Dec. 5 2012 12:00 AM

A survey of Lansing's musical landscape


Grammy nominees at Wharton

Thur., Dec. 6, Wharton Center’s Pasant Theatre, 7:30 p.m., $43/$15 students.

Tiempo Libre, a Miami-based “timba” group, returns to Wharton Center for the third time on Thursday. The high-energy group has consistently toured since its genesis in 2001, nabbing three Grammy nominations along the way. “It’s a mix between salsa and jazz,” said Tiempo Libre pianist Jorge Gómez. “We play Latin jazz, we play cha-cha-cha, dancehall, and rhumba.” The seven-piece’s latest album, “Secret Radio,” is a tribute to their teen years back in their homeland of Cuba — a time when listening to American music was forbidden in Cuba. “It was illegal, so we’d wait until 1 a.m. and go to the roof with an antenna trying to get a signal from the United States,” Gómez said. “We’d start recording music like Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson … The next morning we’d make a huge party with the music.”

Smooth Christmas show

Sat., Dec. 8, Dart Auditorium, 500 N. Capitol Ave., Lansing. All ages, $15, $20 VIP, doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m.

Local smooth jazz saxophonist Phil Denny released his debut album “Crossover” in August, hitting #21 on the National Smooth Jazz Billboard chart. Saturday, he hosts the Phil Denny & Friends Christmas Collective concert at LCC’s Dart Auditorium. Hosting the event is WLNS anchor Evan Pinsonnault. Denny, along with an assortment of local musicians, will collaborate on fresh, lively arrangements of holiday favorites. Sharing the bill are Lin Rountree (soul-jazz trumpeter), Orrick Ewing (Grammy nominated bassist) and Brandon Marceal (flutist). Singers are also on the long roster, including Mike Eyia (Latin guitarist/vocalist/percussionist), Darnell Kendricks (soulful and jazzy vocalist) and Lansing’s Queen of the Blues, Twyla Birdsong. 

Matchbox 20´s buddy at (SCENE)

Sat., Dec. 8, (SCENE) Metrospace, 110 Charles St., East Lansing. All ages, $15.. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Chris Trapper began his career as the front man for late-90’s alternative rock band The Push Stars, whom The New York Times called “classic pop perfection.” Saturday, the Boston-based songwriter plays an intimate alt-acoustic set at (SCENE) Metrospace. Trapper released four albums with the Push Stars and also toured with some big names, including Matchbox 20. Rob Thomas (Matchbox 20’s front man) is also featured on Trapper’s 2011 song “Here All Along,” from “The Few and the Far Between” album. Trapper is likely most known for his song “This Time,” the No. 1-selling tune on the Grammy nominated soundtrack for “August Rush,” a Warner Brothers film starring Robin Williams and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Holiday "In the Round" hits DeWitt 

Sat., Dec. 8, Christ United Church, 1000 W. Webb Road, DeWitt, all ages. $10 advance, $12 door, 8 p.m.

Songwriters Jamie-Sue Seal and John Latini host a special concert this Saturday, complete with festive songs and comic relief. The event, “Jammin´ Round with Jamie-Sue,” has been an ongoing series for nearly a decade and is perhaps the only traditional in-the-round set-up in the Midwest. Latini has been awarded songwriting honors in three states and is a two-time Detroit blues champion. Meanwhile Seal, who releases solo records on her Smokin’ Sleddog Records label, also handles publicity for the Ten Pound Fiddle. Seal and Latini tour the country as a duo, performing roots and cabaret shows. This event also includes guest artists J. Oscar Bittinger from Grand Rapids and Daniel Bracken from the Mount Pleasant area. For more information, go to

Decembersongs at Pump House

Mon., Dec. 10, Pump House, 368 Orchard St., East Lansing, all ages, 7 p.m., $20 advance, $25 suggested donation at door.

The holiday folk group Decembersongs returns to the Pump House on Monday. Decembersongs is a touring group made up of four singer/songwriters performing seasonal tunes. The show features Amy Speace (Nashville), Dan Navarro (Los Angeles), Grammy-nominated Sally Barris and Grammy-winner Jon Vezner. The group will play in the round, trading songs, harmonizing, and accompanying each other on mostly original holiday pieces, along with some traditional favorites. While all of the songwriters have a few feathers in their caps, songwriting legend Judy Collins is particular fond of Speace, who said, “Amy Speace is a remarkable artist, writer, singer and performer ...  I am a total fan.” Meanwhile, Navarro’s songs have been recorded by the likes of Pat Benatar, The Bangles and Dionne Warwick.