Mom’s Bar is good

From the ashes of Karaoke Kid rises a welcoming new space.
A laptop computer sits on a table at Mom's Bar. To its left, four microphones also rest on the table, next to a transmitter for wireless microphones. In the background, the neon sign for Mom's Bar is visible in the window from the reverse side.

From the ashes of Karaoke Kid rises a welcoming new space. 

This is our newsletter-first column, Microtones. It runs on the site on Fridays, but you can get it in your inbox on Thursdays by signing up for our email newsletter.

Andrew Greenwood paid all of Mom’s bills this month.

Not his mother’s bills, but those of his business, Mom’s Bar.

The University Avenue spot officially opened in March in the space Karaoke Kid occupied for years prior. If you’ll recall, two years ago—almost to the day—I professed my love for Karaoke Kid in a piece for Tone Madison. At the time, the beloved karaoke bar was going through the struggles that many businesses faced during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. While it raised money in a GoFundMe to help pay its staff, Karaoke Kid ultimately couldn’t weather the storm and closed in late 2020. 

Greenwood never had big dreams of opening a bar himself, and will openly admit his inexperience in the service industry. During the daytime hours you’ll find him working on Call Of Duty at Middleton’s Raven Software. But when Karaoke Kid closed and the opportunity to lease the space came up, something just felt right. A few months before officially signing any papers, he dropped the idea casually (and repeatedly) into conversation. Greenwood has been active in the local music community for years as a guitarist and songwriter, playing in bands including the supercharged R&B outfit Cowboy Winter. 

“It seemed like I should open a bar and it seemed like I should call it Mom’s,” he says. (His mom is a music teacher and initially wasn’t sold on the idea of karaoke, but has come around to it.)

Greenwood officially took over the lease in December 2021 and began shaping the space into what it is today, while still keeping what Greenwood calls the “Karaoke Kid spirit” intact. The same bar still stretches along the wall but gone are the mis-matched tables and notably, the private karaoke booth the old KK had in the front of the building. In its place is a beautifully big stage adorned with flourishing plants, twinkling lights, and a neon White Claw sign.

This new layout makes the space feel 10 times bigger and ensures your entire squad can sing and dance around without having to worry about accidentally knocking anyone’s drink over. 

“We tried to upgrade without re-writing,” Greenwood explains. 

Nearly all the decor in the place provides a feminine touch. The walls are currently painted a soft pink and adorned with collages of famous female singers in ornate gold frames. The faces of Cardi B, Janet Jackson, Beyoncé, Adele, and other holy mothers of music gaze upon the stage lovingly as if encouraging you to belt out songs whether or not you’ve got the vocal cords to back it up. And that’s all Greenwood really wants—a place for people to express themselves. Eventually he wants to create a collage that will cover the entire back wall and pay homage to female artists and vocalists. He’s even been practicing his collage skills. 

A framed collage on the wall of Mom's Bar shows photos of Gwen Stefani, Dolly Parton, Diana Ross, Nina Simone, and Karen O.

Despite opening during the pandemic (will we ever not be in the pandemic?), business at Mom’s has been good. Greenwood credits that in part to people’s need to simply get out of their houses and, more importantly, find creative outlets for expression.

“The world needs to sing,” he said. 

Eventually, Greenwood hopes to diversify the space by offering open mic nights, host live shows, and maybe even pop-up art exhibitions some day. But the heart and soul of Mom’s Bar will always be karaoke. Right now the Mom’s staff is working hard to make the space the best karaoke bar is can be, and yes, they still serve bomb shots—if you’re prone to stage fright, I recommend the Mom’s Bomb. 

In true Karaoke Kid fashion, you can still bribe the hosts to get your songs played. But Greenwood believes in giving everyone a fair chance to sing, so don’t expect to be on stage all night just because you waved some cash around. He also wants to keep a good vibe. Safety is a top priority at Mom’s, which is why the bar serves drinks only out of cans and plastic cups (sorry, Mother Earth). 

Walking into Mom’s feels like a gentle hug. Greenwood says he wants to make it a space that adamantly and unabashedly “pro-women, pro-human rights, pro-gay, pro-Black.” And most of all, it’s pro-karaoke.

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