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Local artists come together to support the Sorg Opera House with a benefit show

sorg opera house.jpeg
Posted at 4:02 PM, Apr 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-11 16:02:17-04

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Many of Middletown’s best-loved musicians will present a benefit concert for the Sorg Opera Revitalization Group with the “Spring Blues and Roots Rock Extravaganza” on April 30.

“It is so important to preserve our town’s history. The board of the Sorg has worked extremely hard donating hours of their time to bring it back to life and I am flattered and excited to be a part of the revitalization,” said Ashley Baumgarten, a participating artist.

The “Spring Blues and Roots Rock Extravaganza” will feature a variety of Middletown favorites including Fred Gillespie and the Swamp Bees, with special guests Ashley Baumgarten, Chuck Evans and Randy Smith as well as Jimmy D. Rogers and I Dig Pig and Sister Salem, featuring James Clark, Ferris Gillespie, and Gabrielle Anais Sears.

“I am most looking forward to seeing everyone in their element at this event. Musicians have been anticipating playing and music lovers have been just as anxious to get out and see live music. I always look forward to seeing people enjoy themselves whenever I have the opportunity to sing. That includes the bands on stage and the people in the crowd,” Baumgarten said.

“I am also looking forward to seeing the ‘next generation’ play. Fred’s son, Ferris, and Gregg Clark’s son, James, play together in Sister Salem. Tyler House will be running the sound and Rick House is going to sit in with Jimmy Rogers. That alone is very special to see,” she said.

Tickets for the 6 p.m. show are $20 in advance (plus online ticketing fees).

“I have a history of supporting the Sorg. I was part of the Sorg Showcase Group back in the 1980′s that was trying to convert the theater from being principally a cinema to a live venue in town,” said musician Chuck Evans, who also heads up the annual Blue Christmas to benefit Middletown’s Hope House Mission.

Evans said he has been involved with the Sorg and performed a lot of shows there for many years. He also conducted the orchestra and helped to put on several musicals at the venue. Additionally, he opened his music studio, Gemini Music Studio, in the connecting commercial building in 1991. He operated a studio there for 15 years.

“I’ve always loved the place. When I was a kid, I used to go and see movies there. It’s just a landmark in our town,” Evans said.

Tickets may be purchased at Sorg Opera House is located at 63 South Main Street in Middletown. Free parking is available behind the building, off of Broad Street, and off of First Street. All proceeds from the “Spring Blues and Roots Rock Extravaganza” will benefit the Sorg.

“The folks that have taken over the restoration of the theater have done a great job. The theater looks fantastic. Like I said, I have always loved the place. I support the Sorg Opera House,” Evans said.

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