Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Karaoke Review: The Tennessee Bar & Restaurant w/ Peter Styles


Although I haven't written in quite sometime I have been watching events, restaurants, and trends. One thing I've definitely been seeing is  restaurants having more attempts at Karaoke on Thursdays and Sundays. It's a interesting day for karaoke carousing as most of us have to work the next day. The big advantage is you get a LOT more songs in for the evenings. Generally not as packed as a Thursday or Friday night. When I was told by Peter Styles he was doing karaoke at a new venue on Sundays I was curious. First time I'd seen him doing that day. A few other restaurants doing are trying to use karaoke their customers base on typically slower days. It will be interesting to see if this experiment will start a new trend.

The Good: I've got admit, I don't find a lot of good karaoke venues in the Parkdale area. I'd seen another karaoke event at a bar will remain nameless because, frankly, it had no real food, decor or to put it bluntly, class. The Tennessee Bar & Restaurant was a pleasant surprise. It is a venue under new name and management, but the owner is going all out to make an impression and in my eyes it's a good one. Plenty of seats but not overly packed. The stage for where bands play is actually an ideal spot for karaoke singers as you can see almost the entire place. There are speakers throughout the ENTIRE Restaurant so you are sure to be heard. The sound quality is excellent. Significantly better than the Gladstone as are the sound levels.  Peter's collection of around 40k songs is enough to keep virtually everyone happy. (Only Jason Rolland has more songs I think). What really got my attention is the food. Actually had the best macaroni and cheese I think I've ever had in Toronto (it didn't taste like processed cheese but more like rossotto), nice portions, and the drinks were reasonably priced. (an increasingly rarity) You can actually have a decent meal there for around $15 which these days is a big deal with restaurants averaging $20+ for a meal in TO. It's easy enough to get to on the Queen Street Street Car. Oh, wait times? No problem. You'll get at least 2-3 songs an hour. The MC, well it's Peter Styles who always has a flair for hosting shows. I'd love to see some modern jokes (some of his jokes are a little old between rotations) but he keeps the show flowing and fun. Still the only guy I know with an "Applause" sign.

The Mixed: This is tough. Okay, one thing: Karaoke Books. Karaoke hosts like Peter Styles and Jason Rolland have so many songs it get's troublesome to keep up a paper copy. Still, I wish Peter had at least one book with a bigger portion of the collection (It would be a HEAVY book as Jason Rolland has proven). Typically you just give a song title and he'll have it 80% of the time. There is a website that was recently restored after being down for a bit and rumor of a site that will allow entry of songs through a smart phone. I'll keep you posted on the developments there.

The Bad: There just had to be something, didn't there? Fortunately only one thing: Service. I had trouble getting anyone to take my order so I wound up going up to the bar to order my food. It was probably just an oversight on a slow evening (Sunday's being what they are) but still..when I have a menu and I'm ready to order food, you expect some service. The food is worth the trouble though and I'll go back for that because I'm used to getting not so great food at high prices. Hopefully the new staff at a new venue will have the kinks there ironed out.

Summary: Summary, I'm sold. With the exception of food service, the value on the food is the best I've had in a long time, the quality and the price. The stage layout is very good, the song selection likewise, the host is an old pro, and the sound quality is way up there. You'll also get to sing plenty of song with a reasonably short rotation. What else is there to say? I'll check out the venue on a Thursday which has another karaoke host to see how he fares. But as for the Sundays, I'd say come at 8 PM sharp and have a blast. Cause you will. Assuming the wait staff gets it together, this could be a first class karaoke venue.

Final Score: B+ (had to take off something for having to order food from the bar when menus were on the table, I'd give this a solid A- otherwise).

Facilities: 9.0 (Overall good size and layout, would be perfect if stage was near the window )
Equipment: 8.9 (Great sound, balance, and even sound through the whole venue)
Song Selection: 8.9( 40k songs, but Jason Rolland is still king here, but gap is closing)
Food Selection:7.8 (Sandwiches, Salads, Pasta and Burgers. Overall good balance)
Food Quality: 8.8  (Sampled the Fish + Chips and Mac & Cheese was very pleased. only thing that might improve would be to season the fries a bit)
Food Prices: 9.0 (The food prices here are amazing! Especially these days)
Location: 8.2 (Adelaide a one way street. All parking is paid. Small walk from John/Queen or King off the Street car)
Host: 8.8 (Peter could freshen up his in-between rotation commentary, but he's always engaging)
Wait times: 9.5 (You'll get to sing lots of songs, that could change of course depending on crowds..)
Food Service:7.0 (The staff was quick to deliver the food, so I gave a 7, but having to get up from the table to get food ordered, I'll consider it kinks in a new venue to be ironed out. A repeat however and I'll have to lower the score here)

