Matt Myers and Shane Cody of Houndmouth

Schellraiser: The Inaugural Music Festival Putting the Boom Back into Ely, Nevada

Music Festival Coverage

There’s a new stop on the list for music festival-goers and rock, country and indie lovers. From June 2–5, Ely, Nevada, will host its first-ever Schellraiser Music Festival at the McGill Pool Park. Not only will Schellraiser feature major headliner Old 97’s, but there will also be an array of different alternative and rock-indie groups, from Houndmouth, Nikki Lane and The 40 Acre Mule to Whitney Rose, The Cactus Blossoms, Chuck Mead and The Paranoyds.

One of the best parts? Schellraiser will also serve as a four-day fundraiser and donate part of the event’s proceeds to different charities and organizations on a rotating basis. This year, the beneficiary will be the Nevada Northern Railway (NRR) organization in an effort to boost the restoration of Locomotive 81 and other NRR railway mechanisms that have run along the U.S. 50 for over a century. As Rudy Herndon, the founder of Schellraiser, puts it, the music festival profits will go directly into restoring train tracks between Ely and McGill. “Speaking as a proud small business owner,” Herndon says, “restoring the historic train depot in Ely and McGill is something that will benefit all in White Pine County.”

“I’ve lived and worked all over the West, but there are few places which are [as] outstandingly beautiful as this spot, especially for an outdoor event,” Herndon says.

Though most are only familiar with Ely from driving on the way down to Vegas or heading West towards Reno, Ely is the largest in all of White Pine, known for marking its place on the map amidst the mining boom in the early twentieth century. Besides its railroad and mining operations history, Ely has become a major stopover point for mountain bike lovers, unique automotive enthusiasts, dark sky artistic and cultural heritage celebrators—and now music fans. 

The Old 97's will headline the Schellraiser Music Festival in Ely, Nevada.
Photo Courtesy of Rudy Herndon

Both Herndon and Kyle Horvath, Director of Tourism in White Pine County and co-collaborator on Schellraiser, are ecstatic about the prospects of a music festival in an otherwise rustic Ely. Schellraiser will help Ely get back to the boom part of the boom-and-bust cycle that Ely inevitably went through in the mid-50s, a fate not dissimilar to a  plethora of Western mining towns. 

Schellraiser will be a huge step up from other music festivals for a few reasons. For one, it’s not in the middle of nowhere. Rather than driving out to a desolate place for Burning Man or Sasquatch, Schellraiser is right smack in the middle of Ely. Compared to mostly California-based festivals, Horvath says, “The difference for this Ely festival is that attendees can experience all of White Pine, dining, shopping and socializing with locals.” Ely offers the chance to take a step back in time to understand how a Western town might have felt amid railway development and a mining rush. Besides this, Schellraiser “is surrounded by natural beauty,” Herndon says. “I’ve lived and worked all over the West, but there are few places which are [as] outstandingly beautiful as this spot, especially for an outdoor event.”

“Restoring the historic train depot in Ely and McGill is something that will benefit all in White Pine County,” Herndon says. 

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

Schellraiser’s headliner, Old 97’s, also have a special connection with the railway history of Ely and the surrounding towns. Herndon says, “Old 97’s took their name from a train disaster song, ‘Train Wreck of ‘97.’” Murry Hammond, the band’s lead bass player, is a huge aficionado of all things trains. His wife and friends even bought him a trip to “be the engineer,” which included riding North and South along the railway line. Murray then posted pictures of the experience on Facebook, which is how Herndon first learned about Murray’s interest and reached out. The rest is history, so they say, as other rock, country and alternative musicians fell right into the railway-rootin’ Schellraiser lineup. 

Herndon and Horvath have one common goal: to contribute to the rejuvenation of Ely through good tunes and a rowdy good time. Throughout the early summer weekend, festival-goers will be greeted by the local community with open arms. Camp spots will be available (about two miles North of the McGill Pool Park), as well as a mix of glamping tents, yurts and even shipping container homes on wheels. Food and jewelry vendors will also be in attendance, selling coffee, curry, burritos, dried fruit, necklaces, anklets—you name it.    

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

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