WATSONVILLE—Wherever he is touring in the world, Santana lead singer Andy Vargas makes sure to let everyone know about his hometown of Watsonville.

“I’ve always been proud to be from Watsonville,” Vargas said.  “I tell people that they’ve probably ate our berries or drank our cider. I like to put it on the map.”

That pride is something Vargas hopes to instill in Watsonville youth today. In 2015 he formed the Andy Vargas Foundation, with a mission to inspire and mentor local students through music education. The foundation aims to provide young people 8 to 22 years old in pursuing music, giving them access to instruments, classes and financial support.

“I wanted to share with them the inspiration I had as a kid,” Vargas said. “Music did so much for me. It guided me in the right direction.”

Last year Vargas and his other band, Souleros, held the first “El Sueño: The Dream Benefit Show.” The concert was a success, Vargas said, so much so that they were eager to do it again.

Souleros will return on Dec. 14 to the iconic Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz for the second annual “El Sueño” show, once again to raise money for the foundation—in particular, educational scholarships for students at Watsonville High School.

“I think it’s so important that these kids know they have a future,” Vargas said. “I want to show them that they can go far, too.”

The event will feature Tortilla Soup, a band featuring former members of groups such as Tower of Power, as an opening act. Also on the bill is comedian Frankie Quinones, performing his most well-known character “Creeper,” and other local musical acts.

“It’s going to be awesome,” Vargas said. “We’ve got a great lineup of talent.”

“El Sueño: The Dream Benefit Show” will be held at the Rio Theatre on Dec. 14 from 7:30-11 p.m. Tickets range from $35 to $100 and can be purchased online at eventbrite.com.

In his nearly 20 years touring with Carlos Santana, Vargas said he has learned a lot—the most important being the importance of music to a community.

“Santana is not just a band—it’s a culture, a brand, a style,” Vargas said. “It brings us together. That’s what we’re trying to do… with Souleros, and with the foundation itself.”

For information visit andyvargasfoundation.org.

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Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.