Music. It serves as a way to connect people, to give a voice, and create unforgettable memories. Musician Josh Heinz used his local music connections to create a grassroots concert that raised awareness of developmental disorders and collected. Heinz has a young son on the autism spectrum and he wanted the community to rally together to support other families that had a member with developmental disabilities. Heinz donated the funds from the concert to the Coachella Valley Autism Society.

This concert has evolved into a two-day extravagance that celebrates all genres of music and acknowledges every development disability. Heinz had not expected a romance to flourish from the concert as he tells Palm Springs Life, “I wanted to channel my music into something for the community…Love was the lasting thing I expected.” Heinz and his wife Linda Lemke Heinz met when Heinz’s band, Blasting Echo performed in 2009. They crossed paths again a few months later at a support group meeting for parents with children on the autism spectrum. Heinz’s son and Lemke Heinz’s son became friends, they were the same age, in the same class, and their parents were in the same autism support group that was held at Pump It Up that had an indoor play area for children. 

The interior of Heinz’s home with instruments, music sheets, and a remembrance of their 8th concert.
Photo courtesy of Maggie Downs from Palm Springs Life.

Lemke Heinz is also a musician who teaches voice, piano, and flute mostly to children on the autism spectrum. Lemke Heinz has become the Blasting Echo’s keyboardist and co-event planner. They have been married for five years and together have blended their families, four children from Lemke’s previous relationship and Heinz’s child. They have created an environment that incorporates music in every aspect of their lives. As Heinz tells Palm Springs Life, “The benefit is great for what we do and we’re passionate about helping other families, but the awareness is the real key…We want people to know about autism.” Lemke Heinz also tells Palm Springs Life, “Some kindness {and} empathy goes a long way…Just trying to understand autism helps a parent so much. When somebody gives you a dirty look or makes a comment about your child, it’s like kicking you when you’re already down.” 

The support for the concert has been overwhelming. 2018 Concert for Autism had twenty-fours acts that varied from rock to the blues. It lasted for two days which included children’s activities such as face painting, silent action activities, and a photo booth. This year, the concert will be held at the Tack Room Tavern in Indio where a sensory-friendly tent will be set-up. This tent will offer an environment for children to relax if they become overwhelmed. The proceeds, this year, will go to the Desert Autism Foundation, which provides essential therapies at affordable prices for local families. Heinz wants to expand people’s knowledge of autism and the help that is out there as he tells Palm Springs Life, “If we can give those vital therapies to other families, it’s all worth it.” 

The Heinz family are raising awareness of autism and other developmental disabilities while providing fun, creative, and exhilarating musical performances. People can go to the concert, donate, and enjoy. If you cannot make it to the concert, you can donate at Concert for Autism website.  

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