CLOVERDALE – Few events merge party with purpose like Gone Country, the annual concert staged by twins Chris and Jamie Ruscheinski.
Each July, the charitable brothers are lead planners of a country music shindig that raises tens of thousands of dollars for cancer-related causes.
This year’s Gone Country gathering, set for Saturday (July 25) at Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre in Cloverdale, is headlined by Blackjack Billy, a Nashvillebased band known for "The Booze Cruise" and other rowdy country-rock songs.
"Those guys are great, and they’re the first American band we’ve had at the event," Jamie told the Now.
"They’ve been opening for Tim Hicks all last year, and apparently they blow the roof off the place. We really wanted to bring a good party vibe to Gone Country for the main headliner, and we totally feel the four of those guys will bring the party."
Other performers at the 2015 edition of Gone Country are Tebey, Karen Lee Batten, The Tumblin’ Dice, Dave Hartney and DJ Jaxon Hawks.
The Ruscheinskis’ third annual outdoor concert builds on their decade-long efforts to honour their mother and also good buddy Shaun Gauthier, both of whom were killed by cancer.
Over the years, Gone Country has grown to attract more than 4,000 people who want to party as much as put money into cancerrelated initiatives.
"We did $215,000 last year," Jamie noted, "and we’d like to get up to $250,000 this year. My brother (Chris) went and opened his yap about that one. He sets a goal and then if he’s, like, a thousand dollars short, he’s all mopey about it for about six months after. I hate it when he does that," Jamie added with a laugh, "but he set the goal at $250,000 this time, which is a big jump for us."
This year, funds raised at the event will help buy BC Cancer Agency a state-of-theart probe that gives clinicians a detailed look at a patient’s internal organs. The machine is called an endoscopic ultrasound processor.
"We want to raise money in the same way we raise it, and have it do the most good," Jamie said. "We try to purchase a tangible device for the BC Cancer Agency…. Really, we just want to spend everyone’s money as responsibly as possible, and we find that buying a piece of equipment outright is the best way to do that."
In addition to ticket sales via Twins Cancer Fundraising, money is raised at Gone Country through $1,000-a-pop VIP tables – "we’ve sold around 50 of those this year, so that’s $50,000 right there," Jamie noted – and other less sophisticated methods.
"People at the event are always in a generous mood, which is why we have so many ATMs there," Jamie said. "And liquor helps. We have volunteers who go around with two huge empty water jugs that say ‘F cancer’ on them, and people just fill those things with cash. You know, they’re maybe a bit drunk and they dump money in. They raise about six or seven thousand with that alone. That’s all they do all evening, so it’s amazing, huge – and much better and faster than filling out raffle tickets."
Tickets for Gone Country are $40 (plus fees and taxes) through the event website, Twinscancerfundraising.com.