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Guitar Mikey And The Real Thing
Out of the Box - Earwig

Toronto Blues Society - March, 2012
By John Valentyn

It's been a while since we've heard the name of this Hamilton native.   He released a CD here and played with King Biscuit Boy but decided to pursue his career in the USA.   After stints in Chicago & Boston, he now resides in Clarksdale MS.   Mike McMillan has made some very useful contacts in that time.   One of them was Michael Frank of Earwig Music, who's now signed his second Canadian bluesman (BC's Les Copeland is the other).   Over the last couple of years, he's been recording this new album in Clarksdale and calling on some other new friends: Bob Margolin & harp ace Billy Gibson as well as fellow Hamiltonian Donna Panchezak.   His time here showed a heavily electric Guitar Mikey, but this disc of originals is a well-conceived blend of acoustic and electric.   The opener, "Back To You", is an excellent example, with mandolin, banjo and acoustic slide and even some crickets.   The full band with the Hammerhead Horns takes it to the climax.   Mikey has, for all his travelling, kept in touch with his Hamilton band members: Peter Nunn is on keys here along with long time member keyboard player Mark Yacovone.   "That's No Way" is probably closer to what we'll see live next month with powerful electric guitar and prominent organ.   "Blues Attack" features Memphis harp man Billy Gibson to good effect along with a duet vocal from old friend from Chicago, Nellie "Tiger" Travis.   Mikey's bio talks about many occasions on stage with Travis at the Kingston Mines and she helps out on several other songs here.   Mikey's slide solo is a treat.   A recently divorced man has even more woman trouble, a keeper for sure.   "It's Goin' Down" re-purposes Robert Johnson for acoustic change of pace, with Mikey on exquisite slide.   "The Bigger Fool" takes us to Chicago & Muddy Waters.   Bob Margolin is on slide, David Maxwell on piano and Gibson on harp.   Mikey's lyrics are a treat.   "When Leo Starts To Growlin'" is a lengthy big band funk workout on the theme of don't make me lose my temper - another highlight in an album full of them.   The closer provides the title as well being the most ambitious composition here.   For a blues album, a French chanson theme, complete with accordion, a string section as well as the horns really does take it out of the box.   I suspect its live electric band version may sound a little different.   The homecoming CD release is at Hamilton Place on April 7 and TBS members get a discount, just call the office.

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