Friday, August 05, 2005

New Toronto Karaoke Information Sources!!

It is my pleasure to let you know I have discovered more kindred spirits dedicated to helping people know where and when to go for an amazing karaoke experience.

Mr. Dave MacDonald who hosts his site at Karaoke Scoop. If you send an e-mail to Dave at he will send you a pdf newsletter with listings of Karaoke Venues and a wealth of other information about other events, issues and new songs published on karaoke medium. So go and check it out!

I'll post other up to date sites as they come to my attention. Credit must also be given to Pierre, member of the Toronto Karaoke Meetup Group. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A note to all viewing my reviews

Aparently I'm getting responses to my reviews. I've recently been receiving both fan and HATE mail. Well, at least hate mail from one individual. Mr. Rolland took exception to my review at Milwaukee's (now closed) created a profile on a size I help organize, tried to use the profile he created as a billboard and then started flaming on a forum. Being an organizer I was oblidged (regretably) to put a quick and decisive stop to it when innocent members (not myself) were being attacked publically. (My apologizes to the affect members)

I feel I should clarify a few things. My reviews are posted here and nowhere else. I don't even take the opportunity to post my reviews on other sites unless specifically requested by their owners. Its meant as a reference much like Now or Eye Magazine with their entertanment reviews. If anyone doesn't like an aspect of a review, you can ask for clarification or indicate where there might be an error. One person convinced me that Milwaukee's had better than average stage. Upon reflection I agreed and realized that maybe the MC's impression was overshadowing it. So I increased the score there from a 7 to an 8. (The MC Score stands as is)

In my reviews song selection and MC carries the greatest weight for the final grade. The equipment, facilities come next, followed by resturant prices, food quality and service. Its not averaged.

If an MC blatently censors content or singers publically the highest score an MC will receive is a 6.5 MAXIMUM (if he's amazing in all other aspects). So those offended by a bad MC score who censors songs publically (or course one can simply not put the songs in their books and I won't know) be aware of this. The score or policy won't change because you try to flame me. Its my work, its not affected by advertisements or outside pressure. I do it for the benefit of those looking for guide in the much overlooked karaoke world and no other reason. Just so everyone, especially disgruntled MC's know where I stand on my reviews and why. Cheers.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Toronto Karaoke Review: Fox and Fiddle on Danforth

Fox and Fiddle on Danforth Featuring Canadian Karaoke Champ Michelle

I had been meaning to check this place out for sometime so I finally made an excuse to take an friend out there one hot summer day to check it out. As franchises go its an overall fun place go to. But is this one fun for Karaoke? The Danforth area could use a karaoke champion as one in the area had had closed its doors sometime back.(The sign is still up :-) )

The Good: The food quality was the best thing going for this place. I recommend going on Wednesday for the half priced Fajitas. Really nice. The food selection is exceptionally good. Wide variety of Tex-Mex bar food, bar food and FREE POOL! The karaoke facilities were decent: Good center stage, easy to get to. Better than most.

The Mixed: The food prices were about average but very good on Wednesdays for the fajitas. The equipment was about average, unfortunately the sound levels weren't great and the MC wasn't adjusting for them very well. Wait times were average.

The Bad: Unfortunately the largest part of this section will be on the karaoke itself. The MC was one of the most disorganized I'd ever seen. MIchelle started late because she waited for selections from her regular group to come in (I had a selection in but over 30 minutes before putting it in as I wasn't one of he regulars). I've seen MC's with poor crowds before work better than this. And the crowd this evening was actually quite good. This MC didn't know how to work them at all or get new inexperienced people involved. (Best place for new inexperience Karaoke participants is Shoeless Joe's) Even worse, the books were scattered with no central place for people to get at them (as is customary), there weren't enough books when people asked for them, and the selection was overall quite poor. I was informed by the Karaoke Management that other songs were available but they would have to check. What is with that? It should be in the book or not mentioned. Telling people you MAY have it undocumented is not professional. The many selections had no organization either, New songs added were tagged at the end so you had to work to find songs you wanted.

The mike levels were not adjusted properly by the MC. The song book talks about how this MC won some Karaoke contest. Well, that is only a small part of the skills required for make a good Karaoke MC. That said, Michelle IS a powerful singer (and so is Peter Styles who is my favorate MC) The food service was pretty bad too. Had to call the waitress in the end to get any service after waiting for 30 minutes right next to the main bar with no one noticing.

