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The Team:
 
  Kjs [Party Animals]
Dog (Christopher)
Pony (Danni)

Hound (Richie)
Ocelot (Carly)
Stray (Cris)

 Kjs [active storage]
Beaver (Mike)
Cougar (Scotty)

Coyote (Terry)
Gator (Stevie)
Gecko (Adam)
Hawk (Delaney)|
Kitty (Moe)
Mouse (Emily)

Silver Fox (Christa)
Warthog (Jason)
Wildcat (Neal)

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Binary Rhyme (Mike Heffernan)

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Karaoke World News

DOG & PONY Pals

Neal "Wildcat"

With a Rebel Yell,
We cried Neal! Neal! Neal!

Neal's warm affible charm
and his quick wit make him a
wonderful asset to the team.

Once upon a time, there was an evil tyrant on the throne. Oh wait, wrong story. You want to know about me - and why I'm so weird. I'm not sure, really, I mean, I've had a mostly normal life.

I was a rather outgoing child, involved in youth choirs for church and school. I always loved music, I always loved to sing, and even agreed to try piano lessons, though that didn't work out so well. (Practice was boring!)

Believe it or not, I was a boy soprano. Then came the fun, parents divorced and within a year, I'd been moved
hundreds of miles away from my friends and family, taken from the world I knew to a new one where I didn't really fit in. I went from outgoing to shy almost instantly. Still, I was in Concert and Stage Band in Grade 9, as well as the church choir. There, of course, my confidence in my ability to sing died a horrible death. I had a soprano solo coming up for Easter Mass, and by the middle of Lent, I couldn't make the high notes anymore.

Come the start of Grade 10, my voice had went from the shrill thing it had been to the nearly subsonic thing it is now, bringing me a lot closer to Leonard Cohen than any other singer I could name at the time. The final blow came when I tried out for the school musical and they put me in the band instead of giving me a part. I stopped singing. Or, at least, singing where anyone could hear me - after all, music was always my friend. Stayed in band, even wrote some songs for some friends of mine who had a band, hell I was even in all of the non-musical school plays - but I wasn't singing in public anymore.

Of course, without a soundproofed room (or several), not singing where anyone could hear me was impossible. Peoplewould hear - family mostly, but a few friends and later, my roommates. My family would insist that I sang well,but I never bought it - I thought they were biased, and what's more they just wanted another voice at the singalongs we'd sometimes have. I always felt that I had to drop things so far down to reach them that they were no longer recognizable. Still, comments kept coming, and over time I guess I started to think that I wasn't totally terrible.

So, years passed, and the idea of going to do Karaoke had been worming inside my skull for a while. The thought of belting out a song I loved with a proper accompanying track and a mic and all was just sort of cool - and what's more, I loved to perform (I mean, I was even doing Improv when I was in high school!)... But I was terrified of the crowd - or more accurately, my thoughts as to what their reaction to my singing would be. Finally, after years of that (including a whole lot of arguing with myself), I agreed to go with a bunch of friends to a Karaoke show. It took a lot of pressure from my friends (and from myself) to get up there, and I think only the overall low quality of a lot of the other singers let me get up. (Thinking "at least I won't be the worst one here", I guess)... I think the first song I did was "Roadhouse Blues" by the Doors. It was a song, of course, that I'd been practicing for years (without really thinking about what I'd been doing), and, much to my surprise, I didn't suck. Of course, considering the other people about, that may have been relative, but there it was. I'd gotten up, and having done it once, I was able to do it again - and did. I had a blast that night, in a horrible hole in the wall in Vanier. I was back the next week. And the week after, though by then I couldn't take that place anymore. I wasn't hooked yet, but it certainly became a fun way to spend an evening.

Then, however, I went to O'Brien's, my first Dog and Pony show, in May of 2002. There was this amazing, wondrous book just filled with music, and so I sat down, went over it and filled in some song slips. Once I'd handed them in, I started to listen to what was going on around me, and suddenly I wished I could get my slips back. I felt like I'd been called up from the minors and that these were the big leagues. There were these absolutely amazing singers, including the hosts, and I was just some jerk who still didn't really believe he could sing. I think I was even more nervous going up there at O'Brien's than I ever had been at the other shows I'd been to. Yet, when I was done, the ice had been broken, and I was hooked. I was going weekly, a "regular". I was addicted.

As time passed, I started making friends with the hosts (Christopher and Danni are wonderful people) and with other regulars, and in some ways found that I had more in common with them then I did with the friends who sometimes came with me. We shared the bond.... we shared the music, and it was good.

And now, I get to share the music with rooms full of new people, too.

~Neal

 
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