The Mercury's Karaoke Underground

Our Karaoke Korrespondent sings through the smoke on Capitol Hill

The Venue: Every third Sunday of the month, The Mercury, a private club located under Auto Battery on Capitol Hill, welcomes non-members to come in and sing at an event known as "Guilty Pleasures Karaoke."

The doors opened at 9 p.m. I got there at 11. The entrance fee was $3 for members, $5 for everyone else. I was briefed at the door that everyone who worked there was a volunteer, smoking was allowed, and to be careful because the bartender poured very stiff drinks.

Someone was nailing Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" as I walked in. The club was dark and the music was thumping. There were only around 15 people there, but everyone was having a good time and loving their cigarettes.

The Setup: The KJ station and stage were located right in the middle of the dance floor. The majority of the crowd was seated on this island of tables between the stage and the bar. The sound was phenomenal. New speakers were installed in October, and they shake the entire place.

The KJ: Jeremy Ormsbee of Silent J Entertainment runs the show. I first saw him host back in June on a slow Tuesday at Danny's Pub in Kirkland, and was very impressed by how he kept things lively during a light rotation. His rugged style and musical taste fit in very nicely with this Capitol Hill scene, and his song selection between performers was very imaginative and drew from every genre.

The Book: There were only about five song catalogs available, and they were all spoken for. There was one book at the KJ station. The selection was solid. As I tried to look for my song, Jeremy told me I could search via the Silent J website if I had a smartphone. Nothing beats physically flipping through pages in a binder (because you don't always know what you want to sing), but this more than comes through in a pinch. You just need to have an idea of the artists you like to mimic. It's set up very simply: If you enter an artist, it will pull up every song available by that artist. If you know the song you want, plug it in; if it's there, it will come up as well.

The Performances: There were some quality singers, and the song choices were all over the place. We got Oingo Boingo, When In Rome, Garth Brooks, Styx, Backstreet Boys, and Alice in Chains, to name a few. This Asian dude in his late thirties named Eric went all out with inspired performances of "When You Were Young" by The Killers and The Smiths' "There is a Light that Never Goes Out." I went with the guilty pleasure theme and sang "At this Moment" by Billy Vera. The best performance of the night was by this super-cute black gal named Stacy, who delivered a superb rendition of Danzig's "Mother."

The Rotation: I watched eight performances before turning in my slip, and was called up within 10 minutes. Three singers followed me before Jeremy announced we were back to the top, and I ended up being the 15th singer in that rotation. The 18th and final performer closed out the night around 2.

THE MERCURY 1009 E. Union St., 328-9481, CAPITOL HILL

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