Karaoke you either love it or hate it! Bandwith Karaoke adds a new dimension and brings some hope to those singers who can’t bring themselves to take a plunge into an Open Mic Night. Let’s face it everyone has a few songs in them that they either sing while in the shower or just driving in the car. Once you either drink enough or your friends push you into getting up on stage their enthusiasm makes you into a rock star for the evening.
While some people appear nervous at first having a live band behind them it actually is a lot better than normal karaoke. Where the music is a static track that you are singing to, in this case the band can adapt to how well you are carrying the song. If you sing with them more than a couple of times they can help cover any weaknesses by adding more backup vocals or tuning up or down the instruments. Most bands do this regularly with their own members; it’s always a struggle trying to play the latest crowd favorites.
Bandwith Karaoke currently has over 150 songs that they can play, and are learning new ones every week. Most of them are requested by their new band members, the singers. When you like their Facebook page you are greeted with a warm email or post welcoming you to the band. Just to put this in prospective most cover bands only have around 50 to 60 songs in rotation at any moment so this is a major undertaking.
If you still think this band is not serious about their music you would be sadly mistaken, this is a really difficult thing to do with a new singer for every song. The band plays really well together regardless of the singer with great drum and guitar solos from Matt Lefebvre and Matt Whitney. All backed up with a killer bass track and backup vocals provided by James Parent.
Center Station Pub-Berlin CT-Aug 13th, 2011
We arrived early as the band was setting up on the crowded stage positioned in the window, with a few sound checks and introductory songs the band was warmed up and ready for their new members. They have played at Center Station for the last couple of months on the second Saturday of the month and have developed quite a following. Karaoke and trivia nights are mostly social events where you tend to meet and cheer on your friends, with a good live band backing up the singers it can been even more fun. You can see from the video below as LBR’s own lsg was lip synching to Cheap Trick.
Truthfully most of the singers at Center Station were exceptionally good, but the band held it together for the rest of us. This includes yours truly who tried to sing a rendition of “Fat Bottom Girls” by Queen that probably had the dogs howling for miles around.
Some standout amongst the crowd was Chooch and Evon, with Evon even tackling “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. lsg and her friend Stephanie did a decent rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey and as most people know I really hate this song because it is so overplayed, but if you have friends up on stage singing it for the first time it’s a different experience.
In a normal Karaoke setting the words are projected on a screen that everyone can see, with the Bandwith setup it is placed like a monitor on center stage below the singer. Since this is live music this is controlled by the host Rob Cherry, who also announces the singers and songs throughout the evening. One suggestion I would make is to have another monitor facing the audience so they can sing along as well, another reason most of us don’t do Open Mic nights is it’s hard to memorize all the words correctly. Sound and lighting was provided by Stereo Joe and while it was a little dark the sound balance was good for most of the singers and the band, while a little loud due to the confines of the bar.
Center Station itself was made famous nationally in a previous incarnation by advertising Naked Karaoke which was actually initially a joke put up on the sign outside of the bar. It’s nice to see them trying something different again other than a regular Karaoke night. The food at Center Station is a good mix of pub food with some great burgers on the menu; the atmosphere is typical of most small bars with a good friendly local crowd and fast bar service. There is outside seating on picnic benches outside in the front of the bar facing Farmington Avenue and on this rather chilly summer night a fire was burning in the fire pit.
Parking is adequate with a small lot directly to the side of the bar and along Depot Road. A sign in the bigger lot directly behind the bar warns of no overnight parking, but people seem to park there as well. The passing trains add to the nostalgic feeling of the place and having lived in Berlin growing up its nice hearing the train’s whistle as they approach the station.
Since Live Bands require a break between sets a DJ would spin some tunes, this tended to be a lot louder than the band and we had to get really close to hear each other. This is my opinion is not conducive to the social aspects of the Karaoke crowd and should be turned down a little.
Overall the evening was a complete blast and due to the problems involved in getting releases we didn’t film the evening officially, but if you know me on Facebook you can find some unofficial videos. So it was nice relaxing and just enjoying the band and all the brave singers, I would encourage anyone with a song in their heart to become a member of Bandwith Karaoke.
Matt Whitney – Guitar
Matt Lefebvre – Drums
James Parent – Bass
Rob Cherry – Host
Debbie Bradford – Hostess
Stereo Joe – Sound guy
Bandwith Karaoke can as of this writing be seen at:
Black Bear in Milford, CT every Thursday
Coaches Tavern in Hartford, CT every Friday
Center Station Pub in Berlin, CT the second Saturday of every month.