By Rich Henrich

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. CDC is committed to continuing to provide essential data on ASD, search for factors that put children at risk for ASD and possible causes, and develop resources that help identify children with ASD as early as possible. About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. ASD is about 4.5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189). What the CDC doesn’t mention is the effects this has on families with autistic children and the expense for care.

Nine years ago, Coachella Valley musician, Josh Heinz, decided to get a group of friends together to help ease the burden upon families, like his own, who have autistic children. “Every time I do an interview, everyone, whether it’s a radio station or newspaper or anyone, everyone asks the same question: “Can you explain autism?” His voice struggles to find an answer. “No, I can’t. It’s a spectrum and every day is a little different and every individual and family has similar experiences but they vary in severity. Honestly, it would be easier if I could just show a video,” his fatigue echoes. This weekend, Nov. 18 & 19 at The Tack Room Tavern in Indio, CA, over 20 local bands and musicians will take the stage to help raise awareness and funds for families across the Valley faced with the difficulties of autism.

“I have a son and a step-son with autism. They are both pretty severe. My step-son is 14 and along with the normal challenges of raising a teenager, autism increases the challenges in our household. The other day at 7:30 in the morning, he walked outside and turned on the hose. He just stood there in his pajamas with the hose pouring water over his head. There’s no explanation for it. And if you press him for an answer, it can send him off. This is autism but only a small picture of it,” says Heinz, a caring man with a cause to create greater awareness for the disease.

Heinz, and his wife Linda, are both active musicians playing in at least two bands at any given time, which is not easy considering the level of care their kids require. “It’s not like you can get just anyone to come over and watch the kids,” he says. Linda is also a music teacher, who works with autistic children. “If I wanted to raise the most money, I would probably get a big name, like Barry Manilow and try to do the event at McCallum Theatre in January or February. Every year, we’ve been able to raise more money (last year was about $8200) but I feel like whatever we raise is more than what we started with. I just don’t want the focus to be about how much money we raise. This is really about helping and creating more awareness. Every year, we are increasing awareness, even through the bands that participate that might not have known much about it, “ says a triumphant Josh Heinz.

Often times, society can judge. If you are a “grown up” and still in a “local” band, the social stigma can be unfair. “I wanted people to know this community of musicians wasn’t just about making noise and drinking beer. We could also organize and make some real impact,” says Heinz. So, Josh reached out to his community of local musicians and challenged them to come together and “do good.” The result is the ninth annual benefit concert for autism, which raises awareness and funds for Coachella Valley families faced with the many challenges raising an autistic child brings, particularly costs of therapy. With the funds being raised a session that might cost $65 could be offset by a Lumpy’s grant and might only cost $15 for a family.

“The Concert for Autism is put on by a group of musicians who have personal connections to Autism as fathers, mothers, family members and friends,” says Heinz. Though the concert is not directly affiliated with the Lumpy’s Foundation for Autism, organizers have found this charity to offer valuable assistance for those families that deal with Autism on a daily basis,” states the proud musician, father and organizer. One band in particular, The Hellions, have been involved from the start and have played every benefit! Rumor has it that they are also one of the most fun acts to watch!

The event not only does good for our community but for anyone who loves music and wants to support or discover new music, Heinz & Company have put together one of the greatest two-day festival line-ups of music one could ever ask for in the blessed Valley. One new addition worth mentioning are The Flusters. Their following has grown considerably this year. They even took the stage at Coachella this year. “We are happy to have them and they’ve been great. I asked them to play an earlier time, which isn’t always easy. No ego involved, they just are happy to help,” beamed Heinz.

Some Band and Concert Highlights:

Zach Huskey – Front man for Dali’s Llama and a pioneer in the legendary desert music scene. He will play a very rare acoustic set. Not to be missed.

The Sweat Act – In 2 years this rock band has become known for their high-energy shows and melodic songs.

Caxton – Highly regarded CVMA Award winners will play a special acoustic set.

You Know Who – Super talented threesome that takes punk rock to another level of technical genius.

Michael Keeth – “The Voice” – as some have called him. The desert’s best male vocalist, he will deliver an acoustic set on Saturday.

HOBP – A longtime hard rock staple in the desert, HOBP tours Europe regularly.

