Montoursville native Luke Frey returns to Williamsport for Boom City performance

Luke Frey didn’t pick up a guitar until his senior year of high school, just seven years ago, as a way to mellow out to his favorite musician, Jack Johnson. Never did he imagine he would play that guitar for fans at local establishments. What began as a way to fill in for a musician friend between sets has grown to include a monthly gig since September. Frey will perform from 9 p.m. to midnight Saturday at Boom City Brewing Co., 317 Pine St.

“It all started as just meeting up with friends to play music,” he said, about his early days with the guitar. “It’s a great stress relief for me. I just picked up the guitar and played. I enjoy learning new songs and making stuff up as I go.”

Frey has never been in a band and never thought he would ever perform for people. But when long-time family friend Lenny Weber of rock group Romeo invited him to play in between sets at the New Mountain Tavern, Montgomery, last March, he reluctantly took the stage.

“Lenny has always been a big role model and helping me break that glass and play for people was a huge deal for me,” Frey said. “When I first started playing, I got super stoked. I played a song that I could play in my sleep. I thought, ‘There’s no way I could mess this up.’ Then I started singing and I messed up the first two lines. I was able to recover and keep going, though, and I’ve been going ever since.”

It was the crowd’s reaction to his performance and the support from local establishments that gave Frey the boost he needed to feel comfortable taking the stage. He recalled a special gig in January at Pier 87.

“I really had to improvise for that one,” he said. “The power went out, so there was no power for the first hour-and-a-half. I just walked around with my guitar, playing for people. It was kind of cool to be in such a personal setting.”

It’s that connection that Frey said he most enjoys about performing. He loves bringing people together and creating an atmosphere of fun. In fact, the artist’s aspect on life is simple: Just have fun.

“With everything that goes on in the world, it’s just so negative,” he said. “Being positive makes things so much better. I love talking to people in between songs and just being a goof ball. That’s my aspect on life, especially with traveling and seeing different cultures. Making the best out of things and always remaining positive.”

The Montoursville Area High School graduate was born and raised in the area and as a life-long wrestler was no stranger to the adrenaline rush of being in front of the crowd. In fact, at one point, he wrestled in front of 16,000 people at the Bryce Jordan Center, calling it “the most thrilling thing I’ve ever experienced.” He now lives in Philadelphia, where he works as a nurse on a rotating shift. The schedule, he said, allows him to choose his hours and return home to visit family and schedule performances. He received two degrees from Penn State University — one in behavioral health and another in nursing.

He has great memories of listening to Aerosmith and rock ‘n’ roll with his father growing up, but the mellow tunes of Jack Johnson really struck a cord for him.

“He is one of my go-to artists,” Frey said. “I can listen when I’m happy or sad, either way. One of my favorite songs to perform for a crowd is ‘Banana Pancakes,’ because it was the first song I heard by Jack Johnson and everyone who loves him recognizes it right away.”

The musician also loves hitting the crowd with ’90s alternative, like Matchbox Twenty’s “3AM,” and hits by Sister Hazel, as well as Dave Matthews and the Lumineers.

“Matchbox Twenty is just so upbeat and fun,” he said. “It’s something everyone knows, so they chime in and sing. It’s a good karaoke song, too.”

Frey also will perform from 9 p.m. to midnight April 14 at the Nippenose Tavern and is in the process of booking a few gigs around the Philadelphia area with childhood friend Dylan Casale, a graduate of Loyalsock Township High School. For more information about Frey, email laf5318@gmail.com.

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