you know the words

February 02, 2002

Laura Sturza

BURBANK -- Local store owners and child-care workers, joined by

throngs of others, have been singing the blues in increasing numbers.

They have been belting out blues, rock and just about any other type

of song imaginable during karaoke performances at local venues.

Karaoke Scene Magazine lists Burbank as having the most karaoke

offerings of any San Fernando Valley city. The magazine's publisher,

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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,"

Bauer said.

IF YOU GO:

Call venues for karaoke schedules.

* Acapulco Mexican Restaurant

3113 W. Olive Ave. 841-4433 * Crazy Jack's

4311 W. Magnolia Blvd.

845-1121

* Dimples

3413 W. Olive Ave.

842-2336

* Holiday Inn-Burbank

150 E. Angelino Ave.

841-4470

* Pirate's Cove

2007 W. Burbank Blvd.

845-4645

* Que's River Bottom

4201 W. Olive Ave.

846-2604

* Sensation Village

237 E. Olive Ave.

558-1459

* Whiskey Bend

1221 N. San Fernando Road

845-9749

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