Venue Information:
Peter Styles, Sundays
Tennessee Bar & Restaurant
1554 Queen Street West
Toronto Ontario
(416) 532-2570

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Peter Styles confirmed Wednesdays at Jazz Bistro

For Peter Styles fans, news: I've received firm confirmation from the Sinatra of Karaoke himself that he'll be doing Wednesday nights at the Jazz Bistro (

Address: 251 Victoria Street
Toronto, Ontario M5B 1T8
Phone: 416.363.5299

I have some high hopes for this venue as it appears to be a place truly focused on the Jazz Scene, and a great mix for Peter's Style. (Pun intended). He'll be on the top floor starting April 2nd (Wednseday). I'll be there to do a review of the place. Later today I'll a late lunch there.  I'll keep you Peter Styles fans on top of what is going on with him. They'll also be a karaoke database makeover (busy with a few other projects but hopefully by Monday I'll have it done) seeing as Peter is no longer at the Gladstone and his song selection has increased. Some mobile optimizations I hope to be in the mix as time permits. Stay tuned for additional info and reviews!

Update: I've been to the venue during a sound check. Looks VERY nice. I can't officially post a review yet but, the sound there will be very good to exceptional (depending on final setup). It feels like you're the star in a professional jazz club rather than a bar which is a nice feeling. Karaoke will be from 9 PM to 12 AM (maybe 1 AM...). In my opinion this is an excellent time as paying customers have to go to work the next day. I am cautiously optimistic.. 


Karaoke Review: Danny's Cash Karaoke at Garage

Review Date: March 26, 2014

My first review after a 3 year hiatus. Man of man many things have changed. Fortunately I'm not out of the loop. What made it easier to do this review is I live only a few block away from this location. Wednesday nights are never exactly an easy one to fill;people working are tired or (like me) still working to meet deadlines. So I give credit to places that are able to keep Wednesday nights going with Karaoke. That said, let's get down to, "The Good, The Bad, and of course, The Ugly"

The Good: The location is easy enough to reach at the corner of Church and Wellsley (1 block south, East side to be exact).

Danny's equipment sounds as good as Jason Rolland who has always kept top notch equipment.

The average KJ has upped the ante on the song count and Danny is no exception. With roughly about 26k songs (rounding up) the classics and new hits are covered with only a few minor gaps in Weird Al Yankovic. :D They'll be a few odd classics you may miss but very few. The song selection is decent. (Yet to find anyone with a better selection than Jason Rolland however).

Balance is excellent. You'll sound like a pro here hands down. I'm amazed given I didn't see a sound check before things started off (a few short "ah,ah"'s, most KJ do one song to be sure.

The food service is excellent: friendly, fast and courteous.

Food selection is fairly good for a bar. Standard sandwiches, steaks, fish/chips with some exotic specials.

The Bad: Unfortunate  "the bad" elements negate the positive aspects of  "the good". The stage setup is among the worst I'd seen in years: The monitor is on the bar?!? I've no idea who came up with that idea but not only is your back to the glass garage doors (which faces Church street) but to the audience as well. And to make matters worse, people have to work/dodge around you to submit their selection.

KJs, many of you seem to miss the fact there are LCD Monitor Stands you can purchase from AV shops, including tripod variations (which are the most stable). Putting a desktop monitor on the bar is a really bad choice for a setup.

Karaoke stated 30 minutes late as well. The first 2 things everyone should remember in this business are "Time is Money", and "Never waste the customer's time". By telling everyone Karaoke starts at 10 PM and starting at 10:30, you tell people who arrive on time they are not valued and that creates irritation. Rightly so. As a consequence I deduct 1 point for every 15 minutes a karaoke host starts late. After all, it's not like the host will go an extra 30 minutes late to compensate, and on Wednesday nights people usually have to work in the morning. It's just bad form, especially on a weeknight.

