Bands will be rocking out at Gabby’s Country Cabaret in downtown Langley this weekend on Sunday, Feb. 17, in an effort to secure a spot at the 7th annual Gone Country, Here For the Cure Cancer Fundraiser outdoor concert this summer.
The artists vying for a spot at the popular Cloverdale concert are the Tanner Olsen Band, The Charlatans, Jesse Allen Harris, Kadooh, and 10 Miles West.
Judges Karen Lee Batten, Jojo Mason, and Dave Hartney will decide who wins the competition.
Langley twins Chris and Jamie Ruscheinski are the masterminds behind Gone Country, and were first motivated to start fundraising when their own mother was battling cancer while they were in high school.
When the boys turned 19, their mother passed away, and Chris explained they “decided to take our grieving and flip it into something more positive.”
The results were a cancer fundraiser that started as a BBQ party in their father’s backyard.
After the event grew in attendance each year, Jamie suggested throwing a country concert, since their mother was a country fan.
“I wasn’t a country music fan back then,” laughed Chris.
“It was a good idea for the Cloverdale-Langley area.”
But the two brothers decided to go with it anyways, and Gone Country was born.
Chris said he “definitely didn’t” imagine his backyard BBQs would grow into a concert of Gone Country’s size.
Through various fundraisers over the past 20 years, and Gone Country concerts, the twins have raised more than $3 million. Last year, Gone Country attracted approximately 6,000 guests and raised $661,000 alone.
And the concerts have allowed Chris to open up his taste in music.
“It’s hard not to fall in love with country music,” he added.
Throughout the years, many positive moments have come to light, despite the concert growing from a family tragedy.
“I’d have to say my favourite moment was when I proposed to my wife on stage – she’d kill me if it wasn’t,” Chris joked.
“We also brought our grandma up on stage for her 89th birthday and had High Valley sing to her, and we also brought my dad up on stage. It was neat to get my dad up there and show him the giant crowd of people.”
Proceeds from the fundraisers and Gone Country this year will go towards purchasing infrastructure for the BC Cancer Agency in Surrey through the BC Cancer Foundation.
Another part of the brothers’ fundraising is the Janice Ruscheinski Raise It For Your Cause tickets, which gives people the opportunity to fundraise for their own personal cancer journeys.
Chris explained every year, the brothers get requests for support from many different people.
“It’s impossible for us to help everyone, and it’s impossible to say yes to some people and no to others,” he added.
So instead of picking and choosing recipients, the brothers give 20 Gone Country tickets to each person wanting to fundraise, and the ticket recipient is then responsible for selling the tickets. After the sales are made, ticket proceeds go directly towards the person in need.
“Last year there was $40,000 raised by people in our own community. We had a surprise last year, and we let everyone know who was doing Raise It For A Cause that we were doubling it that year. So we donated $80,000 back to people in our local community which was a pretty awesome feeling,” added Chris.
Chris said he understands the financial struggles families face when undergoing health issues, as his own mother could barely afford to pay bills while she was sick and off work.
Since Battle of the Bands is a new event this year, Chris explained the lineup for Gone Country 2019 will be announced at the competition this weekend.
Gone Country Battle of the Bands tickets cost $19 with all proceeds going to fight cancer, and can be purchased online: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/gone-country-battle-of-the-bands-tickets-53836735124.
The show is at Gabby’s Country Cabaret at 20297 Fraser Highway, and begins at 9 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17.
Gone Country’s summer concert is on Saturday, July 20 at the Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheater at 17728 64 Ave. in Surrey.
Tickets are not yet on sale for the event, but more information can be found online: https://twinscancerfundraising.com/gone-country/overview/