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Despite COVID closures and his home catching fire, Mike “Mikey” Clark refuses to sing the blues

You could say Mike Clark, co-owner of Mikey’s Juke Joint and Mikey’s Taco Shop on 4th St. N.W., hasn’t had the greatest past 12 months. First, there’s the fact that only uncurable optimists set up music venues, let alone have them pull through during a pandemic that’s shut down live music for many intermittent months. But for Clark, whose original Mikey’s on 18th Street S.W. ran for more than a decade, paving the way for his updated Mikey’s on 12 Avenue, not having a great 12 months is no barrier.

For example, due to the pandemic, he and business partner Alli Said took it outside the music venue and started Mikey’s Taco Shop on 4th St. N.W., which due to Said’s authentic Mexican chef background has people raving about the food and is, thus, booming. 

And, when Clark’s Turner Valley home caught fire on Jan. 17, gutting the upstairs and damaging the rest of the 1930s-era structure, which was once the office for Royalite Oil, Clark and his wife managed to get themselves and their two dogs out — although, sadly, their tough, old Siamese cat Isis perished.

But, while living in an Okotoks hotel with his wife, two grown sons who also lived at home with the couple, and the dogs — Brazilian mastiff-great Dane cross Boom Boom and lab cross Jackson — you won’t hear Clark, who is also an accomplished blues musician, well, you won’t hear him crying the blues.

Still, one of his former managers, Emily Grace Brown, organized a GoFundMe page with an initial target of $10,000. One week after the fire, the total is over $21,000 and growing. This is good, as insurance doesn’t cover everything, and renos on a 1930s home are tricky.

At first, Clark is reluctant to talk about it at all. “I’m not surprised that my Mikey’s people started it, but I didn’t know they were starting it. You know what I mean?” he says. “Sometimes it’s easier to give than to receive.”

As for the damage? “The top floor is totally gutted. I mean, the roof is still there.” The entire home is damaged by smoke. The family won’t be in the hotel forever as the insurance company is arranging a temporary house in Calgary, which places Clark closer to work, as the taco shop keeps him busy.

Another thing keeping Clark busy is working on his upcoming album. In fact, if his house hadn’t burnt down the night before, he would have put the finishing touches on the album with long-distance producer Mike Emerson (from San Francisco’s Tommy Castro and The Painkillers), recorded at Danny Patton’s Airwaves Studios. Clark is planning on making CDs, although he’s toying with the idea of vinyl.

And while there is no timeline on when the album or the house will be finished, Clark keeps that optimism rolling. “We’re just kind of going one day at a time, you know.”

You can donate to the fundraiser here:

Mary-Lynn Wardle is a Bragg Creek writer.