NORTHUMBERLAND — The Front Street Station has been hot all summer, and they’re hoping to keep the heat well into the fall.
John & Lou will perform Friday night at 7 p.m., with Frank Wicher on Saturday at 7 p.m. Both events will take place on Front Street Station’s patio, now with heaters to keep guests warm on crisp evenings.
“People love it outside on the patio,” said Jay Seidel Jr., owner of the Front Street Station. “You can have drinks and order anything you want off the menu.”
The patio has been a lifesaver for Front Street, which endured extensive road construction in the borough only to be set back again when pandemic quarantines shut down and then limited capacity in restaurants. Patrons basked in the outdoor air all summer, so Seidel invested in five heaters to extend the season as long as possible.
“We got the heaters fired up the other night,” he said. “It got kind of chilly, but the crowd stayed actually until 10:30 that night. People stayed nice and warm.”
Front Street Station took advantage of the patio to provide live entertainment along with drinks and meals. Wednesday Night Karaoke, provided by Starmaker Entertainment, proved to be a big hit, bringing regular singers along with fresh voices.
Starmaker Entertainment, based in Freeburg, also follows strict COVID-19 precautions, said Deborah Smith, co-owner of the business with her husband, Bill Smith.
“There is one microphone that no one touches, and the microphone is set so that singers sing from a distance,” she said. “Singers use hand sanitizer both before and after singing. Some singers bring their own personal microphone, etc. We have been urging our regular singers to purchase their own microphone.”
Seidel praised Starmaker’s “professional” performance.
“They announce each person,” he said. “They play music in between each (karaoke) song. They really keep it going.”
“The folks that come to sing karaoke love to sing,” Smith said. “Not everyone has the time or capability to sing with a band. It’s everyone’s fantasy to be a lead singer of a band. We give each individual the stage and the lighting, the sound system to be a star and have a great time singing alone or with their friends.”
Seidel not only hosts the karaoke events, which never have a cover charge — he also joins right in with them. A lover of music, movies and live theater, he sings just about anything, including Steely Dan, Billy Joel, The Cars, Motown and a little country.
“I always participate and thank everyone for showing up,” Seidel said. “I appreciate the business.”
John & Lou
John & Lou will make their debut show on Friday evening at Front Street Station, after having to cancel twice due to COVID quarantine restrictions. The group consists of John Derk (vocals, keyboards and guitar) and Louise Tyler Charvet (vocals and percussion).
“We have been part of the Susquehanna Valley music scene for many years, playing in bands such as Jesse, Jaysenn Grand, Full Circle and Harbour,” Derk said. “I moved to the Reading area about 20 years ago but still like to come back to play in my hometown area. Lou and I have been performing together for about 4 years now.”
They like to entertain, not just perform for the crowd, he said.
“We are constantly updating our set list to include fan-suggested songs,” he said. “We pass out song lists and try to perform as many requests as we can in our show. Our song list is close to 250 songs and we love to get the crowd singing along.
“We cover a wide variety of music, from classic rock to pop and country. You can hear Tom Petty or Fleetwood Mac and then Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton. We play what the crowd wants to hear.”
Frank Wicher has performed at Front Street Station many times and “draws a huge crowd,” Seidel said.
“People know I’m a singer/songwriter, and I play a lot of my own stuff,” Wicher said, adding that he grew up playing covers then transitioned to his own songs.
When asked what gives him the courage to take the stage and face the crowd, Wicher said it’s only scary in front of a small crowd — the more people, the better.
“That’s why you become a musician, you feed off the people’s energy,” he said. “If you do something good, they let you know. It’s fulfilling.”
Front Street Station has a kind of “homegrown crowd,” Wicher said, adding that people seem to like the restaurant’s train station ambience. He’s happy for the chance to bring his music to people yearning for a chance to socialize and enjoy live entertainment.
“I know for sure,” he said, “people are just craving to go out somewhere.”
Seidel is happy to accommodate that craving at Front Street Station.
“You can get great food at a great price,” he said. “We try to stay competitive.”
Cindy O. Herman lives in Snyder County. Email comments to her at CindyOHerman@gmail.com