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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

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

Brandon Ray Henderson is an icon in the Coachella Valley music scene. On top of being a great bass-player, he’s an accomplished guitar-player who has toured Europe with Brant Bjork, and was a founding member of Half Astro. He currently plays guitar in The Pedestrians, as well as a Misfits tribute band called Astro Zombies; finally, he plays bass for Parosella. However, he may be best known locally for his booking talents; he recently finished a stint at The Hood Bar and Pizza, during which time The Hood hosted Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Adolescents, and legendary surf-guitar virtuoso Dick Dale, as well as many others. Brandon will be playing with Parosella on Friday, June 6, and Astro Zombies on Saturday, June 7, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace for Eagles of Death Metal guitarist Dave Catching’s Birthday Spectacular; get full details and ticket info at pappyandharriets.com. Here are Henderson’s answers to The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

I went to a lot of small, random punk shows as a young teenager. My first real concert would be the 1997 Warped Tour where I saw Descendents, blink-182, The Vandals, Strung Out, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Pennywise, and the Aquabats, from what I can remember.

What was the first album you owned?

Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill. I used to play the cassette in my Teddy Ruxpin that I got for Christmas in 1986.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I always have my favorite go-to bands like Lagwagon, RKL, Bad Religion, Descendents, NOFX, The Vandals, and AFI that I keep in steady rotation. Lately, I’ve been into other artists like Radical Face, Brothers Comatose, Jason Cruz and Howl, the Dresden Dolls, Metric, Sun Kil Moon and Arcade Fire. The most recent Queens of the Stone Age record is very enjoyable. I wish had some Tribesmen recordings; I would listen to the shit out of them.

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

Jay-Z.

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

Elliott Smith, or Jimi Hendrix with Band of Gypsys would be super-rad.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

“Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga. That song rules! I always look both ways to see who is paying attention before I start singing along.

What’s your favorite music venue?

It’s pretty hard to narrow that down to just one. I love intimate venues like the Troubador in West Hollywood. The Melkweg in Amsterdam and The Arena in Vienna, Austria, are also great to perform at and/or see a show at.

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

“Am I following all of the right leads, or am I about to get lost in space?” “Lost in Space,” The Misfits.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

I heard the record No Control by Bad Religion when I was 9 years old and have never been the same. That sparked my intense passion for punk rock and vocal harmonies.

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

I would like to ask Prince: How many pairs of shoes do you own?

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Hopefully after the service, everyone has a big party, and they play “Shout” by Otis Day and the Knights. I’m pretty sure my dear friend Ryan Edgmon will oversee and make that happen.

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

Lagwagon, Trashed.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“The Decline” by NOFX. It’s an 18-minute song packed with musical variety and lyrics that make you think. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13