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Piper's Kilt Karaoke Turns Locals into Stars for a Night

By DNAinfo Staff on April 6, 2012 9:41am

The Sunday crowd at Piper's Kilt.
The Sunday crowd at Piper's Kilt.
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DNAinfo / Gloria Dawson

By Gloria Dawson

Special to DNAinfo

INWOOD — An Irish pub way uptown might just have the most comfortable Sunday night singalong in the city.

"It's a very supportive audience," said local resident Terry Lynn LeCompte as she sipped coffee and nodded along with the music at Piper's Kilt's regular karaoke night on a recent Sunday. It's a tight-knit crowd, but very welcoming, she added.

"There’s a real sense of community that's unique to Upper Manhattan," LeCompte said. She loves the "characters" that the karaoke night brings out.

"We might not see each other for four or five months or even a year, and then it’s like no time has passed."

Karaoke Dan sets up a microphone and screen in the corner of the restaurant a bit past 9 p.m. every Sunday. The mellow crowd at Piper’s Kilt is sipping beers on one side and dinning on the other don't seem aware, but once Dan belts out a Broadway tune the pub is transformed.

Five years ago karaoke nights here started off with a small but powerful following, and they have only grown in popularity.

"It's funny but the very first night there were only about 10 people in the place, but four were in Broadway shows downtown," said Mike Bowe, Piper’s Kilt general manager. Word spread about the pub's karaoke nights, Bowe continued, and there's been an "eclectic" and diverse group coming here ever since.

They sing and dance through the restaurant to everything from hits from the '60s, '70s, and '80s to Broadway tunes and ballads.

Karaoke Dan, or Dan Kingmen as he's know when the mic's not on, is what makes Piper's Kilt karaoke nights special, according to Washington Heights resident Nicole Bozzuto, who's been coming here for years.

He "helps everyone out if they're struggling," said Bozzuto, as she relaxed with a glass of red wine after belting out a tune.

Throughout the night Kingmen will jump in with backup vocals, help singers out with the high or low notes or break out the tambourine or maracas if the songs call for it, but with his unassuming attitude he never steals the show.

It's so supportive you barely need the liquid courage that the bar is pouring, but if it's your first time singing you might want to sip a pint before stepping up on stage.

Check out DNAinfo's Beatz & Eatz, a month-long celebration of food and music in Upper Manhattan.