Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

December 3, 2014 at 12:23pm

Pirates steal the karaoke mic at Bob's Java Jive

Yo ho ho ho! Shanty Claus is comin’ to town.

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"I soon got used to this singing, for the sailors never touched a rope without it....It is a great thing in a sailor to know how to sing well, for he gets a great name by it from the officers, and a good deal of popularity among his shipmates." - Herman Melville, Redburn

Like many of you, I had my share of youthful indiscretions. I wedged my mom's car between two trees (don't ask), tried the occasional illicit substance and ... you know, now that I think back, I may have been married for a few years back in the '90s. Whew, that was a dark time. The habit I look back on with the most confusion and embarrassment, however, is not a drug or psychotic relationship. It's a weird Japanese pastime that took off in American clubs in the 1990s and was never fully eradicated by the forces of good. I'm referring, of course, to karaoke. Did you know karaoke is the clipped form of a Japanese phrase that means "empty orchestra?" That about says it all. I myself was guilty of numerous slurred performances of "Rocky Raccoon," "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," and, in a recurring quest to score phone numbers from insecure women, "Creep." Judge not, me hearties. I've seen plenty of you tormenting open karaoke mics at La Palma and the Crippler.

The trick to karaoke, it seems to me, is performing ironically. I for one used to walk into good ol' boy establishments in small-town Oklahoma and croon Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know." When I'd get to the line about being extra friendly in a theater, you could feel locals' annoyance like incipient sunburn. I recommend it highly next time you're in the Flyover Zone. Have a friend keep an escape vehicle idling nearby.

That's my technique for keeping an audience on its toes. Honestly, though, what better, more ironic way is there to sing karaoke than in the guttural timbre of a pirate? At Bob's Java Jive, there's a recurring event called "Pirate Karaoke," where you're not only encouraged to sing like a pirate; you can dress like one, too. Imagine, if you will, Lucky the Shoulder Parrot joining you in a stirring round of "Come As You ARRRR!" in the same dive where Kurt Cobain himself used to put away brewskis. That's ironic on a whole other level. Your host Bowan the Black offers a library of 100,000 songs including Styx's "Come Sail Away" and Selena Gomez's "Lubber in Me." (Sorry.) If you're lucky, you'll enjoy the company of rowdy cosplayers The Black Bank, Criminal Dawn, The Feisty Felines or House Madrasa. If not, your rendition of "Don't Stop Believin'" will earn you a stroll down the plank.

One last thing: Tacoma landmark Bob's Java Jive is shaped like a giant coffeepot, so imagine how blasted you'll feel when you stagger outside, three sheets to the wind from pirate grog or (more likely) PBR. Dead men tell no tales!

PIRATE KARAOKE, 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, Bob's Java Jive, 2102 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma, no cover, 253.475.9843

Filed under: Music, Tacoma,
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