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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Chelsea Sugarbritches is a massive supporter of the Coachella Valley music scene. When she’s not belting her heart out on stage with 5th Town (www.facebook.com/5thtown)—currently in the studio recording its debut album—or kicking it ‘80s style with cover-band Long Duk Dong, her unique and ever-changing brightly colored hair can be spotted in the audience at many local shows. Catch 5th Town live at the Idyllwild Strong Festival at 2 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 18; visit www.idyllwildstrong.com for more info. She was kind enough to answer The Lucky 13; here are her answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Technically, The Beach Boys at College of the Desert. But my first big, big concert was Pearl Jam at the (Empire Polo Club).

What was the first album you owned?

My parents have an extensive album collection, so I was pretty much listening to albums out of the womb. I think the first one I personally went to Record Alley (in the Indio mall) and bought was Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Mostly local bands right now: Mikey Reyes, Blasting Echo, The After Lashes, Reborn by the Sunshine, and FrankEatsTheFloor. Oh and I’m pretty obsessed with Lizzo right now.

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

I wish the overly auto tuned vocals trend would quit already.

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

Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

You shouldn’t feel guilty about any music you listen to. You like it; listen to it. No shame in my game.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Anywhere that has live music.

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

This week? “Let it go before it breaks; you know it’s got to be that way,” “It Breaks,” by Blasting Echo. That song is fuckin’ killer. I can’t wait for their new album!

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Every band and artist that I connect with changes my life. That’s what’s so cool about music: It’s personal; it’s emotional. Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Nirvana, and Snoop Dogg.

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

How do you ask someone one question? How about 13? I would love to go back in time and have a conversation with Janis Joplin.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Showtunes: “Seasons of Love” from Rent.

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

This is an impossible question to answer. I really love 3 Years 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life of ... by Arrested Development. I don’t know if it’s my ALL TIME FAVORITE, though … ugh, that’s hard.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Growing Scheme,” by Mikey Reyes featuring Bryanna Evaro. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

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

Summertime in the Coachella Valley can be brutal—but those of us who live here year-round know that the local music scene never stops because of a little heat.

The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert, Kilo's Cantina in Thousand Palms, and Plan B Live Entertainment and Cocktails in Thousand Palms hosted many local rock shows during the summer—and the crowds often came out. The Hood Bar and Pizza, for example, hosted several weekend shows at which attendance was near capacity; the venue also launched and regular theme nights, including an open-mic night on Wednesday, and comedy night on Sunday.

Here are some photos of local musicians from shows that happened over the summer.

Published in Reviews

Summer is upon us—officially, even, as of the night of June 20. Why don’t you beat the heat and enjoy a great show or two?

