Most blues music fans will tell you that seeing a great band play live reveals more energy and emotion than nearly any studio recording. When Mike Milligan & Steam Shovel presented their LIVE CD, all the pieces fell into place for our first blues offering. Like capturing lightening in a bottle, they recorded it near their hometown of Kokomo, IN at a CD release party celebrating their last studio CD. Excitement runs high on the stage and in the club throughout the entire show.
As hard working as they are talented, they play nearly every corner of the mid-west including monthly gigs at Chicago's prestigious House of Blues. Everyone that helps with CD selections here at Meijer have been making some very ambitious comparisons and glowing reviews. The band's sound compared favorably to everyone from vintage Clapton to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Huge shoes to fill by anyone's accounts.
Greg Baxter. Meijer-Outside the Mainstream Music Program. 12-07 "Don't let that angelic smile on Mike Milligan fool you. There are blues devils stirring in that man's soul. Smooth vocal stylings and tasty guitar chops are what he delivers when he stops by Billy's Lounge in Grand Rapids. Mike and the guys are sure to please me each time they show up at our place… dancers on the floor and bottoms on the barstools all night long. What greater testament can I offer? One of the Mid-West’s finest bands" Felix Ybarra. President- West Michigan Blues Society & MC @ Billy's Lounge Grand Rapids, Michigan. 7-07 My musical preferences tend towards soul and funk, and even though Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel might not categorize themselves in these genres, there are certainly overlapping influences in their rich repertoire of blues, R & B, and good old-fashioned rock and roll. When they catch the groove, there's nobody better at what they do. They strike my main nerve every time I hear them. I've seen them at the House of Blues in Chicago as well as several local Indy venues; it's hard to believe the quality and quantity of sound from just three guys. Sometimes I swear I can hear a B-3 in the music, even though there's no organ on stage. I keep looking around the stage to see where all the other musicians are hidden! It's just testimony to this simple fact: I can listen to their live shows over and over again and never tire of their music I've seen bands with twice as many members that weren't half as good, just proving once again that good things really do come in small packages! Bob Burchfield /Editor. www.AroundIndy.com www.roccoprestia.com 7-07 “Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel played a lively and engaging set at the 2007 Indy Jazz Fest and they were enthusiastically received by a capacity audience at the Jazz Central Stage. We got a lot of bang for our buck and will most certainly invite this group to make a return visit.” (and they did in 2008!) Joel Harrison. Indy Jazz Fest Director 6-07 “Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel were real crowd pleasers with their style of blues. They have always put on a good show which makes it easy when we consider performers to return in the future. They certainly have made our Festival a big success.” Robert O’Shaughnessy, Director of Parks and Recreation, Munster, IN. 2007 “Thank you for an outstanding season of wonderful music on the Budlight Stage in the Navy Pier Beer Garden. Would you believe we’re steadily approaching 9 million visitors for this year alone?! Because of your band and it’s exceptional talent, we are yet again acknowledged as the number one tourist attraction in the Midwest…You Rock!” Denise Yelvington. Entertainment Mgr. Chicago Navy Pier . 9-13-06
"Mike played with that indefinable yet very real thing called soul, that thing about being real that one always knows when it’s there"
Snip of review from Buddy Guy show. INdy . 9-5-05 by George Fish. Read full review- click above!
"Get yourself a new groove...Spin Mike's CDs. Your soul will thank you!"
-Jill Savage. Radio Personality. Indy 8-04
"Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel wowed the audience at the Savannah in Westlake, Ohio! The trio was tight, soulful, and way in the groove! We look forward to welcoming them back."
