Arts and Entertainment

'Whidbey's got talent' launches Saturday

The karaoke craze has recently hit a new high in Oak Harbor. Many bars and eateries, including Element Night Club and Hot Shotz, are giving locals a chance to reinterpret songs like “Don’t Stop Believing” on a nightly basis.

Just about every day of the week, karaoke fans can find a place to unwind downtown; and they’re not bad.

“We have some major local talent,” bartender Jennine Zari said, who listens to singers at the Two O’ Clock Gathering Spot (TOCGS) on Saturdays.

To draw some of the island’s best, Zari has helped launch a weekly singing contest called “Whidbey’s Got Talent.” The first round begins tonight at TOCGS on Pioneer Way.

The crowd will judge the vocals of karaoke singers and the emcee will act as the final decider, based on the roar of the crowd. The host is “Sing with Rocky,” a Bellingham-based karaoke company, whose main technician is, fittingly, a former American Idol contestant.

“Rocky has the best karaoke I’ve ever seen. He has about 75,000 songs and the equipment makes people sound really good,” organizer Jennine Zari said.

Every Saturday, a new winner will be announced at 1 a.m. and given a $50 gift certificate to TOCGS. They’ll also be invited to a finale sing-off on Nov. 20, where eight singers will compete for $250 and additional prizes.

The finale show will have a panel of judges (much like American Idol). The TOCGS staff is searching for a judge who can mimic a Simon Cowell-type accent.

Tonight’s contest will start at 9:30 p.m., and to enter, people need to sign up at the beginning of the night.

Zari said TOCGS will offer great drink deals for singers. There will be $1.50 draft specials for the rest of the crowd, among others.

While there are few rules, Zari says bar patrons are the most receptive to rock n’ roll. A few bottles of liquid courage, a microphone and some vintage Johnny Cash songs could get a karaoke-goer pretty far.

“I hope people sing what they’re comfortable singing and sing from the heart. TOCGS is all about the music so there’s no bad choice for them,” Zari said.

TOCGS is located at 880 SE Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor and for more information call 679-5100.

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