by Sheri Boggs

The Star

1329 N. Hamilton St. * 487-1530

First things first: I can't sing. At all. So karaoke bars are about the last place I'd go on a Friday night. But a recent expedition to the Star showed me I've been missing out on a goldmine of entertainment. As we passed through an entrance comprised partly of cracked, peeling mirror tile on one side and river rock on the other, it was like entering a smoky underworld of raw emotion -- one girl was belting out some Shania Twain as if her life depended on it. Their karaoke is the "just-the-words" kind, and as we observed the painfully slow crawl of the lyrics, we noticed different things -- like how the karaoke host would step in when nobody's turn was up, and how some folks -- one guy named Ty in particular -- were actually pretty damn good. After his rendition of Lionel Richie's "Hello," we were treated to the most godawful breakup song of all time, Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock's "Picture" -- a great opportunity for a campy, giggly duet. But once somebody decides to do "I Touch Myself" and the frat boys get rowdy, it's time to go. But before you do, be sure to check out the ladies room -- one dispenser has tacky sex aids and another dispenser will blast you with Jovan Musk, should you let it.

Peking North

4120 N. Division St. * 484-4321

Karaoke and Chinese restaurants just seem to go together like, uh, peas and carrots. Peking North, however, likes to keep theirs separate with one entrance for the elegant, Chinese-luxe restaurant and the oh-so-American lounge. Their karaoke is the video kind, where not only do you see the lyrics but also some kind of cheesy interpretation that borrows lots of motifs from softcore porn (women in hats, women being models, women cavorting on the beach and, my favorite, women in big ol' white pumps from 1985). The crowd was raucous, the host enthusiastic, and we were astonished when no sooner had we sat down then someone decided to do "Hello" and then two other people decided to do "Picture." It was like karaoke d & eacute;j & agrave; vu, and we could only marvel as to what it all meant.

Pear Tree Inn

3011 S. Grand Blvd. * 747-2638

As my cousin Brian likes to say, this is a great "frosty old man bar." It's also a great place to toss back your weight in beer while playing pool and enjoying the large crowd of regulars try any one of hundreds of songs in the Pear Tree's karaoke menu. The crowd here is a little older, and the music tends to reflect that -- you'll find some Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, Elvis and Johnny Cash along with your usual Celine Dion, Shania Twain and Madonna.

Percy's Cafe Americana

10502 E. Sprague Ave. * 924-6022

The Valley is not without its karaoke opportunities, and Percy's Caf & eacute; Americana is a perfect example. They do it every night except Friday, and we're pleased to see this great place is still going strong.

Moon's Mongolian Grill

6429 N. Division St. * 467-1043

A few years ago, Moon's was one of Spokane's newest sensations -- meats and vegetables you pick out yourself and then watch as they're perfectly stir-fried on an enormous grill. Thursday night is karaoke night, at the North Side location, courtesy of your host, "Skrach." The songs tend towards Western, jazz and pop, the hosts love to banter with the audience, and from the looks of things, Moon's makes one of the purtiest Bloody Marys in town.

Others Worth Checking Out

Three Dishes; the New Songhay; Aki's

Publication date: 2/03/05

Juneteenth at Spark Central @ Spark Central

Sat., June 19, 12-7 p.m.
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