For anyone who didn’t get to see the band Tower of Power during its heyday in the 1970s, there’s still a chance to see a little piece of it right here in Gulfport.
Every Monday afternoon between mid October and the end of April, William McGee, a former lead singer for the funky West Coast soul band with an outsized horn section, hosts a karaoke sing-along at Pavilion 6 on Gulfport’s Municipal Beach.
“Mainly I’m just giving back from what I know and what I’ve done, and sharing all of the knowledge I’ve gained over the years,” McGee said Monday, April 4, in between spinning CDs for the karaoke singers and stepping up to the mic periodically to sing a tune himself.
McGee and his wife Karon Devoid are among four regular karaoke DJs who take turns running the show Monday through Thursday at Gulfport’s waterfront. The two, who go by the name of Bubbling Butch and Karon in Gulfport’s karaoke scene, share their time between Gulfport and Concord, NH.
Their work is entirely volunteer. They bring their own equipment and CDs, although most singers bring particular songs they want to sing.
The karaoke events give local residents an opportunity to get out and socialize as well as sing and listen to other performers. Many of the participants are seniors.
“Everyone enjoys having this as part of their Monday afternoon,” Devoid said. “Sometimes we have as many as 45 people singing and listening.”
Devoid’s main job is to coordinate the singers. While most step up to the mic on their own, others are shy and need a little encouragement. She surveys the group and figures out who is secretly waiting to be called on.
Mary Phillips of St. Petersburg was among the singers who didn’t need any prompting whatsoever.
“It’s fun,” she said of the karaoke. “I like music. Nice people come. I have a lot of friends. I was even a mentor to two guys who wouldn’t sing. They were karaoke virgins. Now they won’t stop.”
Roman Nakutny of Gulfport said he comes to the Monday karaoke as often as he can because he likes McGee’s singing.
“I just come here for him,” he said. “He’s top of the line.”
McGee is still active in the music world and sings in a band in New Hampshire called Manchuka that performs 70s music. He said he hopes to release a new CD next year.