Nonstop rock and blues — including headliners Gin Blossoms and Everclear — will provide the sauce for the 21st annual Great Eldorado BBQ, Brews & Blues Festival, set for June 17-18. Organizers describe the event, a lively kick-off to summer in Reno, as equal parts barbecue block party, beer-tasting event and music festival.
All performances are free to the public. Those with a taste for barley and hops can buy tickets to sample more than 60 breweries from around the world, including the Eldorado’s Brew Brothers, Saint Archer, Lagunitas, The Depot, Stoneyhead Brewing Company and more. A one-day tasting ticket — which includes an unlimited beer-tasting wristband and a commemorative mug — costs $35 per person in advance or $45 on the day of the festival. A two-day tasting ticket is $60 pre-sale and $75 if purchased on June 17.
The event runs along North Virginia Street in front of the Eldorado Resort Casino in downtown Reno. The thoroughfare will be lined with food booths, many specializing in savory barbecue. A few new items this year include fried calamari with sriracha sauce, Brew Brothers Sciota-style smoked chicken wings and beef brisket burnt ends with pickled watermelon rinds.
The festival’s two biggest acts bear some discussion.
Gin Blossoms formed in 1987 in Tempe, Ariz., and had its major label debut in 1992 with the record “New Miserable Experience.” The band shot to fame a year later when the single “Hey Jealousy” gained traction on alternative rock charts.
Melancholy has never sounded catchier — “And if you don’t expect too much from me/You might not be let down” — than in the power pop classic, penned by Gin Blossoms co-founder and then lead guitarist Doug Hopkins. It peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, as did another Hopkins tune, “Found Out About You.” Another track, “Until I Fall Away,” hit No. 13 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.
They managed to score two more hits — “Til I Hear It From You” from the “Empire Records” soundtrack and “Follow You Down” off the group’s 1996 album “Congratulations I’m Sorry,” both of which hit No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. Another song, “As Long As It Matters,” was nominated for a Grammy for best performance by a duo or group.
The group broke up in 1997 and reunited in 2001 for a New Year’s Eve performance in Tempe. The Gin Blossoms — now comprising bassist Bill Leen, guitarists Jesse Valenzuela and Scott Johnson, drummer Scott Hessel and Wilson — hasn’t looked back.
It’s released two albums of new material, the latest being 2010’s “No Chocolate Cake,” and perform more than 120 shows a year.
“This is what we most enjoy doing,” Wilson said on the band’s website. “It’s our job, and I know all of us are really grateful that we can earn a living making records and entertaining people on the road.”
If it doesn't kill you ...
Everclear is another alternative band that rose to prominence in the 1990s and continues to draw crowds. The group was founded in 1991 in Portland, Ore., by lead guitarist and vocalist Art Alexakis.
Everclear’s first major-label album “Sparkle and Fade” (1995) yielded two hits, the grungy “Heroin Girl,” and the wistful cow-punk tune “Santa Monica.”
The band’s follow-up album “So Much for the Afterglow” (1997) featured the modest hits “Everything to Everyone” and “I Will Buy You a New Life,” while another single “Local God” graced Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” soundtrack.
In 1998, the album’s third single, “Father of Mine,” peaked at No. 4 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. In 1998, Everclear won Billboard’s Modern Rock Band of the Year Award.
The collective stars of Everclear rose further with the 2000 album “Songs from an American Movie Vol. One: Learning How to Smile.” The single “Wonderful,” which again mixed pain with twangy cheer, reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 11 chart.
In a 2015 interview, Spin Magazine lauded Everclear, insisting that, despite the dysfunction in the band’s songs, “Alexakis was — and still is — capable of instilling a sense of optimism in the mess.”
“I think a lot of my music’s like that,” Alexakis told Spin. “Even our new record is really dark, but I think there’s a lot of hope there. Sometimes, you’ve got to squint a little bit to find it.”
Friday, June 17
4th Street Stage
3:30 p.m.: USAF Rock Band Galaxy
5:30 p.m.: Shane Dwight
7:30 p.m.: Gin Blossoms
3rd Street Stage
4 p.m.: Buddy Emmer Blues Band
6 p.m.: Jason King Band
Saturday, June 18
4th Street Stage
12:30 p.m.: Jason King Band
2:30 p.m.: Hannah Jane Kile
4:30 p.m.: Maxx Cabello Jr.
6:30 p.m.: Everclear
3rd Street Stage
Noon: Buddy Emmer Blues Band
2 p.m.: Blues Monsters
4 p.m.: Ranell Carpenter Band
6 p.m.: AC Myles
From 10 a.m. June 16 to 8 a.m. June 19, the following roads will be closed: Virginia Street from Second Street to Fifth Street; Fourth Street from Sierra to Center streets; Commercial Row from Sierra to Center streets; Plaza Street from Center to Virginia streets.