Monday, 17 September 2012

Featured Artist: Guitar Mikey

Mike McMillan AKA Guitar Mikey (born 1965)
At the age of 11 he started The Young Canadian Blues Band. He made several appearances with the 3 member band on a local cable show performing some 50's rock'n'roll classics as well as Johnny Winter's "Mean Town Blues".
He attended a Muddy Waters concert by himself. His father returns at the end of the show to pick him up. He is nowhere to be found. Eventually as Mike's dad continues to circle the auditorium he finds Mike exiting the stage door where he had been hanging out with the man himself, Muddy Waters.
Mike had just turned 12 when he joined his first working band "Phoenix". They played local high school dances. He continued performing as a guitar player playing in rock bands while all the time really wanting to play blues.
In 1980 Mike realized that if he was going to play blues, he would have to front a band as the singer. So he began to sing blues imitating his childhood idol Johnny Winter. The familiar growling style would work for the time being. However Mike's singing would eventually grow into something all his own. He started The Steel City Blues Band.
The Steel City Blues Band continued to play club dates but then something changed. Richard Newell AKA King Biscuit Boy joined The Steel City Blues Band as a featured artist. This would begin a musical relationship that would continue on and off over the years to follow.
In 1984 they tour to promote Rich's new album “Mouthy Of Steel”.
Shortly after the "Mouth of Steel" tour, Mike decided he wanted to be back on his own. He had a couple of bands "Soul Survivor", named after the James Cotton tune and "The Electric Groove". During this time he got his stage name. For some time Mikey had been performing the Johnny "Guitar" Watson classic "Gangster of Love". In the song the is a line "Sheriff says Is you Guitar Watson....". Mikey changed to "Guitar Mikey" simply to make it fit in the song. It stuck, and Guitar Mikey is born.
In 1985 Mike formed his new band The Real Thing.
At the end of 1997 Guitar Mikey made Chicago his long awaited home. Mikey folded his Canadian band and now has formed a Chicago based band. While putting together his new line-up Mikey made a special appearance at the House of Blues as a guest member of the Shirley King Band (daughter of B.B.).
In 2003 Guitar Mikey and Keyboardist Mark Yacovonne tour the Memphis, and Clarksdale areas to soak up the music, history and BBQ and do a little playing. They are accompanied by Mikey's wife Pamela and Mark's girlfriend Bethany and all four are taken in by the friendly south, and in particular Clarksdale itself. This trip plants the seed of possible relocation.
Finally after three years of talking about it, Mikey and wife Pamela take the plunge. They are eager to say goodbye to Boston and move to Clarksdale. Ironically, the music and history that Mikey grows up only reading about as a kid, is not the thing that brings him and his wife to Clarksdale, but purely the people - and a new way of life.
In 2008 “Jam Zero I” is released. It's the first album in 17 year for Guitar Mikey, and features live jams that took place in the course of the first year of Mikey's regular appearances at the world famous Ground Zero Blues Club.
In 2012 Guitar Mikey releases his first studio album in over 20 years with Chicago Blues Label Earwig Music. “Out Of The Box” has a great supporting cast including world renown harmonica player Billy Gibson, Bob Margolin (Muddy Waters) on guitar, David Maxwell on keyboards, Peter Nunn (Gowan, The Jitters, Honeymoon Suite) on keyboards, Marty Richards (Joe Perry Project, J Geils) on drums, Nellie "Tiger" Travis on vocals and some great Clarkdale area folks including Terry "Big T" Williams on Bass, Lee Williams on drums, Alphonso Sanders on sax and Super Chikan on Guitar.

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