- Jim DePaul, owner of The Savannah, Westlake, Ohio. 1-04
"HEY Y'ALL I'M CUTTER BRANDENBURG, I WAS ROAD MGR AND BEST FRIEND TO STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN. I STARTED WITH STEVIE WHEN HE WAS 15 AND STAYED WITH HIM, THROUGH HIS FIRST ALBUM, "TEXAS FLOOD". I HAVE WORKED FOR MANY OTHER ARTIST , BUT ALWAYS RETURNED TO STEVIE. I HAD BEEN ON AND OFF WITH HIM ALL THOSE YEARS AND WAS ABLE TO FEEL THE STRUGGLE ABOUT THE MUSIC. IT WAS ALWAYS ABOUT THE MUSIC, THE PASSION HE SHOWED COULD NOW REFLECT THE STRUGGLE. STEVIE WAS ONE WHO LEARENED ALL HE COULD FROM ALL HE HEARD. HE LISTENED AND WATCHED ALL TO SEE AND FEEL AND ALSO WHO USED WHAT LICKS HERE AND THERE. HE BECAME WHAT I ALWAYS FELT, A MASTER AT GUITAR TONE AND LICKS. I WAS LUCKY TO HAVE A CLUB A FEW YEARS IN THE KILLEEN TEXAS AREA ABOUT 65 MILLES NORTH OF AUSTIN, CALLED "CUTTER'S TEXAS MUSIC HALL & WILD WEST CANTINA" IN HARKER HEIGHTS TEXAS. STEVIE WOULD HAVE LOVED THE CLUB. I STILL INTEND TO MOVE IT TO AUSTIN, IN THE NEAR FUTURE. I WAS LUCKY TO BE ABLE TO GET MANY GREAT ATRIST FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY TO COME AND PLAY. I FEEL CERTAIN ALL THAT DID FELT THE PRESENCE OF STEVIE AND IN THAT , IT SOMEHOW MADE ALL ARTIST PLAY A LITTLE BIT BETTER IN THAT THEY SOMEHOW KNEW STEVIE WAS LISTENING. THE NIGHT WE HAD MIKE MILLIGAN AND STEAM SHOVEL WAS SO STARNGE. ALL THAT DAY I FELT A SPECIAL FEELING ABOUT WHAT WAS TO COME. JUST LIKE MANY SHOWS I DID WITH STEVIE IN THE EARLY YEARS , WE WOULD PULL INTO A PLACE AND HAVE A SMALL CROWD TO PLAY TOO. THAT NEVER MEANT ANYTHING TO STEVIE. HE WOULD PLAY HIS HEART OUT FOR JUST ME IN TRUCK , MUCH LESS 8 OR 8 THOUSAND. THAT DID NOT CHANGE ANYTHING. MIKE AND STEAM SHOVEL PULLED IN, AND I COULD FEELTHEM BEFORE THEY PLAYED. I TRIED TO GIVE THEM ALL I COULD IN THE WAY OF HOSPITALITY OR FOOD, OR STORIES OR VIBE. THEY SEEMED TO BE PUMPED AND WILLING TO PLAY TO A SMALL CROWD AND LEAVE A MARK. THE MOMENT I HEARD MIKE PLAY GUITAR.WITH HIS TONE AND PASSION, I KNEW THIS GUY WAS AGAIN THE REAL DEAL. I KIDDED HIM ABOUT BEING A YANKEE AND WE ALWAYS DO THAT WITH YANKEES ITS A CROSS YALL GONNA JUST HAVE TO BARE. BUT I WOULD NOT AND COULD NOT SAY ANYTHING GOOD IF IT WAS NOT THE CASE. MIKE MILLIGAN AND STEAM SHOVEL FEEL AND HAVE THE PASSION. STEVIE USE TO GAUGE PLAYERS ON IF THE HAIR ON HIS ARM STOOD UP. HE WOULD LOOK AT ME POINT TO HIS ARM AND SMILE REAL BIG AND GO "WHOOOO! CEEEE". I FELT THAT IN MY SOUL THAT NIGHT WITH MIKE AND THE GUYS FROM STEAM SHOVEL. I KNOW SOMEWHERE MY BEST FRIEND WAS LOOKING DOWN AND SAYING "YEPPER CEE WHOOOOOOO!". "
-Cutter Brandenburg (Mr. Cee) 12-03
" "When I Get There" by Mike Milligan is so good that I can't believe they didn't charge me twice for it. "On The Day" crackles from the first snare hit. It makes me wanna dance. Mike is not interested in recycling the tired clichés. He moves easily from electric to acoustic blues with authority. This is truly an album that sounds better every time you listen to it. He sounds kinda like Stevie Ray, kinda like Robert Ward, there is even a vibe of Derek and the Dominos, but make no mistake about it, Mike has his own signature style. In this music I find a promise that other blues acts hinted at but never delivered. Mike Milligan delivers on that promise and his guitar tone is gorgeous. I must also mention how well recorded this album is. Check out Mike Milligan now! I'll see you "When I Get There"..."
