Rock For Paws Rocks Out For Second Year
by James Coulter
AC/DC. Bon Jovi. Journey. These are some of the 1980s core bands whose music guitarist Joe Cooper loves to play with his band Smokepoint. Aside from 80s rock classics, they also like to mix their performances with contemporary hits from Maroon 5 and Jonas Brothers.
Cooper and his bandmates have performed live music for eight years across Central Florida, but perhaps their favorite venue is for Rock For Paws, the annual fundraiser for SPCA Florida.
Smokepoint performed during the second annual Rock for Paws, hosted at Polk Theatre in Lakeland last Saturday evening. Joe and his bandmates played the greatest hits of the 1980s, including “Walk This Way” and “You Give Love A Bad Name.”
Throughout their performance, video footage of past concerts played interspersed with footage of cute animals playing and frolicking in cute scenes at the SPCA animal shelter. Attendees either listened to their music or even got on stage to dance in front of and next to the band as they played.
“We sold a lot of tickets,” Cooper said. “We have people enjoying themselves and coming up on stage dancing, so we consider this a huge success for the SPCA.”
Copper and his band had a longstanding relationship with the SPCA Florida from a fundraising standpoint. His band has supported the organization for many years. They appreciate the services it provides the local communities by finding stray animals good homes.
“We help with a great cause. They help thousands of animals every year, especially the homeless ones,” he said. “For me, the event is awesome. Performing is awesome. Planning is fun…but for me, performing live on stage is awesome.”
This is the second year that Smokepoint has performed for Rock For Paws, the annual fundraiser for the Florida SPCA. Founded in 1979 in Lakeland, the non-profit organization is, according to its website, “dedicated to improving the lives of pets and people in the community, SPCA Florida provides caring, compassion, and hope to several thousand homeless pets every year.”
The fundraiser was initially inspired by Smokepoint, who had approached the SPCA Florida about the proposal. As the band had a large following, with nearly 3,000 followers on Facebook, the band seemed like the ideal act for such a fundraiser, explained Rhanda Richter, SPCA Florida Media Relations.
“They had envisioned hosting a concert to benefit a non-profit and what better organization to benefit than one that helps animals?” said Richter. “Smokepoint has a large following. So between the SPCA and the band, a lot of people came the first time, and we doubled our attendance for this one.”
More than 200 tickets were sold before the event, with attendees making further donations using a mobile app. Attendees could listen to the music as performed by Smokepoint and walk on stage to dance alongside the band. They could also enjoy refreshments served at the concession stand and at food trucks and a full bar outside.
This was the first event to be hosted since the COVID-19 crisis started. The turnout proved more than satisfactory, with people coming out in droves to attend their event and listen to live music, Richter said.
“[It’s time for] people to relax, have a good time, and socialize,” she said. “We have not been around people for almost a year. So what better way to be around people and help animals.”
SPCA Florida will be hosting its annual Walk for Animals at Frances Langford Promenade at Lake Mirror on Sat., June 8 from 8 am to 12 pm. For more information, visit their Facebook page or their website at: https://www.spcaflorida.org/