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Joe's Prose: Of all the contests, was karaoke king?

What would a Hudson entertainment column be without references to killer karaoke and other kinds of contests?

A karaoke-singing assistant director for SOS Players said she's been acting since age 4, but avoids musicals like the plague since she fears singing in front of groups. She always strives to arrive first if doing karaoke and ensure her place as first on the list, so no one but her friends will need to hear her. She recently began -- and presumably ended at the same time -- with a classical tune, and it was Broadway worthy.

Longtime karaoke-meister Lori Bahneman, now of Ellie's Sports Bar and Grill, as well as others, has no such trouble. When she recently went on a trip to Las Vegas, Bahneman said the one thing she'd made sure to do was sing karaoke there. "Get ready to be humbled," colleague James Stevens said, adding that there are scores of really good singers there dying to be discovered.

Did she do well? Hey, ya know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

A few nights earlier, while in for some karaoke himself, the lights guy for Austin Healey said that the group hasn't played together for two years because they had different views about musical stylings. However, he said look for the veritable country-rock band to potentially reunite before long.

The multi-night karaoke contest at Northpoint was well-attended, and there was only one singer who balked while eliminated, like someone might on "American Idol," say Mike and Chris Bahneman (and yes, they are related to Lori). However, they ran the show very unlike something you'd see with Simon Cowell. A woman who uses a walker -- and also a picolo -- had others help her with some of the singing, but not all, since they brought the microphone to her.

In another contest, the giveaway winner of a brand spanking new guitar at Dibbo's was from Woodbury, and even though she is an out-of-towner, Darlene Griffin failed to actually play the instrument, as had been pledged. (She did pose well with it, however). Most of the entrants, who were picked via e-mail addresses having a Dibbo's connection, were like Griffin in that they had visited from Minnesota -- places like Cottage Grove and Minneapolis. So, since you had to be present to win, the DJ went down the list a ways before there was a winner.

At one point, the DJ started reading the entrant's name as "Amy," and someone shouted out "Winehouse." The audience applauded. I wonder if they'd do that today, in light of the well-publicized troubles the singer has had of late.

A few weekends early at Dibbo's, there was a spring fling party featuring bikini and limbo contests. One of the noteworthy contestants, of those who acted up a little bit, asked if she could still go on despite lack of swimwear; she ended up taking the stage in her underwear. While there were relatively few swimsuits sighted that night, and few other people dressed either up or down, there were 27 limbo contestants, with the winner scooting under a 36-inch bar.

Jeff Loven is inviting more and more guest players on stage these days as the Sunday night one-man-band at Dick's Bar and Grill, and at times will even enter the audience and switch guitars mid-solo with another ax man. To do so with blues man Brandon Scott Sellner, he even trekked into the other room to find him and pass the baton, so to speak. One player, who asked Loven earlier in the day if he could go on, became disappointed. He brought his drumsticks, and the one-man-band uses a prerecorded drum and bass track.

But back to Brandon. His band liked the big stage, dance floor and seating area at City Limits, especially after tweaking was done of things such as spotlight position between their first and second times there.

It had been years since I'd heard one of Ozzy Osbourne's more poignant anti-alcohol songs, "Suicide Solution," especially since it features a guitar solo few would attempt. However, the Aultimate Ozzy tribute band pulled it off in their last trip through town, and apparently they are not the only ones after all.

The guy next to me, apparently in a band of his own, told me: "Yeah, I played that one earlier today." Soon to follow was a more obscure song, "Mighty Hammer," which lead singer and Ozzy impersonator Michael Ault said is an original. He also was asked how many fake plastic skulls were propped up on posts onstage: "I don't know, but somebody's probably counted. Maybe they're some of my ex-band-members," he joked.

I'll, close on a story note that's an oldie but goodie, although bittersweet and even tearful for some who were there. The members of Toybox have disbanded, largely because lead singer Brooke and her husband are starting a family, and their farewell show was at Dibbo's. After an evening of revelry, such as a wet T-shirt contest that went on and on, the band closed with the encore "Zombie" by the Cranberries. The late owner of Dibbo's, Vic Fenner, was thanked for giving them a start 10 years ago, and by the end of the song, the bassist was literally slamming his guitar strings with emotion.