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This article appears in the January 2011 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.

Don’t know about you, but we could really use a drink right about now. So we’ve scoured the city to find our 21 favorite bars — from upscale jazz joints to dives where your beer bottle sticks to the table. We’ve also tossed in some personalities familiar with local nightlife and quotes we overheard while out on the town.

On Monday, Thursday and Friday nights, the Highlands Taproom (1279 Bardstown Road) hosts one of the city’s best karaoke scenes. It’s a narrow place, not much bigger than a shotgun house, and people cram into the bar to discover their inner David Bowie. At least that’s what bartender Will Hardesty likes to sing. “I do a lot of Bowie because I know all of his stuff,” Hardesty says. “The best is ‘Young American’ because as long as you nail the ‘ain’t there one damn song’ part, everybody loves it.” We asked Hardesty to answer some karaoke questions, the first of which was this: How many drinks does it take to get confident enough to pick up the microphone? “Speaking for myself,” he says with a laugh, “I’ve gotta say three.”

What makes a good karaoke performance?
“Enthusiasm. To be honest, one of the things I joke about is that karaoke is the only art form judged by sincerity only. If somebody’s having a good time, they don’t have to be the best singer. The thing that bugs me is when somebody’s doing bad as a joke; it ruins it for everybody.”

If you could pick a karaoke song to never hear again, what would it be?
“In general, ‘Paradise’ by the Dashboard Light and ‘La Vie Boheme’ from Rent. They go on very long.”

What are some of the best Taproom performances you’ve seen?
“We’ve got a guy who does an out-of-this-world rendition of Cee Lo Green’s ‘**** You.’ And we’ve got a girl who does ‘Oh! Darling’ by the Beatles and just knocks it out of the park. They’re both theater people.”

If you’ve never tried karaoke before, what’s a song to get you started?
“‘Yellow Submarine’ by the Beatles because everybody knows it and you don’t have to be a good singer. Everybody likes it enough. I mean, Ringo Starr couldn’t really sing so you’re going to do just as well as he did.”

Any songs people should avoid?
“We don’t steer people away from any songs, but if you’re going to do ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ either have a lot of people up there with you or be really good on your own.”

Photo: John Nation

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