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Sixty-Something: Karaoke In The Hamptons Is Alive And Well

T.J. Clemente

Helen McGuire (a.k.a. "The Diva"). (Courtesy Photo)

Karaoke is alive and well all over the Hamptons. You can literally sing karaoke all over the Hamptons on almost every night. There are huge venues like Wednesday Karaoke at the Stephen Talkhouse (Amagansett) or more intimate venues like MJ Dowling's in Sag Harbor and the North Sea Tavern - along with all the fun of singing at Liar's Saloon in Montauk. Now in East Hampton, The Springs Tavern, has Saturday karaoke opportunities.

A longtime friend, Helen McGuire (a.k.a. "The Diva") is now at the heart of karaoke on the East End after taking the reins from now retired Jim and Nancy Lagarenne. Jim Lagarenne revolutionized karaoke on the East End by introducing computer technology that expanded songbooks from hundreds to thousands of tunes.

I first met Helen at Liar's Saloon singing karaoke around 2003/2004. I asked her about East End karaoke today and this is what she said, "I'm at Stephen Talkhouse Wednesday 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and the Springs Tavern Saturday 9 p.m. to 1 p.m. Karaoke is thriving in the Hamptons. It's the audience's opportunity to be a part of the show! We have such incredible known and undiscovered talent here. Last week I had the Bay Street Theatre interns grace my show!! They were incredible and had the entire bar on their feet with standing ovations."

Then I asked her about surprise singers and she replied, "I've had Jimmy Fallon as well as Fred Schneider of The B52's sing with me. The Talkhouse brought professional baseball players from the Cubs and Mets cutting loose. But it's the ordinary people with regular jobs that make it special. They just find joy in singing!" Then she added, "I forgot I had Neil Patrick Harris sing with me!"

On Thursday night at 9 p.m. until closing The Old Stove Pub Sagaponack on Route 27 does karaoke with rotating hosts. George Nickos Gounelas runs the Old Stove Pub and makes the karaoke fun, unpredictable and lively. If you sing a favorite of his, a free drink comes your way.

Harry LaGarenne is at Liars Friday 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. for what is called "Harryoake." Friday night Liar's Saloon karaoke is perhaps the mecca or "high alter," of karaoke on Long Island. It a small place but it is a special place. It is worth a trip to go see. Liar's Saloon was named the #1 Dive Bar," on Long Island by Newsday and The New York Post. A must visit!

For Southampton folks there is the North Sea Tavern. I asked my good friend JB Barrett about what's happening at North Sea Tavern and he said, "Who's Next Karaoke, is every Tuesday and Friday night at North Sea Tavern Southampton, NY from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.! But after Labor Day just Friday nights all year-round." JB Barrett and Adam Webb run the show. JB Barrett, who also uses the surname of "Reel Montauk," can really sing the tunes and JB shows up all over the Hamptons to sing songs from rap to Bruce Springsteen. I've seen him sing and have everyone up at a packed Talkhouse dancing in fervor many times.

Robin Conklin presents his brand of high quality karaoke at MJ Dowling's on Noyack Road in Sag Harbor. He is there Saturdays 10 p.m. to 1 p.m., but it is best to call in advance, because occasionally they have other special events.

I want to give a shout out to another famous chef and restaurant owner, Jason Weiner and wife Almond Zigmund who right up to just days before their daughter, Rive, was born (way back then) would join me in singing "The Weight" weekly at their restaurant, but only after Kelly Ripa left.

Lastly, I thought I would share one of my all-time favorite karaoke stories. In 2004-2006 the Blue Parrot in East Hampton Village had karaoke on Monday nights. I used to sing tunes and occasionally film actress Lily Vonnegut (Kurt Vonnegut's daughter) would sing with me. However, her passion was Bon Jovi songs and other hard rock groups. I believe she was taking singing lessons at the time and really could carry the tunes. One night at the Parrot she was belting out "Dead or Alive" when I noticed squirreled in the corner of the bar was one actual Jon Bon Jovi. Now today Jon Bon Jovi is a part owner of the Blue Parrot and but they don't have karaoke there anymore. Hopefully they will bring it back on Monday nights!

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