Art & The Biggest Little City

Local band, Fine Motor.

When I was a little girl, I loved leafing through catalogs at Christmas time. I’d study the pages intently and carefully record my choices on my list to Santa. Although Santa was very good to me, I’d never get everything on my list, but for a brief time all the possibilities were mine.

I feel the same way when I review the Reno Artown calendar in early July. During Artown, the Biggest Little City hosts a month-long celebration of the arts.  In July casinos and churches even hospitals suddenly become art galleries and music halls. And while I know I’ll never get around to all the events when I first receive the calendar, the possibilities are endless.

And while all of the events are carefully organized according to date, artist, genre and cost, there’s always an element of the unexpected to Artown events. Last night at Sundance Books and Music while listening to the smooth rhythms of Fine Motor under the trees, I noticed an impromptu book signing in the audience. An older gentleman emerged from the bookstore and handed his recent purchase to another gentleman to sign. And while I’ll never know the author or the title of the book, I know the inscription was heartfelt from the way the author filled the entire page with his flowing script.

Check out Artown and make your own discoveries.


Musician Interview-Russ Dickman

russ_roasterHow did you get into the coffee roasting business?

In my experience, some hobbies remain hobbies for rest and relaxation.  Other hobbies can easily be turned into businesses.  It was like that for me both with coffee roasting and photography at different times in my life.

Specifically with coffee, I acquired the taste for good coffee in my travel agent days while visiting countries like Italy and France, the bean was planted then.  Through the years I found few places that could offer that same taste. Eventually there were roasters and stores that at least offered roasted whole beans.  Since I had a demanding photography business, I settled for buying roasted beans at local stores.

Still thirsting for a fresher cup, I applied myself to researching what it takes to deliver that great cup of coffee; I decided it was time to practice.  I started with a small window roaster and shared some samples with others.  My friends loved the freshness and different tasting origins, so the venture was successful.  With crafting each roast to its specific region and origin, we were able to share the world of coffee with others, no passport needed.

When the opportunity arose, we were able to purchase a commercial roaster, remodel an area for roasting and we started the High Sierra Coffee Roastery business ( The timing was perfect as the photography world was rapidly changing with digital cameras.  So a couple of years after the coffee roasting business started, I closed my photography studio in Reno and freelanced from my home, along with coffee roasting.

My experience as a travel agent and having my own photography studio offered me the education of small business skills which was vitally important to beginning this new venture.

How do you balance your day to day commitments with your creative pursuits?russ_tuba

Prioritizing is the main key when all of the pursuits fall in the same week.  Most weeks are normal consisting of roasting and delivering coffee along with necessary home projects and maintenance of 3 acres of land.  On other weeks, life revolves around rehearsals and concerts and sometimes a photography shoot.  So although balancing can vary each week, I try not to schedule or commit to projects on the concert weeks other than roasting and delivering coffee.  I do have to add that I have a very supportive wife/partner who not only is the second leg of the coffee roasting business, my assistant on many of the photo shoots, but also runs the demanding home commitments on my busier weeks.

With music, it has been part of my life since seventh grade, joining the Reno Philharmonic in 1969 (as tubist) which I continue to play with, along with the Great Basin Brass Quintet that I have been a member for over thirty years.  Coffee roasting can keep us pretty busy, but being a part of music with the symphony and the quintet is the steady underlying creative pursuit in my life.  I still play, I still love it.

What advice do you have for aspiring photographers, musicians and entrepreneurs?

If a seed has been planted or you know what you were born to do, pursue it, learn as much as possible in that area. You will soon figure out if it will just be a hobby or a hobby turned business.  If you feel you can make a living doing what you love then focus on that and don’t give up. Have courage and resist discouragement.  The challenge is to maintain focus above all the big and little trials that may come along.

 What’s next for you?

 I’m always ready for the next adventure and I never want to stop learning.  At this time what I’m doing might be enough as far as businesses.  I have always wanted to be a beekeeper and maybe have a few chickens.  So who knows, I remain open and available for another seed to be planted.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Find a way to make a living doing what you love, what you were born to do or what you are most interested in, whatever it takes.  Educate yourself in that area either in school, travel, or researching on your own. Recognize what will remain a hobby and what could become a business.  If you feel led to venture out and start a business doing what you love, then I would recommend learning some small business skills. If you are not suited for business skills then find a partner that is.

All About the Bass

julie-machadoA string bass, a library and quilting are three things that seem to have little in common, unless you’re talking about Julie Machado, Managing Librarian for the Spanish Springs Library and bassist for the Reno Philharmonic.  Her passion for music and literature extends well beyond the concert hall and library walls.  An October performance with guitarist, Tim Gorelangton in their duo, Shiloh, was an evening under the stars benefiting the Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund.  She also performs with her husband, Larry Machado’s jump jive swing band Brassakwards.

If you ask Machado “What’s new?” expect an interesting answer.  During the “Home Means Nevada”  Shiloh, toured the state with Mark Twain impressionist, McEvoy Layne.  She is currently editing a book on the 50 year history of the Reno Philharmonic and performed in the orchestra for the Western Nevada Musical Theater Company’s production of “Little Mermaid” in November.  She loves playing musicals “the feeling of sitting in an ensemble with a big choir and orchestra pieces like you’re part of something bigger than yourself.”

Performing with Shiloh gives her opportunity to engage with the audience as well as to experiment with different music genres. “When I play with my duo, I want that symbiotic relationship with the audience,” she explained. She estimates that they perform one new song at each performance. At one gig they even did a gypsy-style version of Robert Plant’s “Darkness, Darkness”.


