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On karaoke nights, Twin Ports residents sing along for fun and prizes

A local talent hopeful sings the words off the karaoke screen at Frankie's Tavern in Superior several years ago. More recently, the fad has been staking a claim on the Duluth side of the bridge. (News Tribune file photo)

Do you sing with the radio? Can't wait for American Idol? Sing in the shower? If so, karaoke may be for you.

The Japanese word, pronounced "ka-row-kay" in the Midwest, "carrie-okee" in the East, and also "karah-o-kay," karaoke, means "empty orchestra," because the vocal track of the song has been removed. Typically offered as entertainment at bars, singing karaoke is a fun way to spend time with friends, while enjoying a wide range of music sung by local talent.

Duluth's Pete Anderson, 67, has been singing karaoke for years. Recently, he was at the Round-Up Bar & Grill on East Fourth Street singing, "I Love This Bar" by Toby Keith, personalized for the Round-Up.

"You don't have to be an artist to express yourself," he said.

To that, Round-Up owner Mike Ronning, who sings in the band Country Junction, adds a bit of advice.

"Know your limitations," he said. "Sing the song like you would sing it, not like the artist."

The Keyboard Lounge in Proctor is one place -- perhaps the only locally -- where you can sing karaoke seven nights a week. For five of those nights, Roy Morneau, a deejay with 21 years of experience with Karaoke Music Agency, takes requests and hosts karaoke at 9 p.m.

Starting a half-hour later at 9:30 and going to 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights is the karaoke stage at the Clubhouse Sports Bar/Stadium Lanes, at 214 N. 34th Ave. West in Duluth.

"It's not scary," says DJ Tina Luomanen of PM Entertainment in a note of encouragement to first-time singers.

Just off downtown Duluth is the Twins Bar on East Fourth Street. R&R Music Pro owner Rick Havron and DJs Ricky Havron (Rick's son) and Jim Schlies host a karaoke/dance party on Friday nights, 10 p.m. to

2 a.m. OnTuesday nights at 9 p.m., look for karaoke at the Reef on London Road, and on Wednesday, at the Copasetic Lounge at 322 E. Central Entrance, from 8 p.m. to midnight, hosted by KMA DJ Service.

Need further encouragement? Free drinks and cold, hard cash might help. Most bars offer drink specials to karaoke singers, including a one-free-drink giveaway each hour to those who sing a song. Players Sports Bar, located at 4024 Grand Ave. in Duluth, however, gives away money at its Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night karaoke contest, beginning at 11 p.m. (with warmup qualifying rounds starting at 9). The winner gets $100 in cash. Second and third place winners receive $30 and $20 in Bar Bucks, respectively.

Players has gone high-tech with karaoke, recently installing Touch Tunes, a dual jukebox/karaoke system. On contest nights, emcee Reid Anderson helps singers find songs on the manual system, which smart phone users can operate from their table via a free downloadable app. Touch Tunes costs $1 per song. Contest songs are free.

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