Schellraiser: Inaugural Music Festival Brings the Boom Back to Ely, Nevada

There’s a new step on the list for music festival goers and lovers of rock, country and indie. From June 2-5, Ely, Nevada, will host its first-ever Schellraiser Music Festival to McGill Pool Park. Not only will Schellraiser major headlining star old 97but there will also be an array of different alternative and rock-indie bands, from dog mouth, Nikki Lane and The 40 acre mule for Whitney Rose, cactus flowers, chuck mead and The Paranodes.

One of the best parts? Schellraiser will also serve as a four-day fundraiser and donate a portion of the proceeds from the event to different charities and organizations on a rotating basis. This year, the beneficiary will be the Northern Nevada Railroad (NRR) in an effort to spur the restoration of Locomotive 81 and other NRR railroad machinery that has lined US 50 for more than a century. Like Rudy Herdonthe founder of Schellraiser, he says, proceeds from the music festival will go directly to restoring the train tracks between Ely and McGill. “As a proud small business owner,” says Herndon, “restoring the historic Ely and McGill Railroad Depot is something that will benefit everyone in White Pine County.

“I have lived and worked all over the West, but there are few places that are [as] incredibly beautiful like this place, especially for an outdoor event,” Herndon says.

Although most only know of Ely by driving the way to Vegas or heading west towards Reno, Ely is the largest in all of White Pine, known for marking its place on the map in the middle of the mining boom at the start of the 20th century. Along with its railway and mining history, Ely has become a major stopover for mountain bikers, unique automobile enthusiasts, celebrators of dark sky artistic and cultural heritage and now music lovers.

Photo courtesy of Rudy Herndon

Herndon and Kyle Horvathdirector of tourism in White Pine County and co-collaborator on Schellraiserare excited about the prospects of a music festival in otherwise rustic Ely. Schellraiser help Ely return to boom part of the boom and bust cycle that Ely inevitably went through in the mid-1950s, a fate not unlike a plethora of Western mining towns.

Schellraiser will be a huge step up from other music festivals for several reasons. For one, it’s not in the middle of nowhere. Rather than drive to a desolate place for burning man or Sasquatch, Schellraiser is right in the middle of Ely. Compared to festivals primarily based in California, Horvath says, “The difference for this Ely festival is that attendees can experience all of White Pine, eat, shop and socialize with locals. Ely offers the opportunity to step back in time to understand how a western town might have felt amidst railway development and mining rush. Except, Schellraiser “is surrounded by natural beauty,” says Herndon. “I have lived and worked all over the West, but there are few places that are [as] exceptionally beautiful like this place, especially for an outdoor event.”

“The restoration of the historic Ely and McGill Railroad Depot will benefit everyone in White Pine County,” said Herndon.

In terms of music, Schellraiser will feature a number of bands and artists, a cool mix of country, rock and indie songs. Houndmouth, playing Saturday, June 4, delivers a relaxed, amorous kind of croon with tracks such as “Sedona” and “Darlin’.” For a more hardcore and rock vibe, The Paranoyds also play on Saturdays, if you’re trying to dance and play some surefire air guitar. Ruby Boots is for Sunday, its style an endearing reminder of other Schellraiser artists playing throughout the weekend, including Nikki Lane and The Cactus Blossoms.

Schellraiser’s headliners, Old 97’s, also have a special connection to the railway history of Ely and surrounding towns. Herndon says, “Old 97s take their name from a train disaster song, ‘Train Wreck of ’97.'” Murry Hammond, the band’s main bass player, is a huge fan of trains. His wife and friends even offered him a trip to “be the engineer”, which included trips north and south along the railroad tracks. Murray later posted photos of the experience on Facebook, which is how Herndon first learned of Murray’s interest and contacted him. The rest is history, they say, as other rock, country and alternative musicians have fallen into railroad rooting. Schellraiser line up.

Herndon and Horvath have a common goal: to help rejuvenate Ely through good tunes and a raucous good time. Throughout the early summer weekend, festival-goers will be welcomed with open arms by the local community. Camping spots will be available (about two miles north of McGill Pool Park), along with a mix of glamping tents, yurts, and even shipping container houses on wheels. Food and jewelry vendors will also be present, selling coffee, curry, burritos, dried fruit, necklaces, anklets, and more.

Come experience what the triangulated towns of Ruth, Ely and McGill have to offer with the first-ever Schellraiser Music Festival. Updates, full lineup and ticket prices are available on their website.

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Gerald R. Schneider