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Thing Out Of The Box
Guitar Mikey And The Real Thing
Earwig Music Company
15 tracks/70:32 - Jul, 2012
by Graham Clarke

Guitar Mikey, aka Mike McMillan, started playing the blues as a youngster in Canada. Over the years, since the early 80's, he has taken a long, winding journey from Canada to Clarksdale, MS, with extended stops in Boston and Chicago in between, working and honing his craft with his band, The Real Thing. Since 2006, Guitar Mikey has been a resident of Clarksdale, making quite a reputation from himself with his fiery guitar work (acoustic and electric) and impassioned vocals.

His fourth and newest release, Out of the Box, is his first for Earwig Records, and features an all-star roster of musicians in support, including harmonica wizard Billy Gibson, singer Nellie "Tiger" Travis, guitarist Bob Margolin, and keyboardists David Maxwell, keyboardist Mark Yacovone, Terry "Big T" Williams, and three, yes three, different rhythm sections.

McMillan wrote or co-wrote all fifteen of the tracks, and they run the gamut from crunching blues/rock numbers to straight roadhouse blues to smooth R&B. Highlights include the rousing "Back To You," which kicks off the disc with a mandolin/banjo intro, but kicks into high gear pretty quickly, "Blues Attack," which features his impressive slide guitar with Travis' vocals and Gibson's roaring harmonica, the manic "It's A Sin," and "Blues Head," a fun track that teams Mikey with Travis again, along with Super Chikan, who plays guitar and offers moral support as the track closes.

"The Bigger Fool," has a definite Chicago feel to it, with Gibson, Margolin, Maxwell, and young Delta drummer Lee Williams doing a fine job. "Need $100" is a funky little number that showcases Yacovone, and the rocker "Who Is She" is another. "She Needs Time" is a country blues cooker with Travis on backing vocals, and "When Leo Starts To Growlin'" is a deep soul number, one of several that feature Alphonso Sanders on sax and the Hammerhead Horns.

Out of the Box is an enthusiastic, ambitious set. There's plenty of great music here for everybody to enjoy, whether your tastes run more toward traditional blues, blues/rock, R&B. Guitar Mikey is well-versed in all of these genres and you'll be hearing more from him.

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