Agua Caliente Casino Report Spa’s June schedule is a little light, but there are a couple of things worth mentioning (beyond a sold-out Moody Blues show on Saturday, June 3). At 7 p.m., Saturday, June 17, you’ll need to get your shout-outs to your “shorty in lockdown” ready, because the Art LaBoe Summer Love Jam will return. All joking aside, there’s some great music on the lineup this year. Funk legend ZAPP is one of the acts worth going to see, as the group has been sampled by several hip-hop artists, including Dr. Dre. Tickets are $45 to $65. If you never got to see Pink Floyd play a live show, you missed out, since the members have stated there will be no reunion—ever. But at 9 p.m., Friday, June 30, you can experience Pink Floyd’s music set to lasers at Paramount’s Laser Spectacular. Some of these laser shows with Pink Floyd’s music can be pretty cool—plus it beats sitting at home watching Netflix. Tickets are $20 to $30. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has just one big show in June—but it’s huge. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 9, get ready for some serious laughs, because Chris Rock will be stopping by. Chris Rock has been incredible to watch over the years, given how well he always reflects the times in his stand-up routine. I still love the bit he did about Lil’ Jon and rap music, which has become one of his best-known standup moments. Tickets are $89 to $149. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29’s entertainment slate for June is also a little light, but there is one thing you won’t want to miss (aside from the Ziggy Marley show, which you can read about on Friday, June 2, here at CVIndependent.com): At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 24, Los Chicos del 512 will be performing a tribute to Selena. The group will perform all of Selena’s music that you know and love. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa has several great events on the calendar. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, Marlon Wayans will bring the funny; tickets are $23 to $29. Be sure to check out my interview with him here. That same night, at 10 p.m., Friday, June 2, power-pop band The Romantics (upper right) will perform. This is a show you should see if you’re a true rock ’n’ roll fan. The Romantics had a couple of big hit songs: “What I Like About You” and “Talking In Your Sleep.” The band’s lineup once included Blondie drummer Clem Burke; he’s no longer with the band, but three original members are! Tickets are $20. Keeping with the ’80s theme, at 10 p.m., Friday, June 16, new-wave band The Motels will be appearing. The Motels had one or two hits in the ’80s and then faded away, before re-forming in 1998. Martha Davis still fronts the band—and still believes in the music. Tickets are $20. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will be the place to go this summer for great live music—and the venue’s June calendar is packed. Read my interview with the Tijuana Panthers here; the band will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, and tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 9, Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight will take the stage. Rhodes was once the front man of the Los Angeles punk band Human Therapy, and now performs in this spectacular alt-country band. If you can’t make it to the show, at least check out the band on the streaming services. I can almost guarantee you’ll like it. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 10, New Orleans R&B/country band The Deslondes will be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s. The band’s New Orleans sound is timeless; The Deslondes really do have something going for themselves. After seeing the group perform at Stagecoach, I can tell you it’s a fun band to watch. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 24, psychedelic rock band The Black Lips will be returning. The band’s shows are often pretty insane. While they’ve behaved themselves at Pappy and Harriet’s the last couple of times, they’ve been known to get naked, vomit, set things on fire and so on. War Drum front man Jack Kohler once told me a story about how when he worked for the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, he was told to deliver shaving cream to the band’s hotel room—and found the band shaving a group of women from head to toe. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room has some familiar names returning in June. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, June 2 and 3, America’s favorite dragapella group, The Kinsey Sicks, will be performing the Things You Shouldn’t Say show. Tickets are $30 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 17, The Buddy Holly Review will do its thing. As a fan of Buddy Holly, I’ve been interested in this show; I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 30, there will be a benefit for the American Cancer Society featuring Debby Holiday (below). Debby Holiday is a star on the rise with two hit singles, “Never Give Up” and “Key to Your Soul.” Tickets are $25 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a couple of events, starring local bands, that are worth your consideration. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, there will be a metal show with Drop Mob, Perishment, Instigator and In the Name of the Dead. Considering how long as Drop Mob has been around, it’s good to see the band finally being noticed. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Thursday, June 8, Courtney Chambers, Caxton, and 5th Town will take the stage. This should be a fun show; all of the bands are female-fronted—and rather talented. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

The holiday season is approaching, as are cooler temperatures—and hotter events, now that season is back in swing.

The McCallum Theatre has a busy schedule in November, with a number of great events to consider. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 2, you’ll be singing “Urgent,” because Foreigner will be performing. Foreigner is one of the world’s best well-known rock bands, with 16 Top 30 hits, 75 million records sold and great songs such as “Dirty White Boy,” “Feels Like the First Time” and many others to its credit. Tickets, if there are any left by the time you read this, are $47 to $97. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5, bossa nova and jazz great Herb Alpert will take the stage alongside his wife, Lani Hall. Herb Alpert has made some great records in his long career, and many of them are now Latin and American music staples; Alpert is credited with bringing the Latin side to American jazz in a truly innovative way. Tickets are $37 to $77. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 19, be ready to say, “Oh myyyyy,” because George Takei will be appearing. Of course, Takei is known for his iconic role as Sulu on Star Trek, but he’s also a hilarious Internet celebrity, and on a serious note, he’s known for speaking emotionally about his family’s imprisonment in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. Tickets are $37 to $97. But wait, there’s more: At 3 and 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 20, The Beach Boys will be performing. I admit that I’m not a fan of the current inception, which does not include creative genius Brian Wilson and Al Jardine. The current lineup is fronted by the Wilson brothers’ cousin, Mike Love, who has been scorned by many original Beach Boys fans. But if you’re feeling nostalgic, go ahead and check it out. Tickets are $67 to $97. Be sure to check out the McCallum’s online schedule for more events. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is rocking into November. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5, white-boy soul-singer Robin Thicke will be stopping by. Remember him? He had that song called “Blurred Lines” that was all over the place a few years ago that so resembled Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” that Thicke wound up in court. Thicke bottomed out pretty hard in 2014 when his follow-up to the Blurred Lines album, Paula, only sold about 30,000 copies. Watch as Thicke tries to get a comeback going. Tickets are $59 to $99. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, Culture Club (upper right) will finally be coming to the desert. The band announced a tour in 2014 that was slated to kick off at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa—but it was canceled before it began, because Boy George required surgery. You won’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $59 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa will host an evening with Sheena Easton at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 10. Did you know the Scotland native has sold more than 20 million records during her career? Tickets are $75 to $85. At 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, former Three Dog Night member Chuck Negron will take the stage. The former college basketball player has been performing for more than five decades now! Tickets are $40 to $75. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is offering some laughs in November. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 4, the star of BuzzFeed’s web series Whine About It, Matt Bellassai, will be stopping by. Bellassai had been getting 3.5 million weekly views, but in early 2016, he put his show on hiatus. If you’re looking for a funny Pride related-event, this is the one to pick. Bellassai is infamous for his comedic dialogue about being a single gay man living in the Big Apple. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 18, Mr. Fluffy himself, Gabriel Iglesias, will return to the Coachella Valley with his new show, #FluffyBreaksEven. After several appearances in movies, he’s still a stand-up comedy genius and continues to amuse sold-out audiences. Tickets are $65 to $85. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will most likely see a boost in attention from locals and tourists alike thanks to Paul McCartney’s performance there in between Desert Trip weekends. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, there will be a great lineup of desert rockers: Fatso Jetson, Mondo Generator, The Freeks and Glitter Wizard. Fatso Jetson performed at a show at Pappy’s back in April, and I can tell you that the band kicked ass. Tickets are $10. At 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 26, it’ll get weird when the Meat Puppets and Mike Watt and the Secondmen perform. The Meat Puppets are coming back to Pappy’s after a performance there in 2013; it’s a great band from punk-label SST’s glory days. Mike Watt performed in the Minutemen, who were also on SST in the early ’80s; he’s a phenomenal bass player. I’ve seen Watt play with the Secondmen, and they’re mind blowing. Tickets are $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a show in November you won’t want to miss. At 9 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 23, there will be a special Thanksgiving Eve bash with Mighty Jack, The Sweat Act and 5th Town. This should be a fantastic show. I’ve become a big fan of 5th Town, which includes Long Duk Dong vocalist Chelsea Sugarbritches, and Blasting Echo keyboardist Linda Lemke Heinz. One of my favorites is 5th Town’s song, “Pretty.” Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

