Hi Infidelity singer Dave Mikulskis rolls with the changes to fight Parkinson’s

Dave Mikulskis and Sammy Hagar both will tell you there’s only one way to rock.

Since Mikulskis’ 2018 diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease, the high-tenor vocalist of the popular cover band Hi Infidelity continues to lash into 1980s classics with the vigor and range he has always had.

“My voice is just fine. It’s as good or better than it’s been,” said Mikulskis, who lives with his wife, Melanie, in Wheaton.

“So the rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated,” Mikulskis said, jokingly.

A positive mental attitude paired with support from Melanie, his band mates and medical team, exercise and therapy, medication and a deep brain stimulation procedure allow Mikulskis, 57, to continue pursuing his passion.

Mikulskis, a project manager with graphics design company SGS & Co., and Hi Infidelity bandmates Bobby Scumaci, Dave Uhrich, Jim Warren and Danny Weymouth perform about 80 concerts a year.

A staple of the summer festival season, Hi Infidelity’s upcoming shows include May 25 at Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, May 31 at River Grove Fest, June 1 at Cream of Wheaton and June 5 at Bensenville’s Music in the Park.

Vocalist Dave Mikulskis, center, joined the popular 1980s cover band Hi Infidelity in 2001. His bandmates are, from left, bassist Danny Weymouth, drummer Jim Warren, guitarist Dave Uhrich and keyboardist Bobby Scumaci. Courtesy of JPM Photography

“Dave is an amazing vocalist, amazing friend,” said Scumaci, who has played keyboards with Hi Infidelity for 19 years. The winner of numerous “best cover band” polls, Hi Infidelity formed in 1990. Mikulskis joined in 2001.

“When he came out that he had Parkinson’s, there was lots of love around him, lots of people giving him strength and encouragement from that day forward. He drives super-hard, he’s a very hard worker, and he’s not stopping any time soon,” said Scumaci.

Parkinson’s, a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system, impacts motor function and can alter speech. Mikulskis said his speech may speed up particularly when he’s excited or nervous. But aside from a slight timing alteration in his delivery, his singing voice remains unaffected.

Having sung since he was 5, when his father recorded him singing along to 45s in their South Side home in Brighton Park, Mikulskis knows his instrument and can quickly correct it.

“The minute it isn’t right, he gets himself right back on there — which it isn’t often that he’s not right,” Scumaci said.

Hi Infidelity singer Dave Mikulskis performs with the band. Courtesy of Hi Infidelity

In Mikulskis, Parkinson’s presented mainly with decreased balance and stiffness that affected his gait. The tremors often associated with the disease are not significant, he said.

“I don’t really have any. Maybe it’s the medication, the right dosage,” he said.

“I would say 90% of the time I’m just fine.”

Still, after he required a steadily increasing intake of medication, Mikulskis underwent deep brain stimulation surgery in 2021 at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield.

His doctor, CDH movement disorders specialist Dr. Martha McGraw, described the procedure as “a pacemaker for the brain.”

A battery placed below the skin on the chest wall under the collarbone, connected to an electrical lead and electrodes in the brain, delivers a low-dose electrical impulse that blocks the abnormal signal of Parkinson’s and restores more normal movement, she said.

“It allows us to reduce medication and provide smoother control of patient symptoms,” said McGraw, who noted most patients need the treatment on both hemispheres of the brain.

Mikulskis had surgery on the right side of his brain, which controls the left side of his body. Eventually, he may be a candidate to have the procedure done on the other side.

“I don’t know where I’d be without it,” Mikulskis said.

He also doesn’t know where he’d be without Melanie, to whom Mikulskis proposed at Wrigley Field (he’s the odd Cubs fan from the South Side) and married in 2020.

Dave Mikulskis, the rare Cubs fan from Chicago's South Side, proposed to his wife, Melanie, at Wrigley Field. Courtesy of Dave Mikulskis

With Melanie, he has stepchildren Brayden, 22, and Sydney, 20. Mikulskis also has a 36-year-old son, John.

“Dave’s fully involved in the family and fully involved in the band and just killing it out there, concert after concert. It just amazes you,” Scumaci said.

After an appointment with his team at the Central DuPage Hospital Movement Disorders and Neurodegenerative Disease Center to adjust his deep brain stimulator, Mikulskis pulled out his guitar and performed a song he wrote for his wife, “All I Needed Was You.”

“It was awesome because we got to see his joy,” McGraw said.

“I think that Dave is a great example of someone who is continuing to live their life and do what they love despite Parkinson’s,” she said. “He doesn’t hide from his disease. He takes it on and does everything that he can to keep the symptoms under control and fight the progression, and he doesn’t let it stop him.

“To see him doing what he loves is really motivating as a physician,” she said.

Great news is that along with exercise — Mikulskis tries to get in 10,000 steps a day and boxes three times a week at Rock Steady Boxing in Naperville — vocal exercises and singing are the best things he can do to help his voice.

“What else can you do? Give up? That’s not an option for me,” he said.

“I’ve always thought I was lucky,” Mikulskis said. “Something lucky led to certain things, whether it’s a job or whatever. I’m lucky to be able to sing and perform 80 shows a year and perform for thousands of people.”

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