 To top this off, Danny seems to have trouble getting song selections in. On average it was around 1-2 minutes between each singer after they were done. I didn't look carefully at the software but it looked advanced enough to have a back queue. And even if it wasn't 1 minute between singers is a bit awkward/long especially when starting late. I did "Video Killed the Radio Star" and left the stage when my lyrics finished. There is a somewhat long outtro which I improve with sometimes. But to save time I got off the stage quickly, but Danny kept the track running the full length; 1-2 minutes after I had put down the mike and sat down. Why didn't he fade out?  (or cut it short) for the next performer?. "Never waste the customer's time".

The Mixed: The food quality is an extremely mixed bag here. Ordered the lamb burger. Fries were excellent, but the lamb burger had raw fragments in it. Had to send it back. The server tried to convince me that for lamb this was okay (I've had lots lamb burgers, okay, raw chunks in the middle is undercooked) but they did bring me another one. Hopefully this is a simple matter of bad luck and no one else will experience it, but still. First time I actually sent food back. The better cooked burger was better. The food prices are a bit above average. $12 for a burger + fries for example. You won't be getting any bargains here. The lettuce/tomatoes on my burger were very fresh to Garage's credit, but at the prices for food I'd expect no less.

The decor is minimal but will be nice in he summer as 1/2 of the walls are garage doors which open up to the patio and perhaps they are optimizing for the summer months.Danny's style isn't the worst I'd seen, but there was little to no personality that I could see. I didn't stick around long enough to see the "Cash content" as I had work to do (school night) but that part won't be the biggest concern to true karaoke fans.  I'd like to see more of the person behind the laptop. Perhaps it was just a weird night.

Layout of the restaurant will make it hard for people to reach the stage if the place is filled up. On Wednesday nights based on the low numbers I saw it may not come up as often as the owner would like. But if it does there will be pushing/shoving to through the narrow isle to get the stage and submit song requests from the back.

Summary: There are good things and not so good things. The equipment is top notch as is the balance. Song selection is certainly on par, and I'd even venture to say slightly above. The food prices are bit high and while the quality of the food is probably good, I managed to find a big chink in the armor in the food preparation quality, so the above average prices felt even more expensive. The stage setup makes for an awkward experience as your back is to people who are swarming around you to put in their selections, and simply because it was deemed to much trouble to get a monitor stand for better placement. (Again, on the bar is the WORST choice to put the lyrics monitor). Late starting times on a weeknight and long intervals between singers will greatly reduce the number of songs you'll get to sing, and take up time many of us don't have on a weeknight. Hope Danny will improve these issues quickly. Things as they are, Garage's karaoke feels like they have a DJ trying to figure out the KJ business, and contrary to popular believe, a good DJ doesn't make for a good KJ. There is potential, but the experience is at present a very mixed bag. Not exactly what people in the middle of a long work need are looking for when taking time to do karaoke on a Wednesday.

Summary Scores:

Facilities: 5.5 Not a large venue. Would estimate 200 tops. During the summer I'd add 2 points when the doors are opened.

Equipment: 8.0 (Good quality mikes. Wireless would be even cooler but not really a big deal. A 2nd mike for couples/duets would be welcome (and is fairly standard) but the quality and the sound is exceptionally good.)

Song Selection: 7.5 (It's on par with very few gaps. Doesn't quite match the selection of Rolland or Styles yet, but it's very good.)

Wait time: 6.0 (Long periods between singers, and failure to fade/cut out of long outtros. Not a good use of the customer's time. If it ever gets really crowded there will be many justified complaints.)

Food Prices: 6.0 (A bit above average and given the mixed food prep quality, not the best experience.)

Food Quality: 6.5 (What they do well, they do very well, but signs of carelessness on the lamb burger prep left irritation. Hopefully just a one time thing. But hard to be sure.

Food selection: 7.5 It's pretty good, but nothing amazing. The specials may catch your interest.

