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 with Gene Purcell. 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. That was followed in 2024 by Hoodoo Mystery Box, a genre-defying collection that blends traditional rock instrumentation (guitars, bass, keys, drums) with digital loops and some of the exotic wind and percussion instruments Starling has collected in his travels.

Mike's songs are also heard on Don't Read Between the Lines, a 2023 release showcasing the talents of trombonist Mark Lakmann, drummer Dave Purcell and Momentous Records artist Hans Mayer.

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!


Stream or download Mike's music exclusively at Bandcamp at mikestarling.bandcamp.com. Physical CDs are also available from Momentous Records. Contact us for more details.