December 6, 2009 in Idaho Voices

Amateurs face crowds to help kids with HIV

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Coming up

What: Karaoke benefit for the Children of North Idaho AIDS Coalition

Where: Baja Bargarita, 15 N. Second, Coeur d’Alene

When: Monday at 7 p.m.

“Well, I sent you a tie clasp, but that was last July … you ain’t never cut a record and you ain’t no friend of mine.”

As soon as the words had slipped through my lips, I realized they somehow seemed a little bit off. My attempt at Elvis’ “Hound Dog” had been sabotaged by the sad handiwork of some random karaoke transcriptionist who obviously had never fully mastered the English language.

Mangled lyrical translations; tinny, Casiotronic musical interpolations of hits that once actually rocked; lurid, beachy graphic elements that randomly float across the TV screen like soft-focus hallucinations from the ’80s.

Just a few of the hazards one may encounter during the karaoke game, but to me they’re essential elements in the overall experience of getting up in front of room full of drunks and belting out the hits of Lady Gaga or Engelbert Humperdinck. It can take a lot of spleen and a little old-fashioned liquid courage to get behind the mike that first time, but most karaoke virgins usually become hooked as soon as they realize they’re not going to keel over or get savagely heckled. Well, unless I’m in the audience that is.

Those with the desire to carry out their pop star fantasies in public will have a great opportunity to do so Monday when the Lewis-Clark State College student organization of social workers hosts a karaoke party and raffle to benefit North Idaho AIDS Coalition’s Christmas fund. The action starts 7 p.m. at Baja Bargarita in downtown Coeur d’Alene.

Naturally, the presence of generous-but-tone-deaf souls and those afflicted with permanent stage fright is requested to cheer on the amateur songbirds and possibly open their wallets to ensure that the 30 local HIV-positive children who live below the poverty level will have a fruitful visit from jolly old St. Nick this year.

The idea for the event was planted during a meeting of the LCSC social work group, when a couple of girls jokingly suggested the idea of a karaoke party. Member Christa Jennings realized it was something they could maybe actually pull off. Conveniently enough, she tends bar for Baja’s busy karaoke nights.

“I got to thinking, hey – I know the perfect place to have it and I know a karaoke DJ that will probably volunteer; let me see what I can put together. And it all just kind of came together from there,” Jennings said.

The first hurdle to clear was making sure LCSC student groups were allowed to include alcoholic beverages in their fundraisers. As long as the event was to be kept strictly 21-and-over, the school’s group adviser gave it a big thumbs up. Jennings says her Baja Bargarita boss Jessi Briseno was “very on board” with the idea and resident karaoke master Jerry Hakala was more than happy to volunteer his services for the evening.

Jennings, along with Matt Campbell, Stacy Kelly and several other LCSC classmates, was able to start piecing together the necessary elements of a successful benefit. The idea was to include a fundraising raffle, so they hit the phones and did some sidewalk surfing in pursuit of donated items. Fortunately, lots of people are in a giving mood this time of year.

One of the largest and most interesting prizes is a gift certificate for brave souls willing to take a parasailing trip over Lake Coeur d’Alene. Other swag includes premium oil changes from Dave Smith Auto, tanning packages from Celestial Tanning, bowling packages, vouchers for professional massages, supplies and lessons from Make Wine Make Beer, hairdos from beauty salons, accessories from trendy downtown boutiques and some original local artwork.

Reps from local beverage distributor Odom will be on hand as well to keep the energy level high and to donate promo items emblazoned with beer and liquor logos. All proceeds will be donated directly to the AIDS coalition fund.

“Come check it out. Come help the cause,” Jennings said. “Come sing a song. It’ll be fun. Hopefully we will get a good turnout and make some money to be able to provide these kids with some decent gifts. We really don’t want to have to settle for the dollar store.”


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