Marianarchy is a musical celebration of life, triumph over adversity, and a yearly tribute to Marianne Psota, a well-loved promoter and bartender who passed away from an epileptic seizure in 2004 at the age of 37. Every year since, local musician Nick Ramirez has thrown a two-day, music-filled benefit at the Zephyr Lounge, 1066 N. Virginia St., that assists a deserving member of the community and a non-profit organization.
This year’s Marianarchy festivities will benefit Dale Kellams and the Reno Cancer Foundation. This is a particularly poignant story because Kellams has a long history of playing at the Zephyr in various bands over the years, and he was also a good friend of Marianne’s. When Kellams learned he had cancer, the Reno Cancer Foundation came to his aid.
“The raffle goes to Reno Cancer Foundation, and the door money goes to Dale … since they helped him out, it makes sense that we’re going to reciprocate the blessing,” Ramirez explains.
Ramirez calls the party a “home-grown Zephyr show,” and it’s a fitting description. This year’s event will take place at the Zephyr Lounge on May 21 and 22, starting from 4:20 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday, and will run until 1 a.m. both nights.
“That’s pretty good for Reno time,” quips Ramirez. “Friday night will be more punk rock and hard rock—louder. Saturday’s going to be all-day acoustic, ending with bands at the end of the night.”
The Madorians, George Pickard, Grace Gatsby and Sleepy Sunshine are just a few of many acts scheduled to play.
There are 28 confirmed bands, and Ramirez is confident that more will show up. Each band plays for 25 minutes, with a five-minute break between sets. Marianarchy is a benefit, but it’s also an elaborate showcase of past and present local musical talent in Reno.
“In 2000, we did one, it was an all-night pajama party to benefit Marianarchy,” says Ramirez. “That was really the first one … and all these bands showed up and gave all this money to Marianne to help her out with her bills when she got sick.” Ramirez, who was Marianne’s boyfriend, was struck by the outpouring of help from friends and community members, and he resolved to help others with the costs associated with life-threatening illnesses.
Ramirez and his friends have continued Marianne’s legacy in promoting art. In the past few years, local actor and Marianarchy film producer Dave Richards has recorded the event. The video is well made, entertaining and gritty, and it’s a visual history of some of Reno’s most celebrated musicians. The documentary is a mixture of interviews, music and clips of the party that are both irreverent and touching. The video for last year’s Marianarchy will be available at this year’s event, and Richards will be filming the benefit again this year.
Marianarchy is a tribute to someone who made a difference promoting local artists and creating a space for people to congregate and co-create.
“I can’t imagine a more fitting event to honor Marianne’s vitality and spirit than a benefit that brings together so many diverse elements of the music scene in one huge party,” says Reno singer and songwriter Kate Cotter. She has played at Marianarchy every year since its inception. “Nick Ramirez’s continued dedication and energy in promoting Marianarchy have made it an event that is an honor to support.”
Those who knew and loved Marianne see the event as a positive way to honor her memory by doing what she loved most: promoting music and helping others.
Editor’s note: Lois Bynum, the executive director of the Reno Cancer Foundation, is the mother of RN&R arts editor Brad Bynum.