F KARAOKE & OPEN MIC IS FOR LOSERS

How a steady gig changed my attitude towards these entertainment staples.

December 31, 2020 marked the first year since 2012 that I wasn’t hosting New Year’s Eve Karaoke at Doheny’s Tavern Grill & Sports Bar (formerly The Tartan Room) in Garden Grove.

There I was looking for work after nearly 25 years in Music Distribution.  The Compact Disc revolution had come to an end.  Along the way, I purchased a home, produced a Hard Rock Band(Doom Kounty Electric Chair), got my own Record Deal and traveled the world while selling 29 million worth of CD’s, LP’s and DVD’s.  Music has always been good to me.

It was early in 2013 and everybody’s pal Boris Bengin was filling in as an Open Mic host at a Bar down the street.  My experience with Open Mics was limited.  I’d venture out every few months and sing a few, usually running into familiar faces.  I managed to piss off an established and “loveable” Newport Beach Open Mic host due to a scheduling mishap.  I won a month long Open Mic songwriters contest at a popular Costa Mesa spot (Bilbo Baggins), but the locals didn’t embrace my effort.  Looking back, I didn’t do much to be embraceable.  After all, Open Mic is for losers.

So I go to Boris’s Open Mic and sing a few.  The Local “Dive Bar” had a kitchen and since I worked my way through college in Anaheim Food & Beverage, a few days later I printed up my Resume and went back to the bar to talk to the owner.  To my surprise, Paul Doheny, the bar owner proceeded to offer me a job in Entertainment!  “Host Open Mic on Wednesday’s…and I want you be the Friday Karaoke Host”, he said.

I was doing the occasional cover gig only bringing in a few hundred dollars a month and had nearly exhausted my reserves.  I’d done some big sold out shows Solo opening for BJ Thomas, Judy Collins, Roger Clyne…Smithereens, The Cramps, Ozomatli in previous bands.  Yes, occasional rock stardom but the lack of consistency didn’t help much with my mortgage.  Accept the local Dive offer and I add 8 gigs a month in one quick move?  Yes, I took the job and while I had anticipated the added cash flow, I didn’t expect that gainful employment would improve my musical chops and garner so many friends and fans.

So to all the Singers and players over the years, Thanks for the Rock!