North Tahoe BBQ, music fest fundraiser for pediatric brain cancer patients set for weekend |

North Tahoe BBQ, music fest fundraiser for pediatric brain cancer patients set for weekend

Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen will perform a free concert inside the CBC Crown Room on Friday to cap the first night of the inaugural "Silence of da Hams" benefit.
Courtesy Danielle Moir |

If you go

What: “Silence of da Hams,” a barbecue and music festival benefiting families of pediatric brain cancer patients.

When: Friday-Saturday, July 8-9

Where: Crystal Bay Casino

Cost: Various ticketed and free events


CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. — In 2013, Crystal Bay Casino Manager Bill Wood was on vacation in New Orleans, soaking in the scene at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, when a friend introduced him to a few charitable locals.

“Some of them were in the health care industry and some of them were chefs,” Wood said this week, “and they started telling me about this ‘Hogs for the Cause’ benefit they have every year the first weekend in April — it sounded pretty cool.”

Specifically, the annual New Orleans event is a fundraiser barbecue and music festival that raises money for families across the nation with children fighting pediatric brain cancer.

A year or so later, Wood was watching the local news and came across a report that spoke to him — in fact, it moved him — to join the worthy cause spearheaded by his new friends in New Orleans.

“It was probably around last fall, they had a report on a little girl in Reno,” Wood said. “She was suffering (from brain cancer) and was all bloated from the steroid treatment, and the family was trying to put their best face forward, but you could just tell it was killing them.

“I think that was … I don’t know if it was meant to happen that way, but the timing told me, OK, we have to do something.”


Wood has taken it upon himself to just that. The CBC manager is bringing the benefit born in the bayou to the shores of North Lake Tahoe this weekend.

On Friday and Saturday, “Silence of da Hams” (a Hogs for the Cause benefit) will take place at the Crystal Bay Casino.

The event will feature four esteemed chefs from New Orleans — Mike Brewer, Chris Montero, Justin Kennedy and Jared Ralls — as well as live music from Grammy Award-winning funk and R&B artist Jon Cleary (who will perform as Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen), as well as San Francisco-based psychedelic soul group Monophonics.

Starting at 7 p.m. Friday inside the CBC Steak & Lobster House, the guest chefs will prepare a multi-course feast — smoked drum bruschetta, seared snapper, white chocolate and blueberry bread pudding and more — complete with wines and raffle items.

To cap the evening, Cleary, a former pianist for Bonnie Raitt, and his band will play a free concert inside the CBC Crown Room.

On Saturday, the festivities move to the rear parking lot of the CBC, where the chefs’ spread will be highlighted by a New Orleans favorite and staple at their hometown Jazz Fest: Cochon de Lait, a marinated, pit-roasted young suckling pig, thinly sliced and served on a po-boy.

In addition to the array of mouth-watering food, adult beverages will be served and a silent auction will be held.


Punctuating the inaugural “Silence of da Hams” weekend, Monophonics will play a show inside the Crown Room. Notably, Truckee-based rock band Coburn Station will be the opening act.

“Hopefully this will be the first of many to come,” said Wood, adding that he hopes it grows into a regional event involving neighboring resorts and casinos. “We just decided to put it together this year and do it ourselves to get the thing rolling.”

What’s more, Wood said he arranged an agreement with the Hogs for the Cause organization so that 50 percent of the funds raised would go toward families in Northern Nevada.

“We’re hoping to raise funds for some local people in Northern Nevada,” he said. “And we’re also hoping to just be able to put on a good barbecue and music festival as well.

“We have a great team working together to do this, but it’s about these kids and their families. If we can just make it one day easier for a family that needs some assistance, then I’ll feel great about it.”

Visit to learn more about Cleary and his music, and visit to learn more about Monophonics.

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