Rock ‘n’ Roll Concert to benefit the nonprofit Amy’s Purpose and raise money for veterinary assistant certification scholarships

Recognizing an unprecedented crisis in veterinary care services in the Greater Palm Springs Area, the new nonprofit organization, Amy’s Purpose, has embarked on a mission to train and put more veterinary workers in desert offices by 2023.

One of the leaders of the charge is John Garcia, a founding voice of the Coachella Valley’s internationally renowned desert rock scene. The husband and father of two from Morongo Valley has sung at music festivals around the world, from Coachella to OzzFest. But he gets as much joy assisting on animal surgeries. He and his wife, Wendy, are both veterinary technicians.

“There is a crisis in veterinary care in this desert,” said Garcia, who supervises the veterinary technician staff at the Palm Springs Animal Hospital. “Many veterinarians and veterinary hospitals are not accepting new patients. My own Animal Hospital has extended its hours and we want to care for as many pets as we can. But we are all overwhelmed by the demand for our services. We have to do something to relieve the pressure on veterinarians and put more veterinary assistants in the field to care for people’s pets.”

Garcia came to international attention as the lead singer of Kyuss, touted by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters 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. Now he’ll join his group, The Band of Gold, as headliner of “Pet Love and Rock & Roll,” a benefit concert for Amy’s Purpose Sept. 17 at the Annenberg Theater in the Palm Springs Art Museum. His acoustic set of Kyuss classics and newer originals will climax with the band plugging in for stunning encores in the intimate theater that has previously hosted concerts by the likes of Liza Minnelli and Barry Manilow.

Proceeds will help fund scholarships for a course training veterinary assistants through College of the Desert’s Partnership and Community Education (PaCE) wing. Veterinary assistant jobs pay only $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 to qualify to work with a veterinarian after another 100 hours of an on-the-job “externship.”

Tickets, going on sale Sept. 13 at the Annenberg box office and, 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 of two front-row seats. Amy’s Purpose founder and president DeAnn Lubell said the charity hopes to fund a dozen scholarships to PaCE students committed to working for local veterinarians and possibly continuing their education to advanced levels of veterinary care. Several websites provide online education for veterinary assistants, but COD officials says their PaCE course offers rare remote training with live teachers

The Saturday, Sept. 17  benefit also seeks to create a climate of appreciation to inspire new veterinarians to practice in the desert. All doctors of veterinary medicine will receive half off discounts for the best seats and be recognized at a hosted, pre-concert reception for all ticket-holders on the museum’s main floor. Lori Weiner, owner of the Pet Hotel at Barkingham Palace in Palm Desert and founder of the California Paws Rescue adoption service, will receive the first Amy Award at the wine and light hors d’oeuvres reception starting at 6:45 p.m. The party also will include a silent auction and recorded music from the vast catalog of songs about dogs, cats and birds.

Concert Raises Money for Veterinary Workers

Billy Steinberg

The concert starts at 8 p.m. with a 40-minute set by Palm Springs High School alumnus Billy Steinberg & Trio performing songs from his Songwriters Hall of Fame career that has produced some of the greatest songs of the past 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’ll be joined by singer Angie Rodriguez, a graduate of the Musical Theatre University (MTU) program at Rancho Mirage High School.

Producer and former Desert Sun columnist Bruce Fessier will conduct a short Q&A with Garcia between sets – exploring the veterinary crisis and revealing how Garcia compares saving animals to the thrill of performing before thousands of people on bills with Metallica and Black Sabbath.

Everyone involved with the benefit, from Garcia and Steinberg to the sound technician and stage manager, are donating their services for this vital cause for the community. Willie Rhine, owner of the Eight4Nine and 1501 Uptown Gastropub restaurants in Palm Springs and Willie’s in Rancho Mirage, is underwriting the catering for the reception.

Veterinarians Alexis Rambaud and Shakira Jamison of Paws & Claws in Palm Desert have committed to encouraging fellow veterinarians to mingle with pet lovers at the reception. Steinberg has recruited a veterinarian friend from Sun Valley, Idaho, to meet people at the reception to consider 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 staff workers stopped coming into their workplaces when the CDC advised people to self-isolate. At the same time, demand for veterinary services exploded.

“It was always busy,” said Diaz, “but, ever since the pandemic it’s been incredibly busy. A lot of animals were adopted during the pandemic and both dogs and cats got a lot more services than they normally would have because people were paying more attention to them. They were home with them all day.”

Concert Raises Money for Veterinary Workers

Amy’s Purpose Logo

Amy’s Purpose was founded in 2020 to provide programs in animal safety, including predatory awareness, and grief counseling for pet owners who have suffered traumatizing loss. But Lubell said helping to mitigate the veterinary crisis has taken on greater importance for Amy’s Purpose. That’s why it’s important to find support for “Pet Love and Rock & Roll.”

That is when Lubell realized another great importance of Amy’s Purpose would be to help mitigate the crisis as more veterinarian technicians and assistants were needed.  “It is extremely important to entice graduating students and adults wanting to go into a second career to become interested in the field of animal sciences. Support to raise funds for the Pet Love and Rock & Roll concert will greatly benefit the health of pets in our desert communities.”

The reception starts at 6:45 p.m. in the Atrium of the main floor of the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 N. Museum Drive, Palm Springs. The hosted reception is sponsored by Willie Rhine, owner of the Eight4Nine and 1501 Uptown Gastropub restaurants in Palm Springs and Willie’s in Rancho Mirage. The concert will be downstairs at the museum’s Annenberg Theater and will start at 8 p.m.

Tickets: $50, $100 and $250 with half-off discounts to the latter tickets for veterinarians. Individuals making a $3,200 “Gracie” donation for scholarships to the veterinary assistant course will receive two front-row seats and updates on the students they are sponsoring. On sale April 13 at the Annenberg Theater box office by clicking here or (760) 325-4490

More information: [email protected], click here or call 760-831-3090


Image Sources

  • Billy Steinberg: Art Streiber
  • John Garcia: DeAnn Lubell