July 18, 2013 By Bill Parry
Sunnyside, Queens: While much of the nation was focused on the All-Star baseball game at Citi Field Tuesday night, pub goers at one local establishment paid little attention to it.
Instead, they were drawn to a different contest: Sunnyside Idol, an annual Karaoke event held at The Courtyard, a popular bar located at 40-18 Queens Blvd. –just 11 subway stations west of Citi Field.
Tuesday was the first of four qualifying nights that will take place over the course of the next month. The event attracted more than 100 people, many more than the usual midweek crowd.
“Karaoke junkies find us,” said co-owner Frank Ziede. “They come from everywhere to watch and compete and they take it very seriously.”
The audience paid rapt attention to each of the 12 competitors, with many watching the performances on closed-circuit TV on one of many screens placed around the bar.
Only five contestants advance each week, building up to the final on August 6th, where the winner will take home a grand prize of $500.
The Courtyard’s “Sunnyside Idol” is now in its 8th year and competitors don’t shy away from singing classic Karaoke songs like “Killing Me Softly”.
Maria Gomez, a resident of 42nd St., belted out “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence and The Machine.
“I want to be in the music business,” Gomez said, performing for her third year. “It’s not about the prize money, although winning it would be nice.”
Ziede said the contest is largely about fun. However, “some get wrapped up in it and some hearts are broken.”