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Armando Flores is a busy man these days. He’s the bass-player for 5th Town, which has been recording its first album, and he’s the drummer for Blasting Echo, which has also been recording. Flores will be pulling double duty this Friday night, May 17, as both bands perform at Josh Heinz’s Birthday Jam at Coachella Valley Brewing Company, 30640 Gunther St., in Thousand Palms. Flores was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

If I recall correctly, the first concert I went to on my own was Young MC at the Palm Springs High School gymnasium in 1989. My friend Nathan Schields and I stood in awe of his wholesome, bubble-gummy rap goodness!

What was the first album you owned?

I recall having vinyl singles as a kid, things like Queen and Creedence Clearwater Revival, but those were more parent-influenced. I think the first album I personally bought was Run-DMC’s Raising Hell. We had a cousin who lived with my family when I was a teen, and she loved ’80s bands like Def Leppard, Guns N’ Roses, Motely Crue and Van Halen, so there’s that, too.

What bands are you listening to right now?

For major artists, I always fall to my old standards: Steely Dan, Primus, NOFX, Tool, Helmet, old Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Brubeck, and PJ Harvey. But my 14-year-old stepdaughter is a bit of an influence and trying to keep me hip, so Rex Orange County, Childish Gambino, anything where Dr. Dre is involved, and Charlie Puth all get sprinkled in there as well. Locally, most everyone. Our scene is pretty amazing!

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Country and the blues. I can appreciate some of it, but for the most part, I could probably live without it in my life. They just feel so limiting as a bass player: “Here’s the rules; now, don’t stray.”

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

James Brown. I’m kicking myself for not seeing the Godfather of Soul before he passed. I’d also love it if the Pedestrians or Lung Cookie performed once more.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Oh fuck, I knew this was coming … I LOVE PSY! There, I said it. I just think that dude is hilarious. He’s got Korean hooks for days, and I can’t get those damn songs out of my head when I hear them! Plus, if Snoop Dogg will collaborate with the guy, then there must be something there.

What’s your favorite music venue?

To visit? The Wiltern or House of Blues Hollywood. To perform? The one that actually has a decent sound system and a competent audio engineer.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“I see ya girls checkin’ out my trunks, I see ya girls checkin' out the front of my trunks, I see ya girls looking at my junk, then checking out my rump, then back to my sugalumps. When I shake it, I shake it all up. You’d probably think that my pants have the mumps, it’s just my sugalump bump-ba-bumps. They look so good, that's why I keep ’em in the front,” “Sugalumps,” Flight of the Conchords.

What band or artist changed your life?

Primus and Les Claypool. They showed me that you don’t have to be confined to what someone says you can or cannot do with your instrument, and by doing so, they set me on my musical path.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

This question is the toughest … all of the cliché questions don’t interest me. The big names get to where they are with talent, hard work and sacrifice. But theoretically, if Snoop Dogg were nearby, I’d ask, “Hey Snoop, what’s up?” and he’d have some weed, and we’d chat.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Probably something inappropriately funny, like “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot. I want my wife to remember how much I love her butt.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

I have to go with Primus’ Frizzle Fry. It was so far out of left field in early 1990, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. It moved me away from hip-hop and into “band music” and set me on my path to learn the bass.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

The new 5th Town album! But it’s not out yet, so try “Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor” by Flight of the Conchords. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

Josh Heinz is originally from Tennessee, but he's now a pillar in the Coachella Valley local music scene. He is the frontman for Blasting Echo, the guitarist for 5th Town, the founder of the Concert for Autism, and the host of Open-Mic Night at The Hood Bar and Pizza every Wednesday. See Blasting Echo Saturday, March 16, at The Hood during Dali Llama’s CD-release show. For more information on Heinz’s bands, visit www.facebook.com/blastingecho and www.facebook.com/5thtown. He was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Probably Christian recording artist Michael W. Smith. But my first real “rock” concert was Heart on their Bad Animals tour at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tenn. I think that was 1987. I was 12.

What was the first album you owned?

Hmm … it’s hard to remember for sure. My first albums were bought on tapes. Maybe it was Heart's Bad Animals; maybe it was Guns and Roses' Appetite for Destruction; or maybe it was Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet. But I know that before those, I had a Best of The Doors tape, which doesn’t necessarily count as an album. That’s more of a compilation.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Besides practice recordings of new Blasting Echo songs and mixes from the upcoming 5th Town record, nothing specific. I’m kind of all over the place, certainly (including listening to) live Pearl Jam shows. I listen to a lot of local bands from our music community and bands from my time in Memphis—specifically The Subteens. Look them up. Find Burn Your Cardigan. It’s good stuff. I’m also lucky to have recordings from the last two Concert for Autism benefits, so l listen to a lot of those performances as well. Perhaps I need to commit to finding more new nationally known bands.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

