The gift of rock
Several Northstate bands gather ’round the Xmas tree to benefit needy children
It’s obvious listening to Jill Puryear-Micke, the organizer of the Guardian Angels Foundation Benefit, an all-day rockfest to raise money to buy Christmas gifts for needy children, that she sees the endeavor as being all about the kids.
“I wanted to show that rock ‘n’ roll can do good things too,” she shared in a recent telephone interview, “Kids can do more than just party. This is for kids, by kids … to give to kids.”
As owner/operator of Red Worm Productions ("promoting rock bands, booking, graphic arts, press kits…") out of Red Bluff, as well as a Guardian Angels volunteer, the energetic Puryear-Micke is well suited to the task of running a show. When looking for a new way to help in the community, she decided to do something for the kids in the bands she was now working with, as well the kids in need that she once helped as a foster parent.
Eight bands’ worth of these youngsters—with members ranging from high-school to college-age—have lined up to donate their sound-making services to the cause. The common language of the day’s lineup is that of heavy noise—delineated by whichever hybrid metal/punk/rap vernacular each band decides to speak. There’s the Rastafied Rage-Against-the-Machine pummeling of Esoteric and the melodic punk/metal of Red with Envy, as well as a half-dozen others, all in what would seem as a pretty unlikely locale: the rodeo capital of the West, the Tehama County Fairgrounds in Red Bluff.
“Red Bluff is pretty anti-rock ‘n’ roll,” Puryear-Micke said. “I had to go through the peace officer association to have approval. … If it goes good we’re going to do this every year.”
It’s hoped that the cause of raising money to get gifts for needy children will be enough to overcome most any obstacle, and the organization that is benefiting is excited at the prospect of extra help the event hopes to provide.
“I’ve never done something quite like this,” admitted Brenda Eitzen, founder of the Los Molinos-based Guardian Angels Foundation, “We’ve done other fund-raisers, but nothing quite like this.” Puryear-Micke approached the foundation with the idea and has made everything happen. “I’m going to enjoy it,” Eitzen said.
Eitzen and her husband Joe began the non-profit organization in 1999. Having volunteered their property as a Right Roads haven for helping families with drug and alcohol problems, the Eitzens began to see that a lot of residual problems weren’t being addressed.
“My husband and I noticed that children were falling through the cracks,” explained the mother of four grown children of her own. They decided to address the children who were consistently left behind, especially when the parents went to prison.
Referrals for assistance come via the Prison Fellowship Ministries. The Guardian Angels follow up on the referrals (in both Tehama and Butte counties) and provide neglected children with dental help, housing and clothing. Also, for the holidays, through the Ministry’s Angel Tree Program, clothing and toys are directed to those most in need.
“Normally it’s the grandparents [raising the children],” explained Eitzen, “We verify their sizes and their ages and find out what they want.” From there Eitzen, her husband and “a bunch of elves” go out and play Santa Claus.
“I just enjoy seeing [the] child’s face," says Eitzen, adding, "I think it’s great that these kids [playing the benefit] can help like this."