Driftless Rhythm 'n' Grooves

The name Mike Starling is a familiar one to music fans in the Driftless Region. As a writer for the La Crosse Tribune, he covered the music and arts beat for many years, and produced and co-hosted the “From the Middle Border” show on Wisconsin Public Radio. He also played in a number of original music groups including Buzz Butler, Bean Hoy and the Joe Price blues band.

More recently his earthy and soulful instrumental music has been heard on numerous recordings and movie and TV soundtracks. Backwaters, a collection of guitar-based improvisations inspired by life along the Upper Mississippi and other waterways of the Driftless Region, is his first release on Momentous Records.

Official artist site


Photographs of the La Crosse River Marsh by John F. Sullivan are featured in this video for the Backwaters track "The Floating World." Thanks to John and the Friends of the La Crosse River Marsh for partnering with us on the Backwaters project and for all they do for Driftless Region hiking trails and wetlands conservation!


For a limited time, we are making the Backwaters album available for you to download for free exclusively at mikestarling.bandcamp.com. We ask that those who are able consider making a small donation to the Friends of the La Crosse River Marsh to help preserve the wetlands of western Wisconsin, one of the inspirations for the music on this album. 2021 releases include Mike's song Katrinaville and the piano-bass tune Quiescence by the Starling-Huus duo.