The Bench is across from the Stony Brook train station. (Mike Pedersen)
The Bench is across from the Stony Brook train station. (Mike Pedersen)

It is that time of year when the stress of studying is reaching new heights of tolerance and the deadlines never seem to end. One way to ease the mounting pressure is karaoke.

While some embrace the fun side of singing off-tune and shamelessly ruining favorites, there are others who would rather watch the fun unfold. Either way, karaoke is a good social activity and should be tried by those who are confident enough to pull blunders and stand tall.

One such place that offers this free platform of expression’s The Bench, just across from the Stony Brook train station.

The student-friendly atmosphere was a good place to unwind, drink, eat and enjoy some entertainment. But something more shocking than the ‘karaoke croakers’ is the poor turnout every Tuesday evening. The karaoke nights have been on a downward spiral since last year and now barely resemble the crowded space once filled with eager amateurs waiting their turn to sing. The specials that were included have also been wiped off the menu, and now the fun and laughter at a karaoke night is all but a distant memory.

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Sean Boehning has worked at the restaurant and bar for five years. He has seen karaoke nights at their heyday  and is disappointed at the dismal turnout.

“Billie’s in Port Jefferson has taken our customers,” Boehning said.

Boehning and his colleague would have their hands full during karaoke nights, serving up patrons with their drinks and orders. However, that scene has now changed to waiting a handful of tables on a Tuesday evenings.

Despite the lull, there were still takers for the music. A group of teachers from the Middle County School District who were on spring break were enthusiastic to sing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” a popular choice among all karaoke singers.

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“I’ve known about The Bench forever. We’re just having a girls’ night out,” one of the teachers  Erin Ark said, who could not stop singing after her first song.

While The Bench can be a faded choice for students, other options are not very far. Billies 1890 Salon and The Village Way in Port Jefferson are popular places for karaoke nights. These are not very far from the university area and can be easily reached by train or bus.

The Village Way holds its karaoke nights on Saturday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and the selection of songs vary based on age and taste in music. The long lines can be off-putting if you get in late, but an early dinner at the restaurant, which does have a good selection of dishes, can help.

The Bench still has its happy hour on Tuesday and also has plans to improve customer turnout. The team is currently working on new plans to start a country music night.

“We are trying to do a country night, cheap Jack Daniel shots and Budweisers,” Boehning said.

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Karaoke is a good way to vent and we hope the Bench brings back its once popular Karaoke Tuesdays.

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