Glenview singer tunes up to fight ALS
Michael Hutchins presents
‘Gelato & Sinatra’
Via Gelato & Cafe, 1853 Tower Drive, Glenview
8-10 p.m. Saturday,
(847) 729-7088 or visit www.mitchaelhutchins.com
Updated: June 5, 2012 6:51PM
Glenview singer Michael Hutchins has a regular solo gig the second Saturday of every month at Via Gelato & Cafe in the Glen. Although he loves doing each performance, the summer shows are particularly meaningful to him. That’s because Hutchins donates all of the tip money that he receives at Via Gelato in June, July and August to the ALS Association, an organization dear to his heart.
“My brother and father both passed away, my dad in 2004 and my brother in 2010 with ALS,” Hutchins said. “I have a 50-50 chance of having the gene that will ultimately lead to ALS and my children do as well. So for me it’s very important that we find a cure soon so that I don’t suffer the same fate, nor do my children.”
Hutchins’ older brother was 37 when he passed away two years ago. His children were 6 and 4 at the time.
The money raised by the ALS Association is used both for research and to provide direct support to families affected by the disease. “My brother and my father both certainly benefitted from that,” Hutchins said.
According to the ALS Association, “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.” Patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.
Hutchins calls his program at the cafe, “Gelato & Sinatra.” “It’s me singing quite a bit of Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett — the old jazz standards,” the mellow-voiced singer said. “I get quite a few people who are simply walking by and end up coming in because they hear me singing. I enjoy the surprise on people’s faces when they walk through that door and realize that they’re not listening to the radio.”
He performs to a background track at Via Gelato. His repertoire includes such standards as “Witchcraft,” “New York, New York,” “Chicago,” “The Best is Yet to Come,” and “Fly Me to the Moon.”
Hutchins also performs as part of a trio and has sung with big bands. He sings at weddings and other private and corporate events. Daytimes, he works as a finance information technology manager.
Another way that Hutchins raises funds for the ALS Association is through his National Speedo Day, the last Saturday in July. “It started a couple of years ago,” he said. “The goal was to have a good time with the guys and raise a little money while we were at it. We thought, ‘Why don’t we just wear our Speedos to the beach and people will donate money to watch us wear our Speedos.’ ”
This year’s event is July 28. You can get a sneak preview of Hutchins and friends in their Speedos, and learn how to donate, at http://webchicago.alsa.org/goto/speedodaychicago.
Hutchins said that if his late brother and father knew about the event, “They’d both be definitely getting a kick out of this.”