Live karaoke, ‘terrifying and exhilarating’
Good Enough Live Karaoke (GELK), the ultimate audience-participation cover band, is coming to Creemore next month and there is a role for everyone in the community to play whether it’s as a singer or an audience member.
The Toronto band gets its name from its humble origins as last minute Christmas party entertainers. Founder Tim McCready said he wasn’t a great musician when he started the band. He was an arts school graduate who took on the challenge of putting together a live karaoke band for a corporate holiday party with only two weeks’ notice.
December will mark the 10th anniversary of that fateful day when McCready called on some musician friends who learned a bunch of songs very quickly in order to make the gig. The instigator told McCready the band didn’t have to be great they just had to be able to play, so they learned 20 songs to the point of being ‘good enough’ before moving on to the next one. And the name stuck, explains McCready.
Since then, GELK has done about 1,100 shows. The line-up has changed over the years as musician came and went but McCready now has anywhere between 12-15 musicians he can call on. He said a lot of the band members have had a formal music education and over a decade they have proven to be good teachers, raising McCready’s skill level. As a result, GELK is a super-tight band featuring guitar, bass, keyboards and drums, and has a song list of 350 songs from all genres and eras.
The difference between traditional karaoke and live karaoke, says McCready, is that the live band can support the singer with backing vocals and other cues. Because karaoke is often done in private rooms with friends, he said, singing with a live band in front of an audience can be more intimidating.
“That’s what makes it terrifying and exhilarating,” said McCready. “We’re up there to help people. We want the singers to do well.”
However, he said he has found that the audience is always very supportive. McCready said part of what makes it a success is the band’s commitment to play the songs as they were recorded, including the guitar solos, so the singers feel comfortable with the arrangements. For a lot of people it’s the first time they’ve performed with a live band but most often they give a good performance, said McCready, adding that the goal is to create an environment where people can let their guard down and have fun.
“Come have fun, that’s what it’s all about. It’s an exciting experience and it can be nerve-wracking but you gotta have fun with it,” he said. “And it’s engaging to watch people have that experience.”
He encourages people to listen to GELK’s playlist in advance and choose a song from the band’s extensive song list.
“The songs that go best are the ones that mean something to the singer,” said McCready.
When they arrive at the event prospective singers will fill out a song card, with the help of a host who will be on hand to get everyone in the queue and answer any questions. The lyrics are provided on an iPad affixed to a music stand.
The Nov. 18 show at the Creemore Legion is a fundraiser for Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society to support programming for next year’s Creemore Festival of the Arts.
Tickets cost $25 and are available at phahs.ca and at The Creemore Echo, 3 Caroline St. W. Doors open at 7 p.m. Showtime is 8 p.m. All ages welcome. Cash bar.
Check out the song list at www. goodenoughlivekaraoke.com.