By Kurt ‘Swingcat’ Johnson
The Farmhouse Restaurant & Lounge is a long-time, seven-night-a-week Karaoke venue in SE Portland. It’s been there for years and years, and has a loyal base of return customers.
Located at 3612 SE 82nd Ave, The Farmhouse is easily accessed from the I-205 freeway and Highway 26 to downtown. Both a restaurant and lounge, they offer a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu along with late night bar scack selections. The front part of the building is the restaurant and the the rear half of the building is the Karaoke, Video Poker and dance floor.
Karaoke host at The Farmhouse is Howard Stiff who owns and operates Sterling Entertainment and KJ’s at the Farmhouse seven nights a week. He’s been at the Farmhouse for about two months and has KJ’d since 1988. He originates from Panama CIty, Florida and moved to the Portland area in 2001. He has worked many different venues both in DJ and KJ capacities.
His system is computer-based and uses JBL EON speakers along with VOCOPRO sound gear. He lists over 17,000 songs and updates his assortment constantly by adding 8-10 CDGs per week. Howard is a personable host and a confirmed karaoke addict, “If I’m not working, I would be out singing somewhere.”
His show is also certified with both the Sounchoice and Chartbuster anti-piracy programs and displays his certrifications prominently by the bar. He also has a question and answer sheet in his songbooks to help educate his singers and anyone else that is curious about the certification processes.
He talks about how he came to the Farmhouse,”I saw an ad and I had heard that the Farmhouse had made a change. I emailed Greg, the Owner. I told him I was certified by both Soundchoice and Charbuster. The previous guy didn’t have any certificates. So Gregg called me and hired me SPECIFICALLY because I was SC and CB certified. He then IMMEDIATELY contacted Soundchoice and entered into thier Safe Harbor Program.”
He mentions that he gets a lot of questions from customers and other KJ’s about the certification programs, “The certifications are a golden ticket for karaoke hosts. We get some questions on the certification process from customers. Some of the KJ’s I talk to think the process is very difficult. But, it only took four days to get my certification from Soundchoice, and Charbuster was even quicker than that – just two days!”
He explains cutstomer reaction, “After I explain to customers what the process is, they understand it much better. Then they start to question whether the KJ at their other bar is certified too. Then they understand the issue, both legally and morally. We’ve even started seeing customers coming in specifically asking for Soundchoice songs because their other KJ removed Soundchoice from the catalogs! We’ve also started seeing new customers who come to the Farmhouse because thier old karaoke bar dropped it completely. They are glad that we can provide a completely certified venue and show with Soundchoice and Chartbuster. We’d like to invite visitors from up north to stop in and visit us at The Farmhouse.”
The Farmhouse also is building it’s customer base via internet social media. On Facebook at Farmhouse-Restaurant-Lounge provides a site where fans can drop in and see events and updates on activities. They recently started streaming live karaoke over the net via USTREAM, linked on the Facebook site. It shows singers performing their songs live.
One of the Farmhouse’s regulars is Michael Booker. He’s been coming to the Farmhouse for over two and a half years and has been singing karaoke for fifteen years. He had this to say about Howard’s new show at the Farmhouse, “I’m really impressed with the professionalism of the DJ. Because when he came to the Farmhouse, he wasn’t initially accepted very well. But now, I think everybody’s adapted to his karaoke style. And everybody really likes him. He’s the reason I come back here. The Farmhouse is like ‘Cheers’. It’s like the neighborhood bar. We accept all types of people with open arms, and the barmaids, they’re amazing, great customer care and professional eye contact!”
See more on the Farmhouse at yelp.com or citysearch.com.