Everyone gets tense before they sing.
Whether you're an extrovert or an introvert, nothing quite equals the nervousness of waiting, with mic in hand, as a bar full of people stares at you in anticipation. But once the music starts, the momentum can carry you through the nerves and for some, even beyond the music.
"It's like something spiritual gets channeled through me," says Petaluma resident Elizabeth LeRoy, waiting to sing Sara McLachlan's "Angel" at on Thursday night.
LeRoy closed her eyes while she sang, belting out the song from memory. After her performance, she returned to the congratulatory arms at her table, where a group of friends was waiting.
A karaoke scene has emerged over the last few years in Petaluma and even as karaoke spots such as Kodiak Jack's and The Aquarium turn off their speakers, new venues, like and , have emerged to replace them.
And while these newcomers offer a calmer experience, the quintessential karaoke bar remains one where the audience get raucous, like at First Edition and Willowbrook Ale House.
Here are a couple of options for local crooners.
, Thursday nights, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
A respectful crowd, First Edition's Thursday night karaoke serves as the social point for many of the bar's patrons. Don't expect any wallflowers here, asregulars earnestly request their songs for Karaoke Jockey George. So if you don't want to wait to sing, make your selection quickly.
Performances run the gamut, from ballads to swing, from AC/DC to Lady Gaga, although as the night goes longer, the crowd and music tends to skew younger.
, Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
"If you think you can't sing, drink more." That’s the slogan of karaoke maven and Willowbrook's Karaoke Jockey or KJ, Kat Hopkins, who's well known on the county's karaoke circuit. Like First Edition, Willowbrook has its regulars, and nights can quickly turn rowdy. Crowd sing-a-longs are not uncommon along with patrons who add a little zest to their performances.
"One guy sings Garth Brooks and runs around the room," says Hopkins.
Visitors can expect to hear hard rock hits and country ballads, but that doesn't mean a potential singer won't find their favorite song in Kat's folder of over 10,000 tracks.
And if it's your birthday, call ahead and Hopkins can arrange for a cake and decorations for a big enough party. Speaking of which, Hopkins celebrated six years of hosting karaoke at the restaurant and bar last weekend.
, Tuesdays, 7 to 10 p.m.
For those looking for a more sophisticated karaoke experience, one befitting for the whole family for example, head to Pazzo on Tuesday nights. Even owner Beverly Woodbridge gets in on the action.
"I tend to sing the old Cole Porter stuff," Woodbridge says.
Expect a wide variety of genres as well as ages; teens are just as likely as seniors to sing at the weekly event.
, Fridays, 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., and Sundays, 8 to 10 p.m.
Another new contender for the karaoke crown is Zocalos, the Mexican restaurant on Lakeville Highway, which opened earlier this year. Zocalos offers two nights of singing: Spanish night on Fridays and English-language songs on Sunday nights.
Friday nights draw a mixed-age crowd, who come to eat as well as sing. And if the night goes particularly well, it's not uncommon for people to start dancing during performances.
For Sundays, an older crowd sings Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash ballads. The atmosphere here is definitely more relaxed and laid-back, so leave your roaring performance of metal acts at the door.
, Third Saturday of the month, 9 p.m. to midnight
Making its karaoke debut, Joe Hamer Salon hosted its first, of hopefully many more, karaoke events last Saturday. There were no blowouts offered with songs. Instead, the stylists cleared the space of all chairs and equipment, set up bars with beer and wine and even belted out a tune or two.
With a $5 fee at the door, all proceeds from the event went to benefit Mentor Me Petaluma, a program that mentors at-risk Petaluma children, aged 5 to 17. The salon has plans to host the event every third Saturday of the month, all in an effort to reach out to the community.