THIS FRIDAY & SATURDAY @ Schmidy’s Tavern, Palm Desert. October 3-4th, 7pm – 1am

“If there’s one big thing to come out of all of this hard work it is to spread this message: If you’re a new parent or just had a child diagnosed, the best thing you can do is get an early diagnosis and then get as much therapy as early as possible. We hope what we do helps those of you in that situation.” Josh Heinz

by Lisa Morgan

The annual Concert for Autism seems to get larger and more successful every year, and for all the right reasons. The community comes together in a very musical way. A smorgasbord of some of the desert’s most talented musicians entertain, while a plethora of ample items donated by local businesses are raffled and auctioned off. The windfall of musicians and gifts were abundant enough to make this a two day event that is sure to be an astounding musical experience while supporting a cause that in itself is an alarming matter.

Over the last few years, Autism has become a household name, thanks to benefits such as this one, raising awareness and providing information. But perhaps it’s also more popularly acknowledged because more households are directly affected. One year ago, the statistics showed that one in 88 children were diagnosed with Autism. This year, the Center for Disease Control estimates that Autism now affects 1 in 68 children. For boys, who are for some reason, characteristically more prone, that number is 1 in 42. This annual benefit has done much for the growing number of local families struggling with the effects of one or more children diagnosed with this debilitating often misunderstood condition. At the helm of this necessary function over the last 7 years are Josh and Linda Heinz, themselves parents of autistic children on the severe end of the spectrum. A battle they once had to fight on their own, they have been valiant in bringing the community together to help us understand and contribute to the cause.

“Every year, I am touched by how many people rush to get involved and want to take part in this,” shared Josh Heinz, founder of the annual Concert for Autism now in its 7th year. “Be it musicians who want to donate their time, haul all their gear to play one set for the show, to those who go out and get donations from local businesses without us even having to ask. It’s been a surprise every single year. I won’t lie. Producing this benefit is difficult, especially when you work a full time job with four kids at home, one a toddler and one severely autistic. It’s tough. Every year I think to myself, ‘I don’t want to do this!’ But then I get into doing it and ultimately, I get extremely excited about it. It really encourages me to experience how many people in the community get behind this from all the volunteers to even the local media. When you have children in your life with Autism, and you fully understand what that encompasses, doing something like this is incredibly rewarding, because you know there are families who can’t afford the programs and therapies necessary, and this helps underwrite that cost. It doesn’t cover all of it, but it absorbs a really good portion of it, so those families only have to pay a small co-pay. When I found out my son was autistic, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know to get early intervention and therapy. If there’s one big thing to come out of all of this hard work it is to spread this message: If you’re a new parent or just had a child diagnosed, the best thing you can do is get an early diagnosis and then get as much therapy as early as possible. We hope what we do helps some of you in that situation.”

Over 20 local bands are supporting this year’s concert, ranging from beautiful acoustic solos and duos to in your face desert rock, to a full range kaleidoscope of ska/punk, rocking blues and Americana. Knowing these incredible musicians’ hearts, I am confident that they will agree that the true rock stars of the event will be the musically gifted, autistic students that co-founder, Linda Heinz, will be presenting to open the event. Giving private music lessons for the last 20 years, she received her own private lesson from her Autistic son. “I always tell folks that my son, Christopher (also on the autism spectrum), trained me,” Linda shared. “My special students have taught me patience, how to think outside the box when it comes to teaching, and that often their abilities rival what many neurotypical people can do. They also have a drive to learn that most of us would envy. I’ve also seen first-hand the love and support these kids get from their amazing parents. My students are always inspiring me and making me want to be a better teacher. I owe them a lot.”

I asked Linda, who currently receives a grant from the Lumpy’s Foundation to teach children and adults on the autism spectrum, to showcase a little about each student that will be performing at the benefit:
“Three of my special students are opening the show for the Benefit Concert:

Milton Castellanos: Milton is a very talented pianist whose father is a professional musician. I’ve been working with him for over 5 years and he is now an adult on the Autism spectrum. He started out playing only by ear. His reading skills are constantly improving and he plays with passion and strives for perfection. He can play in just about any genre. Milton is also a very talented artist and an expert on movie trivia, too. He will be performing a piece of Classical/Rock fusion with guitarist Martin Barrera.

