Angry Talent Entertainment would be nothing without local musicians and bands to play the shows it books. These artists put their hearts and souls into the music, playing a range of genres, from country, rock, pop and R&B covers to handwritten originals. Whether performing as acoustic solo acts or full bands, the musicians bring energy and drive to the stage and keep audiences coming back for more. A few of them shared with City Pulse how they got involved with music, how they began working with Dan Dan Laird of Angry Talent and more.
Mark Collins of Lansing has an unusual live music setup.
“I do a lot of live looping. For those who aren’t familiar, I typically mention Ed Sheeran since he’s a big name and does many of his shows as just him and the looper,” he said. “Basically, there are no pre-recorded studio tracks. I play and capture a few measures of guitar, then the same for bass, drums, etc., and then sing. At the end of the song, I erase and start over. It keeps me on my toes.”
Collins has some original tracks that he plays every once in a while, but he said, “Covers are what people really want to hear. Plus, there’s an art to taking a song someone else has written and produced and making it your own.”
He began performing in elementary school and was later involved in choir, theater and a band with his friends when he reached high school.
“It’s just continued from there,” he said. “Music always felt natural, like a language that works for all occasions or emotions. It fosters a sense of connection. There’s an expressive part that is different for each musician, and I love that. Taking a song that people know and doing something completely new and unexpected with it is a lot of fun.”
Before embarking on his solo venture, Collins played in the now-defunct Lansing bands Palexia Went to England and the Swift Brothers, both with Laird, whom he met in college.
“We worked together at Pizza Hut. There were like seven of them in the Lansing area at that point. I was actually his boss for a while,” Collins said. “We were roommates after that. He officiated my wedding, and I played for his. We were in bands together for the better part of almost two decades.”
Collins’ favorite venues to play in the Lansing area are Harrison Roadhouse, which he says is full of nostalgia since he used to play there weekly with Laird, and the Beer Garden at Horrocks Farm Market.
“It’s truly a unique venue. Where else can you play a show in a giant greenhouse while people enjoy beer and pizza?” he said.
To hear Collins’ music and view a list of his upcoming shows, visit
Darin Larner Jr.
Lansing native Darin Larner Jr. has been performing in front of audiences since he was 9 years old.
“It started at the Temple Club when my dad would play solo acoustic shows there. He would always have me up there to perform a couple of tunes,” Larner said. “I got my first guitar at the age of 8 and wrote my first original song at the age of 9. I just knew it would be my passion, and I stuck with it.”
Larner is the lead guitarist and vocalist for the Darin Larner Band as well as his dad’s band, Hidden Agenda. He also recently joined the cover band Geech. On top of all this, he plays occasional acoustic solo gigs, where he performs a mix of covers and originals.
“I always enjoy writing my own music and being able to showcase it when I play out,” he said. “I play all sorts of styles. I usually bring a jam-band vibe when performing rock, blues and funk songs, and even hip-hop and Motown.”
He enjoys playing at Lansing Brewing Co. and The Green Door with full bands and the Peanut Barrel when he’s solo.
“The crowd is always friendly, and the staff is incredible. They really respect all the musicians that play there,” he said of the Peanut Barrel. “But that being said, I’ve had nothing but great experiences playing at all the other venues Dan has booked me for.”
Larner began working with Angry Talent Entertainment a little over a year ago, when it was founded. He appreciates the gigs Laird has booked for him around town.
“The guy really looks out for us, and you can tell he cares,” Larner said.
Tommy McCord of Lansing began performing in 2001, at the age of 14.
“I grew up in Ionia, so I split my early show years between Lansing and Grand Rapids, but since I formed The Plurals in 2004, I’ve been primarily a Lansing-area musician,” he said. “The music scene drew me in as a teenager, Michigan State University brought me to live directly in the area, and the general community — music, art, culture — has now kept me here for over half my life! My most active gigging band at the moment is the Wild Honey Collective, which performs a unique spin on folk and country music in various lineups.”