With Tim Gorelangton during a Shiloh performance

Machado manages her multi-faceted life with excellent organization skills and by focusing on one thing at a time. At the library she is devoted to the patrons and staff and continues to expand her knowledge through classes and articles and blogs. A voracious reader herself, Machado is particularly drawn to non-fiction and as well as memoirs like Michael P. Branch’s Raising Wild.  “People’s real lives are fascinating,” she notes.

She is equally focused on her music and is adamant about the importance of practice. “If you want to be creative, you have to practice at it.” She practices in 45 minute blocks after work honing in on what she wants to accomplish.  Machado explains that whether working on a classical piece or show tunes, “You need to put your whole heart and soul into whatever you’re doing—the end product is worth all the hardship.”


Three “Basseketeers” from the Reno Phil-left to right Engrid Barnett-Whisenant, Lani Oelerich & Julie Machado


Machado has a vibrant sense of humor as well as a keen sense of professionalism. She has a bright yellow bass dubbed Miss Sunshine. The quilt she designed for a journalist friend incorporated words along with the colors, black, white and red. What else besides a newspaper is black, white and “read” all over?

During her career, Machado’s planning skills she honed for performances have also supported her implementation of projects at the library. Managing the people, books and building of a library, organizing a performance or designing a quilt—all require attention to detail of each individual piece as well as the ability to see the big picture.


Musician Interview-Jennifer Stevens

When I discovered that Jennifer Stevens, RN with the Renown Cancer Nursing Unit is also a First Violin with the University of Nevada Symphony Orchestra (UNRSO), I knew I had to interview her.

 941190_10151608410196005_1081987882_nMy biggest breakthrough came when…

I was approximately one semester out from applying to nursing school, and I needed a one credit class to keep my status as a current student at my university. I hadn’t played violin for nearly three years at that time so initially I did not consider anything in the music department. After realizing that there wasn’t much available – and yes, I even tried basket weaving – I happened upon private music lessons for 1-3 credits. I called the violin professor and arranged a meeting. I was placed with Brune Macary and began having a one hour lesson each week for the semester. It was Brune who reigniting my passion for playing music and helped me correct several issues with technique that had been holding me back for more than a decade. After that semester, we continued to play together as friends. I worked hard to bring my playing to a level suitable to audition for the University Symphony Orchestra. Music balanced the rigorous academic and professional goals and became a refuge and outlet for me through the rest of my time in nursing school and my transition to nursing practice. Now, it is impossible for me to imagine my life without it, and I take great pleasure in nurturing and developing my abilities in music.

 Who are your heroes in real life?

I’m not sure that I have “heroes” per say. Perhaps that’s because I am part of a profession that requires heroics every day to keep people alive and help them achieve their optimum health. Therefore, the amazing nurses and physicians that I work with every day are heroes to me. I typically draw inspiration from everyday people who are great at what they do and enjoy life. I always try to see the best in people, which contributes to my positive outlook in general. That being said, 616936_10151173110961005_538909586_opopular/well-known figures that inspire me are the late Maya Angelou, Condoleezza Rice, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and several other professional and semi-professional athletes who display excellence in their character, Itzhak Perlman, Dmitri Shostakovich, and others. I think that the one of the reasons these people are heroes to me, is not because they are famous, but because they overcame significant adversity and achieved their goals through hard work and humility.

A quote by Jackie Joyner-Kersee reached me at a young age. It is what I consistently remind myself of and is as follows: “The glory of sport comes from dedication, determination and desire. Achieving success and personal glory in athletics has less to do with wins and losses than it does with learning how to prepare yourself so that at the end of the day, whether on the track or in the office, you know that there was nothing more you could have done to reach your ultimate goal [italics mine].” I often interchange life with sport and whatever activity I am engaging in with athletics. Self-preparation is one of foundational concepts upon which my life activities and goals rest, and ultimately helps me overcome setbacks and less than optimal outcomes.

How do you balance your day-to-day commitments with your creative pursuits?

Balance is difficult to achieve to be sure. My goal is to be the best that I can be in whatever it is I am doing, which typically requires that a lot of time be invested. Therefore, I see time as one of my biggest obstacles to getting everything I want to accomplish done. I find that the best way to manage everything is to plan my schedule in a meticulous manner – including sleep and rest time – and hold myself accountable to that schedule. I know that perfection is largely unattainable, but I spend my time chasing it. I know that as long as I do my best and work to improve consistently that my goals will be met in time.

What are your other passions?

Aside from professional development in my career and music, I enjoy cooking, being around animals, playing softball and basketball, reading, teaching/team-building, and occasionally playing a silly game on my phone.

 What’s next for you?

I just transferred to a new unit in the hospital, so at the moment I’m focused on the present. There’s a lot of learning in my new position, so my goal making at this point revolves around success at work and in the orchestra. I expect that I’ll be plenty busy with that for the next year or two. Beyond that, my long term goals are to study for my Ph.D. in nursing research. I love teaching and hope to be a professor of nursing down the road. In music, I will keep working toward the goal of auditioning for a professional ensemble like the Reno Philharmonic eventually.

Saint-Saens 3rd symphony PosterIs there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Our next performance, Saint-Saens “Organ” Symphony, No. 2 in C Minor, is October 2nd. UNRSO performances are free to students and children and $5 for adults. The concert proceeds benefit the orchestra toward purchasing music and equipment.