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Talent optional

October 07, 2005|By: Elia Powers

Everyone, together now:

"The other night I dreamt of knives/Continental drift

divide/Mountains sit in a line/Leonard Bernstein/Leonid

Brezhnev/Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs ... "

What, you don't know the lyrics by heart? It's OK. Don't sweat it.

No one else around you -- save for R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe -- does

either.

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That's why they created karaoke machines that flash the words on

television screens.

And that's one reason why the pub pastime continues to be popular.

There's little pressure to remember lyrics and tunes. Stage presence

and energy are generally valued more than vocal talent.

Karaoke has long been the great musical equalizer. Now, one

restaurant and bar also gives amateur singers a chance to live out

their rock star dreams.

Twice a week at La Cave Restaurant in Costa Mesa, bar-goers step

on stage to be the lead singer of the Orange County band, Cover Me

Badd, as it performs some of music's greatest hits.

"We get quite a range of people," said Rod Scheuerman, the Newport

Beach guitarist known as Cover. "You get the crazy ones who don't

know how to sing. Then there are the talented people who know the

song. It's a novelty for everyone, because they've never played with

a band."

Scheuerman plays along with drummer Ben Klein (Me) and bassist and

pianist Nate Kazas (Badd). They have a list of more than 50 rock

anthems from the 1970s through the present day.

Like most everything in the karaoke world, the band's name is a

take off; theirs paying homage to the vocal group Color Me Badd.

They've played songs such as "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Girls

Just Want to Have Fun" more times than they'd like to count. They've

had girls sing with them, guys sing with them, mixed groups on stage

with them and people who have no business singing sing with them.

"We don't care if they mess up," Scheuerman said. "Sometimes

they'll walk off stage during the performance, and we'll just finish

the song for them."

The band started about a month ago at La Cave when manager David

Scott needed a fill-in for the usual karaoke night. He said the

experiment has led to increased business to his steak and seafood

restaurant.

Rock karaoke hasn't caught on to the mainstream, but for those who

are interested in the traditional form, there are plenty of options

in Newport-Mesa.

At Costa Mesa's Detroit Bar, those looking to try out their vocal

chords come on Sunday nights. Regulars are familiar with Kelli Groh,

a karaoke regular who runs the show.

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