Sing King

Why Did Mobile Karaoke King Baby Ketten Put Down Roots?

Convenience, mostly. And community.

By Margaret Seiler February 25, 2020 Published in the March 2020 issue of Portland Monthly

The ’80s-themed private room at karaoke bar Baby Ketten Klub

The mastermind behind what the New York Times once deemed “America’s greatest karaoke night,” John Brophy had built a small kingdom of mobile karaoke packed with obscure selections and his own custom-engineered tracks, with rabid fans checking his Baby Ketten Karaoke calendar to see where he’d be. Trade in this jet-setting, free-floating life for the albatross of a brick-and-mortar business to run? Said Brophy: yes, please! —MS

“Now we have seven nights a week. Before, we were able to do a few, but it never lined up with everyone’s schedules. And personally, not having to set up a show every night, just a “hit the power button” kind of thing [is big.] But more importantly, being able to just have total control over the experience from start to finish: the design of the place, the food and drinks, the atmosphere.

It’s a great, tight community [of local karaoke lovers]. I think all of us frequent all the spots in town. It’s starting to feel, people have told me, really like a home base, a place that we all own, which is awesome. That’s what I was trying to achieve.

Every Tuesday is New Track Tuesday [when new songs are added to the karaoke catalog]. I haven’t missed one for about 10 years. I feel like if I skipped one people would think I’ve fallen prey to some ill or misfortune. I’ve done it on a plane over the ocean going to Japan—by any means, basically.

I still do weddings, birthdays, corporate events, but nothing to compete with my club. That would be silly.”

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