Baraoke at The River Bar

| January 10, 2018 | Reply


Story and photos by Mary Jane Farmer, First published in The Paris News, Jan. 7, 2018, editon) 

There were several common characteristics among those who sang in Tuesday night’s Baraoke, aka karaoke with Barry Diamond as host, at The River Bar & Grill in Grant. Those would be respect, support, and commitment.

Karaoke is the art of, usually, non-professionals who like to sing and are willing to do that with a microphone and good sound system in front of an audience. They sing along to pre-recorded music and the words are on a screen on the stage.

Diamond said that he’s been hosting Tuesday night karaoke, which begins at 8 p.m., for five years now. And he’s begun hosting it at the Paris Elks Lodge, starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday nights. Diamond is also a popular on-air personality with K95.5 radio.


The crowd was smaller this week than usual, with 12 singers instead of the usual two or three dozen, Diamond said. Whether it was because of being right after the holidays or because of the cold weather remained an unknown, but that was fine for those who were there to sing, because instead of one or sometimes two songs, they each got at least three songs Tuesday night.

Tiffany, from Paris, started with The Judds’ 80s hit “Grandpa.” Her style set a


dynamic pace, but wasn’t duplicated. She left the corner stage and sang directly to children and others in the audience.

Tiffany said she sang in the school choir and at church as a young child. A few years ago, she tried out for American Idol and intends to make a play to get on The Voice. She sings in the car and when walking through a grocery store, out loud. But it’s the karaoke that pulled her through the toughest part of her life — the loss of her 2-day-old baby son.

“I was pregnant when I started coming out, and singing, and meeting everyone else. He was my first child. I didn’t come for a while after his birth and his death, and most of them had heard what happened. When I did return, no one asked a bunch of questions, they just all hugged me and said they loved me and have been really supportive ever since.”

So why karaoke? Tiffany said, “It’s so much fun to watch everybody and see them get more comfortable with this and that, like it did with me, carries into everything they


do. This is like family. There are so many people who can sing around our area, and it’s good to have a place where they can. I’m pretty shy, but here’s its different.” She added that her first karaoke experience was when she was 3-year-old and she literally threw up afterward. “Now I can do this. And I like to sing whatever I like, including blues.”

Diamond said that, though he has a large catalogue of karaoke background music, sometimes people ask for something he doesn’t have, but he tells them he’ll have it next week — “And I do have it for them the next time,” he said.

Johnny B, wearing a white Baraoke T-shirt, sang, “I Always Get Lucky With You,” the classic Merle Haggard song. Johnny said he’d been singing karaoke for 18 years, and been going to the one at The River Bar since it started. He’s already been to the one at the Elks Lodge, too. When asked what his best experience was, Johnny B. gave an answer that was as unique as it might come for any singer.

“I drove a cab,” he said. “And once, at a karaoke night, a guy from Denver asked for my autograph on something, and I learned he hung that on his office wall. Then, once when I was in the cab, I got a cell phone call, and it was that same guy. He said I was on speaker phone and would I please sing him a song. So I did. Then, I heard lots of clapping and shouting, and that’s when I learned he had about 150 people listening to me sing through that phone.”

Mark, who came for the first time and went before anyone could really get to talk with


him, sang a classic parenting song about being your son’s idol — “I’m Watching You, Dad, (now ain’t that cool.) Mark had as much, if not more stage presence, including use of his microphone. He didn’t stick around for a second song, and Diamond said that, wherever Mark came from, he hopes Mark will come back another night.

Colby, from Hugo, chose the classic John Anderson “Seminole Wind,” a touching song and one he delivered with the empathy that Anderson emits with he sings it. And yet it was unique to Colby. “You can be original when doing covers,” he said. What makes this Baraoke special for Colby? “This is where, besides church, is where I started singing in public. It’s the people and the atmosphere, it’s family, and so close to home.” Colby said his favorite style of music is gospel, and his second song was “I Believe.”


“The reason I started singing at all,” Colby said, “is that when I was 12 years old, I had cancer in my throat. Doctors told me I would never be able to talk, and that gave me a reason to defy. I started singing. The cancer has been gone a while now and the doctors said I really “pulled off a good ‘un.”

And Rossi, from Paris also, said she usually does the same songs, but started out that

night with “Daddy’s Hands.” A divorcee, she’s used this as a social tool to meet people and get on with her life. “I’ve been singing for about seven years. It’s funk, and the camaraderie here is awesome. The regulars, well, some are not that much fun, but most are. And here, we can break the monotony of the week.”

Rossie added, “And I love Barry’s style. He’s so personable, and makes you feel like a rock star.”

Diamond said he discovered that’s important to the singers, that it helps them, even the shyer ones, get up on the little stage and sing their hearts out. He gives each one a grand introduction and a grand thank you, asking the room to clap also. And the room does.


Diamond also said that not everybody comes here to sing. Some — usually family and friends, but also others — come to watch. “And there’s the one couple,” he said as he pointed to the back of the room, “who comes to dance.” The couple was up on their makeshift dance floor — the aisles — most of the time.

Oh, yeah… each singer over the age of 18 receives two drawing tickets and at the night, they stir the tickets up in a bingo-style wheel and draw two. Those two people receive $100 each.

Johnny B. said he was tickled when he won $100 — “Finally, someone paid me for singing,” he laughed.





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