Blind Dog Mike

You’re as good as an old blind dog, Mike” words said only in jest, however they ended up naming one of Fairhope’s local band/trios, Mike Hutchison’s Blind Dog Mike and the Howlers. Mike laughs to himself about the memory and explains that he really is legally blind and the name seemed more fitting to him than its original creator had imagined. Having a band wasn’t quite what Mike had set out to do with his life but rather what life had brought his way. He majored in social psychology and worked many years as a social worker, but between jobs he worked in the music business. After living twenty years in the Birmingham area he made his way back to the gulf coast where he set up his own music shop, Baldwin County Instrument Exchange.

   Mike’s favorite song, “Give me the Simple Life” reflects his view of life. He designed and oversaw the construction of his home, a solid cedar house that sits 400 feet from the shoreline of Mobile Bay. Built in 1989, the home serves the dual purpose of residence and business as Baldwin County Instrument Exchange is run from a connected room. His love of fishing is evident from his “fish camp” like pier and boathouse he constructed on the water.

   The multitalented Mike not only has a successful band and business, he also teaches guitar, harmonica, and mandolin lessons. He has never let his disability (a rare, hereditary form of macular degeneration called Stargardts that eliminates one’s central cone of vision) stand in the way of his dreams. He continues to drive his boat and even drove automobiles until, in the words of Mike, he realized he should “stop driving blind.” He goes on to say, “I run the business and teach lesson from my home. It works well for all of us.

   Another passion of Mike’s is history. He integrates his love of music with his interest in the Civil War period of U.S. history by participating in reenactments, often providing period music on his harmonica. He reenacts with the first Alabama U.S. (an artillery segment). Mike is in demand with this group because of his cannon, a period piece that he has fired at many events and parties all around the Gulf Coast area.

   The trio was born after Mike traveled to Nashville to discuss record deals and decided it wasn’t for him. The lawyer that represented him, Buster Middlebrooks (aka Lawyer Dog) suggested that they play around town some. The two, along with ex-cop friend Frank Stabler (aka Blues Dog), played at coffee houses, restaurants, and clubs.

  As time progressed and the group gained notoriety, they backed out of the club scene to focus more on private parties and restaurants. “We like to do what we feel and watch people enjoy the music. Seeing kids dancing and having a good time with their family is more our speed that having to keep a club crowd rowdy,” Mike explains.

       

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