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Toronto Needs the Real Thing
Rock Fans Are Missing Alot Without Guitar Mikey

P. Chiliac - The Newspaper (Toronto), Feb. 1992

The late Stevie Ray Vaughan seemed to have a hobby of promoting the careers of promising young Canadian guitarists such as Jeff Healey and Colin James. Somehow, Vaughan managed to overlook the adept fretwork of Guitar Mikey. Maybe you haven't heard of them, but guitarist Mike McMillan, drummer Bob Latzer and Bassist Curtis Cripps, known collectively as Guitar Mikey and the Real Thing have been treating club-goers in the Hamilton area to their own brand of blistering blues-rock for years, making occasional appearances in Toronto like the Black Swan. That's where we caught up to them to talk about their album Caught Between the Squeeze (A&M).

According to Mikey the album is getting “lots of airplay out west. We were playlisted at the AOR station in Calgary three weeks before the album was released.”

McMillan is understandably frustrated by the relative lack of media attention in southern Ontario, were radio stations haven’t quite caught on to Caught Between The Squeeze. Mikey complained, “I did an interview with Q107, and the seal hadn’t even been broken.”

Indeed, it’s hard to understand why a station that espouses the talents of ZZ Top and Stevie Ray Vaughan on a regular basis would shy away from Mikey and the Thing’s intense, bluesy workouts.

That’s bluesy , not blues. McMillan is emphatic about that distinction. He’s uneasy about being categorized into a particular style of music. “I play blues, and I am a blues guitar player,” he explained, “but I have so many other influences. I don’t want to be pinholed as a blues player.”

Accordingly, Caught Between The Squeeze frequently strays from the traditional 12-bar format, although there’s no denying the influences of Guy, Rush and Winter on Mikey’s lightning-fast guitar licks and husky, smoky vocals.

The presentation of the songs on the album differs considerably from the way there’re played live on stage. “Actually we did that intentionally,” explained Mikey. “I sort of conceived doing a record , being in the studio, as a different thing than live. The solos are short. The songs are tight and compact.”

Live, the band tends to let the songs stretch out, which gives Mikey an opportunity to really show off his prowess on guitar.

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