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Charlie Christos. Courtesy photo.




Charlie Christos

When: Friday, Sept. 19, 8 p.m.
Where: Clark’s on the Corner, 40 Nashua St., Milford 
More: Live music every Friday and Saturday; call 769-3119




Family business
Clark’s reinvents, doubles down on original music

09/18/14
By Michael Witthaus music@hippopress.com



 For Liesl Clark and her family, opening a hometown bar following the death of her husband was more a therapeutic than a business decision. 

She and husband Richard first thought about buying Granite Town Tavern in Milford when it was up for sale in the summer of 2010. 
“It was one of his favorite watering holes,” she said. But family life won out. “It was just a pipe dream.” 
Then in September, tragedy struck. A distracted driver crossed the center line and collided head on with Richard Clark, riding his motorcycle to watch a Patriots game with friends. He was killed instantly; the passenger on his motorcycle survived.
Liesl bought the bar the following February, naming it Clark’s Tavern in memory of her husband. 
“I decided it would be a place to put my grief and also give my children a place to do the same,” she said. “To remember, to celebrate, to honor an amazing family man who loved us and with whom I’d been with for 25 years.”
With little more than knowledge gleaned from a college waitressing job, Clark opened the tavern on the anniversary of her husband’s 43rd birthday. Almost four years later, the bar is a fixture in Milford. So is live music; performers like Lisa Guyer, Brett Wilson and Chad LaMarsh appear three or four nights a week.
The talent of close friend Charlie Christos, who made an album, Widow’s Gun, two years before the bar opened, galvanized Clark’s love of original local music. 
“This amazing work made a huge impression on me not only for its depth and beauty but also the amount of effort and passion that went into it by Charlie and his band,” she said. “I never felt like it got nearly enough attention.”
Christos frequently performed at Clark’s; he often expressed frustration about having to compete with crowd noise and sports events for attention. At other bars, he had to play cover songs, which he found particularly galling. Liesl agreed. 
“I’m a photographer and I understand how personal art can be,” she said. “It is not acceptable, in my opinion, to overlook the amount of one’s soul that goes into creating and producing.”
A few months ago, Liesl Clark decided to change what she could. After conferring with a dozen close friends, she announced Clark’s on the Corner, a farm-to-table restaurant emphasizing original music. 
“My goal [is] to serve fresh, local amazing food with wine, craft beer and upscale drinks — it will no longer be a bar,” she said. “I want to take the emphasis off the selling of alcohol and onto the creation of good food for the community.”
Half the barstools are gone, along with the jukebox and televisions — the latter a particularly important excision. 
“Sometimes they would even clap loudly for a good play right in the middle of a song,” Clark said. “I have set out to change this attitude. I want to be that place … where the tone is set for patrons to listen to the wonderful talent in their midst.”
The soft opening happened Saturday, Sept. 6, with young guitar prodigy Delanie Pickering and Lisa Guyer providing the music. 
“It was a huge success,” Clark said. “Lisa and Delanie were great, and the reaction to the menu was very positive. The new decor seemed to please everyone.”
The new musical order is settling in as well. 
“I notice patrons listening more intently and being respectful by clapping and showing appreciation — especially when the musician tells the room it is all original,” said Clark. “Once in a great while some jackass will yell out ‘Free Bird!’ But I guess there is always one of those people. No one asks for the jukebox; out of sight, out of mind.” 
 
As seen in the September 18, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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