People love their dogs. In fact, in Florida, we love our dogs so much that abuse of man's best friend can land someone in jail for anywhere from 60 days to five years. Our pups also have a concrete effect on our health, providing companionship, yes, but also helping to reduce stress, improve cardiac health, and even, on occasion, sniff out cancer.
When Stefanie Smerkers of The Copper Tones and Mick Swigert of Spred The Dub first conceived of the Bark Back Benefit, they probably didn't take any of those facts into consideration. Chances are, they just really, really love their dogs.
Launching this Saturday in Lake Worth, the first annual Bark Back Benefit raises funds for two locally based non-profits, Big Dog Ranch and Share-A-Pet, that bring together people and dogs in mutually advantageous ways. The event takes place at the newly re-opened Bamboo Room and will feature performances from four local bands, including the aforementioned Copper Tones and Spred The Dub, along with Mark Telesca and The Kinected.
In an effort to reach their fundraising goal of at least $5000, Bark Back will also features raffles, a silent auction, and a kissing booth featuring Frank the Bulldog, a handsome four-legged creature belonging to Swigert's brother, who we are assured is eager to lick and slobber up attendees and their pets for cash.
A labor of love for both Smerkers and Swigert, Bark Back also affords local music fans the opportunity to party with some great bands. The Copper Tones are a four-piece combo playing a quirky blend of folk, jazz, and bluegrass, while reggae outfit Spred The Dub are a beloved and well-established presence in the Florida music scene.
We sat down with Mick and Stefanie to discuss the upcoming benefit and all things puppy-related.
New Times: First thing's first — What exactly is this Bark Back Benefit all about?
Mick Swigert: It's for Big Dog Ranch.
Stefanie Smerkers: And Share-A-Pet Therapy. It's a little of both. [Share-a-Pet provides] therapy pets that go to hospitals, hospices. The pets visit the patients, put them in a better place before they go, that kind of thing. They work all on volunteers — it's a non-profit. Basically, they need as much funds as possible to continue doing that. And Big Dog Ranch is a rescue.
MS: They both work completely off of donations.
Are there going to be dogs there?
MS: There'll be some dogs there.
SS: Yeah, for adoption.
Considering it's Bamboo Room, will people be allowed to bring their dogs?
SS: It's going to be outside and inside.
MS: They have a little back parking lot, right outside the balcony, and that whole area is going to be vendors. Big Dog Ranch is having a booth set up with their dogs out there. The Kinected will be out there playing an acoustic set ... Coppertones and Spred The Dub will be inside. It'll be an outside and inside event. Hopefully the weather holds up.
How did this event come about?
MS: Well, our family always had a bunch of dogs. Just a couple months ago, we lost two in one month. One was a therapy dog; he worked with hospice and nursing homes and things like that. Got really involved with that. And when they went, it was just like, "Okay, how can we make this a positive thing?" So we got together and figured this would be the best thing to do.
So the two of you set this up?
SS: Yeah, both of us and his mom. You know, when bad things happen, a lot of people kind of dwell on the bad and nothing positive comes out. Trust me, I do it all the time! [Laughs] So we were like, "What can we do to bring this up? What can we do to get something positive out of it?"
MS: So we're doing it in their memory.
Bark Back Benefit. 6 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Saturday, September 26 at Bamboo Room, 25 S J St, Lake Worth 33460. Tickets cost $10 pre-sale and $15 at the door and include one free cocktail. Visit www.bambooroommusic.com.