I love karaoke. That’s right — no shame in it. I relish the moment when an individual breaks off from the herd, bottoms-up their Bud, and stands bravely to pour out some feeling for a captive audience. With every new track, a hometown prodigy could be discovered. Anticipation and regret mingle dangerously. Dad’s Karaoke is no exception.
The bar’s casual moniker fits: Its interior most resembles a glorified rec room, with a circular wooden bar providing front-row seats to the alcohol. Tables sit further back amidst floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with actual tomes and petite desk lamps, evoking the feel of a speakeasy library.
Depending on the night of the week, the pace at Dad’s can be raucous or restrained. On a recent Thursday, a Tammy Faye Baker lookalike nuzzled the shoulder of a chain-smoking, 10-gallon hat-wearing oilman, while across the room, a man in a Stephen F. Austin 3:16 T-shirt lingered by the bar with a faraway look on his face. Beside him sat an utterly smashed young woman, eyes closed, lost in the music. The small space was packed with smokers, and my eyes burned from the haze.
Under the well-intoxicated conditions that evening, the performer at any given time was more chorus leader than soloist. But on a Monday night, when the specials include $3 Jack Daniels and $3.75 Crown Royal, the vibe was completely different. Low-key songs were the theme, followed by polite but generous applause. The cigarette smoke was way down, and the noise level was such that clusters of friends could easily chat.
“I’ve never come here and paid for my own drinks,” said Nicole LeCompte, surveying her options. Her friend, Jackie Flores, describes herself as a former regular and says the nice people who congregate here are the highlight.
Karaoke seven nights a week is Dad’s claim to fame, but patrons come just to soak in the ambience. Typically, a smallish bar choking-thick with cigarette smoke and with a ragtag clientele does not add up to much, but Dad’s appeal — depending on whom you ask — is either its invitingly low standards and friendly people or, for the ironic visitor, the pure bizarreness of the experience.
After grabbing a drink, take a seat in the galley and prepare yourself. On second thought, there is no way to prepare yourself for what you may witness, but just enjoy the entertainment and let your workweek cares fade away. And be sure to check out the day’s bar special.
While a notable number of languishing single ladies can be spotted hanging at Dad’s, we cannot with clear conscience recommend our female readers show up here alone (or maybe the warm weather of late just brings out the creepers). Bring your own friends, relish the sleaze, and take a chance on your most pathetic song rendition, because Dad’s has the most supportive audience in town, regardless of your talent.
— Natalia Ciolko