On Thursday evenings, things are pretty low key at Sports USA. The sound of pool balls and clinking silverware reverberate in the dim room. On the dance floor, Tony Hunt is setting up his laptop. He’s worked with Family and Moral, Welfare and Recreation since 1996 when he retired from the military. During those years, Hunt has worn a lot of different hats. But his favorite job is on Thursday nights at Sports USA, where he DJs.
Every Thursday is Karaoke night at Sports USA, Hunt has been spinning tunes for years. It’s fun to come out for a couple hours, play some pop hits, and free the microphone for whoever wants to perform. Hunt likes to showcase his regulars and said he’s happy to fade into the background with his playlist.
“It’s not about me,” he said, setting up the microphone, “it’s about the karaoke.”
The room comes to life with the first singer. People begin to congregate around the stage. Esteban Arenas, a Soldier from Psychological Operations Command, begins the night with a few pop hits in his strong tenor.
“I’m not a professional singer. But my dad was a musician, and I guess it comes out in me. I just like to come here to have fun,” Arenas said.
Some of the singers are professionals, though. Thomas Stratton has been singing for 19 years, and just got out of the All American Chorus. His twoyear experience with the chorus taught him a lot about variety and he sings everything from Toby Keith to Josh Groban.
“I love the experience,” said Stratton. “I still get a little nervous up on stage, but my voice carries me through.”
However, the night is not all about the professionals. The amateurs can really steal the show. At about 9:30, Arenas’ best friend, Christopher Blanton, took the stage. He immediately brought hollers and cheers from the audience.
“Tonight, I’m singing for you baby,” he said, pointing to his wife in the first row. “Happy birthday.”
The gesture moves his wife to tears. “I sure caught a good one,” she said with a grin.
Blanton has an incredible baritone, but he’s never had any formal training.
“I was a theater major for a little while in college, and I played in three or four musicals, but I never sang professionally. I like to come out and sing on Thursdays with Esteban,” he said.
If you are interested in coming out to a karaoke night and just having fun, consider Sports USA on Longstreet Road. Every Thursday night, the stage is open from 8:30 to 11 p.m. to all singers. Be sure to bring a friend. After all, what is karaoke if not a night to bring out your inner rock star and have a little fun.