Mick Swigert, frontman and lead singer or Lake Worth's Spred the Dub, has always had dogs. He inherited his adoration for our four-legged companions from his mother, Jacqueline Batcha. So when their beloved dogs, Etta and Nesta, passed away within weeks of one another earlier this year, Batcha and her son resolved to turn their broken hearts into something positive.
Combining their penchants for spreding the dub and spreading the love among their dogs, they, along with Stefanie Smerkers of the Copper Tones, came up with the idea for the first ever Bark Back Benefit. Their goal: fundraise for two nonprofits, Big Dog Ranch Rescue and Share-A-Pet Therapy Dogs.
Bamboo Room, the troubled but cherished South Florida institution, hosted the event.
In addition to a number of past and upcoming shows, the benefit acted as a sort of soft re-opening for the downtown Lake Worth venue. In fact, according to managing partner David Minton and general manager Ben Foster, the Bark Back Benefit is just the beginning. They envision a grand future that will return Bamboo Room to its former glory and beyond.
The benefit made the most of all the space, indoors and out, at Bamboo Room. The two-story building as seen from J Street hides a wonderland of possibilities behind its facade. The patio had room for a food truck serving gourmet burgers, a small, makeshift stage, a radio station stand, several tents housing tables filled with items for a silent auction, an area for families to play corn hole, and of course, Frank the Tank's kissing booth.
Out of concern for the animals from either non-profit, attendees weren't allowed to bring their own dogs, but there was no lack of furry love present at the fundraiser. Several dogs, both adoptable rescues and therapy dogs, were made available for snuggling and pictures.
Of course, the main attraction of the evening was the quartet of bands on the bill. The Mark Telesca Band, a searing blues trio, and indie rock-minded the Kinected, played simultaneously on the indoor stage and the patio stage, respectively. The latter played a mix of originals and covers for the folks milling about outside in the haze of leftover summer humidity while the former lit up the beautiful main room.
Little by little, the crowd filed in, swelling in size as the seven-hour event rumbled on. According to Batcha, over 330 people passed through Bamboo Room’s doors. As of yet, there’s no final tally for the dollar amount raised via the raffles and silent auctions, but Batcha did reveal that sponsor donations totaled $11,400 – fantastic news for the pair of non-profits that operate entirely on volunteers and donations.
By the time The Copper Tones took the stage, there was a healthy audience to hear Smerkers’ still fairly recent creation. That being said, they didn’t sound like a new band. The four-piece, mostly string group boasted a duo of smoky-sweet vocalists in Smerkers and Dyllan Thieme (also on upright bass). The Copper Tones were armed with a balanced selection of songs penned by Smerkers and dropped a few covers, including a spot-on, haunting rendition of “House of the Rising Sun.” It was a sharp mix of styles that was often moody but colored with a blend of '60s psychedelia and bluesy folk rock.
Looking like a modern-day Rat Pack, Spred The Dub came out last, dressed in dapper suits and channeling British rude boys The Specials in sight, sound, and spirit. Loaded up on Jack and Coke and plenty of benevolent goodwill, SpredtThe Dub drew the biggest crowd of the night and made damn sure the crowd had a great time. The dance floor immediately in front of the stage filled up quickly with a merry crew of tattooed reggae fans, dance geeks, Tommy Bahama-wearing gentlemen, and everything else in between. Spred the Dub's raucous, trombone-assisted, guitar-happy rock 'n' roll closed out this party for puppies in spectacular fashion.
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