I stopped by the future home of the Benson Brewery at 6059 Maple St. last week for a sneak peek of the brewpub, which is set to open soon. (Owner Ryan Miller said he was aiming for around June 1.) The space, which is a blend of modern and rustic, will have plenty of indoor seating, a patio facing Maple Street and a big beer garden out back. The brewery will offer a full menu that's a bit more upscale than typical bar fare, though Miller said the details still were being revised.
As with any brewery, the main attraction will be the beer. Miller put Andy Elliott, who apprenticed at the Odell Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, Colo., in charge of the beer production. When the Benson Brewery opens, Miller said he expects to have on tap four or five beers made on site, including one he's especially excited about, made from wheat and grapes. After a few months, Miller said, he hopes to offer 12 or more housemade brews. The plan is to eventually produce 750 to 1,100 barrels of beer a year.
After the Benson Brewery is up and running, Miller and his business partners, Andy Willey and Christian Young, plan to get to work on a second bar at 3921 Farnam St. That bar, which is yet to be named, will offer both wine and beer and won't have an on-site brewing facility. And once that's open, Miller hopes to move on to a third location. Stay tuned ...
According to the Internet, this week is National Karaoke Week.
To celebrate, Thomas Irvin will spend every single night at a different karaoke bar. He's one of several Omaha karaoke fans who plan to make the rounds. He kicked off the week on Monday at MVP Lounge at 99th and Q Streets, where he sang “Chantilly Lace” by the Big Bopper, “Baby Got Back,” by Sir Mix-a-Lot, and “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls, among others.
He also plans to visit Vegalou, Grandmother's, Full House and several other yet-to-be-determined karaoke destinations before the week's end.
Irvin enjoys karaoke in large part because he likes to sing. He's been in several bands, though he doesn't have a musical project at the moment.
“I just think everybody should sing,” he said.
He believes it's important to employ some strategy when choosing a karaoke song. As a rule, popular songs tend to go over much better than obscure ones. He also enjoys changing up the style of a song. Irvin, a self-described “skinny white guy,” generally gets a good response when he goes for something a bit unexpected like Barry White. His rendition of Fiona Apple's “Criminal” — which he sings in the style of an old-timey traveling Southern preacher — also tends to be popular.
“Any time you have that incongruity, it goes over big,” he said.
Kimberly Black, another Omaha karaoke regular (though, unlike Irvin, she is not dedicating the week to karaoke), said it is important to know the words.
This sounds like common sense, but often, she said, people give up midway through a song after realizing they don't know anything other than the chorus.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Black finds it odd when singers take karaoke super-seriously, choosing, say, a Mariah Carey song and hitting all the high notes.
At its best, karaoke is an outlet for the average singer, a way to express love for a favorite song, and a more interesting way to spend a Friday night (or an entire week) than sitting at a bar, Black said.
“I just like to perform.”
Correction: Thomas Irvin’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.
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