Uptown Karaoke King Tom Wheaton
It might be difficult to imagine that a VFW could be an Uptown hotspot. But then again, if Uptown can make the outside of Rainbow Foods look mildly artsy, why not? Every Thursday through Saturday night, husband and wife team Tom and Judy Wheaton host TNT Karaoke until the wee hour of 1:30 am. Recent hit performances included a pitch-perfect rendition of Frank Sinatra's "My Way," as well as the standard drunken rendition of the Animals' "House of the Rising Sun." Drinks are usually pretty cheap—you'd be hard pressed to find something over $4 (specials go as low as $1.50), so if you need a glass of liquid courage before belting out Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" it won't break your budget. City Pages took a moment to speak to co-host Tom Wheaton.
City Pages: Is there a song that you recommend for beginners?
Tom Wheaton: Well for the ladies I would suggest a Patsy Cline song like "Crazy" since most people know that song and the lyrics. For the men, I would say Roger Miller's "King of the Road"—that was the first song I ever sang for karaoke.
CP: Are there any songs that you feel are the most abused?
TW: Yes—Meat Loaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" is definitely one. The kids screw up the B52s' "Love Shack" a lot.
CP: Are there any good songs you just can't listen to anymore?
TW: Basically no, I appreciate everyone that sings and I give all the credit in the world to people for trying. Although, Motörhead's "Ace of Spades" sometimes makes me cringe.
CP: Are there any undiscovered gems that are karaoke-friendly?
TW: I do a lot of those because I try to sing songs that others don't pick—my favorite would be "The Last Farewell," it's my favorite Roger Whittaker song.
CP: Any tips for beginners?
TW: If you're scared, the thing to do is get up with a group. Two to four people—you need to get used to performing.
Tom and his wife Judy also do karaoke at Mancini's and the VFW in Richfield, but the Lyndale VFW is highly recommended. Be sure to get there early—the line to perform forms quickly. 21+. Free. 9:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. James Ballentine VFW Post 246, 2916 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.823.6233.
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