Runners-up: Steppin’ In It and Frog & the Beeftones
Combing traditional blues with classic soul, Root Doctor has been entertaining Lansing for nearly 20 years. Led by vocalist Freddie Cunningham (who formed the band with bassist/vocalist James Williams) and backed by a cast of veteran local musicians, the band is known for a tight live set that gets the crowd moving. If you love the smooth style of Sam Cooke, but also tend to crank up some Buddy Guy, this band is just what the doctor ordered.
Runners-up: Global Village and Soulstice
Remember when MTV still played music videos? Starfarm plays stunning covers of all those ‘80s pop classics. While the band has been through a few incarnations, it’s currently busier than ever, with steady gigs at Dublin Square, Green Door and Rick’s American Cafe. With crowd favorites like “Don’t Stop Believin’” (Journey) and “Livin’ on a Prayer” (Bon Jovi) it’s hard not to sing along. “It’s perfect music for a cover band,” said vocalist Whitney Spotts. “It’s upbeat, fun and danceable. It’s a great reminiscence thing for people who see us.”
Runners-up: DJ Donnie D and DJ Sammy
Known for his long, blonde dreadlocks, two turntables and huge obsession with vinyl records, DJ Ruckus has been rocking parties in Lansing since 1994. Aside from DJing hip-hop shows, Ruckus also spins hip-hip and dance tracks every Thursday and Saturday at The Post in East Lansing. After years of spinning, he is now able to DJ full-time — not a bad gig for a record junkie. “My vinyl takes up a room and half of my house,” Ruckus said. “The one room is floor to ceiling almost. It needs to be dealt with.”
Runners-up: Root Doctor
Loune has been mixing pop melodies and minimal indie rock since it formed in November 2008. The band, which is influenced by Grizzly Bear and Mason Proper, may be new to the scene, but it’s already found its own sound. “The way I used to describe it is, ‘It sounds like the day after a parade.’ It’s kind of ambient,” said Kevin Pritchard of Loune. “There is a lot of room in the sound. We let little details do the talking as opposed to jamming it down people's throats.”
Runners-up: 97.5-FM and 90.5-FM
The Impact 88.9-FM, the Michigan State University radio station, has been delivering a diverse blend of cutting-edge music to the Lansing area since 1989. “During the day, it’s mainly just college and indie rock,” said Autumn Maison, Impact music director. “But we also have a local music show, we play metal, hip-hop and other alternative programming.” The station also launched its YouTube channel in 2008. “Since then it’s been an upwards slope of getting people in to perform,” Maison said. “I think it's the coolest part of our station.”
Runners-up: Wally Pleasant and Griff
Jen Sygit began performing her catchy blend of Americana and folk music not long after moving to Lansing 10 years ago for college. Sygit, who hosts a weekly open-mic every Tuesday at Dagwood’s, has been performing as a duo with fellow songwriter Sam Corbin. She said her sound is a blend of various forms of roots music. “It’s really a hodgepodge,” she said. “After a few years of living here, I started to work at Elderly Instruments. The couple years I worked there I got exposed to a larger variety of music. I started to branch out.”
The Green Door Blues Bar & Grill
Runners-up: Mac’s Bar and Small Planet
For those who prefer B.B. King over Lady GaGa, The Green Door Blues Bar & Grill is the watering hole to call home. The Lansing bar/music venue not only offers the best in blues, funk, soul, classic rock and bluegrass, but also a huge menu of food. From weekly performances by local favorite Steppin’ In It (every Monday) to an array of other talented bands offering up tasty guitar licks, it’s the place to go for dynamic live music, six days a week. 2005 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing.