A few months ago, I walked into a bar in downtown Chicago to see a favorite band of mine. Honestly, I didn’t expect much from the opening act-I had seen too many bad ones and hardly any worth mentioning. So I sat down along one of the benches lining the wall, leaned back, and waited for time to pass until the headline arrived. Guitar in hand, a young man quietly approached the microphone and began playing. Though not explicitly so, his sound was rather unique and captivating. The combination between his clarion voice and his mellow guitar playing created a lighthearted atmosphere that riveted the crowd. After several songs, the mysterious man with the guitar introduced himself as Eric Hutchinson. To break the ice, he cracked jokes about the audience’s obliviousness to his music and also their boredom, singling certain members out. His nonchalant character led to a relaxed, almost comical, environment that eased the normal tensions which usually arise between the opening act and the crowd waiting for the main show. Soon it was simply a crowd of people enjoying music together and having a good time, rather than some irritating opening act doing all they can to gain recognition. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to interview Hutchinson at Schuba’s Tavern in Chicago. If I hadn’t already known, I would have been quite surprised if someone told me that this ordinary 23 year-old man dressed in plaid is the freshest underground musician. Hailing from Maryland, he claims his influences as The Beatles, Elvis Costello, and, strangely, rap music. “[I listen to] anything catchy and well written” he states. Hutchinson also cites Ben Folds as a major influence. “I want to be like Ben Folds. Everyone loves his music, but you could be sitting next to him on a plane and never know it.” When I asked how he feels about his possible fame, he commented, “I would much rather people know my music than know my name.” Although Hutchinson has been playing the guitar for over ten years, he has no formal training. In fact, he majored in film at Emerson College in Boston, but instead chose to pursue a music career. His final film project was the music video for his first single “Subtitles” from his debut album “That Could Have Gone Better” (which can be viewed on his website www.eric-hutchinson.com). Hutchinson says he tries to keep his lyrics separate from his personal life, unlike many artists today who seem to put their diary to music. He adds, “Everything that could be said already has; I’m just trying to say it differently.