Elizabeth Etebar: I’ve been working with Elizabeth for over 5 years as well. She is in the 5th grade with the unique gift of perfect pitch (an extremely common skill in individuals with autism). She loves playing in the Classical genre, but prefers Blues and Jazz. She has an incredible memory for music, as well as for dates and many other things. She can play pieces she learned years ago from memory on the spot. Elizabeth is becoming a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to music and she always makes lessons fun. She loves to play duets, so she and I will play a little Blues duet for the show.
Julian Pacia: Julian and I have worked together for around 5 years. He is currently in middle school and is talented and a fast learner. He works hard to master a piece so he can continue to strive for more challenging things to play. Julian is also learning to play the flute. He is on his way to becoming an excellent reader, has good technique and loves to play fast, experimenting with different sounds on the keyboard. Julian will perform a Beatles song he just starting working on a week ago. Told you he’s fast!

Noah Arujo: Noah is one of my regular students who is a passionate friend to my special program. He does not have autism, but he wanted to support the cause. Formerly a member of the band Y2BD, Noah is a gifted guitarist for his young age. He is currently working with me on learning how to sing and play at the same time. He will perform “Say Something”, but with new lyrics that should really touch people who know and love individuals with autism. Noah has some serious guitar skills and versatility, as well as an excellent ear. This boy truly has a future in music, and someday I will be proud to say that ‘I knew him when…'”

The Heinz duo have been a force of nature in this community, both through their music (in their original rock band, Blasting Echo) as well and through this annual benefit, all the while raising their own affected family. They have lived with autism for more than a decade, both with children on the autism spectrum from previous marriages. This year something very special happened. The Heinz clan experienced the birth of a healthy, vivacious and energetic, adorable, ever-smiling and engaging son and little brother, Jack. This truly joyous event does not come without the deep, brooding concern that lurks daily, as they watch Jack grow and develop. Will their Jack be one of the 42?

The benefit will take place on Friday, October 3rd and Saturday, October 4th at Schmidy’s Tavern, 72286 HWY 111 in Palm Desert (on the corner of Hwy 111 and Fred Waring Drive next to Men’s Warehouse). Performances begin at 7 pm both nights, and conclude at 1 am. The concert is all ages until 10pm. Each night there will be a suggested $5 donation at the door. There will be raffles and silent auction items on both nights for items from Record Alley, Musician’s Outlet, the BNP Paribas Open, Cinemark Theatres at the River, My Gym, Trader Joes, Sprouts, Outback Steakhouse, Stuft Pizza, Mountain View Tire, Red Lobster, PF Changs and more!

This year the proceeds will again benefit the Lumpy’s Foundation for Autism. This organization provides financial assistance to families with Autistic children to help them afford vital therapies and programs. If you are unable to attend, donations can be made online with a credit card or through Pay Pal at the following link:

You can also find the link and information on Facebook by searching for 7th Annual Concert for Autism.

Or go to the officail website.

For more information, you can email or call (760) 702-4110

Josh and Linda and all the Concert for Autism volunteers would like to thank all the sponsors and musicians donating their goods and services to this important cause.

Following is a projected schedule of the incredible music lineup you will enjoy at the event:

7:00 – 7:20 – Introduction with 3 Autistic piano students each playing a piece of music
7:20 – 7:30 – Introduction by Josh Heinz
7:30 – 7:50 – Onnaca Heron and Joe Dillon – acoustic on patio
7:50 – 8:25 – Fiesty Joe
8:25 – 8:35 – announcements
8:35 – 8:55 – Rob Lawrence – acoustic on patio
8:55 – 9:00 – announcements
9:00 – 9:35 – Dali’s Llama
9:35 – 9:55 – Chris Long – acoustic on patio
9:55 – 10:00 – announcements
10:00 – 10:35 – You Know Who
10:35 – 10:55 – Johnny Elsewhere – acoustic on patio
10:55 – 11:00 announcements
11:00 – 11:35 – Blasting Echo
11:35 – 11:55 – Giselle Woo – acoustic on patio
11:55 – 12:00 – announcements 12:00 – 1:00 – Machin’

7:00 – 7:35 – The Yip Yops
7:35 – 7:55 – Nicole Yablan – acoustic on patio
7:55 – 8:00 – announcements
8:00 – 8:35 – Joe Kidd and the Gash
8:35 – 8:55 – Lance Riebsomer – acoustic on patio
8:55 – 9:00 – announcements
9:00 – 9:35 – The Hellions
9:35 – 9:55 – Wade Crawford – acoustic on patio
9:55 – 10:00 – announcements
10:00 – 10:35 – Waxy
10:35 – 10:55 – Caxton – acoustic on patio
10:55 – 11:00 announcements
11:00 – 11:35 – Mighty Jack
11:35 – 11:55 – Michael Keeth & Martin Barrera – acoustic on patio
11:55 – 12:00 – announcements
12:00 – 1:00 – The Pedestrians

  • Donors and Sponsors

  • Josh & Kinda Lemke

  • Elizabeth Etebar

  • Julian

  • Milton Castellanos

  • Noah Arujo