Karaoke stars shine at Big Daddy's Roadhouse

Orlando Sentinel

When it comes to karaoke, Ellen Jewell admits she isn't hip.

Today's pop songs take a backseat to what Jewell knows best: Broadway showtunes.

Standing on stage at Big Daddy's Roadhouse in Audubon Park on Tuesday night, Jewell from Casselberry belted out "Bring on the Men" from the musical "Jekyll & Hyde."

"There is no bigger high than getting up there and singing and having the applause at the end," said Jewell.

The crowd gave Jewell a standing ovation.

Karaoke is serious business at Big Daddy's, the casual, neighborhood bar at the corner of Corrine Drive and Winter Park Road. Every night of the week, singers of all skill levels and talents climb on stage and grab the microphone for a taste of rock stardom. 

They sing Black Sabbath, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Sir Mix-a-Lot, Snoop Dogg, Eurythmics, Queen, the Beatles and Neil Diamond. And almost without exception, the crowd cheers in support because, after all, no one is a professional singer.

"Don't forget the fun" is a mantra for the bar, according to longtime Big Daddy's karaoke host DJ Di.

Big Daddy's is unlike any other dive bar I've ever visited in Orlando because karaoke is the main attraction. That's why I spent two nights shooting video and trying to document the unique atmosphere at the bar. During my time, I met dozens of people there who said they drove in from across Central Florida to perform at Big Daddy’s.

Some were regulars who stop by the bar at least once a week. But a few were newbies, including Greg Andriotis who learned about Big Daddy's after searching online for a karaoke bar. 

Andriotis, of Orlando, grew up singing in church and at school. He enjoys performing. Last Saturday, he sang "Heartache Tonight” by The Eagles during his turn on stage. His girlfriend watched from their table near the back. 

"I think I like the attention more than anything else," he said. 

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