by Corey Ralston
If you have ever swallowed your pride and belted out a song at a local bar, chances are you were performing with Joe Da Rosa aka “Big Poppa” and his crew at New Image Entertainment. New Image hosts karaoke at numerous Valley locations and has made many bars the place to be. I interviewed Joe about his entertainment company and learned why New Image is not your run of the mill karaoke business. For over ten years they have become the company of choice for local singing enthusiasts. Due in large part to their enormous selection of songs, from show tunes to rap, and each of the karaoke jockey’s willingness to cut loose and have fun with their patrons.
Corey: When did you start your business?
Joe: It was started with the intention of being a small part-time business for my wife and me to supplement our income. We had just sold our home in Lake Elsinore, California in 2001 and we were getting ready to move here to the Valley. We purchased our first karaoke system in Los Angeles and brought it with us, along with our entire family. Once we were settled in Visalia an opportunity presented itself through my father-in-law. He was a regular patron of The Depot and was asked if he knew any Karaoke Jockeys. And soon enough I had my first gig here in town.
Corey: Tell us your first karaoke experience. What did you sing? I am dying to hear this.
Joe: Actually, I was with a couple of high school friends at a restaurant/bar in Norco, California called Texas Loosey’s. It just happened to be a Karaoke Night. We had no idea what to expect. None of us had ever sung karaoke before; as a matter of fact, none of my friends ever sang or performed in front of people, period. I had been part of a choir in the fifth grade, which was the extent of my singing career to this point. So in typical fashion I was dared by my friends with endless abandon to go up and sing a song. I chose to sing “I Should Have Been True” by The Mavericks, my favorite country band at the time.
I was as nervous as can be because I had never sung a solo or been in the spotlight like that before. I muscled through the song and received a fair amount of applause, which brought my confidence level up a bit. On my way back to our table, I was stopped by a very pretty woman who thanked me for singing the song. She said she would like to hear me sing some more. That right there clinched it for me. I was going to come to karaoke every week!
Corey: How do you stand out from other Karaoke/DJ companies?
Joe: Aside from having a wide selection of songs to sing and well-maintained sound equipment, our goal is to try and make everyone who comes to a New Image Entertainment karaoke show feel as welcome as if they were visiting a friend. We also strive to be as fair in our rotations as we possibly can. Nothing alienates customers more than KJ’s who play favorites.
No one likes to wait their turn and watch someone else who is friends with the host, bartender or bar owner sing a bunch of times before you get to sing once. That irks me more than anything. No matter who runs a show for our company, I try to make sure that they will treat everyone just as I would treat them, with open arms. I also take feedback from customers seriously. Without them I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.
Corey: Where and when can we find your karaoke company?
Joe: We have shows almost everyday of the week, here is a list of our current gigs:
Sunday – Visalia Brewing Co. 8pm-Close
Monday – Visalia Brewing Co. 9:30pm-Close
Tuesday – El Pargo in Tulare 9pm-12am
Wednesday – Visalia Brewing Co. 9:30pm-Close
Wednesday – Crawdaddy’s 10:30pm-Close
Thursday – Visalia Brewing Co. 9:30pm-close
Thursday – Que Pasa in Tulare 8pm-12am
Friday – Visalia Brewing Co. 9:30pm-Close
Friday – Pump House 8pm-Close
Friday – Spirits in Hanford 9pm-1am
Saturday – Pump House 9m-Close
Saturday – Spirits in Hanford 9pm-1am
Corey: Why do you think Karaoke is popular? Do you think it has increased or decreased in recent years?
Joe: I think the popularity stems from the need for fun and acknowledgment. For some it’s a way to spend their evening with like-minded singers who just want to have fun, minus the typical drama that can surround the normal bar scene. It feels good to give of yourself a little and to receive appreciation from the others around you for doing so.
I myself like to perform songs that make people happy or have a good time. On those really fun nights everyone is dancing, applauding, singing, smiling, laughing and having a generally great time with friends and others that they don’t even know. Karaoke’s popularity has been pretty consistent. I have been around the karaoke scene since 1992 and have noticed the same popularity then as I do now. You just get a new generation of people that love to have fun and sing.
Corey: I bet you hear the same songs over and over. What are the most over-sung tunes by patrons?
Joe: Well, that could be a long list. Some people stick with what they know well and aren’t as willing to branch out so you get those songs that tend to be repeated night in and night out. Here are a few that stick out with me: “Crazy” by Patsy Cline, “Picture” by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow, “Love Shack” by The B-52’s, “Summer Nights” from Grease, “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks, “The Joker” by Steve Miller, and “Killing Me Softly” by The Fugees.
Corey: What are your future hopes for New Image Entertainment?
Joe: I hope to continue doing what I’m doing. Maybe have a few more venues in the Valley. I would like to branch out towards the Selma area, but keeping and maintaining what I have now has been a huge blessing for my family. I just enjoy facilitating others’ enjoyment. If everyone is having fun, I’m having fun.
Corey: Do you offer any other services besides karaoke?
Joe: We sure do. We offer full DJ services for Weddings, Private Parties, Corporate Events, etc. I often get bookings for weddings and private parties. I like to work closely with my customers to ensure they get exactly what they want for their event.
Corey: You have to tell me at least one funny story from a night on the job.
Joe: There are too many to mention. When you have been out and about for 10-plus years, you are bound to see a few things, but none of the stories I have are suitable for print. (laugh) I can say that I have made a lot of new friends running this business and I am thankful for having all of them in my life.
If you have a burning desire to be the next American Idol, or just want to face your fears and sing like there is no tomorrow, then you have plenty of options with karaoke jockeys at your disposal. But beware: I hear the adrenaline rush one gets from singing in public can be contagious.
Learn more at New Image’s Facebook page.