"We've Come Along" Album Review by Radio Free Oklawaha County

An exciting new development in Radio Free Oklawaha County is The “Redbug Road Record Revue” where from time to time, we will provide you with a link to music that we find interesting and that may be a good fit for an upcoming festival or concert. Also occasionally, we may provide a review of a record from an up and coming artist.

For the first outing of Redbug Road Record Revue, I review “We Come Along” from Mark Lavengood's Bluegrass Bonanza. Lavengood can be heard as part of Lindsay Lou and the Flatbelly’s while touring all over the US and overseas but this new record release was timed perfectly for summer as it takes you right away into that feeling you get with the windows rolled down on a summer drive to a music festival, or possibly, eating a homegrown tomato.

In each of the several times I have sat and listened, I was pleased and occasionally surprised by the creativity and originality of the arrangements of the covers and original tunes alike. "We’ve Come Along" showcases Lavengood’s decidedly modern dobro playing without sacrificing the top-notch band on the recording…and the band interplay is striking in it’s groove and momentum. "Ol’ Slewfoot" drives as it should but keeps a John Hartford'esque lilt throughout which helps to deliver the tune mightily. "Three Day Blow" brings to mind early Pink Floyd and Sam Bush- you'll have to take my word for it until you hear it for yourself. Mark and the band's treatment of Springsteen’s "Hungry Heart" is energetic and personal. Lavengood’s solo dobro pieces are great showcases and perfectly placed on the album. 
I feel it’s important to point out here that these references to other artists shouldn't distract from the fact that there is a level of originality inherent in "We’ve Come Along" that is noteworthy. Mark Lavengood’s Bluegrass Bonanza has performed with ease -the difficult job of creating a new and original sound- while moving the bluegrass idiom forward in repertoire and delivery.

Don’t take my word for it. keep your eye out for We’ve Come Along from Mark Lavengood. Find out more at http://www.marklavengood.com/weve-come-along/

- Michael Lagasse of Radio Free Oklawaha County, Saint Augustine, FL.

"To know Huggy is to know Positivity" - "We've Come Along" Album review by Ryan Boldrey

From introspective dobro-driven tunes that wax poetic about heartbreak, addiction and modern America to up-tempo bluegrass cuts played with a traditional flair, Mark Lavengood's new album “We’ve Come Along” puts the listener right in the moment and keeps them moving down the metaphorical road to the next big feel. The album, in a nutshell, resonates life.

Lavengood, aka “Huggy Bear,” may be best known as the energetic, ever-talented, always-smiling multi-instrumentalist from Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, but he’s truly come into his own on his second full-length release.

Playing with an all-star cast of Michigan musicians, including former Flatbellys co-horts Keith Billik on banjo and Spencer Cain on bass, along with guitarist Kyle Rhodes and mandolin player Jason Dennie, Lavengood, his dobro and voice deliver on a handful of originals, a couple traditional and his take on the Boss’ “Hungry Heart.”

From the bluesy instrumental “Mule Kick” to the Americana “Vulpes, Vulpes” and “Three Day Blow” — the latter of which has the feel of an old Uncle Tupelo cut — the Bluegrass Bonanza refuses to be confined to a single genre. Covers of Ralph Stanley’s “Bound to Ride” and Johnny Horton’s “Ol Slew Foot” offer further proof as Huggy tips his hat to those who paved the way for today’s newgrass sound.

To know Huggy is to know positivity, honesty and a beaming light of joy. And that’s exactly what “We’ve Come Along” coveys. It’s an open, honest collection of songs that finds hope in despair, a reason to move on and a desire to keep on going.

The way in which Lavengood repeatedly discovers the light in the darkness is perhaps best summed up by the closing lyrics of the album-opening title track:

“Let’s cast out our nets and open every door

Let’s let love guide us, let it be,

As we roll on down the road

We’ve come a long way now

And we’ve learned somehow

To get by, alright.”

- written by freelance writer, journalist, camper, Ryan Boldrey.

"We've Come Along" Pre-order Kickstarter Campaign is LIVE now through May 10th!

