This year’s Blue Christmas fundraiser will honor its founder, Gregg Clark (shown playing with the Royal Blues during Blue Christmas in 2008). The annual event will be held at The Windamere on Sunday, Dec. 15. STAFF/NICK GRAHAM
Photo: NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Photo: NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

‘Blue Christmas’ fundraiser to honor founder Gregg Clark in Middletown

Middletown’s annual blues and jazz concert will benefit Hope House Mission

The 2019 “Blue Christmas” fundraiser will pay tribute to its founder, Gregg Clark, who started the bluesy show in 1991 to help the Hope House Mission.

Clark, who passed away in April, was the original chair and was also a regular player at the annual evening of blues, blues-rock and jazz.

He was a leader in several bands, including the Royal Blues and the Gregg Clark Group. He was also an instrumental part of the Lebanon Blues Festival. Clark was a 1971 graduate of Middletown High School.

“We lost Gregg this past April, so this show is going to be a lot of folks, who have played with Gregg over the years, and people who are contemporaries of Gregg. His son, James Clark, will be playing with Sister Salem. So, it’s going to be a tribute to Gregg this year,” said event organizer and chair, Chuck Evans.

Artists from across the region will come together for the annual Blue Christmas’ concert on Sun., Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. at The Windamere. The event will benefit Hope House Mission, Middletown’s homeless shelter. Tickets are $25.

“Gregg was the founder of this event, and his goal was to have an event that would be a lot of fun, with great music, and try to raise a gift for Hope House at Christmas time. That’s the fundamental premise of the show, and we have tried to keep it as pure as that ever since,” Evans said.

Clark and Evans were recognized in 2016 in honor of the 25th Blue Christmas. The fundraiser will feature a talented line-up of artists and veteran musicians who volunteer their time in support of the event.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. The evening’s line-up will include Fred Gillespie and the Swamp Bees, Tom Martin, Sister Salem featuring James Clark (Gregg’s son,) The Blues Breakdown featuring Jimmy D. Rogers, D. Sallee Combo . Other special guests include Kenny Ray Hart, Brian Lee, Chuck Evans and Wesley Nickell.

Nickell has penned a tribute song for Clark, and he will perform it at the concert with James Clark. Others will share memories about Gregg.

Many of the musicians have been involved every year, including the sound and lighting crews. About 200 to 300 guests are expected to turnout at The Windamere.

The first concert was held at the Sorg Opera House. After a couple years at the Sorg, Blue Christmas moved to the Manchester Inn & Conference Center in Middletown. It moved to the DAV Hall after The Manchester closed in 2011. This is the third year the event has been held at The Windamere, and prior to that was held at The Oriole’s Nest for three years.

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