This week we had the pleasure of meeting both Brian Bateman and Dave Hill, two people who have different styles of running a karaoke.

We wanted to find out how things were different from when Brian was the big name in Bridgwater, and now that the torch has been passed on to Dave.

Brian started out as a DJ in 1975 and after 20 years he gave it up completely. When he retired at 65, he thought that he was too old to be a DJ again, but wanted something to keep him motivated, keep active and earn some extra money. Because he loved both people and music he became a karaoke presenter.

Although he is not the type of person to do clubs as he doesn’t present that sort image, in 2002 he obtained a following among the older generation, those who just love to sing. He told us,

“Sadly, to many people, karaoke has a bad name, but there are lot of good singers out there and karaoke is a wonderful asset.”

Dave talked about how it used to be,

“Years ago, you had records and if you didn’t have the song, you couldn’t play it but now you have the technology and can get almost any song.

Brian added,

“People always had to sing along with the singer, but now you have the soundtracks with backing singers which makes things so different.

He told us,

“I went to the same places each month regularly, I got the same following who like my show and the way I put it across.

“I would play the music and say the rights things.

“Sadly, the more popular you got the more singers you get which then creates a problem.

“I use to have people who had driven 20 miles just to sing karaoke, and if you had 20 or 30 singers, you can only get 1 maybe 2 songs in a night.

“I did try to be fair to the people.”

Both Dave and Brian said,

“The sad thing is that being a DJ you can control the crowd, lift them and they have to follow you, but with karaoke, you have to follow the crowd and sometimes people will switch off because of the slower songs that are being sung.”

Dave also said,

“As a DJ you are 5 songs ahead, but with karaoke you have no idea who will put a slip in with their song or type of song.

“I do put the singers in order, so if you put a song in, you go to the bottom of the list and work your way up.”

Both told us,

“It is fun, but hard work, however, you do make good friends along the way.

”There are different types of karaoke presenters, those that are natural entertainers and those that can inject and make people smile and do banter with them.

Dave laughed,

“Sometimes things go wrong, but you just have to laugh it off.”

Brian told us,

“I retired from doing karaoke purely because of a dicky foot, it occasionally let me down.

“You can imagine what people would say if they saw me hobbling. To me it didn’t present the right image and by the end of the evening, my throat would become croaky.

“I had built up a good reputation and I didn’t want people to think I’m just hanging on, so for me giving up, meant not losing face.

”Dave mentioned briefly,

“He will be making a comeback in September when I go on holiday.”

In which Brian told us,

“I’m really looking forward to that, just like riding a bike.”

Brian did his last gig on New Year’s Eve 2018 and Dave took over January 2019, he told us,

“It is a real honour.”

Brian smiled,

“I am so pleased Dave has been received so well and has made it a great success.

“I got a lot stick when I told people I was giving up.”

Dave Hill & Brian Bateman

Dave started his career as a DJ when he was 13, however, because of his age, the pub staff would say he was too young to go in and his dad would have to tell them he was their DJ for the night and had to be allowed in.

Dave use to work in village halls, he joined an agency who told him they could ‘show him the world’, and then sent him to Burnham-on-Sea. He was a Butlins red coat and in the winter, he would travel to Benidorm.

You can often find us at Dave’s karaokes, especialy when they are in The Cobblestones, which is every two weeks. Just listen out for Sylv or Joe, though Joe is now going to be returning to the name he always used to use for karaoke – The Mystic Mongoose, which comes from his days on indie radio.

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