TRAVERSE CITY — Enthusiastic bar goers have a tough time walking past Malachy Godfrey’s 2011 dodge Grand Caravan Crew.
Deep bass thump, laser lights cast from its windows and slightly off-key singing pull in packs of partiers like moths to a flame.
The blank-white family wagon retrofitted into a taxi cab looks like nothing special from the outside. At least until late in the evening when Godfrey parks it alongside Union Street Station and flips on his mobile karaoke machine.
“By 9-9:30 p.m., I have the karaoke machine switched on,” said Godfrey, who noticed long ago he had a tendency to sing along with his customers while they belted out lyrics to music coming from his stereo.
“I would always sing along with the customers anyway, so I thought ‘Why not make it official and put in a karaoke machine.’”
Amber Dennis, Shannon Chackrouni and Cori Beechcraft fell victim the “karaoke cab” allure during a recent rainy-evening walk between downtown watering holes. Godfrey handed a pair of wireless microphones through the cab’s passenger side window and asked the trio what they wanted to sing.
The impromptu karaoke shows don’t often turn into immediate business for Godfrey’s Car Trek cab, but often lure back singers as customers later in the evening, he said.
Danielle Pelshaw remembers the first time she encountered Godfrey’s cab. It was late in the fall and Pelshaw was headed to Brady’s Bar with a group of cast members from the Old Town Playhouse production of “Les Miserables.”
“We had noticed this van was in the parking lot,” Pelshaw said. “We saw these disco lights and said ‘What’s going on in that party van?’”
The gaggle of actors and actresses — 10 members strong — sidled up to Godfrey’s minivan and belted out a late-evening version of “Summer Nights,” from the “Grease” movie soundtrack. There are few requests that stump Godfrey’s 3,500-song catalog.