Fellow musicians in the Fox Valley will reach out to help one of their own with a benefit concert party Sept. 1 at Two Brothers Roundhouse for singer-songwriter Michael Heaton, a Batavia native who lives in Montgomery and is fighting cancer.
The benefit concert, dubbed a Night for Mike, will start at about 7:30 p.m. in the outdoor courtyard of Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora, and will continue to 2 a.m. Also assisting with medical expenses is a GoFundMe page established at gofundme.com/5n02s54.
"I've been friends with Mike for several years and booked his band at the Roundhouse for the past five years," said Chris Bauler, Two Brothers restaurant marketing and entertainment manager.
He said this is the second bout of cancer that Heaton is facing, and the financial burden for Heaton and his wife, Kristy, has increased.
"Mike is one of those people [that] once you meet him, you've got a friend for life," Bauler said. "He's an extremely good human being. For all of this to happen to him is … heartbreaking. … His willingness to help others has shown through with the response of people looking to help him out in return."
His friends are throwing a party that will feature a variety of bands, along with dancing and food. Musicians helping coordinate the benefit are Adam Gardner, Pete Lindenmeyer and Noah Gabriel.
The suggested donation to attend is $20 and there will be free valet service. Early arrival is suggested for good seating.
Bauler said a lot of local businesses and individuals have donated items for a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle is planned, with all proceeds going to Heaton. The silent auction will range from tickets to professional sporting events in Chicago to a fishing trip at Shabbona Lake; two golf foursomes; and a portrait of Heaton being painted by local band leader Noah Gabriel.
Word of Heaton's medical condition also reached a former classmate, who remembers his creative gifts from a young age.
"I graduated with Mike from Batavia High School in 1985 – he composed a song and sang it at our graduation," Laura Haines-Harrison of Houston wrote in an email. "I’ve followed his career from a distance, and have been lucky enough to see him in Chicago and the valley on my many trips back to the burbs. Super fun and a definite musical talent."
Bauler echoes the fandom, noting Heaton is known for his take on Americana, rock and country.
"He's an excellent songwriter," Bauler said. "When I first saw him play, [he was] one of the only local musicians that was playing to big crowds because they wanted to hear his songs – not cover songs. That's held true [for] years."
Bauler said Heaton is also a friend and a favorite songwriter of both Jim and Jason Ebel, co-founders of Two Brothers Brewing Company.
"We're very glad to support this event and provide the venue," said Bruce Miller, who heads marketing for Two Brothers. "We appreciate all the local artists that have played over the years at Two Brothers Roundhouse and are glad to … provide what we can."
Another high school classmate of Heaton's said their old band, The X-tras, will be reuniting for the concert. Brian Delacruz of Batavia said he recalls playing in the group with Heaton as a magical time from 1988 to 1991, with all the members writing collaboratively. Delacruz will be out of town for the benefit, but said the other bandmates taking the stage will be Jeff Holtorf of Munster, Indiana, formerly of St. Charles, and Chad Anderson of Elburn and Manny Vasquez of Yorkville, both formerly of Geneva.
"It's all pretty overwhelming," Delacruz said of the benefit concert. "All the groups coming in – everyone wants to do something for Mike."
If you go
WHAT: Night for Mike, a benefit concert for Michael Heaton
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 1; doors open at about 7 p.m. and the party runs to 2 a.m.
WHERE: Two Brothers Roundhouse, 205 N. Broadway (Route 25), Aurora
COST: $20 suggested donation