Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thoughts On A Lounge Singer...

Monday night, my family and I went to Mario's, an Italian place here in Tyler. Kristen had been a few times, but for the rest of the Wrights, it was a first time.

I'll say this - Mario's gets it right. At night, it looks like something pulled straight out of a movie. The restaurant itself is designed to give you a sense of closeness and smallness with lots of little alcoves and hallways. The wall is covered with old black and white pictures of famous folks. The food is good and occasionally an Italian man in a pinstripe will walk through and yell out "mamma-mia!"

I made that last part up.

But on Monday night, they had a guy singing in this little stage/dance floor area. At first, I thought it was kinda' silly, but once I listened to this guy for the meal, I had some realizations.


  • This guy has the best gig in the world. He wasn't even standing. He just sat on a stool beside his little mixer and sang his stuff, very chilled out and relaxed. He wasn't "working the room" or trying to simultaneously sell the songs and yet make fun of lounge singing in general. (What lots of nightclub-style singers try to do...)

  • This guy had a great voice. One of my first thoughts was that this guy had found a good tone for this particular crowd - pretty "wet" vocal (reverb,) thin vocal tone, lots of vibrato. Exactly what you want from an Italian restaurant lounge singer, right? But when he hit Mary, Did You Know, he jumped a whole 'nother level. He was able to flawlessly drop to the lower octave to hold the song back where it normally explodes. It was a clinic in dynamics...this guy had it figured out. He knew what sort of volume to sing (and mix) and he was content just to exist as background music.

  • This guy mixed it up. There was Christmas music, old crooner favorites, doo-wop and even some Billy Joel love-song stuff. In doing that, he grabbed my interest. Suddenly, he moved from just a low buzz of noise to something that would periodically surprise me.

  • The guy played trumpet. That's like the super hero of lounge singing, right? Just to grab up a trumpet and rock a few solos now and again? Smooth.
  • He seemed pretty bored. I guess that's to be expected when you're slated to sing for four hours at a time, but I think a little I-actually-care-about-what-you-think-of-this-music might have been nice.

  • He didn't manage the reverb well. The echo stuff worked for the music, but when he talked, it was impossible to hear him in all the simulated slapback. He probably could have worked the effect master level and bit to be heard a bit more clearly. I honestly don't have any idea what he was saying. Maybe that's okay - maybe that's what he wants. Maybe he's saying something like, "Yeah, I know I just butchered that Billy Joel song, but you big dummies are too busy sucking down garlic bread and drinking wine." I hope not, but I don't know.
I was pretty entertained by this guy. He had the job down cold and I was enjoyed listening to him. He didn't distract and he paced his music very well. Thanks so much, fella!