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BEST KARAOKE Minneapolis 1999 -

Antler chandeliers, decades-old fryer grease, and the smell of stale alcohol fill this city slickers' version of a rural hunting lodge. Walking into the Country Bar and Grill, one would almost expect to see orange vests and guns of all sizes alongside burly beer-drinking men. This stereotype is sometimes close to the truth, except from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, when the area near the women's bathroom is cleared away and the mics and the monitor create a previously nonexistent stage. The emcee doesn't interfere with the mood, instead allowing the brave singing soul an opportunity to shine as best she can. That's when the joint comes alive, as an eclectic group of patrons vocalizes their hearts out in sweet and wanton emulation of their favorite musical performers. If you'd like to see tall black women singing Tom Jones's "She's a Lady" or old white men singing Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion," then look no further. For die-hard karaoke regulars, this is almost as cool as an MTV video and, considering some of MTV's recent videos, probably better.

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