Karaoke at The Alberton Arms
by Gena Fisher
Faye Gutierrez, co-owner of the Alberton Arms, gets the karaoke crowd pumped and participating
Karaoke, those who like it, like it a lot. For those of you who are curious, the word karaoke stems from two Japanese words- "kara"+"oke"-which mean empty orchestra.
Karaoke has become widespread in PEI and it's no surprise. "People like to entertain each other and they like to be part of the show," said Faye Gutierrez. Faye and her partner, Dean, are the proprietors of The Alberton Arms, a popular restaurant and pub in Alberton. On Thursday nights, Faye plugs in her karaoke set and turns up the volume. there's not much to it-a monitor, a mic and a kickin' set of speakers.
Before the patrons begin to arrive, a songbook is placed on every table in the pub. The book contains no less than 400 songs in alphabetical order and everything from blues to rock is listed. In order to take part, all an innocent bystander has to do is writer his or her name down on a piece of paper, jot down a choice of song, place the paper on Faye's table, then wait patiently to hear his or her name called.
The karaoke set includes the music. The vocals of the person who has the mic will be what you hear live, not the professionals. Lyrics for the selected song scroll across the monitor and, if at any time a singer looses his or her place, Faye will appear as if by magic to make everything sound all right.
Faye gets the pub pumped by starting off with a handful of songs she knows will start a chain reaction. Soon, little pieces of paper begin to litter her table and one by one people are called up to sing. Faye passes the mic like the Olympic torch and disappears stage right.
"The way I see it, if you screw up, you can just get up and try it again, " said Derrick Arsenault, a.k.a. Moochy. Moochy's favourite music is country and he loves to entertain an audience. He's become quite popular in the karaoke circle and has won prizes for his performances. "It's fun and you have a good time," he said.
There are those who will wail and whine, "Karaoke no way! I am not going up there. Not me." But they are often the people who, when they've held the mic just once, can't get enough of karaoke and will not get off the stage. Faye has this problem with her barmaid, Maryann.
Francine Fitzpatrick finds karaoke relaxing. "Once you're on stage all your troubles seem to fade away," she said.
Jody Hustler's sensuous voice blends particularly well with her musical choice of Abba and Cher. Jody says karaoke gives her and her friends something to do and she likes being part of the entertainment. "It's better than watching bands all the time," said Jody.
Fay applauds all of those brave enough to rise to the occasion, no matter what they sound like. More often than not, though, the sounds are real good.
While the karaoke singers entertain with their lively renditions, others dance surrounded by bubbles from the machine. "Tiny bubbles, in the wine, make me feel happy, make me feel fine...."