-Greg Baum, Sweetwater Music, 12-03
"We then headed back to the back to see Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel. When I stepped in the room, it looked like a dispatcher I used to work for was on stage, wailin' on the six-string and singing like a bird. We went up to the loft to take in the three-piece act that was lighting up the joint. I really enjoy a tune that has a groove and the artist feels comfortable enough to expand a while. Everything these fellows did had a pretty cool thang goin' on, and felt real comfy! They kept the dance floor in-use and I made this observation: Pretty women don't look near as sexy if you're watching them dance from up above in the loft! Check these guys out!"
-Big Nick. (On a recent trip to The Slippery Noodle Inn, Indy) Whatzup Magazine, 12-03
"This guy can sing his a** off!" Ronnie Baker-Brooks Band. 3-01
" The Ghosts of Howlin' Wolf, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Jimi Hendrix are hanging around these guys. They're from central Indiana, but sound like central Texas and that's a good thing! If solid, soulful blues rock is your thing, Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel provides you the opportunity to find it up here where the weather's cold!"
Evan Gillespie. Whatzup Magazine. 12-98
"This band puts together Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, a touch of soul and VOILA! Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel. You won't think that this is just another blues band, but one with the potential to put Kokomo, Indiana on the Blues Map! Mike may be the next best blues thing!"
-Carl Wolf. Muncie JAR (Star). 11-98
Band of brothers
INDY Star...INTake. April 15 - 21, 2004
January 8, 2004
Band of brothers
Yeah, only 2 out of 3 members of Mike Milliagan and Steam Shovel are
related. That misses the point.
By Joe Shearer
With a pair of siblings and a drummer who is "like a brother," it's
easy -- and not necessarily inaccurate -- to accuse the band Mike
Milligan and Steam Shovel of nepotism.
But for frontman Mike Milligan, brother (and bassist) Shaun, and
drummer and close friend Derek Felix, music has been in the family
"My father is a musician," Mike said. "Some of my earliest childhood
memories with my brother Shaun is being on a tour bus with The
Drifters in the mid-'70s."
Even the band's name shows flashes of familial influence. The
brothers took their handle from the children's book "Mike Mulligan
and His Steam Shovel," which the brothers read when they were young.
The Kokomo-based trio brings its brand of blues-rock to The
Rathskeller on Jan. 24 and hammers other houses around town, such as
The Slippery Noodle Inn, on a regular basis. The band has also set
the roof ablaze in cities such as New York, Nashville, Tenn., and
Here's what Mike had to say:
On cover bands:
"It reminds me of paint-by-numbers. Even if you're doing
paint-by-numbers Mona Lisa; it looks great, but you never learn to
express your own emotions. How much of your soul is on the canvas?
To cover a song, it has to make me feel a certain way. It has to be
a song that makes sense to me."
On "The Guitar is Family"
"If my dad is in the audience when we're playing, I'll pull him on
stage to play guitar. He smokes me off the stage. I probably have 50
pounds on him, but he's still Big Mike."
On musical influences:
"If you hear me play, you might hear some Hendrix, Stevie Ray
Vaughan, Donnie Hathaway, Doyle Bramhill. If you like listening to
the people I listen to, you'll like my music."
On having GAS:
"I have 'Guitar Acquisition Syndrome.' I'm such a guitar freak. I
was just at Guitar Center in Castleton with a new credit card.
That's bad news."
On getting crazy at a concert:
"I play the guitar on my teeth, and behind my head, but most of the
craziness comes from the audience. We've played (at venues) where
half the audience has wet T-shirts, and we've played for bikers at
On letting the audience take over:
"Sometimes I'll step out into the crowd to play. If there's someone
that I know plays guitar in the audience, I'll hand the guitar to
them and go sit down and let them play."
On improving the Indy music scene:
"The Indy scene is getting a lot better. Bigger markets (should)
start looking at Indy as a music resource. Music bigwigs need to
throw a dart at Indianapolis and say 'that's the next big place.'
Some major producers would have to sign some bands to record labels
or someone needs to start a major label here. It's like Nashville or
Seattle. (In the early and mid-'90s) people were pulling into
Seattle looking for a record contract."
On music as therapy:
"There's a song associated with all the memories in your life, like
your first girlfriend, the first time you danced with her or kissed
her. People have come up to me and said, 'you helped me with a death
in the family.' You can't put a price on knowing you helped somebody