Summary: We have a new record for worst MC in my review books which is strange because Michelle is a professional level singer. She honestly looked a little lost without her regulars involved. Extremely limited song selections (around 2000 songs), no proper organization slowing lookup times, and not enough books: Never saw anything like it. New comers to karaoke will feel quite awkward and sound just as awkward as sound levels seems to be an afterthought. I either had trouble hearing people over the music or heard mike distortion by good singers. The food was was quite good and again, there is free pool. A friend asked me to go again for pool later on. Its okay for a bar, and maybe some incidental karaoke but not for true enthusiasts.

Summary Scores:
Facilities: 8.5 (Quality setup with central stage)
Equipment: 8 (Mikes and speakers were quite good)
Location: 8 (some parking available, can get there on Chester subway)
Song Selection: 6 (Small selection, bad organization)
Wait Time: 7.0 (Average)
Host: 5.5 (Good singers don't necessarily make good MC's and here's the proof. Has to wait on the audience, can't move them effectively, inattentive on sound levels)
Food Prices: 7.0 (Average, to high)
Food Selection: 8.0 (Fairly good Tex-Mex & Pub food)
Food Quality: 8.5

Final Grade: C-
Venue Information:
535 Danforth Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario M4K 1P7
Phone: 416-462-9830
Fax: 416-461-3132

Wednesdays 10 PM (depending on MC) - Closing

Toronto Karaoke Reviews: Fanny's Sports Lounge


Fanny's Bar featuring Pip with C.A.T Entertainment

This venue was recommended by one of of the members of the Toronto/East York Karaoke Meetup group and I thank this individual for his recommendation. I had not been out to the east end of the GTA yet so it was overdue. (I live downtown, so please don't hate me for this). Was it worth the trip and sore legs at the end of the ride? Well, if nothing else it would be a good route to add to a bike "Tour de Toronto".

The good: C.A.T entertainment has one BIG thing going for it with this review: The selection! HUGE selection. I talking around 8000 songs and that's after filtering duplicates. Mostly old ones but a good selection of new artists as well and the best 90's collection I've ever seen. This is a new record for in karaoke bars I've reviewed and even challenges karaoke boxes. The variety of food was also excellent. There is a family restaurant next door which is under the same management so there is no lack for real dinner food here. Drinks are a given at any bar. The equipment was also in excellent shape but no wireless mikes. The sound was excellent. The transposition was real (which I checked after being at Hoops). Overall good equipment, GREAT selection in song and food.

The mixed: While the equipment and selection is good the location is a bit of a pain to get to without a car. There is one TTC bus that goes there but is is not the most frequent and no subways near by. If you live in the area then you'll probably have no complaints but I have to rate ability of everyone in the GTA to get there. The Facilities are a tad small. Maybe around 500 people in here. The Stage is a bit of a chore to see and get to, but this is common to most karaoke bars. The Host was pleasant and entertaining but I had to take points off because I've seen some with more energy and a few songs ran as long as 10 minutes. One good thing I must say about Jason Rolland is he knows when to cut songs short or fade out and this person had let the songs run "as is". Usually this is okay, but if a song runs over 4 minutes in a karaoke bar where large crowds are waiting. Any pros reading this review please note: Songs generally 4 minutes max. 5 is pushing it. Anything longer then that should be faded out. I had to take off points on the wait times because waiting for 10 minutes for someone to sing a song I don't feel is reasonable. That was the only real fault I'd give the MC. The food prices were average, sometimes a tad on the pricey side in comparison to other karaoke bar's I've seen. The quality of the food was quite good overall. I didn't sample everything as it had a full blown resturant which closed earlier than the bar for understandable reasons.

The Bad: There was nothing I could say was really bad here. (Except for people riding their bikes from downtown Toronto :-) )

Fanny's Bar is an overall a fun place to go for Karaoke and there were plenty of Karaoke fans as a result. The best song seen to date which deserves a SPECIAL commendation. You'll have all the songs you need here. MC's is overall quite good (still looking for someone who beats Peter Styles however) and good food selection. Prices of food are a little high, but service was attentive. The facilities are average for a karaoke bar which is to say slight awkward but usable. For those looking for hugh selections in the East end of the GTA, this is one place I DEFINITELY recommend.

