CLOVERDALE â€” 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 yearâ€™s Gone Country gathering, set for Saturday (July 25) at Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre in Cloverdale, is headlined by Blackjack Billy, a Nashville-based band known for â€œThe Booze Cruiseâ€ and other rowdy country-rock songs.
â€œThose guys are great, and theyâ€™re the first American band weâ€™ve had at the event,â€ Jamie told the Now.
â€œTheyâ€™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.â€
Other performers at the 2015 edition of Gone Country are Tebey, Karen Lee Batten, The Tumblinâ€™ Dice, Dave Hartney and DJ Jaxon Hawks.
The Ruscheinskisâ€™ 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 cancer-related initiatives.
â€œWe did $215,000 last year,â€ Jamie noted, â€œand weâ€™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 heâ€™s, like, a thousand dollars short, heâ€™s all mopey about it for about six months after. I hate it when he does that,â€ Jamie added with a laugh, â€œbut he set the goal at $250,000 this time, which is a big jump for us.â€
(Story continues below event video from 2014)
This year, funds raised at the event will help buy BC Cancer Agency a state-of-the-art probe that gives clinicians a detailed look at a patientâ€™s internal organs. The machine is called an endoscopic ultrasound processor.
â€œWe want to raise money in the same way we raise it, and have it do the most good,â€ Jamie said. â€œWe try to purchase a tangible device for the BC Cancer Agency.â€¦ Really, we just want to spend everyoneâ€™s money as responsibly as possible, and we find that buying a piece of equipment outright is the best way to do that.â€
In addition to ticket sales via Twins Cancer Fundraising, money is raised at Gone Country through $1,000-a-pop VIP tables â€“ â€œweâ€™ve sold around 50 of those this year, so thatâ€™s $50,000 right there,â€ Jamie noted â€“ and other less sophisticated methods.
â€œPeople at the event are always in a generous mood, which is why we have so many ATMs there,â€ Jamie said. â€œAnd liquor helps. We have volunteers who go around with two huge empty water jugs that say â€˜F cancerâ€™ on them, and people just fill those things with cash. You know, theyâ€™re maybe a bit drunk and they dump money in. They raise about six or seven thousand with that alone. Thatâ€™s all they do all evening, so itâ€™s amazing, huge â€“ and much better and faster than filling out raffle tickets.â€
Tickets for Gone Country are $40 (plus fees and taxes) through the event website, Twinscancerfundraising.com.