Creating an annual rock benefit concert wasn't at the forefront of Bernardo Gonzalez's mind nine years ago.
Gonzalez, who had a history of working with Latin rock bands, was contacted to help produce a book release event for a Latin rock band. Around the same time, his son was diagnosed with autism. The idea to have the show benefit the cause didn't take long for people to support. The first Voices of Latin Rock Autism Awareness Benefit for The Alex Speaks Foundation was a big hit. Now, the show is gearing up for its ninth anniversary with two shows — Bimbo's in San Francisco Thursday, Jan. 24 and Fox Theatre in Redwood City Friday, Jan. 25.
"You never know who will show up,” Gonzalez said of the shows.
They've had Carlos Santana and Sly Stone stop by in previous years despite not being on the lineup. This year, the headlining act will be Tierra, who are celebrating their 40th anniversary with hit songs such as "Together,” "Gonna Find Her,” "Barrio Suite” and "Margarita.” The Jan. 24 show also features Generation Esmeralda, well known for their versions of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood” and "House of the Rising Sun,” along with the Border rock sounds of Puro Bandido, and the Filipino influenced Dakila. Redwood City's show will showcase "Richard Bean and Sapo,” celebrating 40 years of Sauvecito, with Ruckatan's fusion of Latin, reggae and world music as well as the Border rock sounds of Puro Bandido.
Planning is never really over. Once a show ends, planning for the next year begins. Gonzalez said the 10th anniversary will be the biggest show yet. The hope is to make enough money for the foundation to hold its own as a nonprofit.
The Alex Speaks Foundation's goal is to help support children struggling with an autism disorder by contributing to autistic programs at local schools. The Alex Speaks Foundation was formed to partner with the Voices of Latin Rock event to raise funds for those programs.
For example, in the last year, the organization supported the San Carlos Elementary School District, which resulted in new intervention practices when working with special education students and training to use those resources.
The ninth Annual Voices of Latin Rock autism awareness benefit concert will be held Thursday, Jan. 24 at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Ave., San Francisco and Friday, Jan. 25 at the Fox Theatre, 2223 Broadway, Redwood City. Tickets range from $30 to $175. For tickets and more information visit LatinRockInc.com.
Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.