Santana singer Andy Vargas to host benefit show at Rio


Music means everything to Watsonville native Andy Vargas. It also became his career in 2000, when he started touring as singer of Carlos Santana, a dream come true.

But Vargas understands that he had some help to reach his goals. Her ever-supportive father, Javier, was a big part of that help. So, in 2015, Vargas launched the Andy Vargas Foundation in San Bernardino, with the intention of helping underprivileged children as it has been.

“Music, all my life, has kept me focused on my dreams. I was very lucky, ”says Vargas. “I think you have to give it away to keep it. My father gave me this love and inspiration. He passed it on to me. I pass it on to my children.

The foundation helps children by providing them with access to equipment and mentoring, as well as providing training in songwriting and teaching them how they can find work in the music industry. It also provides financial support through scholarships to continue their graduate studies in the arts.

In 2018, the San Bernardino program ended, but he brought in his father and expanded his operations to Watsonville. At the end of 2019, he opened a new program in Southern California, and during the pandemic, he and his father began working with students on Zoom.

Vargas will bring several students to the Rio stage during his benefit show on December 18 and he will perform with his band. Javier will also be performing, along with other special guests like Ozomatli. This performance will not only showcase the skills that Vargas students have acquired, but will raise awareness of his organization and raise much-needed funds for the Andy Vargas Foundation scholarship program. Fundraising efforts have been curtailed during the pandemic, so they have a lot to catch up on.

Vargas has a vision for how he wants the academy to develop. He hopes to open a mariachi academy in Watsonville next year, run by his father. But for now, he’s trying to make sure normal operations are fully funded.

“I’m very grateful to be able to have one of my favorite bands, Ozomatli, on stage with us,” Vargas says. “I hope everyone will come and support our students and see a great show.”

The Andy Vargas Foundation Benefit Concert “Love Is What We Need” begins at 6 pm Saturday December 18 at the Rio Theater, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $ 40. (831) 423-8209.


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