But Saturday's “Bring Clay Home” show at Tracy Park was tinged with sadness.
Several local musicians were trying to raise money so Camp Lo Echo vocalist Clay Ellis can appeal his aggravated arson conviction relating to a Sept. 23, 2005, fire at the Ramada Inn.
Ellis, 23, is serving a four-year prison term at Southeastern Correctional Institution in Lancaster. He was sentenced on April 13.
Scott Ewing was one of the performers.
“The family is going through some rough times,” he said. “We just want to keep his spirit alive like he is still here. He was famous for playing shows in the summer and being quite the entertainer. We want to try to make it feel like he's still around and keep it alive until he gets back.”
Camp Lo Echo was scheduled to perform later in the day without Ellis.
Ewing said Ellis will receive a video and audio copy of the show.
Ellis is doing well, considering he is in prison, according to Ewing.
Besides singing for the band, Ellis organized several musical events at Tracy Park the last few years, including October's “Spookapalooza.”
Ellis' grandmother, Mortie Throckmorton, said Ellis is innocent of the charge and that the family wants to prove it.
“You'd have to know the situation,” Throckmorton said. “He wasn't there at the time of the fire. But that's water under the bridge. He wants to prove himself innocent and he wants to get home.”
In a recorded statement after his arrest, Ellis said he had been drinking at a local bar on the night of the fire and then went to the hotel for a party.
After getting kicked out of the party, Ellis went to the section of rooms rented by Shawnee State University students.
On the recording, he said that he reached through an open window and lit a curtain on fire. The occupant was not in the room.
“The smoke in the room was thick and heated to 800 degrees,” Portsmouth Fire Department investigator Bill Raison said. “The fire could have been fatal if anyone had been asleep in the room or in the bathroom at the time of the fire.”
Ellis did not give a motive for the fire nor did he have any connection to the room's occupant. About $8,000 worth of damage occurred in the room.
Throckmorton said the family was trying to raise as much money as possible at the show from food, T-shirt and CD sales.
The family plans to have a yard sale in September in New Boston to raise more money.
“It's not just Clay that's being punished, we're all being punished,” Ellis' mother, Tina Throckmorton, said. “Our family is devastated by it. The whole family suffers for this.”
Brittany Gahm and Melea Boldman were two of many taking in the show.
“We're supporting Clay and his family,” Gahm said. “He liked music, so this is a good thing to help him out. And it will help his family, too.”