Rhythm & Rawhide returns to Reno
You won’t need to worry about polishing your oxfords, digging out your satin black bowtie or visiting the dry cleaner before attending this fundraiser. Your least dusty cowboy boots, western shirts, and wide-brimmed hats will do.
After a seven-year hiatus from the community, one of Reno’s most loved events, Rhythm & Rawhide has returned. Generously sponsored by Don Weir’s Reno Dodge, the country western infused fundraiser will benefit local area non-profits, the Reno Rodeo Foundation and Reno Phil.
If you’re wondering how these two very different organizations got together in the first place, you’re not alone. At first glance, the world of rodeo seems miles away from the world of classical music. The origin of this event may be a tale with fuzzy details, but everyone remembers the local legends who helped create it. In 2003, John Solari and Tom Pagnano approached the Reno Phil’s Lynn Atcheson and Barry Jekowsky with their idea of the Reno Phil partnering with the Reno Rodeo Foundation, and through their hard work and creativity, this mysterious marriage of classical and country was brought to life.
At their roots, these organizations are tightly intertwined with a common mission of helping the children in our community. Both of these organizations spend countless hours committed to enriching the lives of families and children by providing scholarships, new clothing for abused children, music education and music excellence in our community, to name a few.
The Reno Phil is well known as northern Nevada’s largest performing arts organization. But what most folks aren’t aware of is the energy the Reno Phil devotes to music education, enrichment, and exposure for thousands of Washoe County and greater northern Nevada and northeastern California school children, families and adults. As federal funds for music education in public schools continue to diminish, the Reno Phil is committed to filling the void, to growing and enhancing its five core education programs in order to give our children the access to the music education they deserve and need. For a decade now, the Reno Phil has been providing free after school violin lessons at Title 1 At Risk Elementary Schools in our area. Over the last few years, the program has evolved to include cello lessons and Mariachi ensemble instruction as well. Only about 48 percent of the organization’s operating budget is derived from ticket sales, and it relies on donations from the community to continue fulfilling its mission.
The Reno Rodeo Foundation (RRF) is equally committed to enhancing and enriching the lives of northern Nevada families, supporting the community since 1986. The scope of the organization is huge. The RRF annually assists students with scholarships to attend universities and colleges in Nevada, provides local non-profit organizations with well-deserved grants to support their programs, chooses a child with a critical illness or physical/mental impairments to receive a special “rodeo wish,” conducts a “Denim Drive” in 14 northern Nevada counties each year to clothe children (24/7, 365 days a year) who have been rescued from unsafe homes, and serves as the anchor for large capital projects to improve the lives of children. The RRF also supports the Reno Rodeo Association’s Reading Roundup literacy program, sharing the three R’s (Reading, Responsibility and Rodeo) to thousands of at-risk first graders attending Title 1 schools in our community. Funding for the RRF is provided, in part, by a portion of the net proceeds from the Reno Rodeo, the generosity of northern Nevada donors, and collaborative fundraising partnerships that directly benefit thousands of local children with extraordinary needs.
“We are excited to help bring Rhythm & Rawhide back into the community,” said Mark Elston, RRF President. “It’s going to be a wonderful evening benefitting two organizations that do so much good in our community.”
It’s clear the missions of these organizations go hand in hand, and it’s no wonder they partnered up all those years ago. And after a long absence, now is the perfect time to reconnect and inspire the community to support them through Rhythm & Rawhide. Turns out classical and country are a perfect pair after all.
Rhythm & Rawhide will be anything but an ordinary night out. Laura Jackson, musical director and conductor, will lead the Reno Phil along with featured vocalists Rachel Potter from X-Factor and Patrick Thomas from NBC’s The Voice. The fiddles will be flying with the upbeat tempo of favorite country western classics like Crazy, Jambalaya, and The Devil Went Down to Georgia. Ticket revenue and sponsorships go directly to supporting these two incredible non-profits and all that they do for our community.
“This event was a fan favorite for many years and the time was right to bring it back,” Tim Young, CEO for the Reno Phil, said. “It’s a time to really just have fun, enjoy some fantastic entertainment and put on cowboy boots and hats all while helping to support those that need it most in our community. What could be better than that?”
Rhythm & Rawhide takes place May 20 at the Downtown Reno Ballroom. RSVP in advance online by visiting renophil.com or renorodeofoundation.org. Sponsorship opportunities are available starting at $2,500 and individual tickets are $250 each. Dress is rodeo or country cocktail attire.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.