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No Judges In The 'Karaoke Cab,' Just Good Times

Karaoke cab driver Joel Laguidao has two requirements for his passengers' singing: loud and loud.
Meghan Keane / NPR
Karaoke cab driver Joel Laguidao has two requirements for his passengers' singing: loud and loud.

Some cab drivers might stay silent with customers in their cars. Others can talk your ear off. Joel Laguidao just wants to sing with you.

Laguidao has become known as the "karaoke cab driver." While driving for Red Top Cab Co. on weekend nights around Arlington, Va., he sings favorites like Journey's "Faithfully" and Bon Jovi's "Bed of Roses."

It started about three years ago. Laguidao grew tired of the FM radio offerings and bought a karaoke machine. He has two small monitors for reading lyrics, a large silver microphone and a thick song catalog.

The karaoke setup also helps him get passengers on weekend nights. Sometimes, he'll roll down the window and start singing to potential customers.

"They're shocked," Laguidao says. "They say, 'Really? Run the meter, let's go sing.'"

Others might book him for a later trip. "They get my number, and then, after like 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock in the morning, they shout in my car singing," Laguidao says. They "need more liquid in the belly first," he laughs.

Near the Courthouse Metro station in Washington, D.C., Laguidao rolls down his window and calls out to a guy leaving a bar. Before Laguidao can even explain his unique cab, the man's face lights up.

"Are you guys the karaoke cab?" Tim Jacobs shouts. He and a friend, Brian McKeever, climb in.

After some back and forth about song choice — should it be "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" or "Don't Stop Believing"? — the pair settles on "Summer of '69."

The two clap while singing passionately — and off-key. Laguidao joins in. "Those were the best days of my life!" booms the car's speaker system.

After the song ends, Jacobs and McKeever arrive at their destination and wish Laguadao the best.

"That's a good customer," Laguidao smiles widely.

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