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Guitar Mikey and The Real Thing - Articles Blues For Veterans
The Fabulous Thunderbirds, James Montgomery and The Real Thing

Charlene Arsenault - Worchester Magazine, Nov. 2004

Shortly before the twin towers were hit, musician Mike McMillan was living in Manhattan, about two blocks away from Ground Zero.   About once or twice a week, he would head over to the World Trade Center to pick up discount Broadway tickets.   Though he had moved just before the attack, it hit really close home to him.   Like a lot of people, he developed a new appreciation for people defending our country.   And it only grew with time.  

“When I moved to Massachusetts in 2000,” says McMillan, “that’s when I started getting involved with who is now my wife [Pamela].   We got to know people in the community, and one of the things that amazed us being both Canadians is how many people we know who either are in the military or know someone in the military.   It just became a passion for both of us to support them in any way we could."

Of course the way McMillan could is through music.   What sparked it into action is a mutual friend’s situation: Kim H. returned from serving in Iraq in the summer of 2003, and McMillan and his wife helped put together a welcome back party — an elaborate one.   He got his band, Guitar Mikey and the Real Thing, to play and turned it into a big to-do.  

“I figured we’d have this big party,” says McMillan, “and sell some tickets to pay the band and thought that we’d make a profit and give it to charity.   Kim was overwhelmed with the attention, being the modest person she is, so we decided to take the focus off her and got her to pick a beneficiary for the event.”

Kim picked the Veterans Hospice Homecare, which is a non-profit facility that has three locations in Central Massachusetts.   That party raised $1,800, and was the launching pad to do it again.   McMillan learned more about VHH, and the more he learned, the more he wanted to help.  

He’s put together Blues for Vets, which he hopes to make an annual event.   This year, it will again support the VHH.   “Just meeting the staff,” says McMillan, “and checking the facility — I was overwhelmed and touched.   We decided this was a way to use my expertise and talent and combine it with something.   I really believe in it.   We always want to support facilities that work with the same philosophy as VHH, both fiscally and socially — instead of like a very cold VA hospital.   In a facility like this, veterans are living until they die instead of just waiting to die.” D E T A I L S What: Blues for Vets, featuring The Fabulous Thunderbird, James Montgomery, and Guitar Mikey and the Real Thing When: Wednesday, Nov.  10, at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Mechanics Hall, 321 Main St.  
Cost: $30-$35

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