Stan Budzynski & 3rd Degree
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Stan Budzynski & 3rd Degree

Lansing, Michigan, United States | SELF

Lansing, Michigan, United States | SELF
Band Blues Rock


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The best kept secret in music


"Stan Budzynski & 3rd Degree Promo"

See our latest promo sheet with updated biography, contact information and links. - Self published press promo release

"Local Blues Favorites"

cover story ::September 14, 2005

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Plus sugar cookies

The blues is the basis for the lion’s share of 20th-century American music, from jazz to funk to rock and roll. That makes blues bands a lot like your basic sugar cookie recipe — a salty-sweet foundation endlessly adaptable to all sorts of delights. Local blues favorites Stan Budzynski and the 3d Degree bear this notion out with an eclectic sound and an astonishingly broad repertoire. "We’ve done 200 songs in the last seven years," says Budzynski, "and that keeps us from getting bored. The audience never knows what we’re going to pull out of our hat."

With Budzynski on guitar, Ron Bretz on bass and Dan Mead on drums, the 3d Degree played at the Exchange for six years, and now holds forth at the Green Door on Wednesdays. "Ron and I went to high school in the ‘60s," says Budzynski, "so we were influenced by British Invasion bands." Of course, British groups like the Beatles and Rolling Stones were themselves avid blues fanatics, so for Budzynski and crew the blues circle remains unbroken, however far-ranging their influences.

Stan Budzynski and the 3d Degree

Sept. 17
6 – 7 p.m.
North Stage

Guitar-wise, Budzynski says he combines Chicago-style electric blues with Cajun-style slide and acoustic sounds, constantly changing up the sound to keep it fresh. "We even do reggae," he says.

A recently added keyboardist, Steve "Doc" Yankee, adds yet another dimension. "He brings in a honky-tonk blues piano thing," says Budzynski.
For BluesFest, Budzynski plans to run his crew through a whole set of original material. "We’d like to avoid getting pigeonholed as a band that does covers," he says. "This audience will be a nice cross-section, different from our bar-type jobs."

Budzynski says the group also plans to play a "little tribute to the spirit of New Orleans."

-Lawrence Cosentino


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©Copyright City Pulse
- Lansing City Pulse

"Lucky #seven"

Winner of this year's Capitol Area Blues Competition to represent Lansing in the finals of the W. C. Handy International Blues Competition in Memphis, 3rd Degree has been rocking clubs in downtown Lansing for seven years, drawing crowds of students, sports fans, down-home partiers, and hard-core blues fanatics with their trademark take-no-prisoners groove and smoking solos. But national exposure has been elusive ...until now.

"This is Lucky Seven for us," stated bandleader and guitar whiz Stan Budzynski firmly, when contacted by phone at his country home and studio. "We're honored to win the 2005 CABS event because the competition in Mid-Michigan is so stiff, but this is our year. There's a saying that you have to pay your dues to play the blues, and I think we've done that, so this year we chose an all-original set to show the crowd who we really are. It's exciting that tunes we created together were recognized tonight. Ironically, one of the is called "Seven-Year Itch!"

"The core of 3rd Degree is guys who have been playing blues-based rock since we were kids," comments bassist and attorney Ron Bretz. His wide ranging musical taste has edged the band's repertoire to include everything from covers of the Neville Brothers to Johnny Cash, with some soul, heavy-metal, and garage music thrown in to pay homage to his Detroit roots. Drummer Dan Mead, who also sits in with Squids, brings a cutting-edge new rock sensibility to the mix, which is melodically rounded out by Steve "Doc" Yankee's finesse on keyboards. A classically trained pianist, Doc's path led him into New Orleans style boogie, a wow with every audience.

"We can -and we have-- done anything to survive in this business," says Budzynski, "but now we're ready to shift into top gear and cruise with our own identity a little more. Our sound is like our Michigan roots - ready for anything, steady, but it doesn't scream out for attention, so it's hard to get noticed sometimes. But once people hear us, they feel the strength of our groove that goes back to the blues roots. We're like all regular, hardworking Americans who do a hell of a job and don't get the payoff often enough, so when we let it roll, people are carried along and the crowd becomes part of the fun. Because of that natural intensity, we don't have to take a backseat to anybody who plays blues on the national scene."

The story of Stan's bottleneck slide incident illustrates the band's hardworking ethic. While hurrying to play a benefit for a local charity before the CABS competition, his professional guitar slide was forgotten. Because slide guitar is a highlight of the band's show, it was an emergency to find a slide as they mounted the stage to compete. With down-to-earth aplomb, Stan took a Corona beer bottle and proceeded to tear the place up. It's all in a day's work for 3rd Degree, agrees blues headliner and legend in the making, Larry McCray, a longtime buddy, says "I'm happy to see 'Zynsk' get this chance. I've always enjoyed inviting him onstage to jam."

For information and bookings, contact Budzynski at (517) 645-9773 or email.

3rd Degree is looking forward to playing in Memphis, and invites everyone to hear us every other Wednesday night (9:30 pm - 1:30 am) at The Green Door in Lansing. If you'd like to be on our mailing list for band news and show dates, email us.