Service: 7.9 (Service was actually excellent, but I had to take 0.2 points for excuses made for the undercooked lamb burger)

Final Grade: C/C+ (There is potential for this place to be an excellent karaoke venue, but it's got some work to do to achieve it. May go back for a 2nd run review with hopes of improvement)

Venue Information: 
477 Church Street
Toronto, ON
M4Y 2C6
(647) 352-5508
Karaoke: Wednesdays 10 PM to 2 AM (may start late)

KJ Information:
Danny's Karaoke
(416) 631-9102 

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Tribute

A Man of Styles

In my scribblings of places where humble amateurs,
give voices to the music which to their heart stirs,
There was this one fellow who was quite unique,
to this very day another of his ilk I've yet to meet,
his back was oft seen 'bove the wide window tiles
of the Gladstreet Hotel stage, this was Peter Styles

A skilled troubadour during his younger days,
and then for 12 years at karaoke shows stayed,
dressing in full tuxedos; cumberbuns, shirts and suits,
perhaps some had thought his style just a little aloof,
yet, where other hosts found lacking and often crass,
on and off the Gladstone stage Peter kept up his class

A man who strived to be true to his given word,
often at his expense was the humor I'd heard,
his audiences he treated as colleagues of his own,
as he shared on the stage mikes of his mighty throne,
a crooner himself his voice theirs oft enhanced
many others, some with lessor voices perchance

Inspiring classiness in others both far and near,
people came to his aid, for they all found him dear,
technology was added, his song collections grew,
both a library and web portal all came anew,
from the skills freely added where his own were gray,
"hey, I'm just the talent" is what he'd always say

the only man to this day hoisting an "applaud" sign,
he believed in this spirit despite of our jaded times,
like the motherland he believed that full participation,
was the key to success, as was a fair rotation,
like that great distant land with flag of the rising sun,
he kept the show pure and with great spirited fun

Yet as oft changes came and in recent times marred,
twas management, not video killed this karaoke star,
once before it was tried but the audiences wailed,
which kept Peter's loved show for a time off the rails,
but as main pipes burst later, t'was finally contrived,
Peter's show's termination, the Gladstone's Music died

We fans and I for one will not give up hope,
for the spirit still stands, and we shall not mope,
like the phoenix we'll bring back our beloved Style(s) anew,
as the Gladstone declines slowly, may write further reviews,
Closer to downtown, there I may have some cause,
to keep propped up my smile, there have been several calls

So Peter as I write this, please know I am so glad,
to have shared with so many, the good times that we've had,
the unique quality presence, that showed us the stuff,
that all karaoke shows should I believe be made of,
at greener pastures I trust your show shall be renewed,
thank you for your Styles, and for sticking this through

Back with sad tidings..Gladstone Karaoke is no more

First of all folks...I'm back. Been living life as we all do but I'm back. Why, well...thought others were taking on the quest for up to date karaoke venue news. But not so much recently. And on top of all that, the Gladstone killed the Karaoke Star Peter Styles. Truth be told I watched the place move the karaoke from 10 to 11 (which people did not appreciate) and I always feared they were trying to kill it with that move. Whether or not that was the intention it didn't help. At the same time the food quality dropped significantly, food selection dropped about as much (had the driest fries I ever had one day and COLD), and food prices went up almost as much as the food selection dropped. A bit above par whereas it was quite decent before. So someone had some interesting ideas there. In the end the only reason I showed up in the last 1.5 years was Peter himself. But that is now gone. Have a strange feeling the Gladstone will start it up again with someone new but time will tell.

In any case...time to get back in the game. I'll be doing Karaoke Review about every two weeks Maybe more..Could really use donations to help offset the costs as food prices have increased in general by 30%. So, if you like reading my blog again, please consider helping to off set my costs. Believe it or not every review costs an average of $25 to write, and it also means time off from my day job. (I often work at night as well). Of course I'll let you know when Peter is up and running again. As Peter himself would say, "Don't forget the tip jar". Unlike the musicians, there are no ads, no one to buy my review ratings (and I've had offers). Please and thanks. Before my first posting on Thursday, it's cheesy but I figured I'd write up a tribute to Peter. And to literary critics, I realize I'm not a professional writer; please be kind. :D Thanks. See you in the reviews.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Gladstone Hotel Renovations: What new changes mean for Gladstone Karaoke

Folks, I’ve gotten to see the renovations at the Gladstone Hotel and learn about the changes going on there. The renovations themselves actually give the Melody Bar a nice face lift. Like many restaurants today they are going for the night lounge motif. This makes party events easier to host and facilitates more mingling. The booths on the east side are gone in favor of a longer bench with separation tables making it easier to seat more people. The couch in the back is replaced with a small lounge seat and longer tables. The front has low table made of 3 large stumps slices giving a more formal look. The center now has a stand up table to expand the bar and some fashionable muffling material has been mounted on the ceiling to improve sound/noise levels.