 PREORDER "WE'VE COME ALONG" AT    HTTP://SMARTURL.IT/WEVECOMEALONG

PREORDER "WE'VE COME ALONG" AT HTTP://SMARTURL.IT/WEVECOMEALONG

From the cradle of the state. From the bowl of the heart. A brilliant fire erupts. A clack and hum. A warming spark. A fire passed on, on the tongue. Kindling made of string and octave, kindling made of rhythm and smoke. And now the fire is in your very hands, imagine! What you will hear in these tracks is the mark of persistence in difficult times, the proof of joy on a changing wind. Carried out of the woods, carried on the mouths of many, these are the songs we know in our bones, the songs we know in our bodies. These are the songs we will give to our children, and so also the hope, a seedling. Mark Lavengood has brought together something special: an album with punch and heart and precision to spare. And this band burns with a powerful energy, like a chugging, bluegrass machine. So friends, get ready! Take your place on the dance floor. Open up your songbook again. Embrace this album, dear listener. Let the warmth and generosity of spirit that moves through these tracks open up your own line of singing. It’s a big old world out there, but here we are together and the band’s about to start another song. We’ve come a long way now. We’ve Come Along.

Written by Russell Brakefield, author of Field Recordings.

Check out the "We've Come Along" Kickstarter campaign at http://smarturl.it/wevecomealong!

 

The Michigan Fall Color Tour Rolls along...


The past month and a half has brought Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys to some of our favorite places we know to be: The Ark, Strawberry Music Festival, Wheatland Music Festival, Harvest Gathering, Carolina in the Pines, Albino Skunk Festival, International Bluegrass Music Association conference, and so many friends and family members houses along the way! We even fit in some time to release this cool video of our song, "Everything Changed" that our friends with Big Foot Media created!

As we begin the Michigan Fall Color Tour, we’re also gearing up to take a couple solid months off of the road to focus inwards on other musical and creative energies. Ever since I became a Flatbelly late 2007, we have pretty much taken the road warrior approach to performing   **being on the road touring for 150-200+ shows taking whatever you could get whilst shooting for the stars**   It seems like every band applies this strategy the moment you decide to become a working class musician playing full-time for a living. But we’ve come to a point where we are deciding to take more time to diversify our energies and have more time off the road. 

 the Sweet Water Warblers

the Sweet Water Warblers

We all have similar desires for our upcoming time: practice, write, have a relatively personal life, etc. I am planning to work on a back log of musical ideas in various shapes and forms and flesh them out into demo form to determine what sort of musical project it could lend itself toward. The Mark Lavengood Bluegrass Bonanza! will be playing regionally throughout Michigan (see the dates here) and have plans to record an EP in Grand Rapids late November! On top of gigging, making demos, and practicing, I’ll also be working on finding a nest somewhere in Grand Rapids…and spending time with my family. And probably a whole slew of other fun things that will surely spontaneously combust in front or behind of my periphery! 

 photo by Myrna Jacobs

photo by Myrna Jacobs

The lovely Lindsay Lou will be touring Michigan with the magnificent May Erlewine Bernard and that rapscallion Rachael Davis; together, with their powers combined, they form the highly-anticipated Sweet Water Warblers! They first appeared at Michigan’s favorite family friendly jam-rock festival, Hoxeyville, in 2014. There are rumors of a potential recording session at some point, but for the meanwhile, you can check their upcoming tour schedule out at here. Josh and Lindsay will also be doing some holiday shows in Michigan with Max Lockwood and John Driscoll as Time & Luck. Check their tour dates here. We're all really happy for Max who just won the critics choice for the music portion of this year's ArtPrize celebration with his tune that we all recorded together called, "Burning It Down".

Josh has been pursuing other musical opportunities outside of gigging and has been creating music for our friend Jason Whalen’s (of Big Foot Media) nature conservancy videos. He's also be giving online skype lessons and local lessons out of his home in Nashville. He and PJ are also planning on finding some sideman work in Nashville as well. We will all be recording music for the band and bouncing ideas back and forth to prepare for a music retreat we are planning for sometime mid-January!

If you have a chance to see us this week, we’re playing in Ferndale on Thursday at the Loving Touch; Friday in Three Rivers at the Riviera Theatre (both of these with our friends, the Crane Wives); Saturday at the Christy Farm Nature Preserve in Fremont, Ohio. Our show at the Salt of the Earth in Fennville, MI is sold out, but I believe there may be spots available for dinner reservations. Tonight, and tonight only, we’ll be performing our album, “Ionia” live in it’s entirety on concert window at 8 pm Central Standard Time! Visit this link to view in: https://www.concertwindow.com/111871-lindsay-lou-the-flatbellys

For all Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys shows, visit our website: www.lindsayloumusic.com/shows

Thanks for tuning in friends! See ya’ tonight at https://www.concertwindow.com/111871-lindsay-lou-the-flatbellys

Methodist Preacher

It's my birthday today, and I've been holding off releasing this video for the "right" time. I realized there was no better time than NOW! So here it is friends! 

