Each year, the Reno BLUES Society celebrates Veterans’ Day with a MASH Bash. For a day and a night, blues aficionados come dressed as their favorite character from the long-running television series of the ‘70s. Hawkeyes, Radars and Hot Lips Houlihans dance to local bands who perform during the 10-hour party.
For the 10 years up until now, the BLUES Society donated all proceeds from ticket sales and door prize raffles to the Special Olympics. This year, group members realized that they wanted to stay in theme, just like their costumed guests. The money raised will benefit Reno’s Veterans Guest House.
The house on Locust Street gives veterans or their families a place to stay when they come from out of town to undergo medical treatment. Executive director Noreen Leary explained that the idea for the guest house was born in 1991, when it was noticed that families were sleeping in their cars near the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. They slept in their vehicles, Leary said, because it was the only place they could afford.
So a “spouse house,” as it was called, was built. In 2002, the new center was named the Veterans Guest House. The guest house receives no government money; it depends on private donations to operate.
“We’re really excited,” Leary said. “Not only does [the benefit show] provide us money, but it provides us … with more name recognition, so people know that we’re here. A lot of people, I think, are still sleeping in their vehicles because they don’t know we are here.”
The Bash will feature the Jason King Band, the Blues Monsters, the Boogie Monsters, Guitar Woody & The Boilers, Jo Mama and Rick Hammond.
Military costumes are encouraged. Reno BLUES Society board member Roger Slugg said that there are always the outrageously costumed Klingers and Margarets, and there are also party-goers who wear their Desert Storm fatigues or hospital scrubs.
“It’s dress up in your military garb, and come have some fun and listen to some good blues music,” O’Reilly said.