Students organize 'Rock for Research'
Mar. 17, 2004
Ellyn Pak
Staff Writer

Susan Whitney-Wilkerson/The Gazette

Grace Heinecke, 17, a junior at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, and Sam Neider, a senior at Whitman, have organized a benefit for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research featuring high school bands at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., on Sunday. Heinecke's grandfather is coping with the disease.

High school bands play at 9:30 Club

It was at a No Doubt rock concert four years ago at Merriweather Post Pavilion where two middle school girls developed a friendship and dreamed of leading rock star lives.

The two girls, now students at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, recently lunged at an opportunity to come closer to their dreams and pay tribute to those suffering from Parkinson's disease.

Grace Heinecke, a junior, and Sam Neider, a senior, have organized a benefit concert that will feature local bands, most of which are made up of high school students. Proceeds from the concert will go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research in honor of Neider's grandfather, who is coping with the disease.

"It's kind of fulfilling," said 17-year-old Neider. "There are really no kids that do things like this."

"Rock for Research" will be held from 2-7 p.m. Sunday at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. N.W., Washington, D.C. It will feature performances by eight bands, four of which are made up of Walt Whitman High School students, a presentation about Parkinson's disease by a doctor from the National Institutes of Health and a set by the headlining group Brock.

Heinecke and Neider brainstormed the idea after attending a benefit concert at their school two years ago. Heinecke, whose father Richard has owned the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., for more than 17 years, said she pestered her father for a chance to organize a benefit at the club and invite high school bands to perform and gain experience.

She received the green light last month from her father, recruited bands to play at the benefit and organized most of the logistics and marketing with Neider. They designed fliers and tickets for the event, and credit the help of their parents and band members to spread the word about the benefit.

"This is what my dad does everyday," Heinecke said. "It's a good feeling. It's going to charity and not to yourself."

Richard Heinecke said the girls hope to raise about $10,000 after the event. He said this is the first time students have organized a benefit at his club.

Ian McEuen, a sophomore at Whitman and lead singer for Big Black Cat, a rock band made up of high school students, said Neider approached the band after a rehearsal for the school's talent show last month.

"That's definitely something we're happy to be doing," said the 16-year-old, who is definitely excited about playing at the 9:30 Club. "It's a worthy and good cause."

The girls also recruited a band called Suburban Might, a rock band that performs monthly at the "Coffee House" at River Road Unitarian Church in Bethesda and at local events.

"I'm hyped," said 17-year-old Chris Leon, a senior at Whitman and drummer for Suburban Might. "I'm excited. I love playing. The cause is great as well. Put them all together and it doesn't get much better."

Tickets, which are available at the door, cost $8 per person. Doors open at 1 p.m. For more information, e-mail or visit