Concert raises money for vets
Rock ‘n’ roll concert to benefit the non-profit Amy’s Purpose and to raise funds for veterinary assistant certification scholarships
Amid an unprecedented crisis in veterinary care in the greater Palm Springs area, new nonprofit organization Amy’s Purpose has set a goal to train more veterinarians and get them into desert offices by 2023.
One of the leaders of the prosecution is John Garcia, a founding voice of the internationally renowned Coachella Valley desert rock scene. The Morongo Valley husband and father of two has sung at music festivals around the world, from Coachella to OzzFest. But he gets just as much enjoyment from assisting with animal surgeries. He and his wife Wendy are both veterinary technicians.
“There’s a crisis in veterinary care in this desert,” said Garcia, who oversees the veterinary technician staff at Palm Springs Animal Hospital. “Many veterinarians and animal hospitals are not accepting new patients. My own vet clinic has extended its opening hours and we want to care for as many pets as possible. But we are all overwhelmed by the demand for our services. We need to do something to free up veterinarians and get more veterinarians to take care of people’s pets.”
Garcia gained international attention as the lead singer of Kyuss, touted by Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl as his favorite band of the early ’90s (while Grohl was part of Nirvana). He sang with Crystal Method at Coachella and Hermano at OzzFest. He now joins his group The Band of Gold to headline Pet Love and Rock & Roll, a benefit concert for Amy’s Purpose on September 17 at the Annenberg Theater in the Palm Springs Art Museum. Its acoustic set of Kyuss classics and newer originals will culminate as the band enter the intimate theater for stunning encores, which has previously hosted concerts from the likes of Liza Minnelli and Barry Manilow.
Proceeds will help fund scholarships for a veterinary assistant education course through the Partnership and Community Building (PaCE) wing of the College of the Desert. Veterinary assistant jobs only pay $12 to $15 an hour, but the 150-hour course costs $3,195 plus additional fees for scrubs and a National Association of Veterinary Technicians (NAVTA) exam that students must take in order to enroll after another 100 hours to work with a veterinarian to qualify for an extra-occupational “external school”.
Tickets, which go on sale September 13 at the Annenberg box office and on psmuseum.org, start at $50. Some of the $3,200 donations will be matched by the College of the Desert Foundation, and donors will receive a Gracie Award equal to two front row places. Amy’s Purpose founder and president DeAnn Lubell said the charity hopes to fund a dozen scholarships for PaCE students who are committed to working for local veterinarians and potentially pursuing their education at a higher level of veterinary care . Several websites offer online training for veterinary assistants, but COD officials say their PaCE course offers rare remote training with live teachers
The Saturday, September 17 benefit event is also intended to create a climate of appreciation to inspire new veterinarians to practice in the desert. All veterinary doctors will receive half the best seat discounts and will be recognized at a hosted pre-concert reception for all ticket holders on the ground floor of the museum. Lori Weiner, owner of the Pet Hotel at Barkingham Palace in Palm Desert and founder of adoption service California Paws Rescue, will accept the inaugural Amy Award at the reception, which will include wine and light hors d’oeuvres beginning at 6:45 p.m. and will include a silent auction and recorded music from the huge catalog of songs about dogs, cats and birds.
The concert begins at 8 p.m. with a 40-minute set by Palm Springs High School graduate Billy Steinberg & Trio, featuring songs from his Songwriters Hall of Fame career that has produced some of the greatest songs of the last half century, including ” Like A Virgin” by Madonna, “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper, “Eternal Flame” by The Bangles, “I’ll Stand By You” by The Pretenders, “Falling Into You” by Celine Dion, “How Do I Make You ‘ by Linda Ronstadt, ‘I Touch Myself’ by the Divinyls, ‘Give Your Heart A Break’ by Demi Lovato and ‘So Emotional’ by Whitney Houston. He will be joined by singer Angie Rodriguez, a graduate of the Musical Theater University (MTU) program at Rancho Mirage High School.
Producer and former Desert Sun columnist Bruce Fessier will have a brief Q&A with Garcia between sets, during which he examines the veterinary crisis and reveals how Garcia compares rescuing animals to the thrill of being billed in front of thousands of people Metallica and Black Sabbath to perform.
Everyone involved, from Garcia and Steinberg to the sound engineer and stage manager, donate their services to this important community cause. Willie Rhine, owner of restaurants Eight4Nine and 1501 Uptown Gastropub in Palm Springs and Willie’s in Rancho Mirage, is catering for the reception.
Paws & Claws vets Alexis Rambaud and Shakira Jamison in Palm Desert have pledged to encourage other vets to mingle with pet lovers at the front desk. Steinberg has enlisted a fellow veterinarian from Sun Valley, Idaho, to meet people at the front desk who are considering opening a winter practice in the desert.
dr Rebecca Diaz, Head of the cat clinic in Cathedral City, blames the pandemic for today’s crisis in veterinary care. Many employees stopped coming to their jobs as the CDC advised people to self-isolate. At the same time, the demand for veterinary services exploded.
“It’s always been busy,” Diaz said, “but it’s been incredibly busy since the pandemic. Many animals were adopted during the pandemic and both dogs and cats got a lot more services than usual because people paid more attention to them. They were at their house all day.”
Amy’s Purpose was founded in 2020 to provide animal safety programs including predator awareness and grief counseling for pet owners who have suffered a traumatic loss. But Lubell said helping to alleviate the veterinary crisis has become more relevant to Amy’s cause. That’s why it’s important to find support for Pet Love and Rock & Roll.
It was at this point that Lubell realized that another major significance of Amy’s purpose would be to help alleviate the crisis as more veterinary technicians and assistants were needed. “It is extremely important to get graduates and adults who want to pursue a second career interested in the field of animal science. Assisting in raising funds for the Pet Love and Rock & Roll concert will greatly benefit the health of pets in our desert communities.”
Reception begins at 6:45 p.m. in the ground floor atrium Palm Springs Museum of Art, 101 N. Museum Drive, Palm Springs. The hosted reception is sponsored by Willie Rhine, owner of Eight4Nine and 1501 Uptown Gastropub restaurants in Palm Springs and Willie’s in Rancho Mirage. The concert takes place on the ground floor of the museum’s Annenberg Theater and begins at 8 p.m
Tickets: $50, $100, and $250 with half discounts on the latter vet tickets. Individuals who make a $3,200 “Gracie” donation for Veterinary Assistant Course Scholarships will receive two front row seats and updates on the students they sponsor. Available from April 13 at the Annenberg box office with a click here or (760) 325-4490
- Billy Steinberg: Art Sfahrer
- John Garcia: DeAnn Lubell