Just talking to Jeffrey Stein is an education in rock and roll. A San Diego attorney by way of New York, Stein is a diehard fan who can trace his own concert history all the way back to Bill Graham’s Fillmore East where, during the 1960s and ‘70s, he remembers attending concerts by then-newcomers such as the Allman Brothers or Mountain. Years later, Stein would do legal work for British rockers Eric Burdon and Mick Taylor, the ex Rolling Stone.
Taylor, on perpetual hard times repaid Stein with a guitar he owned that had originally been a gift from Keith Richards. “A butterscotch Stratocaster,” Stein says, “with a note from Keith taped to the neck.”
It wasn’t such a reach, then, for Klein to turn to music as a way to publicize his Poway-based foundation Jobs for Autism. Stein promoted a concert with smooth jazz saxist Mindi Abair, his first such event, a few years ago. It was, he says, success enough to continue on.
In December, Jobs for Autism will present Lukas Nelson, son of Willie Nelson, and his band Promise of the Real at the Birch in North Park. “He’s like Willie and Jimi Hendrix combined,” says Stein. “And I’m not just saying that. I actually saw Hendrix play.”
Stein is the father of a 26-year-old son with autism. He founded Jobs for Autism eight years ago but he says the foundation never really got going until his stepdaughter Carly Prober signed on as CEO. The guiding principle behind Jobs for Autism is simple: to advocate hiring opportunities and job training for persons within the autism spectrum.
“People with autism or Asperger’s,” Stein says, “can actually do more complex jobs than putting pencils in boxes.” He says that as workers, persons with autism are immune from the vagaries of such things as office politics. “They do their job, and they go home.”
Are the concerts about raising money? Not really, says Stein. “They are more about spreading awareness.” Autism has been called a silent epidemic even though it is thought to be more common than childhood cancer.
Big names such as Tony Bennett or even Jeff Bridges were up for consideration, says Stein, before he heard Nelson perform in September at the Belly Up in Solana Beach. “He put on a perfect show. And, he’s just about to break really big.” In December, Stein would also like to put a group of autistic musicians on the Birch stage. “The way we want to open this concert is to put together some young autistic people who can play an instrument.”
Meanwhile, Jobs for Autism has applied for non-profit status which Stein describes as something of a misnomer. “People think that because we’re a charity we get stuff for free. We pay the full rate,” he says. “Nobody gives us anything for free.”
Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 8:30pm Birch North Park Theater Box Office: 619-239-8836.