Michael Heaton does what all songwriters try to do. He tells stories. With the heart of a Texas troubadour, the sensibility of a 70s pop star and the rock rebellion of a kid who grew up listening to the Who and Tom Petty, he spins modern folk tales of girlfriends who became wives, dull jobs that led nowhere and the feeling of turning 30 when it feels like you should still be 18.
People do see themselves in his songs. Since the late 90s, when he left his pop-rock trio for a more mature, introspective sound, he has attracted legions of fans through an exhausting schedule of pub, club and festival performances across the Midwest. People come for the drinks and the dancing, they’re drawn to the sight of Heaton and his band having a blast onstage, and they leave with a CD that holds its own with their favorite Counting Crows and Wilco records. They learn the lyrics and come back for more.