Pittsburgh Blues and Roots Festival brings gift of music to those living with autism

click to enlarge Six people, one standing with a cello, sitting and laughing
Photo: Bill Lash
Buffalo Rose
Local music lovers can look forward to the Pittsburgh Blues and Roots Festival. In addition to delivering great live performances, the event will also benefit two organization that serve youth and adult individuals with autism.

Ron Esser and musician John Vento are the founders of Band Together Pittsburgh, a community-based nonprofit with the stated mission of using music to "enrich the lives of individuals on the autism spectrum and their families." They are also the force behind the Pittsburgh Blues and Roots Festival, an event that will highlight local musicians, including those with autism.

The festival will take place Sat., July 30-Sun., July 31 at the Pittsburgh Shrine Center in Cheswick. Proceeds from the event will directly benefit the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Band Together Pittsburgh.

"This event is not only exciting and fun, but the money raised helps the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Band Together Pittsburgh continue providing musical opportunities to persons on the spectrum through our Autism Open Mic," says Jesse Torisky, Esq., president of the Autism Society of Pittsburgh, on the Pittsburgh Blues and Roots Festival website.

According to a press release, Band Together Pittsburgh provides people living with autism with an environment where they can "express their musical talent through classes, performances, and access to a variety of musical equipment."

Kicking off the event is a performance by David Granati's For Those About To Rock Academy, touted as the first "rock school" in the Pittsburgh area, that will also feature performers from Band Together Pittsburgh.

The festival’s lineup also includes Mike Zito, Tinsley Ellis, Buffalo Rose, The Night Hawks, and many other performers.

“The highlight of this wonderful event is witnessing the performances and contributions by those on the autism spectrum," Vento states on the Blues and Roots Festival website.

Pittsburgh Blues and Roots Festival. 1 p.m. both days. Doors at 12 p.m. Sat., July 30-Sun., July 31. Pittsburgh Shrine Center. 1877 Shriners Way, Cheswick. $35-60. Free for youth 16 and under. pghbluesrootsfest.com