EDM. I get why people are into it, but that’s not my thing.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Neil Young. I’ve been a fan for a long time. I was bummed I couldn’t see him at Desert Trip. I just couldn’t afford it. Everyone I’ve talked to who was there for weekend two said it was incredible.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I don’t think I have one, but I listen to a lot of movie and television scores. They just take me places in my head, and I love it. I enjoy works by James Horner, Michael Kamen, James Newton Howard, Thomas Newman, certainly John Williams and Hans Zimmer. Zimmer’s score for The Thin Red Line is my favorite. I also love the scores that Trent Reznor has done. Before he ever officially scored anything, he was doing instrumental pieces with Nine Inch Nails that were beautiful, moving and powerful.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Probably The New Daisy Theatre in Memphis. I only played it a few times, but I saw a ton of shows there. It's a small theater on Beale Street that holds about 1,000 people—nice and intimate for a theater.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

Since Blasting Echo is working on new material to record soon, most of the lyrics stuck in my head are my own—because I’m trying to remember them.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Certainly Pearl Jam. The lyrics and the music spoke to me in a very heavy way when they came out. It gave me an honest voice that I identified with, and that inspired me to follow suit by writing and creating my own music to deal with things going on in my life.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I’m sure there are more important questions to ask more important musicians, but right now, I can only think to ask Stone Gossard from Pearl Jam: “Why has your dirty tone become less aggressive/crunchy over the years?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I don’t know. When I was younger, I probably would have said something somber. But now I think I would like something more celebratory of my life, my wife and my kids.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Pearl Jam, Vs.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Blasting Echo, “The Light” or “It's Not My Time.” (Scroll down to hear them!)

Published in The Lucky 13

Eight years ago, Josh Heinz and his wife, Linda Lemke Heinz, started the Concert for Autism. In the years since, the concert has grown to become one of the most anticipated charity music events of the year.

The Ninth Annual Concert for Autism will take place on Friday, Nov. 18, and Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Tack Room Tavern in Indio. The Hellions, The Flusters, Machin’, House of Broken Promises and many, many others are scheduled to perform during the two-night event.

The couple is well-known in the local music scene thanks to their work in Blasting Echo and 5th Town. They’re also the parents of autistic children; in fact, that common thread in their lives led to them meeting each other. During a recent interview, Heinz discussed the many challenges that he and his wife face on a daily basis.

“The tough thing is that Linda’s son, Christopher, who is 14, he can have severe meltdowns,” Heinz said. “If you try to redirect him if he’s doing something he shouldn’t be doing … he can literally melt down, and sometimes break things, sometimes get violent—and the struggle for us is to prevent that from happening. Currently, he’s on a medical regimen, and he’s actually doing better over the past couple of months, but it’s never a guarantee. Every day, you wake up and hope he’s in a good mood. Last year, he didn’t finish the last three weeks (of school), and we were afraid he wouldn’t even go to high school this year, given it was his first year of high school. So far, he’s been good, but there was a day he had a big meltdown, and we had to go get him out of school.

“When he’s had meltdowns, he has thrown chairs, and you worry he’ll throw the TV from off the wall. It’s fear, and it’s sadness—particularly for Linda, because that’s her son. My son, who doesn’t live with us, is two years older. He used to be violent, but nowhere near what Christopher is.”

Josh works full-time. However, Linda needs to be on call with the school on a daily basis.

“In Linda’s case, she can’t hold a real job,” Josh said. “She teaches piano and voice lessons from home and has done that for a long time. She’s had to cancel lessons. She used to have 20 students she’d teach through the week; now it’s way down from that, probably around 12. There’s that loss of income.”

Having children with autism also leads to financial challenges beyond that loss of work income.

“Christopher is still under his dad’s insurance, but we still have to pay for the medications,” Josh said. “He is also a teenage boy; he eats a lot. The other day, he literally ate six bananas in 30 minutes. He doesn’t like to eat most fruits and vegetables; he wants sugar and carbs. We’ve started to hide food and only put out a little bit at a time, because he’ll go through it.

“When Schmidy’s (Tavern) closed, (owner) Dennis Ford had a deep freeze and said, ‘I bought this a couple of years ago; I’ll sell it to you for next to nothing.’ We have it in the garage, and we’re able to lock it up. We’ll buy a box of taquitos, and Christopher will literally eat most of the box—and he’ll eat them frozen. He’ll eat a whole box of frozen waffles in one sitting. But if you try to correct him, he’ll melt down. With his condition, he eats more than a normal 14-year-old boy.”

Josh and Linda need to plan their performance schedules accordingly, too.

“You can’t just hire a regular baby sitter to baby-sit with an autistic kid,” Josh explained. “Christopher typically goes to bed around 8 or 9. He gets his nighttime medications, calms down and goes to sleep. Our son Jack can’t be alone with Christopher, because Christopher used to pick on his sisters when they were smaller. The autism heightens that, and he’ll try to pick on Jack. Our older daughters can watch Jack when we play, but Christopher is 14 and a big kid, and Jack is little, and picking on Jack could be dangerous. If we play a show when Christopher is going to be awake, at something like 7:30 p.m., we have to have an adult there who knows him, or knows about autism. Say 5th Town has a show, and our set is at 9. We need to be there at 8:30, and that’s (Christopher’s bedtime) window, and the meds don’t always make him go to sleep. So we have a respite worker. We have respite hours from the state, and (the worker) will come in around 7:30.”

