Odds & Ends

Fire marshals were the surprise guests at last Friday night's Gypsy Tea Room show, a Ronald McDonald House fundraiser. Their appearance started rumors that the centerpiece Deep Ellum club was delinquent in its payments to the fire marshal.

"Not that I'm aware of," said Whit Meyers of The EC, which owns the Gypsy. He says the reason for the fire marshals is this: On Saturday, during a routine inspection, the audio component of their fire alarm system proved faulty. The fire marshal wanted it fixed in 24 hours, which wasn't possible. "So we had fire marshals in the building that night," says Meyers. "That's one of the ways you can make the fire marshal happy." Saturday and Monday nights' shows were moved to Trees, but Meyers assures us that "all will be resolved."

Meyers dismisses suggestions that the Gypsy is in trouble financially. He says March was one of the the best months they've ever had.

For those who have never experienced it, Scaraoke is not your father's kitschy Japanese pasttime. It is karaoke turned up to 11. Hosted by Mark Ridlen, aka DJ Mr. Rid, it is a wholly unique karaoke experience, tarted up with rope lights and bolstered by a handful of regulars and a 123-page menu of songs. After XPO Lounge closed last September, the Thursday night hipster ritual changed locations to the Meridian Room, the hidden gem of a bar right down the block. But I'm happy to report that while the addresses switched, the spirit stayed intact.

"It was a little rocky for a while, but now it's back," says Silas Courson, a regular who has been coming every Thursday for the past two years. "I have to be at work at 7:30 tomorrow," he says, sipping another beer as he waits to sing his number, a spirited version of the Thompson Twins' "Lay Your Hands." "I'm hurting every Friday."

Maybe it's performance anxiety that fuels the drinking, but by 1 a.m., people are dancing...on the tables. Things have gotten nuts. A rendition of the Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl" has people crammed in between the tables, jumping and shouting along with the song. And it's a weeknight. Less a celebration of performance, Scaraoke is more a celebration of a certain generation's music--Top 40 radio, '80s and '90s classics, early hip-hop. Even people who don't perform enjoy it. "It's the only place I can dance," says Michaela Kent. And though she claims to be too afraid to sing, she does all night. Just not in front of the microphone. Scaraoke is every Thursday night at the Meridian Room, 3611 Parry Ave., starting somewhere between 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. and lasting till close.

Reminder for procrastinators: Get those Dallas Observer Music Awards votes in! Online voting was glitchy for a while--I know, and it haunts my dreams--but everything's fixed. Go to www.dallasobserver.com and vote or send in those ballots by Monday, April 25.

In the meantime, you can catch some of the Observer nominees at two upcoming in-stores at Virgin Mega-store in Mockingbird Station. On Thursday, April 14, experience the rawk with Record Hop and Fair to Midland. And on Thursday, April 21, it's a smorgasbord of up-and-coming acts with a lineup of Chemistry Set, The Hourly Radio and Black Tie Dynasty. Come experience the new wave of Dallas music.

If you love Ray Charles--and I assume you do--hear's a tip: A group of musicians, all of whom played in a backup band with the late, great Charles, will be performing together at Club Dada on Saturday, April 16, in a Tribute to Ray. The lineup includes: saxophonist Leroy Cooper, keyboardist Ernie Vantrease, trumpeter Jack Ryans, bassist James Gilyard and drummer John Bryan. This is history, folks. Tickets are $10.

Speaking of Club Dada, a new acoustic series has started there on Tuesday nights called "Party With a Purpose." On Tuesday, April 19 and April 26 you can catch sets from Kristy Kruger, Doug Burr and Trey Johnson, each of whom is nominated for an Observer music award this year. Throughout April, proceeds benefit Operation Kindness, a no-kill animal shelter. A donation of $5 is requested.

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Sarah Hepola