Last year’s Karaoke Lounge benefiting the Turtle Creek Recovery Center was a real memory maker. It was a jammed crowd of energy, beautiful people and a main room that looked like a lavish furniture store running a special on white leather couches. As is typical of any follow-up committee, the worry was, “Can we rise to last year’s success?”
When the doors opened at Edison’s Friday at 7, the answer didn’t look all that hopeful. Instead of lots of food and drinks in the side room, the staff was still setting up. In the main room, the big plushy couches were MIA, but a gargantuan island bar was more than present with high-top tables and café tables with chairs surrounding the dance floor. As the minutes ticked by, the crowd still seemed sparse and the two semi-circular tables set up for food only had white tablecloths.
Where were the 350 expected party pets? That’s not saying that the early arrivals were not cool. Ready to rock n’ roll were Cindy Clendenen in her mother’s Bob Mackie bolero jacket from the 70’s and husband Andy Clendenen, who has a wide variety of interests. In addition to being on the board of the Dallas Historical Society, he’s a real rocker, having been the lead singer and guitarist of The Heard. The band is re-releasing their hit, “Exit 9,” which he wrote, in the next few weeks. If you haven’t heard of them, you need to check with one of your European friends. The Heard is a “European cult favorite.”
M3 Film producer Jason Cirone was there with Crystal Ruffu of the House of Blues. Jason has been working on the Starke Club documentary. His next project is one on Stanley Marcus. Asked if they were going to sing, Jason said, “We want things to go on a long time tonight, so we decided not to sing.”
At a table near the empty stage were Michelle Rivera and her former Dallas Cowboy hunk/husband Marco.
Then a burst of energy appeared in two areas of the room. Near the stage was LeeAnne Locken, who was positively giddy about her upcoming performance on stage and in the March 4 debut of “GCB.” She admitted to being disappointed in not being able to attend the February 28th sneak preview, but she already had a Women in Film board meeting on her must-do-list. At her side was BF Rich Emberlin, who was dreading the idea of being a karaoke stage victim. His selection for the night was “Chug-a-Lug.” According to LeeAnne, he had “nailed it” in his practice sessions.
Near the entrance was that wild-and-crazy guy Steve Kemble, who was to emcee the evening. Think of Steve this way. If you had an Energizer Bunny, Steve would be the battery inside that created the action. Nearby one woman said to her party buddy, “I would kill to know who his plastic surgeon is.” With his can-hear-anything-ears, Steve didn’t miss a beat and smiled, “Dr. David Genecov. Tell him I told you to call!”
While some folks were starting the raised-eyebrow-look about the evening’s success, Co-chairs Cary Deuber and Danya Anderson were like confident blue-ribbon winners. With their husbands (Dr. Mark Deuber and Mike Anderson) at their sides, they knew the tsunami was in transit.
Perfect timing. Suddenly a flood of women in shorter-than-short
sequined dresses and longer-than-legal legs with equally don’t-you-wish-you-were-us guys flooded the room. They were a party in motion.
Long, lanky Bill Hutchinson, who is Mitt Romney’s finance man in these parts, admitted with a raspy voice that he managed to recruit Ray “Mr. Highland Park Village” Washburne to the Romney cause. Why the bad voice? He’d been talking all day, so it appeared that he wouldn’t be singing. When reminded that Rod Stewart had made a very successful career with a similar voice, Bill said he might sing Steppenwolf: “Get your motor running/head out on the highway. . .”
As the crowd grew, organizers started revving up for the show to go on. The momentum was building to a place that Simon Cowell would have blushed.
First on the plate. . . er, stage, was Co-chair/Ms. Perfection Cary. In her tighter than a sausage wrap dress (and it fit her cellulite-free figure outrageously), she took the mic like Douglas Fairbanks grasping a sword. The crowd grew in preparation for awe and shock. Then the shock hit. The music for “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” blared, but nothing came out of Cary unless you were inches away from her. What happened to the sound system? Like the best trouper of the boards, she carried on. Unfortunately, “The Artist” was louder than Cary. Seems somehow the system had blown two amps. Technical chatter aside, the results spelled no singing. Too bad because Cary knows how to belt out a song. Shane Walker in the spirit of fundraising walked to the stage and placed a bill in Cary’s bodice. When asked how much he put “in the kitty,” Shane said a fiver. But Cary only pulled out a buck.
Organizers didn’t look happy. No, change that. They looked PO-ed as the minutes continued to tick. Julian Leaver was called into to make things right. Still no luck. Singer Hunter Sullivan eyeballed the situation. He didn’t look like a happy camper. Luckily, the guests were enjoying each other too much to be bothered.
It didn’t help when the karaoke crew put one of their folks up and she sang like an American Idol finalist. . . and then sang and sang. Good voice, but this crowd wasn’t here to hear a stranger sing on key. They were here to see their friends turning into karaoke Cameron Diaz. Then when a non-crew member tried the mic, nothing at best happened. It was becoming a slo-mo train wreck. Furrowed brows were appearing on overly botoxed brows.
Emcee Steve muttered to a friend, “I had nothing to do with the sound, and quite frankly the fact that it went out is probably a good thing for the audience…Now they don’t have to hear me sing!”
Guests continued with their chatter. After all, this is a well-behaved crowd that ignores the awkward moments of partying. New friends were made thanks to the hiccup. Cash Riley, who was repping Seven, the evening’s premier water, learned from Stubbs Davis the infamous toast taught to him by the legendary Nancy Hamon and Richard Rogers. “Here’s to lyin’, cheatin’ and stealin’. Translation: Lying with the one you love. Cheating death. And stealing time with good friends.” KDFW’s adorable Natalie Solis waved off any chances of her singing. Buddy Kristen Guarisco, who chaired last year’s auction, summed Natalie up saying, “She’ll dance. She’s a great dancer.” Heck, sign the gal up for Top Hat & Tails!
Despite Steve’s joking around and anxious looks being exchanged, it wasn’t a good sign. Then Julian “Mr. Karaoke” Leaver had thangs rearranged and sound was heard.
WFAA’s Amy Vanderoef was seeking liquid courage and sharing it with friends. She was wary of what lay ahead in her performance.
After several minutes and in the mind of organizers an eon of time, the audio problems were history. Bret McKinney took the mic and stage singing “Sweet Caroline.” His singing was only overshadowed by his courage. It all worked.
It was now party time! Next up was Peri Gilpin. Bless her heart. She told the crowd that was gathering around the stage, “Here is a song [Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Place”] from my heart to all of you.” A member of the audience critiqued, “Her voice is terrible, but she’s got the crowd rocking along.” Hey, this is karaoke, not the Dallas Opera. Didn’t see the one complaining up on stage singing.
Following the ever-charming and in-tune Hunter Sullivan, the stage was hijacked by the gal-pals including the co-chairs, Maggie Kipp, Shona Che’re Gilbert, Dran Morrow, Courtney Westmoreland, Mary Shah, Brandy Taylor and Anne Stodghill. They dragged Julian onto the stage, as the rest of the crowd watched in amazement.
As the singing grew louder and louder, late arrivals Todd Fiscus and Ceron arrived asking, “How’s it going?” It was going and growing with Angela Nash‘s gal pals presenting her with a red-hot purse (Was it Prada?) as a birthday gift, Todd on stage doing an unforgettable version of “Forget You,” and others proving that the shower isn’t the only place where a monotone can croon.
Pity the poor folks who chair next year’s Karaoke. The bar has been raised once again.