The Melody Bar alterations I found positive but what will be disturbing for karaoke fans are the karaoke schedule changes:

Old Schedule: 10 AM to 2 AM
New Schedule: 12 AM to 2:30 AM

This cuts the karaoke show in half! Live Acts are being moved from 8 PM to 10 PM. This is a grievous turn for karaoke loves. Almost feels like they intend to eventually cut the karaoke all together. And with it could happen. This is the second change to the karaoke schedule in as many years. Earlier they cut the Thursday night karaoke although Thursdays don't draw really a large crowds on average. I spoke to one of the Gladstone managers about the changes and what motivated them. The response was the Gladstone is looking to generate more revenue from the dining crowd and requests had been made for more dining. The schedule change were the response.

We karaoke fans know most shows start at between 10 to 11 PM for the reason that they draw better crowds. Midnight shows tend to get people drifting in from nightclubs and few of those dine and often had had plenty to drink elsewhere. In my experience late start times like this draw a lessor crowd. A lower attendance may give the Gladstone a reason to cut the karaoke completely and thus reduce thus budget. Many places are under pressure to cut costs due to people dining out less on average owing to concerns about the economy. My fear is this could backfire on the Gladstone in terms of attendance and revenue. It will certainly hurt karaoke lovers. The best case scenario is the same audience attendence, inability to sing due to reduced show times and same long queue. The most likely case is karaoke lovers are turned off because of the later start time and reduced duration and go elsewhere. (Most Karaoke Restaurants start at 10 PM and there are numerous examples on this blog)

The food is still amazing (sampled quite of bit of the new food, I especially recommend the nachos) and I’m told an expanded menu has been done to draw more diners to the Gladstone.

If, like me, you feel that this schedule shift at the Melody Bar is not ideal for karaoke lovers or their business in general, please write to the Gladstone Management and owner and let them know what you think. Best people to e-mail to are Alec Badley, the Hotel Manager at alec at, and Christina Ziedler, Hotel President at Christina at Hopefully we can convince the Gladstone management to find another way to allow people to enjoy the dining without endangering one of the great karaoke traditions in Toronto.


Thursday, February 03, 2011

Karaoke Review Update: Gladstone Hotel w/ Peter Styles


January 29th, 2011

The Gladstone Hotel has a Karaoke Champion in Peter Styles who is probably as much of an enthusiast as I am. Don't get the idea that this automatically makes for a good review. While it may be voted best karaoke place by Now Magazine, well as much as I like Now Magazine, I don't always agree with their reviewers, so I'm writing my own. That said, I'm updating the review as there are a number of details that have changed, some good some not so good.

The Good: The Gladstone Hotel has Peter hosting on Friday-Saturday nights. This as cut back from the original Wednesday-Saturday which pains me and many I suspect. Mr. Styles is STILL as good as rumoured: He's EXCELLENT at working the crowd, and being a professional singer himself when he does his vocal intro, people perk their ears. And the energy feels genuine. He's probably the greatest asset of this venue. Song selection is now second ONLY to Jason Rolland!! There are over 30k Songs in his collection. A few duplicates being sorted out, but make no mistake. Peter has upped the ante! Drink prices are quite reasonable and there is no cover charge. The location is fairly convenient: You can get there by Streetcar quite easily and there is street side parking available.

They've added food and the food is first rate! All produce home grown in Ontario. The selection is not as large as many other restaurants but there is enough for most people and specials that change enough keep you coming back. Food quality is second to none, save perhaps on the Sweet Potato fries which are a touch dry for me taste.

The monitors (there are now 3) are in a good a position as I could think of given the layout. The LCD monitor for the singer is mounted above your head (it had been knocked down a number of times), and the LCD Project er makes it easy to see your lyrics while appearing to look into the crowd. Which is actually quite cool.

The Bad: Service unfortunately needs a little work. Its been from fair to poor. Larger tables will get preferences and sometime smaller tables go entirely unnoticed.

The mixed: The facilities are fairly large but the configuration makes it difficult to balance sound. If you sit in the front, be prepared for LOUD volume. At times it was actually hurting my ears (the volume gets louder the later the evening goes) so I suggest the mid section. At the back its much harder to hear because speakers can't be positioned there. On the plus side, if you tell Peter its too loud he'll take the volume down a notch.

