As the 10th annual Sertoma Benefit Concert approaches, one of the event’s organizers reflects on how far the fundraiser has come.
Adam Nicholson said the inaugural concert in 2008 featured Seymour native David Campbell as the headliner. It drew about 200 people and brought in around $2,500 to benefit the Sertoma Club of Jackson County’s Christmas Miracle, which provides Christmas gifts to less-fortunate children in the county.
In 2016, about 350 people attended, and more than $7,000 was raised, sending the nine-year total above $45,000.
Nicholson, who since 2011 has conducted the event with his wife, Kim, said with this year’s milestone show Nov. 22 at Pewter Hall in Brownstown, he would like to top the $50,000 mark.
“I’d like to have a sellout (600 people), especially being the 10th year, and get more people in the community involved,” Nicholson said.
Former “The Voice” contestant James Dupré will headline this year’s show. The other acts include Midnight Noon Music (featuring Campbell and his wife, Whitney), Lonesome Crow and Forrest Turner.
Tickets are $10 and available up until the day of the show. They can be purchased at Knotts and Tangles, Pewter Hall and Snappy Tomato Pizza in Brownstown; Bluebird Cafe in Vallonia; and The Brooklyn Pizza Co. and This Old Guitar Music Store in Seymour.
There also will be raffles for a 43-inch flat-screen television and a 9mm Glock 43 handgun. Tickets are $1 apiece, six for $5 or 15 for $20. They may be purchased in advance at Knotts and Tangles or Bluebird Cafe or at the event until 10 p.m.
A silent auction also will be conducted with items including an autographed John Mellencamp guitar, strap and framed vinyl record, autographed Brownstown football, basketball and volleyball items, gift certificates to local businesses and more.
Pewter Hall will have a cash bar, and The Brooklyn Pizza Co. will sell pizza.
Nicholson, an officer with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, said he felt called to start the benefit concert in 2008.
“Being a police officer and being out and about and running into these local families and kids that don’t ask for anything, you can usually notice or tell that maybe this child is not going to get anything or maybe not very much for Christmas,” he said. “I was saddened by that. It was really upsetting to me, and I knew that I didn’t have the money myself to go make sure that all of these kids I run into have a good Christmas.”
At the time, his mother and stepfather owned Pewter Hall, and he had connections with a couple of local bands.
“I came up with the idea and thought, ‘Hey, I’m going to do a concert every year. I’m going to raise some money. Who doesn’t like to come out and listen to music for $10 and donate to a cause that’s staying right in your community?’” he said.
Nicholson then was directed to the Sertoma Club of Jackson County and attended a meeting to tell members about his plans. He said they were shocked by how much he raised the first year.
“It just kept growing and growing and growing and growing, and $45,000 later, here we are,” he said.
Campbell has been a part of the concert every year, including the past four with his wife. They live near Nashville, Tennessee.
“Through the 10 years, he has obviously grown in what he does for a living,” Nicholson said. “For him to turn down a show that may pay $2,000 to $3,000 to come to play the night before Thanksgiving for free, to me, that means quite a bit. I understand where he actually has his heart in this as much as I do.”
Nicholson said Lonesome Crow, consisting of Brian York and Corey Lawles, has been involved in the concert every year in one form or another.
“They want to be a part of it, and that’s where I’m lucky,” Nicholson said. “I have these guys that I can count on that want to do this. When I make the phone call, it’s not even a question whether or not they are going to do it. They love doing it. It’s all about giving back to the community, and these guys live here and see and understand what’s going on and what we’re trying to do.”
This will be Dupré’s third time performing at the concert and first since 2014. He, however, has played at other venues in Jackson County since becoming friends with the Nicholsons.
They have been to several of Dupré’s shows since then, including going backstage when he performed at the Randy Travis tribute at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
They are looking forward to him returning to the benefit concert.
“He checks his calendar to see if he has that date free, and he’ll come up here and spend Thanksgiving with us,” Adam said. “He’ll stay the holiday and fit in like the rest of the family.”
Having performed in Jackson County in recent years, Dupré said it has become a second home.
“I’m excited to see all the familiar faces and meet the unfamiliar ones and have a great time playing my music,” he said.
Since first seeing the Nicholsons’ efforts in action in 2013, Dupré said he has liked being involved with the concert.
“When it comes to this time of year, it’s really a pleasure for me to help out any way that I can. That’s what the holidays are about,” Dupré said. “I have four sons of my own, and it’s a joy to see their faces on Christmas morning. Every kid on Earth should know what that feels like, and this is our little part of trying to make that happen.”
Turner is the opening act. Adam said he first heard the Medora native in the summer playing at another local benefit with Dupré.
Adam helped organize the music acts for that event and thought Turner would be a good addition to the Sertoma Benefit Concert.
“I approached him about it, and he was more than willing, and he’s still really excited about it,” Adam said. “He’s calling all the time asking about tickets or texting about reserved tables for family. That’s what I need is those guys that are not only loving to play, but he’s out there wanting people to come, and he’s putting people in the seats, so that’s good.”
The Nicholsons not only appreciate the music acts that have been involved over the years, they also have received a lot of help from family members, including their own children.
“It’s a family thing. It makes us feel good, and it’s a wonderful feeling,” Adam said. “We try to teach our kids this is why we’re doing this. Whenever I’m done, I hope the kids take it over and keep it going.”
What: 10th annual Sertoma Benefit Concert
When: 6 p.m. to midnight Nov. 22
Where: Pewter Hall, 850 W. Sweet St., Brownstown
Who: James Dupré is the headliner with the other acts including Midnight Noon Music, Lonesome Crow and Forrest Turner
Cost: Tickets are $10 and available up until the day of the show at Knotts and Tangles, Pewter Hall and Snappy Tomato Pizza in Brownstown, Bluebird Cafe in Vallonia and The Brooklyn Pizza Co. and This Old Guitar Music Store in Seymour; tables of eight may be reserved for $80; T-shirts are $10 and sweatshirts are $25 and may be purchased by calling Pewter Hall at 812-358-0919 or Knotts and Tangles at 812-358-2012
Other features: Raffles for a 43-inch flat-screen television and a 9mm Glock 43 handgun (tickets are $1 apiece, six for $5 or 15 for $20 and may be purchased in advance at Knotts and Tangles or Bluebird Cafe or at the event until 10 p.m.); a silent auction; and a cash bar from Pewter Hall and pizza from The Brooklyn Pizza Co. will be available for purchases
Proceeds: Sertoma Club of Jackson County’s Christmas Miracle, which provides Christmas gifts to less-fortunate children in the county