Karaoke on the Outer Banks

Karaoke_OBXIt’s Wednesday evening at Jolley Roger in Kill Devil Hills, NC. Two young women are well into belting out a hip hop song, the karaoke beat is booming, and they haven’t missed a word yet. Friends are cheering them on and when they’re finished the people sitting around the bar let out a cheer and clap for their performance.

A man with a burly build, beard, long hair and several tattoos comes up to the mike next. He takes in a deep breath, focuses in on an attractive blond haired woman at the bar and sings George Strait’s “I Cross My Heart.” It’s a beautiful ballad about finding true love, and when he sings the first line, “Our love is unconditional, we knew it from the start …” everyone can tell at that very moment there’s no one else in the room except her.

Karaoke, which translates from Japanese as “no orchestra,” has been growing in popularity on the Outer Banks for the past few years. There appear to be regular karaoke singers who know the circuit and show up at most every venue. If you’re a fan, or want to give your voice a try, there are plenty of places that now offer karaoke.

The truth about karaoke is that it’s essentially about getting in front of people, singing some of your favorite songs, enjoying a few good laughs, routing each other on and just having pure fun. Everyone is a rock star in their own car, but standing in front of a room filled with a few friends and many strangers is difficult for most. Without a doubt the results are often quite funny. What becomes apparent quickly is that singing in key is much easier in your shower than hitting the right notes onstage with prerecorded music.

Staying in key is certainly important to some people, but the mass appeal of karaoke seems to be that everyone gets to sing along and share good natured chuckles over the sour notes. The diverse music selections are remarkable. Remember the two girls singing along to a hip hop song as I entered? These same women were also able to sing along when another performer selected the country song, “Friends in Low Places,” and they knew all the words!

Later in the evening, a young girl took the mike showing more courage than her two older brothers. Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” starts playing and at first the girl was shy and hesitant, but everyone joined in to sing along. With each passing verse, her confidence grew and her voice became stronger. By the last verse she was smiling and belting out the lyrics, “Shake it off, shake it off,” while dancing to the music.

Everything on our beaches tends to be fluid and activities are often seasonal, so prior to planning an evening out, it’s a good idea to call a location to verify their karaoke schedule and see if there are age restrictions. Not all venues are the same, but many hold Karaoke sessions in the bar mandating a 21 and older policy for participants.

Outer Banks Karaoke
Karaoke may be seasonal in some venues. Locations are subject to change.

Corolla:
Mike Dianna’s Grill Room
Sundogs Raw Bar & Grill

Duck:
Sunset Grille

Kitty Hawk:
Hurricane Mo’s (subject to change due to noise issues)
Longboards Island Grill

Kill Devil Hills:
Jolly Roger
Peppercorns – Ramada Inn

Nags Head:
Fish Heads-Outer Banks Pier
Mike Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern
Mulligans Raw Bar & Grille
Pier House Restaurant at Nags Head Pier (Ending for Season soon)

Manteo:
Poor Richard’s