Peter has a sound engineer at the back who for some reasons isn't paying attention to balance levels much of the time. Peter has commented several times on this. Too frequently the sound engineer let balances go entirely to the point you couldn't hear the singer. Sometimes he's got the balance, but sometimes its as if he lets sounds levels go on automatic pilot.

In all fairness Peter tries his best to give everyone in a very large crowd a chance, but sometimes a new person coming at the last hour would come in front someone who waited for 1.5 hours.

While the selection is the best or 2nd best in Toronto, its not reflected in his books! The only books available have 7k songs out of the 30k and the old song codes which he doesn't really use much anymore (not he queries the songs based on author and title). I'm assured a book is being compiled with the new selections, but its a weak spot. There is a website you can view on your computer or mobile phone (done by yours truly) at, but its not well advertised. (I'm getting a new URL to make it easier).

The verdict: The Gladstone Hotel with Peter Styles is overall still a excellent venue (mostly) with significant improvements. While I'd say its in the top 3, a few things still need to be done to make the undisputed champ of the karaoke pub world.

1. A sound engineer that pays more attention to volume levels (I've had complaints about it at the Toronto Karaoke Meetup Group, that is how bad he is sometimes)

2. Printed books or at least a kiosk where people can have FULL viewing access to the songs he has instead of asking if he has a song (80% change he has it)

3. Wait staff need a bit of polishing up and not neglecting patrons at small tables.

What is good is VERY VERY good. Peter is still the only guy with an applause sign I've seen so far. (and its a powerful tool). You WILL have fun at the Gladstone in spite of a few rough edges.

Final Grade: B+
Excellent Host, fantastic song selection, amazing quality food. Sound balance between the front and back could be improved. Sound engineer that pays more attention to balance is badly needed. Wait times are tricky, popularity has its price.

Score Summary:
Facilities: 7.5 (Lots of Space, sound however is unbalanced in different sections)
Equipment: 8.0 (New speakers installed, but sound engineer needs to be more alert)
Location: 7.5 (Easy to spot, moderately easy to get to using the Queen St. Streetcar)
Song Selection: 9.0 (The spot for best selection is within the Gladstone's reach)
Wait Times: 7 (scaled:public venue,Peter will try to shuffle within reasons if asked)
Host: 9.5 (VERY entertaining, Pays attention to the crowd, you'll love this guy)
Food Prices: 7.5 (Prices are slightly higher than average but the food quality is well above)
Food Quality: 9
Food Selection: 7 (slightly limited in selection)

Venue Information:
10 PM - 1 AM
The Gladstone Hotel
1214 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON
Phone: 416 531 4635
Info on the Host:

Karaoke Review Update: Bar + Karaoke

January 22nd, 2011

Seeing the need to update reviews and venues change I'll start with the one Closest to where I live (because its easy :D) When I checked Bar + Karaoke There were positives and negatives. I had chatted with the owner about them both so let's see how its come along since then.

This is the first karaoke box I'd seen with either LCD or plasma screens. I'm happy to say this so far is the cleanest Karaoke box I've seen to day as well as the most convenient for me. I had made some comments on the equipment last time I was here. There have been a few improvement in the years since I write my first review of this venue.

The Good
: Well the plasma screens were all in excellent order and the computer selection by song number makes it easy to add, remove or switch order of songs. The look of the place felt like karaoke box meets night club feel to it. The looks of the interior was actually very nicely thought out. The selection was identical to XO which is to say it was decent and there have been a number of songs added. A few hundred in the English category which isn't bad. The microphones/receiver are working significantly better and more consist ant then when I first arrived so someone had been looking over the equipment.

The service level is now fairly good level. For rooms, equipment, and food a red button will bring an attendant for any help required including food service (I should perhaps say "snack")

The Mixed: While the microphone and receivers have improved significantly there are still a few things missing which the original had in its favor before it fell into disrepair (and now has a new owner). There are key changes in SOME of the rooms but not all of them. Primarily the more expensive medium room have a key changes. I actually spoke with the owner on this. He says he's working on it. Not sure what the difficulty could be but I'll just say if the owner can get key changers into the small rooms as well, this will be the best Karaoke Box in Toronto. The other mixed issue is the remotes. The remote control key functions are not always consistant. Some rooms seem to have slightly different key mappings to the remove then others which can cahas risen to use confusion for regulars.

