BluesFest Past Performers

Root Doctor

Root Doctor, born of the fertile Lansing, Michigan music community, had its humble beginnings in the open mic scene of the late 1980s. The deeply rooted, soulful connection shared by founding members Freddie Cunningham (lead vocals) and James Williams (bass guitar & vocals) anchors the band’s sound. Root Doctor has kept one other constant over the years: a powerful soul-blues sound with precious few peers. The current line-up features prodigal original band mate Mike Skory (Hammond B3, keyboards & vocals), Bill Malone (guitar & vocals), and Bobby Gardner (drums), all veteran performers whose abundant abilities allow Root Doctor to continue their long tradition of amazing audiences and wowing critics.

Root Doctor plays a diverse mix of classic soul and R&B alongside traditional blues and inspired original material. Along with 25 years of club, concert and festival performances, they have released six recordings to local and national acclaim. Their 2013 release, New Attitude, has been receiving airplay and rave reviews from around the world, including Australia, Italy and Japan.

Space Clowns

With Pericles Gomes, Mateus Brandao, Smile and Will Brazilian
This unique Brazilian band plays classic tunes and original ones, mixed with lots of fun and creativity. Not only do they have musical talent, but also lots of dancing, standup comedy and theatrical skills. Of course, they are not from planet Earth.

Stan Budzynski & Third Degree

Stan Budzynski & 3rd Degree, one of the most recognizable names in blues throughout Lansing’s music scene, features premier slide guitarist Stan Budzynski, bassist Ron Bretz, drummer Rick Alicea, and keyboardist Roger Little. In 2005 and again in 2009 Stan Budzynski & 3rd Degree won the Capital Area Blues Society’s annual Blues Brawl with sets of all-original tunes. The recent addition of vocalist Catherine Groll brings a fresh element of energy, new harmonies, and a variety of electrifying material.

The Lansing-based band has performed all over Michigan, including at the Jackson Blues Festival, Shepherd Blues Festival and this year will be their 8th appearance at Old Town BluesFest.

Stan is the proprietor of local production and recording studio Guitarman Productions. He specializes in blues recordings, and working on the production side of the industry allows him to stay connected and interact with aspiring and working musicians. Check out their music on Reverbnation.

Jonathon Gewirtz

Jon Gewirtz currently serves on the music faculties of Lansing Community College, Olivet College, and Hillsdale College where he teaches a variety of classes including private saxophone lessons, jazz band, music appreciation, music theory, ear training, and blues, jazz, and rock history. An active performer, he has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Brazil in various styles including classical, jazz, funk, salsa, R&B, blues, and pop. He is a member of faculty jazz ensembles from LCC and Hillsdale College. Jon has performed with the Michael Dease Big Band, Jimmy Dorsey Big Band, the Midland Symphony Orchestra, and the Lansing Symphony Big Band and currently performs regularly at venues and music festivals throughout Michigan.

Circuit Blues Band

Hailing from Flint, Saginaw, Detroit, and Lansing, the Circuit Band has amazed crowds all across the Midwest with their heavy-hitting soul and blues music. Vocals are led by powerhouse Tony Purifoy, and the band consists of drummer Steve McCray, bassist Coreyeon Ingram, guitarist Scott Vandel, and keyboardist Mike Lynch. The Circuit Band has performed with other legends including Albert King, BB King, Albert, Collings, Larry McCray, and many other notables.

Hank Mowery & the Hawktones

Gina Garner & the All Night Long Band

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Twyla Birdsong

One of Lansing’s most loved vocalists. Known for her show-stopping voice and stage presence, she’s sung with the Red Hot Blues Band, Wise Guys, Twyla and the Night Crawlers, the Lansing Blues Divas, Big Willy, and several others--and also experienced the honor of sharing the stage with such legends as Larry McCray and Freddie Cunningham. With her deep roots in the Blues, she continues to perform the style with unbridled passion, although recently adding a touch of Jazz. Her performances never disappoint.

Deacon Earl