Pepper Street Band is one of area’s premier classic rock groups

Area music lovers wanting to shake, rattle and roll to an eclectic mix of classic rock and oldies need to look no further than the Pepper Street Band.

Pepper Street Band is a five-piece classic rock and rock ‘n’ roll oldies cover band, playing a diverse blend of ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s classic rock, as well as songs from the ’90s, 2000s, 2010s, and a little bit of country. The group also features lead vocals from all five members, making their music stand out and setting them apart from other bands with similar repertoires.

The Pepper Street story began in Muncy, where Pepper Street is located and where the band got its name. The group was founded in September 1979 with its three original members: Dr. Dave Houseknecht, on guitar and vocals; Steve Nelson, of Williamsport, on drums; and Don Cameron, of Jersey Shore, on bass guitar.

Pepper Street Band played their first gig at the Log Cabin Inn in Muncy and continued to perform around the area for the next seven years.

“The band stayed together until December 31, 1986 when the band dissolved, and I began my practice as a chiropractor,” Houseknecht said.

But after 18 years and raising his children, Houseknecht decided to reform Pepper Street Band in 2005. Originally from Muncy, Houseknecht moved to Picture Rocks in October 2012.

The band’s current lineup consists of Houseknecht, on guitar and vocals; Pete Codispoti, of Williamsport, on keyboards, percussion, bass guitar and vocals; Bob Yoas, of Montoursville, on bass guitar, lead guitar, keyboards and vocals; Rich Cummings, of Muncy, on drums and vocals; and Sandy Barrett, of Loyalsock, on acoustic guitar and vocals. Barrett has been singing around the area for several years, most notably in a duo with Danny Kimble.

In 2014, drummer and vocalist Don Bastian started with Pepper Street, filling in for Rick Martin, one of the band’s original drummers from the ’80s. Shortly thereafter, Martin sadly passed away from complications of diabetes and lung cancer and Bastian became the new Pepper Street drummer. Bastian remained with the band until January 2017, when he had to leave due to a reoccurrence of prostate cancer. After a friend filled in on drums, Cummings became the band’s newest member in January of this year.

“Donnie will occasionally come and sit in on several songs,” Houseknecht said. “He takes care of our Facebook page and helps out with booking the band.”

Currently, the Pepper Street Band is regularly performing at Pier 87 in Loyalsockville. Other gigs include being the host band at Torrey Ridge Winery on the great Seneca Lake in New York, Shade Mountain Winery in Middleburg, Brookmere Winery near Lewistown, and Whispering Oaks Winery near Shamokin. They have also performed at the Genetti Hotel in Williamsport for the opening parade of the Little League World Series, and at several venues in Ocean City, Maryland, and Bethany Beach, Delaware.

Houseknecht said that it’s not unusual for area musicians, and “wannabe” musicians to sit in with the band from time to time.

“Last month we featured a five-year-old boy singing a Beatles song with us at Pier 87,” he said. “His family loved it. It’s all about having fun.”

Pepper Street Band has one of the largest play lists of any band in the area, performing over 100 classic rock and oldies and Top 40 hits — all the music that people know and love. The band plays favorite classic rock and rock ‘n’ roll hits from the late 1950s through the 2010s. Over 20 of their songs were former No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

“We do only cover music — the oldest song probably coming from the 1950s era to songs that are current now,” Houseknecht said. “Our current repertoire consists of nine full sets, which would enable us to play three nights without repeating any songs.”

Pepper Street Band performs songs by varied artists, such as The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Doobie Brothers, The Cars, Bob Seger, Billy Joel, Robert Palmer, John Mellencamp and Eddie Rabbitt.

Most recently, the band performed for First Friday in Williamsport and at many carnivals including: Milton, Turbotville, Hughesville, Kratzerville and Lightstreet. They also play at many local pubs and clubs in Hughesville, Muncy, Montoursville, South Williamsport and Danville.

“We’ve been averaging about 65 jobs per year with this year topping out around 70 jobs over 52 weeks,” Houseknecht said. “Our plans for the future are just to keep playing, adding new songs and new venues and enjoying ourselves and making people happy with the music we perform.”

Support live music by visiting Pepper Street Band’s website at www.pepperstreetband.com, and also like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PepperStreetBand.

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