Like many others who have spent years in the retail service industry, the first few Christmas songs of the season fill me with a sense of dreadful foreboding; indeed, my steadfast wife can still be driven mad with a well-placed chorus of “Have a Meijer Christmas,” decades after leaving their employ. However, I still get excited for a music tradition that has been embracing the spirit of Christmas giving for an incredible THIRTYSIX YEARS running – “The Whaley Jam,” the annual two-day concert event benefiting Whaley Children’s Center. For some perspective, consider that this concert event has been going on for four years longer than Willie Nelson’s “Farm Aid”!
The Whaley Foundation has served the needs of area children who have suffered from horrible abuse and neglect since incorporating in 1924 to the present. While not in any way affiliated with the foundation, since 1981 organizers of the Whaley Jam have sought to help lighten the hearts of these local children in need with gifts of cash and toys, donated by generous concert attendees, through the Whaley Children’s Center.
Hundreds of people have given of their time and talents to make this event come together over the years. In addition to the many musicians, local business sponsors, and auction donors, club owner George Zaravelis has provided a permanent home for the event at Jester’s Lounge in Flint since 1999. Incredibly, sound engineer Keith Jennings, owner of Rock House Productions, has participated in every Whaley Jam. This year’s event features the added treat of Keith’s recently reconstituted band HYPYR on the roster of performers as it was in 1981, when (for yet more perspective) I was a starry-eyed 14-year-old clutching a transistor radio to my head, listening to Jeff Holbrook extoll the enormity of the event and wishing I could be a part of it someday. If you want to take part, the 2017 Whaley Jam is being held December 1st and 2nd, admission is $10 or a new unwrapped toy and includes a taco bar dinner. Shows start at 5PM at Jesters Lounge, G3112 North Center Road, Flint 48506. For further event details, search “Whaley Jam” on the Facebook events tab.
SINCE WE’RE IN THE SPIRIT OF THINGS: Yeah, I know it’s early for Christmas music, but Flint’s own highly melodic rockers CRIMSON HIGHWAY are donating proceeds to charity from their Christmas single “Moments” available for download through bandcamp.com. For details on this and their highly anticipated November album release, check them out on Facebook @ CrimsonHwy or on crimsonhwy.com.
Flint native John “JD” Dombrowski owns Batteries Plus Bulbs of Burton, serves as Burton Chamber of Commerce Chairman, doesn’t believe in spare time and sings for “Stifling Edith”. He is good looking, and knows more about rock music than you do.