Summary Scores:
Facilities: 7 (Average for Karaoke Bars)
Equipment: 8 (Excellent sound good mikes)
Location: 7 (Easy if you have a car, great parking, but for those on TTC, an effort to reach)
Song Selection: 9.5 (NEW RECORD!!! WAY TO GO!!)
Wait Time: 6.5 (scaled for public venue, had to dock points some songs went as long as 10 minutes without fadeout)
Host: 7.5 (I was forced to deduct marks for songs that ran too long, excellent host otherwise, very attentive with the audience)
Food Prices: 7.5
Food Selection: 8.5
Food Quality: 8.0

Final Grade: B-

Special: I am creating special award categories. To C.A. T Entertainment I am awarding the BEST KARAOKE SONG SELECTION AWARD for 2005. Congratulations!

Venue Information:
Fanny's at Bo-Peeps Restaurant
Friday's 10 PM - Closing
2277 Kingston Road
Toronto, Ontario M3H 6A7

Toronto Karaoke Review: Hoops Sports Bar

Hoops by Gold Entertainment

Hoops Sports bar is one of two Karaoke venus I've been to in the downtown core which makes it easy for everyone to get there.(Yonge & College) Its certainly an easy place to meet and fairly popular as sports bar goess. But is it an ideal place to invite people for karaoke? Let's see if any 3-pointers are scored here.

The Good:
As mentioned before as 2nd to none in terms on convenience. Of course parking is a little expensive in the downtown core but its right across the street from college subway station. I looked around for any free parking but let's face it, free parking in downtown Toronto will probably happen when pigs fly. The food is surprisingly good. Your taste buds should be very pleased and the prices won't break the bank, which is to say they are better than average for what you get. The food selection is even better with a good mix of bar food, pasta, pizzas and Tex-Mex. There are different sized portions as well. The song selection is quite exceptional. I counted around 6000 songs. A little weak on the newer songs but still you won't be disappointed. I saw selections here that I saw in only one other place out in Scarborough.. The equipment was really good: Great sound, wireless mikes. I could only fault one item which I will cover later. If you sound bad here you'll have no one but yourself to blame.

The mixed: As I said earlier there is but one fault with the equipment: No true pitch transposition: More like the way you change pitch with an LP (long playing vinyl record). If you want a lower pitch, the speed slows. Higher pitch, the speed increases. I was forced to take off points for this which is too bad because everything else was great. The facilities weren't bad but like most karaoke bars, it was awkward because only a few seats could see the karaoke stage. You have to walk through people's tables to get to the stage as well. Service for food was a little slow but not bad. It may have been a busy crowd that night.

The bad: Two things cam out bad: The wait time for songs which is unfortunately a result of managing by the host. You can wait as long as 2 hours to sing a song because the host is not always paying attention. He was away from his post more than any other karaoke host I've seen to date. Also took longer than most to queue up selections and all requests of old people are moved to the back increasing the wait time for those who came in first. The host is not the most energetic I've seen either, but the inattentiveness was the biggest think I had to take points off on.

Summary: Hoops has a great location and an exceptional karaoke play list with great sound equipment. You'll love the food and song selection. If you want to get the most for your time and money, go early, so you won't be one of the unfortunates to waits up to 2 hours to get a song it. I understand that crowds can be an issue but in this case I saw a lot of time lot in queuing up and newer people getting in 2 songs in a row with duets. That's just not good crowd management. However the equipment and song selection count for a lot in my reviews, so in spite of that I'm giving slight higher grade than the Gladstone because equipment and selection count for a lot. While the MC could have been better, he did nothing serious to detract from the enjoyment of the audience either. Overall, its a quality place to karaoke lovers to enjoy themselves, just don't transpose your songs more than a major 3rd in either direction or the speed of the songs will be an issue.

Final Grade: B
Excellent Selection and good equipment, GREAT sound. Host needs to be more attentive however. Food quality and selection are excellent with good prices. Great location but average karaoke bar layout.

Score Summary:
Facilities: 7.0 (Awkward configuration)
Equipment: 8.5 (Had to remove points for psuedo pitch transposition system)
Location: 8.5 (Easy to spot, easy to get to, no free parking)
Song Selection: 8.7 (all the good stuff including things I saw in few other places)
Wait Times: 6.0(scaled:public venue,host didn't manage this as well as he could have)
Host: 6.5 (exceptional absent times and poor queuing times with no personality took major points off. would have been a B+ review otherwise)
Food Prices: 8.0 (Quite good overall)
Food Quality: 8.0 (very nice, would invite others to this place)
Food Seiection: 8.7 (exceptional variety for a sports bar)

Venue Information:
Hoops Sports Bar
458 Yonge Street
(416) 929-3324
9 PM - closing time
Wednesday, Thursday Evenings (Contested on Fridays 10 weeks of the year)