Are you a member yet? No? Good. Join.
Even if you strategically avoid the strip of nightlife venues pulsating along Montford Drive, Jeff’s Bucket Shop is worth a stop. Open for karaoke seven days a week, this private club is the three-time winner of one of Charlotte Magazine’s BOB Awards, snagging the title for Best Place for Karaoke in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
To get there: cross over the parking lot in front of Jet’s Pizza and head for the white-lighted doorway. There should be a bouncer in front. You should probably be 21. Then head down the stairway, past the wall striped with vinyls and down the hallway to the second door. Ignore the musty smell; it gets better. Hand over a dollar, fill out a form and get your wristband and fancy membership card.
You’re in. Breathe in the experience. Let these four feelings wash over you:
1. Structured. Tragically, you will not find a glass (or a cup or a shot or any hope) of wine here, but you will find a few rules. They make the order of operations flow: Don’t screw with the sign-up sheets. Do not swing or drop the mic. Don’t scream into the mic. Hey…don’t step onto the stage unless you are invited. Stay out of KJ’s area. Do not need to pay to sing, however, if you want to move up the list, “tip the KJ.” Most important rule: Have fun. (Addendum: no Journey.)
Follow the rules. Sign up for your song to the right of the stage and toss a tip in the bucket. Speaking of buckets, a bucket shop is another name for a speakeasy—people used to fill buckets at stills during Prohibition. Luckily, this musical jam spot provides alcohol.
2. Artistic. Everyone is a singer here. There is the guy who seizes the microphone and butchers “Take Me to Church” by Hozier—with the whole crowd butchering it along with him. There is the dad who stands up from his family’s powwow at the table in the corner to belt out “Follow Me” by Uncle Kracker. There is the group of girlfriends that forms a circle on the stage to wish their friend a happy birthday, then raises their Michelob Ultras and gets down to the lyrics of “No Scrubs” by TLC. Just don’t forget the rule: no Journey. But “A Whole New World” from Disney’s “Aladdin” is fair game. Get it.
3. Animated. There is a wild range of motion in this room. One singer stretches it out before her song. A couple swing dances back and forth across the front of the room, twirls. A random slow dance occurs to a fast-paced song. A girl dances solo to the side, jumping and spasmodic hand motions included. There is at least one air-guitar jam session going on.
4. Supportive. This is a judgment-free zone. If you can’t quite get the rhythm of the song you selected, there is no doubt at least one audience member willing to lean into your microphone and coach you through it. There is no lack of cheering and clapping. And you are never alone—a cardboard Dos Equis man is standing on stage with you, watching. Rooting for you. Grab him, sing to him, dance with him. You won’t be the first.
No matter what you’re feeling when you walk through the door for the first time, strip away your tendency toward judgment, toward yourself and others. You are safe here and the night is short. Be unfiltered. Be weird. Get jiggy with it.