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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 7, 2006

Karaoke is camaraderie at 9th Ave. Rock House

By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Terrence Kamisato strikes a guitar-god pose before letting patrons shriek songs at the 9th Ave. Rock House.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Bartender Rene Sugimoto prepares a drink for a customer at the Wai'alae Avenue spot, where karaoke patrons can choose from 4,000 songs.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Shelley Chun took the microphone for a few tunes on a recent night at the 9th Ave. Rock House, where laid-back patrons tend to be polite about each singer's talents.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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WHERE: 3435 Wai'alae Ave. (at 9th Avenue, next to Town restaurant), 738-5524

HOURS: 5:30 p.m.-2 a.m. daily

WHAT TO WEAR: Stay casual.

GOT FOOD? Chicken karaage, buffalo wings, salt-and-pepper shrimp, fries, etc. ($5-$8)

KARAOKE MENU: More than 4,000 selections, including Stone Temple Pilots, Steely Dan, System of a Down, The Beatles, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Talking Heads, Tenacious D


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Terrence Kamisato inserts a DVD of Stevie Ray Vaughn at the 1985 Montreaux Jazz Festival into 9th Ave. Rock House's player. Vaughn tears into his classic "Scuttle Buttin' " on every television in the place.

Big mistake in a karaoke bar? Maybe in any other singing joint.

Kamisato is a confessed " '80s guitar geek," a longtime ax grinder with the long hair, black tee and jeans that seal the deal, and part owner of the Rock House. His guitar-rock DVDs are on because he loves 'em they're as much a part of the tiny, neon-lit, patron-photo-filled bar's homey charm as the genial Kamisato.

Karaoke in a public room is a great equalizer. Singing Radiohead's "Anyone Can Play Guitar" is a task you think impossible until the dude across the room butchers it. Then it's open season on the song.

No one rips into anyone else's game at the Rock House.

The dude with a clear-eyed love for Foreigner, Loverboy and Quiet Riot gets to be the rock guy. Our neighbors take the mellow route with Duran Duran and Toad the Wet Sprocket, and applaud the cute girl on another table chick-rocking Pink.

Nobody seems to mind our table's determination to be musically confounding: Depeche Mode, Bruce Springsteen, Wheatus, Gin Blossoms, David Gray, Radiohead. There's even polite applause for it all.

The joint's song book loaded with more than 4,000 selections and a mild weakness for arena rock is appropriately subtitled "Music from the Gods." Screaming Linkin Park's "In The End" or anything else will cost you a buck each.

The bar's half-dozen tables squeezing patrons close to one another has an unexpected result: Singing for strangers becomes easy. The laid-back crowd doesn't hurt matters, either.

Cue "Pride and Joy," Terrence: We're definitely coming back.

Reach Derek Paiva at dpaiva@honoluluadvertiser.com.