Annual Amethyst House concert brings Rory Block


Award-winning blues artist Rory Block performs at the Amethyst House funding event Friday night at the Buskirk Chumley Theatre. Amethyst House is a nonprofit United Way agency that provides residential services for people with drug and alcohol addiction and gambling issues. Steven Lin

 At 15 years old, Rory Block left her home in Manhattan to play guitar across the country. At 67 years old, she came to Bloomington.

Together with pop-country artist Austin Lucas, Rory Block performed at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater on Sept. 9 on behalf of Amethyst House. Amethyst House is a nonprofit substance abuse recovery program that has operated in Bloomington for 37 years.

Block came on stage next in black high heels and a purple jacket, her hair down in long waves around her eyes. When she took her guitar and played, she stamped her foot and took aggressive sweeps at her strings, plucking and sliding the neck in gritty fashion.

Block has released more than 20 albums and won five Blues Music Awards across her career. She is considered a “scholar of the blues,” said Sandy Washburn, president of the Amethyst House Board. 

This is Amethyst House’s fifth annual fundraising concert. Past headliners include Carrie Newcomer and Jason Isbell. 

 “Rory Block is one of the premiere eminent blues artists in the country, and she was excited to work with us,”Amethyst House executive director Mark DeLong said.

The agency’s mission is to assist patients in obtaining their recovery goals, according to Amethyst House's website.

“We’re a small, freestanding substance abuse program,” DeLong said. “It’s a great recovery community, a lot of resources and just a great town to be in for what we do.”

The agency has two men’s programs, one women’s program, an outpatient program, recovery meetings and provides case management for patients. The minimum commitment for a patient is six months.

“A lot of programs, you hear inpatient or residential programs are 30 days,” DeLong said. “We think people are just getting started at 30 days. We’re a really robust program.”

Delong said he’s been really impressed with the way Rory Block has wanted to be involved in Amethyst House’s fundraiser. The concert provides the group with the majority of its needed yearly operational funds.

“It’s a fun event, so it’s nice to be able to put it together and create a funding source for the agency,” clinical director Niki Angelaki said.

Though fundraising is an important aspect of the concert, advocacy and raising awareness is another, Angelaki said.

“The goal is more connecting to the community and informing people about recovery,” Angelaki said. “We’re trying to alleviate the stigma about addiction, celebrate recovery.”

Amethyst House also provides activities for sober clients and alumni. The Amethyst benefit concert is one example of that. 

“We like to be one of those positive events in the community,” Angelaki said. “We encourage our clients and alumni to attend."

Whether supporting Amethyst House or seeing Block, Angelaki said she hopes the community continues to embrace this event.

“We’re combining good music and supporting a good cause,” Angelaki said. “At the same time, we’ll continue to provide quality services and fight for recovery as a reality in our community.”

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