NORTHUMBERLAND — Front Street Station has been hosting live music events on its outdoor patio — a welcome opportunity for area musicians who have had to cancel numerous performances over the last nine months due to COVID closings and restrictions.
Now that the weather is turning colder, Front Street Station is continuing to offer these free, live music performances indoors, with precautions in place. Owner Jay Seidel Jr. said visitors are asked to wear masks, and that the tables are six feet apart to encourage social distancing. Sanitation stations will be on site, tables are sanitized regularly, and all food will be served via table service.
Live music will be presented by John and Lou at 7 p.m. Nov. 27, and Frank Wicher at 7 p.m. Nov. 28.
This will be the second performance at Front Street Station by John and Lou. Seidel said when they performed live music in September, “They brought in a great crowd.” He also said Wicher continues to be a popular local performer, as well, with his unique blend of country and Americana music. Seidel said, “He’s the only artist in the area doing what he does.”
John and Lou is John Derk (vocals, keyboard and guitar), and Louise Tyler Charvet (vocals and percussion). Charvet lives in Shamokin Dam, and Derk is a native of Sunbury who has been living in Leesport for the last 20 years.
Derk said he grew up playing in local Susquehanna Valley bands such as Jesse, Jaysenn Grand, Topaz, Bryce Canon and L.C.D. (Lawton Cesari and Derk).
“I enjoy coming back to the area whenever I can to see old friends,” Derk said.
He met Charvet when they played in an ‘80s rock band, Harbour, together. They later played together in a local country band, Full Circle. Charvet has also loved performing in theater, and was part of the Valley Players for many years.
Derk said the two didn’t perform at all together from the end of March until the beginning of June when the area moved to the COVID “green phase.”
“When things opened back up, my schedule filled up quickly,” he said, adding that he also does solo shows. “September was my busiest month ever. But now that COVID cases are on the rise again, gigs are really becoming harder to come by. A lot of venues that were able to hold events outside in the summer are unable to move larger crowds indoors.”
But he has been appreciative of the efforts that some businesses have made.
“The local venues have really worked on providing a safe place to eat, keeping social distancing a priority,” he said. “We are really grateful for places like Front Street Station and other local venues that are continuing to support live music.”
“I appreciate any venue that has kept live music going,” he said.
He said local musicians rely on these local venues to keep doing what they’re doing.
Before COVID hit, Wicher was playing regular gigs with his five-piece band. But all of their scheduled performances, mostly at carnivals and bigger events, were canceled this year. Currently, he is performing at smaller venues in a duo with harmonica player Chris Trasatti.
Originally from Toledo, Ohio, where he performed for many years, Wicher has been living and performing in the Susquehanna Valley for about 10 years. Over 50 percent of his songs are originals.
“I’ve been doing it so long that it’s like therapy for me,” he said. “I’m not saying I’m the best singer or guitar player, but I do have a handful of people who like me, and that just feeds my soul.”
Derk promises a fun experience for those coming to enjoy their live music on Friday.
“When we perform, we like to have a good time, and I think the audience appreciates that,” he said. “We like to take requests and do songs that everyone knows and can sing along to. We also love to have other local musicians that are in the audience come up and play a few songs with us.”
Seidel said through the month of December, live music will continue to be offered on Friday evenings. A New Year’s Eve party is also being planned.
Front Street Station is located at 2 Front St. in Northumberland. More information is available at www.frontstreetstation.com or on the Front Street Station Facebook page.