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Citizen Cope will headline Rock Autism

The Rock Autism Festival will shine with Citizen Cope

With young kids as a priority of his foundation and concern for the autistic, Citizen Cope with less than two weeks left, steps in as the new headliner for the Rock Autism Music Festival after The Allman Betts Band had to cancel their entire tour for health reasons. Philanthropist Citizen Cope played with such notables as John Mayer and Eric Clapton, is an American songwriter, producer, and performer. His music is commonly described as a mix of blues, soul, folk, and rock. Citizen Cope’s compositions have been recorded by artists as varied as Carlos Santana, Dido, Pharoahe Monch, and Richie Havens.

“Performing on the same stage as Citizen Cope is a dream come true for me,” remarked Max Muscato, 29, musician, and founder of Rock Autism, “Many of us grew up with heroes; Citizen Cope was mine, influencing my sound, and I jam to his music.” Citizen Cope has influenced millennial ALT-rock artists and was a muse for Max Muscato. Max and Citizen were both born in the nation’s Capital.

The similarities between Citizen Cope and Max are uncanny. Both founded a non-profit organization with a similar mission, Cope’s Clarence Greenwood Foundation encourages youth to pursue the humanities, as Rock Autism trains autistic millennials to follow their interest in creative art technology. Max started Rock Autism because he watched his younger brother struggle on the autism spectrum and when he turned 18 years old all his services abruptly stopped. Sonny was naïve to society and law enforcement, he became addicted to drugs and alcohol; He was living in despair and almost lost his life three times. Once, Sonny was shot by a law enforcement officer. Sonny’s life is a miracle, doctors have said.

Citizen Cope hit it big after the age of 30. He never gave up on his vision. Cope’s ‘Heroin & Helicopters’ album feels particularly timely, the record’s themes have been a staple of Cope’s music since the release of his self-titled debut.

“I think we’re all on a mission to find some inner peace,” Cope reflects. “We’re all going towards this collective consciousness, and even though it’s dark right now, I believe we’re going to reach that place together. Peace and harmony and understanding, that’s how you combat the darkness, and that’s what this record is all about.”

Rock Autism, with Citizen Cope, Max Muscato, The Strictly Hip, Handsome Jack, Edalo, & The Space are going to rock Ellicottville on August 31, 2019. Sonny Muscato who is the motivation for the nonprofit Rock Autism will perform with his brother Max at the festival. Last year, thousands of people came to ‘rock out’ at the first Rock Autism Music Festival in Ellicottville.

Proceeds for the Rock Autism music festival and autism awareness fair go to help Rock Autism, Multimedia Vocational training programs that since 2017 take highly functioning autistic young people and trains them in the music or technology of their choice.

Rock Autism gives youth on the spectrum access to industry-level technology, and confidence to join the workforce and be a part of society. These workshops increase student’s technological skills, self-advocacy and connection to society within each participant.

Last year the festival was a great success; people from all over the country attended to enjoy the music and supported Rock Autism. Please join them by visiting  or email  for more information.

Written by Mark Lazzara

Mark Lazzara

I have a passion for helping my fellow Western New Yorkers and advance the great things that are going on in this region. Buffalo Rising is a great booster and it’s a blast writing and contributing to BR about positive happenings in our neck of the woods. I appreciate the help I’ve received over the years from organizations and people who share my passion and supported me in efforts that put thousands of people to work and resulted in a community give back of more than $115M to Buffalo’s neediest during my days at the helm of AmeriCorps.

I’m especially grateful for the opportunities that enabled me to help cities devastated by Hurricane Katrina and rebuild more than 700 family homes that were destroyed. Back at home, I was able to enjoy a once in a lifetime experience as a coordinator for ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition where we were able to repair, beautify and upgrade homes for an entire neighborhood on Buffalo’s Westside. Other projects close to my heart include a collaboration with Sail Buffalo to build the Cazenovia Boating Center at Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, and my annual Christmas season time is spent at Buffalo’s treasure, the Broadway Market, playing Santa Clause.

In my other life, I am a workforce development, business, marketing, public relations and fundraising professional. Earned a M.S. Human Service Management from Buffalo State, and enjoy my family life that includes four amazing grandchildren!

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