Rhythm & Rawhide is a fundraiser to benefit children and the arts in northern Nevada but it is the evening’s odd mix of classical music and cowboy humor that capture the attention of all who attend.
“It’s interesting to bring the cowboy poetry and cowboy singing together with the Reno Philharmonic,” said Steven Brown, treasurer on the Board of Trustees of the Reno Rodeo Foundation.
Brown said that the pairing of the Reno Rodeo Foundation with the Reno Philharmonic was an accident, but Reno Philharmonic maestro Barry Jekowsky clearly remembers the origin of the idea for the joint effort.
“It happened at a cocktail party,” Jekowsky said. “I was speaking with a representative of the Reno Rodeo Foundation and we got onto the subject of cowboy poetry.”
Jekowsky explained that even though he grew up in New York, he relates to Western cowboy culture and the uniqueness of it.
“My father was an equestrian,” Jekowsky said. “So, as a kid we always went to dude ranches.”
Jekowsky said he has fond memories of stumbling upon his first book of cowboy poetry.
“When I was 14 years old, I was at the big public library in New York,” Jekowsky reminisced. “I sat down at a table and right next to me was a copy of a book by Baxter Black.”
Jekowsky said he remembers reading the vivid cowboy poetry and finding it hysterically funny.
Years later, Jekowsky took his love for cowboy poetry and lifestyle and, after the conversation over cocktails, approached the Reno Rodeo Foundation with an idea.
“Rhythm & Rawhide is one of those out-of-the-box ideas,” Jekowsky said.
As out of the box as it might be, the Reno Rodeo Foundation decided that it had potential and, now in its sixth year, Rhythm & Rawhide is a successful fundraiser for the Reno Philharmonic and the Reno Rodeo Foundation.
Last year’s event raised more than $200,000 for both organizations, with The Reno Rodeo Foundation using much of the proceeds to help the community.
“Most of the funds from Rhythm & Rawhide are dedicated to the completion of the recreation facility at the Kids Kottage,” Brown said. “This has been a three- or four-year project to get it built and finished.”
Brown said the Kids Kottage recreation facility will be completed soon and the Reno Rodeo Foundation’s Web site projects June as it’s completion date.
“In the fall we’ll begin exploring other projects,” Brown said.
This year’s event will include poetry from Rodney Nelson, a North Dakota cowboy whose poetry is known for its wit and humor.
In addition to Nelson, Brenn Hill will perform. Hill is a singer and songwriter known for music that pays homage to Western music and traditions. A performer by nature, Hill performed at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko at the age of 16 and recorded his first album at 20. Now on his sixth album, his music has been widely honored, snagging multiple awards from the Academy of Western Artists, including 1997’s Rising Star Award, 2001’s Album of the Year and 2004’s Male Vocalist of the Year.
Rhythm & Rawhide helps raise funds for a good cause but it will also be Jekowsky’s last performance. Even though Jekowsky took his final bow as art director of the Reno Philharmonic at the end of April, Rhythm & Rawhide will be Jekowsky’s final performance in Reno, marking the end of his 10-year career with the philharmonic.
“As I leave the Reno Philharmonic, I’m very proud of the legacy I’ve left behind,” Jekowsky said.
To attend Rhythm & Rawhide, single tickets are available for $250, which includes dinner and the concert. Group packages are available starting at $2,000 for a table seating eight people and $3,000 for the VIP package, which includes a table for eight people, a cocktail party, dinner and the show. For tickets call, 323-2380.
Rhythm & Rawhide starts at 5 p.m. for VIP ticket holders and dinner, and the silent auction and concert will follow at 6:30 p.m. to regular ticket holders in the Peppermill’s Tuscany Ballroom.
For more information on the Reno Rodeo Foundation, visit www.renorodeofoundation.org and for more information on the Reno Philharmonic, visit www.renophil.com.