Band Together in Pittsburgh Lets Autistic Performers Shine – CBS Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – “Welcome Joe and Patrick,” shouted James Esser to get the crowd ready for a Band Together Pittsburgh performance.

Being the center of the stage and in the limelight brings a sense of comfort and fun to Joe Hnath and Patrick Lah.

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They played a rendition of Young Blood from Smokey Joe’s Café at Steamworks Creative in Gibsonia.

“There were a lot of songs we did together, me and Patrick,” said Hnath. “I’m so happy to be with him and he’s with me.”

It’s time for them to shine.

“It was probably the best kind of feeling for me,” says Lah.

Lah and Hnath are just two members of Band Together Pittsburgh.

The organization provides people with autism a platform to act on.

“There are all kinds of performance,” said co-founder John Vento. “We have a number of people who do not speak to the facts, maybe
they beat drums or they just have rhythm or whatever. It’s all about supporting each other without prejudice.”

John Vento and Ron Esser, who have a son on the spectrum, formed the group in 2016.

Esser, who also owns Moondogs Pub in Blawnox, said: “My son is on this list and that has given me a lot of insight into him. “I see a lot of celebrities who have so much talent and so much to offer, and they never get the chance to do it.”

The founders also have a passion for music and they are passing it on to the performers.

They have a variety of programs, such as open mic, drum circles, DJ training, and a scholarship fund to provide lessons and instruments to those who can’t afford it.

And of course, a fan favorite – performing live at various venues.

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When Justin Capozzoli isn’t on stage singing his original songs, he’s behind the soundboard.

Capozzoli said: “Music is everything to me. “Without great social motivation, I didn’t put myself out there.”

“To see people on the spectrum, to live on the spectrum to really get a chance to show other people how talented they are, that’s amazing,” says Esser.

But the founders say there’s more to the magic beyond the music of Band Together Pittsburgh.

“It’s all about love and inclusion and support, and we’re happy,” Vento said. “A lot of people come out to perform and just come to our various events, many of whom didn’t even have any friends a few years ago.”

But now these performers are center stage, creating a tone strong enough to harmonize a community.

“It means a lot to me,” said Jack Wessel, who played a piece on the piano. “Because I get to socialize with everyone here.”

“We have to make these connections and have more chemical reactions,” says Hnath. “I think that makes me a brave person to open up to more people.”

“Being able to socialize with people like me,” Lah said. “I’m trying to be an example of how well you can function despite your disability.”

Improve as musicians but also teach their own lessons.

“Push forward; that’s what I say,” says Hnath. “Be yourself. Don’t let anyone bring you down.”

“You won’t know until you try,” says Capozzoli. “Together band [Pittsburgh] It’s one of those things that’s definitely worth a try. I don’t know what my life would be like now if I hadn’t taken that leap.”

Band Together Pittsburgh has Open Mics coming soon. The first is on March 20 at the Tull Family Theater.

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For more information on their events and how to get involved, go to their website. Band Together in Pittsburgh Lets Autistic Performers Shine – CBS Pittsburgh


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