Karaoke Review: Tequila Sunrise w/ Jason Rolland
Many of you may remember when I reviewed Jason Rolland. Various comments came out and it made for some interesting discussions. It was the first review I had written that had gotten a sizable number of people talking. I received a e-mail from Mr. Rolland telling me now had the biggest selection in town. I've had MANY people make that claim so I look at this the same ways as people giving their "credentials" when they try to pick up someone in bar: with skepticism. But hey, you never know so I went. The issue with a few of the "Banned" songs still left an impression, but times can change so I went trying to keep an open mind.
The Good: To start with, Jason wasn't kidding. He indicated 30k songs in his e-mail which was "More songs than God" according to the cover on his song books. Mr. Rolland was in the 29k range but indicated he had another 2k coming in a couple weeks. In any event the margin was not really an issue. When you are talking 10s of thousands of songs, 1k give or take is not significant in my book. The selection was close enough I have to say Jason Rolland has by far the best ACTUAL song selection of any Karaoke MC in Toronto. I was told that Celine Dion will still be "banned" but the he had removed "Banned" stickers from most of the other selection. Since Jason appears to have lightened up on the banning I try to lighten up on the scoring. Not that I really have to to give him a high mark: This more than double the 2nd highest count I've confirmed with other karaoke hosts. Oh, apparent if you REALLY feel the need Jason can be persuaded to do ONE Dion song, but apparently she gets overplayed. (We had a chat about differences of karaoke philosophy but from what Jason indicated people have been "booed" in the past for singing Dion. Audiences, this is truly BAD form in Karaoke, okay? Not Cool!) Jason still has some of the best equipment I've seen anywhere (as I indicated in the last review) and this one good thing that hasn't changed. Sound is first rate. Mr. Rolland isn't quite a Jeff Zedic but he engages the audience well. The karaoke stage is very well placed (although your audience will be limited). The theme is of course Mexican and the decor suits the theme. The table clothes add to the motive and the restaurant is exceptionally clean and service was decent.
The Mixed: The prices are fair for the food but not amazing although the alcohol is cheap on Tuesdays. Seating at the Tequila Sunrise is limited and it can't hold more than 50 people from what I saw.
The Bad: Great selection, great karaoke equipment, excellent MC, really bad food however. I know something about Mexican food and I enjoy it immensely. Unfortunately the quality of the food just wasn't there. The portions were not only small, my salad (what little there was) used visibly old lettuce and the chicken I had was dried out. Even the refried beans were average at best. The chef (who came out to sing) looked quite young and perhaps experience was part of the problem. Whatever the reason, the prices seemed less fair after you actually ate the food. Especially with a good chance of being hungry later in the evening. On the up side, the Fried Ice Cream was alright. Perhaps its better to have dessert and drinks here rather than dinner.
Summary: Well Jason, you've blown away the scoring for song selection. I know it was not a small investment and the effort deserves to be acknowledged. Jason apparently doesn't have a Monday or Wednesday event which I encourage a venue to remedy because its truly a shame not to put this HUGE collection to good use. I tried to find weakness in the song selection: Zero, nada. And I'm picky. He even has a good collection of Gilbert & Sullivan. The significantly reduced restrictions add to the songs you can enjoy (except perhaps for Dion) If you CAN find any well known songs (or even not well known songs) you know that are not in this book (Musicologists PLEASE be reasonable) I'd love to hear about it. I'm almost tempted to offer a prize to the person who can find the most weakness in a 30k+ collection in the next 3 months. In short, the selection is great. The only real weakness at the Tequila Sunrise is the food. But its a big one. Maybe that will improve with time but Restaurant owners, if I ever see salad greens that old again I'll send it back and take notes for later. Come for the karaoke, come for the cheap drinks and come for desserts. I'll stop there. For karaoke lovers its a great place to good as the crowds are not huge and the wait times will be quite short.
Final Grade: B/B+
Facilities: 7.9 (The restaurant is a bit small. Excellent decor. Karaoke stage quite good, especially given the size of the venue )
Equipment: 9.0 (Great sound, balance, wireless mikes, 'nuff said.)
Song Selection: 9.3 (30k songs, minus Celine Dion, "prohibited" songs reduced, 'nuff said)
Food Selection:7.7 (Fair food selection for Mexican restaurant)
Food Quality: 6.4 (Dinner wasn't good here: Dried out chicken (sauce was okay), salad was old and in my view shouldn't have been served, small portions. Desserts were okay.)
Food Prices: 7.3 (Its in the 7 range for the lost cost drinks)
Location: 8.2 (Adelaide a one way street. All parking is paid. Small walk from John/Queen or King off the Street car)
Host: 8.7 (Quite engaging with the audience. Gets to know his audience)
Wait times: 9.0 (Small capacity and moderate crowds means you'll get plenty of chances to try out a few of the 30k collection)
Food Service: 8.6 (staff is fairly quick with order taking and servicing)
Jason Rolland, Tuesdays, Thursdays
212 Adelaide West