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Forget the video game! Be a rock star for real at South Hall spot
Animal House performs tonight at The Lake House Bar and Grill in Flowery Branch. - photo by Andrew Ertzberger

Live band karaoke with Animal House
When: 8 p.m. today
Where: The Lake House, 5466 McEver Road, Flowery Branch
More info: 770-967-4979

Imagine if, just for one night, you can stand with a microphone with a live band, in front of a crowded room, and sing your heart out.

Think karaoke, only with real musicians, not just some wimpy soundtrack.

Then you need to make the trek to The Lake House in Flowery Branch this evening, where local band Animal House will be playing requested tunes and handing the mic over to members of the audience.

And if you can play the guitar, bass or keyboards, they’ll loan you that, too.

"The greatest thing about our (live jam karaoke show) is it’s not limited to the singers," said Liz Craig, who lends her vocals to the band on occasion and also emcees and runs the Teleprompter.

"If someone wants to play guitar or bass or drums or keyboard, they’re more than welcome to do that. It’s not limited to just singers, so people get the opportunity to be a rock star when they may not normally get the chance, in front of a crowd."

Paul Choi, manager of The Lake House, said the idea to do a live-band karaoke sprouted from another incarnation of Animal House, a band called Emerald City.

When Emerald City played a few weeks ago, hundreds of people showed up to see the band, who at that point was already starting to play some live jam karaoke. They started integrating some live karaoke into the act, and it caught on.

The next week, Animal House made its appearance at the restaurant and the crowd was really into it, he said.

"We tried to give it a shot, and it worked. It really worked last week," he said. "People came to enjoy our food, and they enjoy coming up and singing with the instruments."

Emerald City is essentially the same band, Craig said, only with the addition of an extra vocalist and two more guitarists. And when the band members play as Emerald City, they don’t traditionally do live jam karaoke.

But, Craig said, they saw an opportunity; very few bands in the area do it.

Guitarist for both Animal House and Emerald City is Rick Craig, who has played with Humble Pie and a host of other touring bands, such as MC5 and Halloween. Other Animal House members include Jason Sauls on keyboard, Robert Daniel on bass and Kevin Cafferty on drums.

Liz Craig said the band keeps a list of songs members know on the band’s Web site, and they are constantly adding to it.

"We want to have hundreds," she said. "It’s pretty much any genre; we have country songs, some pop songs. It basically stems around some rock songs, but we also do pop and blues and country — we don’t want to limit anybody.

"We want anyone to come and find something."

And if the band doesn’t know your favorite karaoke song, write it down. Craig said the band will try to learn it by the next week.

Sometimes, they just wing it.

"Like this past week, someone wanted to play guitar and play ‘The Joker,’" she said. "We didn’t know that, but they said, ‘It’s OK,’ and we played off-the-cuff ‘The Joker.’

"The scope of who can do it is endless."

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