- Lansin City Pulse

"Blues Brawl Winners"

On a more local scale, the Lansing blues scene stepped up to the plate recently with the 3rd Annual Capital Area Blues Society Blues Brawl, held May 15 at the Green Door, 2005 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing. Stan Budzynski and Third Degree came out on top, competing against a who’s who of local blues including Harmonica Buzz and Mo’ Kauffey, Cash O’Reilly and the Downright Daddys, and the Chris Canas Blues Revolution. Second place went to Those Delta Rhythm Kings, with Frog and the Beeftones (featuring special guest Kathleen Mendoza) placing third. The Old Town Blues Band garnered the People’s Choice Award for the second year in a row.

Budzynski and Third Degree (Steve "Doc" Yankee, Ron Bretz and Dan Mead) will represent Lansing in the International Blues Challenge held in Memphis next January, and scored $1,000 in cash and prizes from the Capital Area Blues Society and the Old Town Blues Festival.
- City pulse

"3RD DEGREE ain't no MC"

MUSIC :: OCTOBER 13, 2004

This Third Degree ain’t no MC


Third Degree
Catch them every Wednesday night at the Green Door, 2005 E. Michigan. Music runs from 9:30 p.m. to close, and there is a $3 cover charge. 21+. (517) 482-6376It is embarrassing to accept and admit the extent of a journalistic mistake that turns a group of middle-aged bluesmen into a 20-something hip-hop MC.

Yes, last week’s article on Green Door was mistaken. No, the long-time blues venue is NOT turning urban on us, and, no, the seemingly mild-mannered law professor sitting in front of me is not known for street corner b-boy battles: Ron Bretz is a member of Lansing’s other Third Degree, a long-standing fixture of the local blues and classic rock scene.

Third Degree (l to r): Ron Bretz,Dan Budzynski, Dan Mead and Matt Miller.
The line-up is unusual, featuring one full-time musician (Stan Budzynski on guitar), a drummer who works in the medical industry (Dan Mead), a law student (Matt Miller on the keys) and Bretz the lawyer on bass. Bretz says he’s often greeted with surprise when he admits his field, but adds, “It’s not that uncommon. There’re a lot of us. People will say, ‘Do you have day jobs?’ and I’ll say, ‘Yeah, Dan and I do. Dan works at Blue Cross/Blue Shield — kind of a boring job.’ I try to downplay what I do and say, ‘Yeah, I teach at Cooley Law School.’

“The core of Third Degree are all guys who have been playing rock ‘n’ roll since we were kids — in my case, that means 40 years.” Bretz began his band career when he was 12, forming a group called The Captives. “I’m one of those baby boomers who saw the Beatles on ‘Ed Sullivan’ and said, ‘Mom, I wanna take guitar lessons,’ he says.

Budzynski, owner of Guitarman Productions, a recording studio just outside of Lansing, is a major player in the local music scene: “Any musician over the age of 40 who’s been playing in this town knows Stan Budzynski,” Bretz says. The Stan Budzynski Trio is a prominent local blues act recently highlighted at the Old Town Bluesfest. The third core member of the band, Mead, also plays in local act Squids, and the group is rounded out by Miller, who Bretz jokingly refers to as “our sex appeal.”

Bretz wears his old-school sensibilities on his sleeve. “A lot of that rock stuff from the ‘70s was just garbage,” he says. “I mean, I was never a Led Zeppelin fan. It was good rock ‘n’ roll, but Robert Plant’s shrieking voice gave me a headache. And, he made it possible for all those other adenoidal shriekers like Rush and Kansas and Styx and all those horrible bands.” For Bretz’ taste, it’s jazz and blues all the way, although the incredible range of songs that Budzynski knows allows Third Degree to accommodate rambunctious audience requests.

Five and a half of the band’s six years were spent as the Wednesday night house band at The Exchange in downtown Lansing. Now you can find them at the Green Door on Wednesday evenings.

The group is digging the change, particularly since the Green Door has a tradition of random musicians sitting in with the bands.

That’s an open invitation to their fans, or simply fans of music, and I’m betting they wouldn’t even mind if the random MC were to hop on stage and rock the mic. Just don’t try to step to their name, fool.


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©Copyright City Pulse
- City pulse


Stan Budzynski-GUITARMAN
Best of Stan Budzynski & 3rdDegree Live
Live@The Old Town Blues Festival 2008



Stan Budzynski and 3rd Degree have been tearing up mid-Michigan blues clubs for fourteen years. Drawing on many years of musical experience -"We've all been playing since we were babies, to paraphrase the song," notes Budzynski - the combination of "Guitarman Stan" on guitar, Ron Bretz on bass, Dan Mead on drums and Greg Hodge on keyboards has resulted in a potent mix of music excitement. Honed by many nights of hot jamming, the band has developed a sound drawing on many blues styles. Winning the CABS competition in 2006 and 2009 and playing in the International Blues Competition has given 3rd Degree an opportunity to play original songs and a chance for national exposure. DVDS & CD's are available through http://www.Guitarman