By Chad Garland
In hard rock, Brandon Mendenhall found salvation in the form of acceptance, friendship and, for the past six years, a creative outlet.
“It saved my life,” Mendenhall said, surrounded by members the Mendenhall Experiment, the band he formed in 2008.
In August, the group signed a contract for worldwide distribution with Lucent Records in Orange County. They have an album slated for release this spring, and a documentary about Mendenhall is soon to follow.
The trailer for the documentary is set to debut Saturday when the nonprofit United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties presents Mendenhall its first-ever Trailblazer Award at its sold-out Art of Care dinner in Santa Monica.
“When we heard this kid’s story, he almost created this award for us,” said Ronald Cohen, president and chief executive of the nonprofit.
Mendenhall, 31, was in Burbank with his band Friday to visit an apartment complex at San Fernando Boulevard and Providencia Avenue that Cohen’s group operates for people with disabilities. It’s less than a mile from the Home Depot where he worked and 2 miles from where he lived up until September, when he moved to Riverside to be closer to his bandmates.
Had you spotted Mendenhall in town, you’d have seen the long hair, the soul patch under his lip, the black T-shirt, black shades and black skull-shaped tattoo on his hand — the symbol of his band. In short, you’d have seen a familiar hard-rock image.
But what you might not have seen, not right away anyway, is not so common among rock guitarists — Mendenhall has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that makes body movement and muscle control difficult. It’s permanent, but it’s not degenerative.
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