Blues Clues

Indiana guitarist pays homage to masters with material.

Cleveland theater
Most Midwest blues bands stack their repertoires with songs by the legends: B.B. King, Buddy Guy, maybe some James Brown to get the people dancing. For Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel, the set lists are filled with songs written by . . . Mike Milligan. "If you really want to get anywhere, you should be writing your own material," says the Indiana singer and guitarist. "Nothing against cover bands, but they stay where they are."

It's not that Milligan doesn't acknowledge and perform songs by blues greats. On any given night, you'll hear Howlin' Wolf and John Lee Hooker covers at his shows. But Milligan prefers to write his own songs, even if they do sound a little familiar. "I don't intentionally copy others," he says. "My music is based on how I feel, and my influences are bound to creep in there." On his latest album, Live! , Milligan's Stevie Ray Vaughan-inspired fretwork burns through a hometown concert. "I realize that not everybody can do what I'm doing," says Milligan. "But I'm not doing anything that special. It's just a good time."
Fri., June 30, 9 p.m.

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