Machin’ – A favorite for those who like to dance and groove to Latin-based rock music.

Courtney Chambers – One of the most powerful voices in the desert, with the songs to back it up.

Johnny Elsewhere – The most exciting ukulele player in the desert.

This is just a small glimpse of the magic that is soon to smack your ears. Mr. Heinz also wanted to make a point to thank their sponsors:

CV Weekly, of course.

The Tack Room Tavern – For opening up their venue for the show and how accommodating they have been.

AVSU – Providing lights and screens for the event.

Impression Designs – They donated this year’s t-shirts. Concert for Autism had lost their usual t-shirt maker, and it looked like any t-shirts would have to be paid for, taking money from their final benefit raise. During an interview with Jimi Fitz, he graciously went to them and told them about the benefit. They in turn offered to do shirts for the cause. “This is another example of how great some people can be, by helping us out,” says Josh Heinz.

Xpress Graphics – They have always been so kind to take care of all our printing needs. Pretty awesome what they do for us.

Any event of this nature has many incredible and often invisible hands helping in quiet ways along the way. “I do want to point out that though Linda and I work hard on the benefit, we could not do it without so many people donating time, equipment and their selves for this event. From people behind the scenes, to people volunteering and to people setting up and running lights, sound and visuals. I want to thank Ming Bob for hosting and helping as well. He will be announcing the raffles. It truly is a team effort and we can’t thank everyone that helps make it work. Again, the type of support we receive is just another reason we love our little music community!” exclaims an elated Josh Heinz.

All funds raised from the concert, will be donated to Lumpy’s Foundation for Autism, a 501c3 non-profit. Donations are tax deductible and the organizers are still accepting donations for raffle prizes and silent auction items. For more information or to donate online, please visit the website at: or their Facebook page for up-to-date info. Go have fun and support a worthy local cause that is making a difference in local lives every year.


Friday, November 18th:

6:00 – 6:25 – Rick Shelley – Acoustic Stage

6:25 – 6:30 – Announcements/Raffle

6:30 – 7:05 – Basson – Main Stage

7:05 – 7:25 – Sugarbritches & Taffolla – Acoustic Stage

7:25 – 7:30 – Announcements/Raffle

7:30 – 8:05 – The Flusters – Main Stage

8:05 – 8:25 – Mike Sick Boy – Acoustic Stage

8:25 – 8:30 – Announcements/Raffle

8:30 – 9:05 – The Hellions – Main Stage

9:05 – 9:25 – Courtney Chambers – Acoustic Stage

9:25 – 9:30 – Announcements/Raffle

9:30 – 10:05 – Waxy – Main Stage

10:05 – 10:25 – Giselle Woo – Acoustic Stage

10:25 – 10:30 – Announcements/Raffle

10:30 – 11:05 – You Know Who – Main Stage

11:05 – 11:25 – Lance Reibsomer – Acoustic Stage

11:25 – 11:30 – Announcements/Raffle

11:30 – 12:30 – Machin’ – Main Stage

Saturday, November 19th:

6:00 – 6:25 – Johnny Elsewhere – Acoustic Stage

6:25 – 6:30 – Announcements/Raffle

6:30 – 7:05 – SunDrug – Main Stage

7:05 – 7:25 – Esjay Jones – Acoustic Stage

7:25 – 7:30 – Announcements/Raffle

7:30 – 8:05 – 5th Town – Main Stage

8:05 – 8:25 – Rob Lawrence – Acoustic Stage

8:25 – 8:30 – Announcements/Raffle

8:30 – 9:05 – The Sweat Act – Main Stage

9:05 – 9:25 – Caxton – Acoustic Stage

9:25 – 9:30 – Announcements/Raffle

9:30 – 10:05 – Blasting Echo – Main Stage

10:05 – 10:25 – Zach Huskey – Acoustic Stage

10:25 – 10:30 – Announcements/Raffle

10:30 – 11:05 – Throw the Goat – Main Stage

11:05 – 11:25 – Michael Keeth – Acoustic Stage

11:25 – 11:30 – Announcements/Raffle

11:30 – 12:30 – HOBP – Main Stage

(Photos By Steven Young)