March 11, 2010

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You are the lead singer
Mindseye’s got your back with band karaoke
By Michael Witthaus music@hippopress.com

So you want to be a rock and roll star?

According to the song, that involves first getting an electric guitar and then learning how to play. In today’s world of instant gratification, who has time for that? 

Instead of setting for another turn at Rock Band, why not go for the real thing, with a ready-made band that already knows “Free Bird,” not to mention “Kryptonite,” “Use Me” and most of your favorite Tom Petty songs?

That’s the idea behind Band Karaoke, hosted by local cover combo Mindseye every Thursday night at the Peddler’s Daughter in Nashua. They supply a playlist of more than 200 songs — crowd-pleasers like “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Can’t Get Enough” — and a microphone for anyone compelled to exercise their inner Bob Seger.

The crowds have grown steadily since the concept launched in early February, with young 20-somethings, classic rock survivors well past 50 and even an entire family stepping up to kick out the jams.

It’s exactly what they were hoping for, says one band member.

“We’ve been playing there for over three years now, and I thought this was a good way to mix things up and get people into the place,” said Mindseye bass player Kevin O’Connor, who came up with the idea after hearing about similar events in Boston and New York and watching a few YouTube videos.

People have asked for songs by everyone from Patsy Cline to Katy Perry. If it’s not on the list, they can write it on a request sheet, and the band will try to learn it by the following week.

“We prioritize by degree of hit,” O’Connor said. “If it’s some obscure B-side from your favorite album, we’re probably not going to get to it. But if it’s something people are likely to sing as we’re building a repertoire, we try to honor that.”

Coming up with a basic list was pretty easy for the bar circuit veterans. 

“Doing the cover thing, you kind of get a general feel for what people want to hear,” O’Connor said. “When you see all those people out there singing those tunes while you’re playing them, it’s a pretty good indicator.”

Still, there’s an element of Stump the Band to the Thursday sessions, which helps keep Mindseye musically fresh. They’ve already worked up a version of a song by ’90s grunge rockers Silverchair after a regular asked for it, and hope to have Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” ready soon.   

“Every week we’re trying to churn stuff out, and get the lyrics together,” O’Connor said. “It’s a pretty new endeavor for us.”

Though in the early days one or two of what O’Connor terms “karaoke circuit types” bristled at the thought of working with live musicians, most everyone else seems to be singing along to that old Rick Springfield song,  “The Human Touch.”

“People are way into the idea of doing it with a live band as compared to a DJ,” O’Connor said. “They can play off of us, and if they flake, we can vamp on the verse and let them catch up.”

“It’s kind of like jamming with a band as opposed to singing with a computer,” he said.


Band Karaoke with Mindseye
Where: Peddler’s Daughter, Nashua
When: every Thursday at 8 p.m.
Info: 562-5179, thepeddlersdaughter.com