Joanne the Karaoke Singer

Who can blame you for hating karaoke? No one with any sense wants to hear people who can't sing attempt to wade through "Mack the Knife" or hit the high notes in "Lady Marmalade." Karaoke is the worst of those '90s fads that refuses to die, especially in Phoenix. But this most annoying of unhip holdovers is having a happy rebirth in a quiet corner of East Osborn Road. Every Friday night at Linda's, where the daily specials (all of them tasty) are handwritten on colorful recipe cards and attached to the menu with a paper clip, Joanne the Karaoke Singer mesmerizes the early dinner crowd with an uncommon talent and a towering hairdo. Seated next to the cash register, flanked by a wee karaoke machine that spits out prerecorded pop tunes from the '50s, '60s, and '70s, Joanne serenades diners in a throaty whisper that's barely audible over clinking flatware and customer chatter. From beneath a foot-high blonde bouffant, this willowy miss of indeterminate age talk-sings her way through a cavalcade of quiet hits, occasionally arching an eyebrow or shrugging a shoulder as if to say, "Here I am, although I'm not sure why." We're not sure, either but we're always glad when she is.


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