The Date Shed has some nice events taking place this month. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 4, Metalachi will be coming back. Metalachi is on to something … performing metal songs in mariachi form? Brilliant! Opening the show will be Gutter Candy and Wyte Gye. Tickets are $10 to $15. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe Street, Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Purple Room is ramping up its schedule for the season. At 6:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, there will be a performance by Kal David and Lori Bono and the Real Deal. Kal David is a legend we’re lucky to have in our local scene. His blues credentials run deep: He’s performed with B.B. King and opened for Stevie Wonder. Tickets are $25. At 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 19, Branden and James (below) will be performing. Consisting of a cello (James) and a tenor voice (Branden), the duo will be perform everything from Bach to Justin Bieber. Tickets are $25 to $35. The Purple Room Supper Club, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

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

Troy Whitford is best known as the drummer for the Sweat Act, and also plays for local supergroup 5th Town. Whitford tells us that the Sweat Act is planning a live recording of all the band’s songs. You can catch the Sweat Act for free on Saturday, June 25, at The Hood, along with The Hellions and Sunday Funeral. For more information on the Sweat Act, visit www.thesweatact.com or www.facebook.com/TheSweatAct. Here are Whitford’s answers to The Lucky 13.

What was the first concert you attended?

The Vans Warped Tour at the Pond in Anaheim.

What was the first album you owned?

The Offspring, Smash.

What bands are you listening to right now?

The Flatliners, Authority Zero, No Use for a Name, Choking Victim, Leftover Crack, Lagwagon, Descendents, Talking Heads, Tower of Power, SNFU, Rise Against, Propagandhi, NOFX, Pink Floyd, OFF!, No Cash, and J Dilla. Right now… all at once. Kind of a trip!

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

New-era disco, like Franz Ferdinand stuff, and all the bands trying to copy that crap. It makes me laugh and puke at the same time.

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

Frank Zappa, hands down.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Lorde. That’s my girl! Don’t tell anyone.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Viper Room (in West Hollywood).

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

“When I go driving, I get drunk,” from the Sweat Act, “I Go Driving.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Reel Big Fish. They taught me not to take things so seriously, and that if you’re drinking, and you know that you’re my friend, then I should probably consider having a beer. Woo hoo!  

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

I would ask Dick Lucas (Subhumans): What’s his reason for existence, and does he believe in anything? Does his lifestyle contradict the words he writes in the songs he sings?

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Lagwagon, “Owen Meaney.”

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

Tower of Power, Back to Oakland.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

I try not to “should” people.

Published in The Lucky 13