The food quality is actually fairly good but the limited food selection means you can't actually get a meal here. This place (as most of the Toronto Karaoke Scene these days), is primarily geared for alcohol. It would be really cool if one could order a real meal. For now, I suggest either eat before you come, or bring food for a party if your group is really hungry. Outside drinks are not allowed, so bear that in mind.

One qualm I have with the computer karaoke system is if you want to use the computer catalog, the song order seems to be questionable. In fact, I'd almost suggest only use the books for song selection. It may be a glitch in the software that makes the order of songs in English rather irregular, but still, it can be confusing. Again, I suggest sticking to the song books to find your selection.

The Bad: There is nothing that stands out as bad. (Hooray!)

Summary: The owner of this place perhaps should consider a career in interior decorating (or refer the person he hired) because he seems to think “westerns” have no knowledge of what karaoke is all about or what quality equipment is. Let's start with basics: People have different song ranges, so key changers are ESSENTIAL. Yes, ESSENTIAL so that everyone can participate comfortably. Not having simple key changers that will work on any analog audio system is, frankly, very discouraging considering the great work on initially done with XO. Not only that but cheap Korean equipment and radio signal feedback on the audio (when there was no radio component on these receivers or perhaps I should say preamp) also suggests that the owner was doing everything to get this operation up on the cheap using excellent decorating to hide the fact. After six weeks of telling them they should have key changers and even telling them where to get them with no results show lack of attention the customers. Every time I went to the place (generally Fridays) I didn't see much of a crowd. Perhaps its just as well given the lack of respect for Karaoke lovers. Perhaps this is why he has let XO become so run down it is now dangerous to go to in the summer due to lack of proper ventilation and working air conditioners which had not been repaired properly for at least 2 years. I had to stop bringing the Toronto Karaoke Meetup Group as a result. There may be a general trend of business and Karaoke Box owners trying to avoid initial business costs with the invent of computer based Karaoke song changers, but just because a computer can do the rotations doesn't mean you don't provide the basics if you are going to be in the karaoke business at all. Anyone looking to start a karaoke box be aware there are those of us who have been to Asia, know what standard karaoke is supposed to provide and we will let people know who respects their customers, and just as importantly, who does not.

Summary Scores

Facilities: 9.0 (Nice rooms, really clean, furniture in amazing shape)

Equipment: 7.5 (Improved mikes, key changes in some medium rooms). Significant improvements here but can't give full marks without key changers in the majority of the rooms. The remote control system should be uniform throughout all the rooms as well.

Location: 8.0 (Block north of Dundas Subway. Parking will cost you a pretty penny at Yonge/Dundas however)

Food Prices: NA (Prices on drinks are average, but only snack food)

Service: 8.0 (Staff improved quite a bit since the last time I review this venue)

Selection: 7.0 (~7500 English songs, lots of Korean, Chinese, some Japanese, same as XO).

Wait Times: 9.0 (Its a computer AVI/MPG server. So this is expected)

Room Prices: 7.0

1-5 people: $25/Hour

6-10 people: $40/Hour

50 Large Room: $50/Hour

Final Grade: C+/B- (Its getting better, owner seems to be making an effort)

Venue Information:
Bar + Karaoke Lounge
360 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON M5B 1S5
(416) 340-7154


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Valentine's Day Karaoke Event

Folks for those of you who believe karaoke can be romantic (and of your that includes yours truly), this may be the event for you:

Event Name: Heartbreak Karaoke

Date: Valentine’s Day: Monday, February 14, 2011

Where: Supermarket, 268 Augusta Avenue

Time: 9:00 pm to 2:00 am

Charge:$5 if you wear red, $7 if you don’t

Map here:

For those of you who don't know,this is near Kensington Market.

Enjoy. I may be there to check it out. Hope to see a few of you there.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Karaoke Act October 21st, Western Toronto

Folks, there have been changes and new acts coming out to replace old, or just new acts. One Karaoke premere is happening on October 21st! I'll be there to see the kick-off. Should be good. here are the details:

Jack Astor's Bar and Grill
Sherway Gardens
1900 The Queensway
Toronto, ON
M9C 5H5

Thursday, October 21st, 2010
8 PM to 1 AM (5 hour!!)

I'll let you know later about the equipment, food song selection, all the good stuff.

I do apologize. Been busy making a living. (The reviews I write need to be funded somehow :D)

Anyway, review on this new venue will be here.

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