Ventura Music Scene
by Pam Baumgardner
Last year at this time, and traditionally speaking, this time of year I’m usually sharing where all the New Year’s Eve parties are happening and what bands are playing, but this year, not so much. Instead, we have to be patient and diligent and before long, we’ll be back in the venues with friends listening to live music. Until then, I’d like to share a story about one of our own, and how the community is coming together to support. I reached out to Mike Fishell after reading on social media what happened to his son and he was so gracious to share his story with the Breeze.
Mike has been playing music in Ventura county nightclubs and restaurants since the late 70s playing countless weddings and parties with bands like Rudy and the Reverbs, the Convertibles, the Barstool Pigeons, Fish Fry and the Vonettes. Mike’s two sons, Roy and Miles, have been playing with him professionally since 2010 when he started Fish Fry, a rock and blues band that’s played all over Ventura County. Mike told me that the three of them have performed with the Vonettes with his sister, Mary Sawyer and his brother-in-law, Brent Sawyer. He said, “Playing music I love with people I love has been a high point in my life.”
Mike added that both of his sons and he began playing music when they were very young. Miles started on the drums when he was about four years old. In fact, he was Fish Fry’s drummer for many years. He also played professionally on keyboards, bass and guitar. Mike said that Miles had been playing lead guitar with Fish Fry, bass with the Vonettes, and keyboards with the Soulutionaries, a Los Angeles based reggae band.
And then this past summer everything changed.
Pam: Please explain what happened to Miles
Mike Fishell: It happened so fast. In July, 23-year-old guitarist Miles Fishell checked into St. John’s Hospital in Oxnard, CA with a high fever. He was diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening bacterial blood infection called meningococcal disease, and deteriorated rapidly. The infection led to blood poisoning and spread quickly throughout his body, leading to overlapping medical traumas known as purpura fulminans. The infection caused Miles’s blood to clot, limiting oxygen to the smallest capillaries in his fingers, feet and nose, resulting in devastating, permanent damage. Thankfully, St. John’s ICU team arrested the bacteria’s progression and saved Miles’s life. He was then transported to UCLA Medical Center, where he remained for seven weeks, including a long stay in ICU. Miles was prescribed daily hyperbaric oxygen treatments to help heal his wounded limbs. He has had all ten toes amputated, will lose parts of eight fingers, and requires surgical reconstruction of his nose.
And on top of everything else, this is happening during a pandemic. Did that play a part in his treatment at all?
Mike: The pandemic has affected everything, but we felt safe during Miles’s seven weeks in the hospital; the doctors and staff at St. John’s Hospital and at UCLA were all great.
Have you been able to spend time with him while he was in the hospital?
Mike: We were fortunate due to the severity of Miles’s medical Condition that one family member could stay with Miles at UCLA twenty-four hours a day. He needed constant assistance; our help was needed. While only one of us could be in the room at one time, someone was there around the clock. He is now staying in Ventura where he gets the daily loving care that he needs from two of his mothers, Julianne Fisher and Michele Sumner who have both been nothing short of miraculous. We are so happy he is out of the hospital.
How is Miles holding up?
Mike: Miles is an inspiration. Honestly, he never complains. He is focused on getting past this stage of his treatment and moving on to a normal life. Whether it be treatments or physical therapy, he has been enthusiastic and diligent. Before this happened, he was taking classes full time at Ventura College and he looks forward to getting back to school.
How about you and the rest of the family?
Mike: We take our cues from Miles. Of course, we are saddened by these events, but his positive nature is an inspiration. My entire family and so many friends have been directly involved with providing love and support. Miles inspires us to stay strong.
So, who started the funding raising efforts on social media?
Mike: My brother Steve and my wife Valerie (Miles’s other mom) helped enormously, but I was the organizer of the GoFundMe page.
Go ahead and describe the response as best you can.
Mike: We have been overwhelmed by the response. It has been stunning. The outpouring of love and care sent his way has lifted us all emotionally in ways that are indescribable. We realize that so many folks are struggling now. The generosity that people have shown has been very heartening.
How will this help your son?
Mike: This trauma has been monumentally life-changing for Miles. Medical insurance covered most of his hospitalization costs, but his long-term working prospects remain uncertain. Miles must now rely on multiple medical specialists over his lifetime. Future medical bills are a huge concern, as are his daily living expenses. Your donation helps him prepare for his uncertain future.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Mike: Miles is very moved by the outpouring of love and support. Our family is so grateful. We urge anyone with kids between the ages of 14 and 23 to learn more about Meningococcal vaccines here:
Pam to readers: If you would like to help out one of Ventura’s own too, just go the GoFundMe.com page and search “Miles’s Amputation Recovery Fund” or just click here: GoFund.me/18fd2943.
Happy New Year VenturaRocks.com & Ventura Breeze readers! I wish you love, peace and prosperity as we all look forward to getting back to a more normal way of life in 2021 and once again being able to get out and listen to live music again.
Do you have any music-related news or upcoming shows (online or live) you want help publicizing? Please send all information short or long to Pam@VenturaRocks.com, and for updated music listings daily, go to www.VenturaRocks.com.