As a parent of a 15-year-old boy, I would hope that “Monster” Mike’s music packs a message that belies his 17 years. Perhaps he has a ghost writer lurking nearby with 40 years or so of heartbreak to his/her credit. I certainly hope so, if that’s not the case, it will be very interesting to see the chronological development of Mike’s lyrics as the years pass.
The musicianship is most certainly there. On this his second Tone-Cool release, Axe To Grind, Welch again benefits from a well-seasoned rhythm section. The aggregation includes George Leroy Lewis’ great Leslie/Magnatone influenced guitar work, his presence continually provides a beyond-solid rhythmic base for Mike, who leans very heavily on tried (sometimes tired) SRV and Ronnie Earl themes. The CD doesn’t lack energy, there’s plenty to go around, the whole package comes off sounding like a real good second set on a five-set night.
As “Sleepy” Reed pointed out so adroitly the other night; “Shakey,” he said. “It’s been 15 years since Stevie hit.” He’s right, this all has to lead somewhere. With youthful energy abounding, I’m curious to see where “Monster” Mike heads with his gift. With his obvious respect for the masters, it should be an intriguing ride as he pays tribute to a greater array of influences.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s April ’97 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.