Like a lot of musicians, he said, he’s “only ever known a world where I was fascinated by music and drawn to the sound of studio production.”
“I was fortunate to have older cousins that played instruments, so I got started early. It remains the center of my life and is my main source of expression, socialization and livelihood,” he said.
While McCord was teaching at School of Rock East Lansing, he met and connected with Laird.
“We quickly hashed out all the common folks of our social circle, and once he knew I was active in the folk/country/roots scene, he offered a small lineup of Wild Honey some performances at the Peanut Barrel in East Lansing at the beginning of 2023,” McCord said. “I enjoy working with Dan because he’s also a musician, so I know he and I share a lot of the same values with performing and treating artists fairly — it can be a rare thing in this industry.”
He enjoys playing punk and rock shows at The Avenue Cafe, where he’s also the events coordinator, but said the Wild Honey Collective thrives in “more intimate spaces” like Horrocks Farm Market and Moriarty’s Pub.
“As a graduate of MSU, I particularly enjoy when Dan books our duo/trio at the Peanut Barrel — it’s one of East Lansing’s few cultural mainstays,” he added.
Stay up to date with the Wild Honey Collective at gtgrecords.net/thewildhoneycollective.
Carl Pawluk regularly travels from St. Johns to Lansing to cover country hits, ‘80s and ‘90s radio classics and some newer pop songs. He’s been performing live for two years and has yet to join a band, but he said he would be interested in forming a duo if the right opportunity were to arise.
“I’ve loved music since I could speak,” he said. “My father was a musician. He’s gone now but is still probably my favorite. Music is a wonderful outlet for me. And the extra income is always nice.”
Pawluk came into contact with Angry Talent as he was beginning to perform live.
“When I was starting out, I reached out to Angry Talent because I saw a Facebook post about live music at the Peanut Barrel. I was trying to get booked wherever I could,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent around and not that many live music venues. We’re well into our second year of working together, and I’m grateful.”
In terms of favorite venues, he said his favorite place to play is “anywhere the crowd is engaged.”
“Aside from that, I appreciate venues that appreciate the value of entertainment. Dan and Angry Talent have been great at communicating that message on behalf of local talent. And to that end, places like the Peanut Barrel and Harrison Roadhouse have been a pleasure to work with.”
Check out Pawluk’s list of covers and upcoming performances at
John Patrick Peters of Lansing, known more simply as JP, was drawn to music by older family members.
“My father and grandfather played guitar, and it just seemed like what the cool kids did,” he said. “Over the years, it’s grown to have a much deeper meaning.”
He began playing guitar and singing when he was a teenager, performing in a variety of bands, ranging from pop and country to R&B and jazz. He later moved to the Lansing area to study jazz guitar at MSU under Professor Randy Napoleon. He now plays in a band called JP & The Energy, which has performed at a slew of Lansing festivals and beyond. The group plays Top 40 covers from the early 2000s to today as well as originals.
“In my own writing, I tend to touch on things I normally wouldn’t speak about in an artist way that may let me further express my idea by setting the vibe and atmosphere through the music,” he said. “As far as being a performer, it is most definitely a high you get playing for people and seeing the joy and outbursts of emotion that you’re helping to make happen. Music is the language of the world.”
Peters began working with Angry Talent after noticing Laird’s name and the name of the booking agency “were starting to appear everywhere.”
“From the second we first talked, I could tell he had something special. A drive and positive character not present in most local talent reps in the area,” Peters said. “We have been working together for about a year now and have some big plans coming up for 2024 involving JP & The Energy!”
Peters is excited about the new horizons that Angry Talent brings to the Lansing-area music scene.
“Hot take, but Lansing has had too much of the same stuff for the past 10-plus years, and I’m a firm believer that reinvigorating our local music scene with fresh new artists and venues is dire to having a growing scene and culture in our community,” he said.
Follow JP & The Energy at facebook.com/JPandTheEnergy.
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