The musical careers of Blasting Echo and 5th Town have had a positive effect on the family, especially when one of the bands practices at their home.

“We love making music, and our outlet is our way to deal with how we feel,” Josh said. “Jack loves it and will sing along in his room. Sometimes, Christopher will come out and wander around. Sometimes he’ll bounce around in excitement, and it’s a good thing. Overall, the music is a calming thing.”

Earlier this year, Lumpy’s local golf stores closed their doors for good—but the Lumpy’s Foundation for Autism is still going strong.

“Before I worked with Lumpy’s, I donated money to the Coachella Valley Autism Society. When my son was diagnosed, my now-ex-wife and I didn’t know what to do,” Josh said. “I found out about the society a couple of years later, and that’s where I met Linda. That’s where a lot of parents need to go when their children are diagnosed with autism. If you go there, you meet a lot of other parents, and you hear what might work or might not work, the services you might be able to get, and things like that.

Josh explained why the funds from the annual Concert for Autism goes to Lumpy’s Foundation.

“Linda had a grant from Lumpy’s, and while Lumpy’s is closed, the foundation is still going to stay open. The owner has a son with autism, and (the son) plays piano; Linda taught him. … The National Autism Society (with which the Coachella Valley Autism Society is affiliated) came back to us and said, ‘All fundraising events have to be sanctioned by the National Autism Society.’ They gave me the money back, and I said, ‘I’ll just give it to Lumpy’s.’ Everything is given to them, and people can write off donations to the Lumpy’s Foundation.”

The Ninth Annual Concert for Autism will take place at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 18, and Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Tack Room Tavern, 81900 Avenue 51, in Indio. A $5 donation at the door is suggested. For more information, visit concertforautism.com.

Published in Previews

On Friday and Saturday, Oct. 16 and 17, Schmidy’s Tavern will host the Eighth Annual Concert for Autism—a benefit that is very near and dear to my heart.

The event is spearheaded by Josh Heinz, a musician rooted in the desert-rock community, and the parent of an autistic child. Each year, the best of the best in desert rock, punk, metal and pop come together to support the cause—and put on one hell of a show!

This year’s headliners include The Pedestrians, featuring vocalist Mike Lewis, percussionist Rob Peterson, drummer Tim McMullen, bassist Armando Flores, trumpet-player Cesar Hernandez, trombonist Morgan Finch and Latin-rock guitarist David Macias. This group is where punk rock meets rap, and two generations of desert-rock icons come together in one epic local band that brings down the house.

Peterson and Flores will also debut Sun(D)rug, a new hard-rock project featuring guitar wizard Bobby Nichols; and Macias’ renowned “Spanglish jive” group Machin’. Heinz and his wife, Linda, will be doing a set with their punk-pop group Blasting Echo. Desert punk-rock faves Mighty Jack, Waxy, The Hellions, Bridger and Long Duk Dong all promise to make this a memorable two-night event.

Autism affects so many families, and recent government cutbacks have decreased vital services to many families living with this disability. Several of the performing artists have a child or children with autism, including Heinz, Flores and Nichols, making this a very personal affair.

“The most memorable moments are always seeing the faces and smiles of everyone, from the musicians, to the volunteers, to the attendees, during the event,” Heinz said. “Everyone seems to really enjoy being a part of doing something good for the community.”

Autism became real for me when I fell in love with gifted guitar-aficionado Bobby Nichols, a musician of whom I had been in awe for more than a decade. When our lives merged, his son Sean became an integral part of my life—and I had no idea about the challenges and heartaches I would come to experience.

Over five-plus years, I have watched Sean, now 23, suffer unspeakable side affects from Risperdal, adrug doctors have prescribed to him since he was 10 years old. I also watched the magic affects on Sean of CBD oil—a non-narcotic, non-addictive, non-psychoactive drug extracted from the cannabis plant. Even though it is free of THC (the chemical in marijuana that is intoxicating), it is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the U.S. government; in fact, the Food and Drug Administration’s new head officer has gone on the record as saying it will remain a Schedule 1 drug as long as he is in charge. How does an agency that is charged with protecting consumers from dangerous food and drug products justify allowing companies like Johnson and Johnson to produce toxic drugs that cause debilitating and permanent disabilities, while refusing to make available by prescription an oil that is nontoxic, has no side affects, and has some medical researchers believing we could finally see an end to breast cancer in the next decade?

Forgive the long aside; this is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. Anyway, back to the issue at hand: The Concert for Autism takes place starting at 6:45 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Oct. 16 and 17, at Schmidy’s Tavern, 72886 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. A $5 donation is suggested at the door. The event also will feature raffles and silent auctions; all proceeds will go to the Lumpy’s Foundation for Autism. For more information or to donate, visit concertforautism.com.

Read more from Robin Linn, including an expanded version of this story, at www.desertrockchronicles.com.

Published in Previews