Shelter’s Rock and Rollover concert returns after COVID

This year’s fundraiser smaller in scale but still attracted crowds

The Animal Welfare Association held its second annual Rock and Rollover concert fundraiser on Nov. 19, with the event returning after COVID caused its cancellation last year.

The concert featured three classic rock bands, including Shaman: The Ultimate Santana Tribute Band; the Suitcase Murphy Band; and Nothing Yet, whose members performed on the lower level of the Record Museum at Kepple’s Carpet in Berlin Township.

“It’s a total transformation from the retail [store] to a sound stage,” explained Marian Conicella, AWA development manager.

The concert took place in the far end of the carpet store, where a stage, lights and a camera showcased the bands.

The idea for Rock and Rollover took off two years ago, when Nothing Yet  member Ace Porter reconnected with Frank Conicella, Marian’s husband and a sound-system engineer. Porter and his band at the time, Skippy’s Toy, had been selling T-shirts with proceeds to benefit no-kill animal shelters, and when Frank mentioned his wife worked at the AWA, Porter suggested doing a concert together.

Previous concerts featured seven bands that performed at Trio’s Tavern for seven hours rather than three. While this year’s concert was smaller in scale and at a new location, there were plenty of people who came out to support the AWA. Porter hopes to continue the tradition in the years to come.

This year’s venue also featured hot pizza on sale from the Traveling Tomato Wood-Fired Pizza food truck and Divine Catering. AWA staff were on hand to explain some of the programs that would benefit from the funds raised, including the Tales for Tails program slated to begin in 2022 for kids to read aloud to dogs.

Programs currently in place are the P.A.W.S. effort, People Achieving with Support, which provides learning experiences and job coaching opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities; Vets on Wheels, where volunteers travel to underserved communities to provide pet medical care at low cost; and Camp Tails and Whiskers, where kids can create art while learning about animals and their welfare.

“We want to get the youth to get involved with the organization, because we always feel like if you want to change people’s attitudes about animals, and how important the human-animal bond is, you start with kids,” Marian Conicella added.

While it currently serves as an adoption center, clinic and animal-food pantry, the AWA is currently expanding with a new building that will include larger spaces for adoption, medical care, volunteering and administration. With the new space, the food pantry will also be expanded.

There will be more opportunities for community engagement through a new training room to be used for events like pet therapy and dog-training classes. The project is expected to be completed in January.

To stay up to date with the AWA, visit its website at  https://www.awanj.org/.