The late Michael Heaton brought together so many people through his music.
His music again will bring people together in a two-hour concert planned next month as part of Windmill City Festival in Batavia. The concert, which will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 29 at the Peg Bond Center, 151 N. Island Ave., will feature his former bandmates playing his songs.
The concert will cap a fundraising effort by family, friends and fans to create a permanent plaque at the Peg Bond Center that will highlight Heaton’s life, music and philanthropy, as well as create a Michael Heaton musical scholarship, which will be awarded annually to a local student. The scholarship will provide the student with a new guitar and a year of guitar and songwriting lessons.
Rick Cremer of North Aurora-based Cremer Guitarworks is supplying the guitars, and Jeff Matters of Music Matters School of Music in Batavia is providing the lessons. The scholarship will be managed by the Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence.
Heaton, a Batavia native and 1985 Batavia High School graduate who lived in Montgomery, died in December 2019 after a battle with cancer. He was 53.
Chris Hall of Geneva has created a GoFundMe page, gofundme.com/f/michael-heaton-memorial-plaque-and-scholarship, for the memorial plaque and scholarship. The more money that is raised, the longer the scholarship will be funded.
Hall is involved in the effort with musicians Pete Lindenmeyer and Adam Gardner.
“We tied all three together – the memorial, the concert and then the scholarship,” Hall said.
Hall followed Heaton’s music for more than 20 years.
“I first heard him in Naperville,” Hall said. “He used to play at a bar called Features. That was the first place I heard him and that was like 25 years ago. I really liked the music, and then I met him between sets. We just kind of hit it off as friends.”
Hall thanked Batavia City Administrator Laura Newman, as well as Allison Niemela, Brittany Meyer, Kim Hansen and Debbie Gentry from the Batavia Park District and Sue Locke, who is on the board of directors of the Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence, for their help in the effort.
Gardner was one of several musicians who played bass in Heaton’s band. All of the bass players are set to perform at the concert.
Gardner is lining up the musicians to play in the concert.
“Everyone I approached said yes,” Gardner said.
Lindenmeyer had known Heaton since the early 1990s. He said Heaton wrote songs that people could easily connect to.
“You could relate to him extremely well and his songs,” Lindenmeyer said. “But also, Mike was all about charity. He was involved with the Paul Ruby Foundation for Parkinson’s research for many years. Everything about him was nice. He was just a great person. We just really want to see his legacy get pushed out there.”