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Wednesday, April 20,2011

Where folks go for music in Lansing

by Rich Tupica
The Ten Pound Fiddle has been the heart of the Lansing folk scene since its first concert in 1975. Since then, the concert series has grown in volunteers and members (members receive a discount on ticket prices). With a strong focus on a diverse mixture of traditional folk, the Fiddle could showcase a national Celtic artist, a renowned banjo player, and a bluegrass picker all in the same season. The shows are held in various locations, most often at the Unitarian Universalist Church and the Hannah Community Center, both in East Lansing.

Next show: Ray Kamalay & his Red Hot Peppers, 8 p.m. Friday, April 22, at Unitarian Universalist Church, 855 Grove St., East Lansing. www.tenpoundfiddle.org



The Great Lakes Folk Festival 2011 will take place Aug. 12-14 in downtown East Lansing. The annual fest, hosted by the Michigan State University Museum, showcases folk musicians and also encourages cross-cultural understanding, through presentations by dancers, cooks, storytellers and craftspeople.


Downtown East Lansing Next festival: Aug. 12-14, 2011 www.greatlakesfolkfest.net



(SCENE) Metrospace has been the East Lansing hotspot for young indie-folk artists since it was founded in 2004. From local favorites like Frontier Ruckus, Rachel Davis and Chris Bathgate to up-and-coming acts like Gifts or Creatures and Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys, (SCENE) is all about fresh artists and styles. Aside from presenting multiple live folk shows per month, the art and performance space hosts art exhibits, theatrical productions, independent films, dance, poetry and other forms of creative expression.


110 Charles St., East Lansing www.scenemetrospace.com



Pump House Concerts is a community-operated “listening room” located in the heart of East Lansing’s Bailey neighborhood. It hosts solo artists and duos, mainly in the area of alt-country, Americana and folk. The building itself is a converted water-pumping house built by the Works Progress Association in the 1930s, creating a distinctive space for an intimate live show. The venue operates solely on donations; all money goes to the performers. 


368 Orchard St., East Lansing Next show: Craig Bickhardt, 7 p.m. May 1 www.myspace.com/pumphouseconcerts



The Pretty Shaky String Band is not so much a band as it is a weekly jam session that’s lasted 25 years. The group, which meets every Wednesday, is a revolving door of longtime players and rookies. Musicians of all levels are welcome to play along in the “round robin” style jam — listeners are also always welcome. From finger-pickin’ old-timey tunes, to Celtic-influenced ditties, the Shakies are sure to please folk traditionalists.


Urban Options, 405 Grove St., East Lansing Next session: 7:30 p.m. tonight www.prettyshakystringband.org


Art Alley opened in July 2010 and features an array of singer/songwriters. Located in the historic area of Lansing known as REO Town, the space is an “art incubator” for emerging local artists, photographers and performers.


1133 S. Washington Ave., Lansing Next Show: Jamie Anderson, 8 p.m. April 29 www.reoartalley.com


Dagwood’s Tuesday Open Mic Night is a long-running weekly event hosted by local singer/songwriter Jen Sygit and open to seasoned musicians, as well as rookies. Depending on the night you could hear folk, blues, bluegrass, swing, jazz or folk-rock. The event runs from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Artists sign up for three songs (or 15 minutes). People are required to bring their own instruments, but a four-channel sound system, two microphones and one acoustic guitar are supplied. Sygit also hosts “Eclecticana,” a weekly Americana/folk show on WLNZ-FM. The hour-long show, which airs at 1 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday, features national and local acts.

2803 E. Kalamazoo St., Lansing Next Open Mic: 10 p.m. Tuesday, April 26 www.myspace.com/ tuesdaynightopenmicatdagwoods



Basement 414, a.k.a. B414, is a roomy art gallery and performance space. The building is located at the end of the Jay Street alley, behind the Nuthouse Sports Grill. B414 shows happen multiple times per week and are always free. A popular weekly event is Wednesday Open Mic Night, which doubles as the Lansing Bike Co-op. The space continues to be a launching pad for Lansing folkies, bands and artists.


414 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing Next show: 8 p.m. April 29, featuring Nathan Kalish and the Wildfire, Jack Grendel and the 12-Armed Bandits, Facing Winter and Middleman www.b414.org



Mac’s Bar is often pigeonholed as a rock bar. However, it frequently books alt-country, folk, Americana and rockabilly shows. From national acts, like the goth-country band Murder by Death, to local performers, like Wally Pleasant, Small Houses, and Veloura Caywood, this venue hosts a wide spectrum of music. The annual Mac’s Bar Folky Fest is now in its third year.


2700 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing Next show: Mac’s Folky Fest III, featuring Carter Moulton, Jes Kramer, Joe Hertler, Gifts or Creatures and Jeff Pianki, 7:30 p.m. May 12 www.macsbar.com



The Green Door Blues Bar focuses on live blues. However, every Monday night Steppin’ In It, a Lansing roots band, performs hours of classic country, folk and blues. The band, which plays originals and covers, captures the essence of old-time music with masterful playing and vocal melodies. Aside from the basics, the band also incorporates an array of instruments, including a trombone, trumpet, Cajun accordion, dobro, slide guitar, Cajun fiddle and clawhammer banjo.


2005 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing Next show: Steppin’ In It, 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday, April 24 www.greendoorlive.com



Coffee and Friends opened a year ago in Okemos and immediately started hosting weekly indie-folk shows featuring Michigan songwriters every Friday and Saturday night.


5100 Marsh Road, Okemos (CentralPark Place) Next show: Jon Solitro, 7 p.m. Friday, April 22 www.coffeeandfriendscafe.com



Elderly Instruments has been a local megastore for folk instruments since 1972. The massive store carries everything a person would need to start a finger-pickin’ bluegrass group or a twangy roots band. The store has a repair shop and also hosts many in-store events, often in the realm of folk and country music.


1100 N. Washington Ave., Lansing www.elderly.com



Gone Wired Café is a two-story coffee house known for tasty lattes, burgers and frequent performances from area folk singers and songwriters.


2021 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing www.gonewiredcafe.net



88.9-FM the Impact plays a lot of alternative rock, but they also support local artists. Every Thursday, “The Basement,” an hour-long show, plays strictly Michigan (and often Lansing-based) musicians. Area folk singers are frequently featured performing live on the show, which airs from 8 to 10 p.m. “Torch & Twang,” which airs from 8 p.m. to midnight Tuesdays, features a variety of local and national roots rockers.



The Good Times Picking Parlor is a bluegrass/country picking jam session. The monthly event starts back up in September and runs until April. Each month, nearly 40 local pickers show up and jam together. This event was formerly hosted at Magdalena’s Tea House and Gone Wired. Tim Little of the Under Construction Blues Band hosts this event.



VFW Hall Club Post 6132, 3104 W. Saint Joseph St., Lansing Mid Michigan Bluegrass Association also hosts monthly picking jam nights at Woldumar Nature Center. The sessions are the third Sunday of each month and will start again in October. From traditional bluegrass, to folk, Irish and Cajun, this is an eclectic jam. The suggested donation is $4 for adult and $2 for seniors; kids are free. @ 5739 Old Lansing Road, Lansing

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