In his line of work, school bus driver and band member Vinny Cormier of the Bangor-based rock cover band Dakota often sees the impact autism has on families and wants to do something to help. It spurred him to pull together a few musical “heavyweights” and plan a benefit concert for the Autism Society of Maine, which will be held 4 p.m. to midnight Sunday, May 25.
The inaugural event is being called the Penobscot Music Festival and will feature performances by eight local bands and a jam session at the end of the night. Cormier hopes the event will become tradition and that each year, money raised can be donated to a local cause or organization.
“It would be nice to put some of these causes away so we don’t have them anymore,” he said. “It’s sad that we have to have all these charities.”
Cormier said he tossed around the idea of a festival for a long time but finally put all the pieces together this year. At the recommendation of his wife, he and his bandmates decided to make it a benefit concert and chose the Autism society because of the prevalence of children being diagnosed with autism. He also hopes the event will be a celebration of the local music industry.
“You hear about autism or how the odd kid is autistic, but I just recently learned that it’s actually one in 88 … when I found that out, I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s an incredible number,’” he said.
According to the National Institute of Health, about 35,500 of every 4 million children born each year in the U.S. will have autism spectrum disorder.
The May 25 event will be held at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer, and bands are asking for a $2 donation at the door. Aside from music, the event will include a 50-50 raffle and food and beverages for purchase.
Participating bands include Dakota, Shyboy, Midnight Rose, Overdrive, Live Wire, The Resistance, Sideways and The Allison Ames Band.
“These aren’t just little bands, they’re heavy weights who play through the circuit in the Bangor area,” Cormier said. “And, what a great way for us to try to give back to the community by having a music festival.”