In the second week of January of 2014, I assembled a crew of ace musicians from Michigan to record on my album, No Part of Nothin'. We went into Double Phelix Studio in Kalamazoo, Michigan and captured 15 songs in 2 and half days - all ended up making the cut for the album! 

Mad props to the whole team who came together to make this happen: the players, the engineers, the kickstarter backers, my family and friends, and all of you for listening and supporting my many musical endeavors! Check it out and leave some feedback in the comments section if you dig!

For more music, see my STORE link.

A Wee Wiser

 Photo by Lindsay Lou 

Photo by Lindsay Lou 

It seems like so much has happened in the last thirty days while on tour with Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys. That’s because so much has happened! It can be difficult relating the sure volume of experiences that we live out while on the road from the sites and lush landscapes to the venues, villages, and townspeople. The culture is as vibrant as the array of puffy white and speckled animals against the rolling green pastures. We played 29 shows in 32 days time, each and every one diverse and rewarding. I swam in my birthday suit on three separate occasions in North Atlantic Seas. We spent an average of about 3 hours in the van every day, sometimes up to 7 hours, and rarely anything less than an hour and a half. Humans are not meant to spend so much time sedentary stuck inside a vehicle. But we combat the trials and tribulations of riding in Gerry’s 2001 White Ford Transit Van with a slew of van-activities. We all like to read and write and think and stare into the vastness of the lands - I also like to get some van-aerobics in at least 5-10 minutes a day. You know: sitting upright and focusing on proper posture - ankles to knees to thighs to hip to spine to the crown of your skull. Now contract your tummy, back and side body muscles; inhale, hold, exhale, repeat. You get the idea. The van is large enough to even stand upright and do some modified warrior poses and simple tai chi movements. Staying active is hard to achieve due to our schedules, still, we do pretty well. Through discipline, consciousness and will, one can make anything become possible. 

 Photo by Lindsay Lou

Photo by Lindsay Lou

Usually, I have difficulty being musically creative and active. It’s not the routine is hard so much that it doesn’t provide much personal space or free time (plus hours on end in the van). Perhaps (certainly) it also has to do with my varying mental states of managing life on the road contrasted against my desire to start to settle into different life routines. But these past thirty days have actually been chock full of creative spurs! I wrote a complete song while on an 8 hour drive day to a gig in the western part of Cork County. I also finished off a few other songs that I had begat way back when, learned a handful of other numbers AND worked up new material with Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys!

Another thing about living on the road is the sacrifice on a number of relationships that you just can’t maintain as well as you could if you were based in one city, one house for more than a couple days a week. The flipside to this is that you deepen your social communities and global friendships. Though the times we travelers actually spend together be seldom, the experiences are worth their weight in gold and will stay with you forever. But life is surely a balancing act: diversification in accordance to the source seeking sustainable growth and enlightenment, n’estce-pas? 

 Photo by Lindsay Lou

Photo by Lindsay Lou

Music and the road go together like soil and seed . We all like to listen to music on the road. Not all the time, but when time and energy are concentrated fully on musicians works of art - minds expand and the neurological explosions course through our veins in iron and electricity. It can be one of the most pure forms of therapy - indeed, the most profound I have ever experienced personally. A few days ago, I got word that my sister had given birth to a healthy baby boy. The labor was trying, but both mama and baby are strong and healthy! I couldn’t help but let the flurry of emotions of life/ death/ desire/ happenstance/ love just come flooding through me! I started off by putting on The Ollam’s self titled debut album to start the flow. The rolling Scottish hills during this part of the drive mixed with the band’s super groovy, celtic eclectic fusion as the soundtrack was just what the doctor ordered. I then put on Seth Bernard’s Reconciliation and the Mystical Beyonda for some inspiration and emotional stimulation which led me to processing more of my recent life’s experiences. The album deals a lot with life and death and how to heal and process the immense array of emotions. Earlier this year (while on tour) my Nana died; then later (on a separate tour), my Bumpa passed on. I processed it in a healthy manner as I always aspire to do. But just as quickly as they took their last breathe, little Micah James Shelner breathed his first. The circle continues on through cosmic revolutions.

 Photo by Lindsay Lou 

Photo by Lindsay Lou 

But life doesn’t just happen, then go away. It stays with you forever; the good, the bad, and the tragic. And we’ll continue processing life’s accumulation of experiences the rest of our lives. We can either let them lift us up or make us crumble. It depends on our perspective; how we choose to view the world at large. It matters not if you live in a house in some town or somewhere out on the open road - we alone control the perception of our own lives, though we are not the only ones who influence it. So what filter setting do you implement ? Somber? Ecstatic? Blue? Happy-go-lucky? I try to keep mine perpetually on the “Sunny Side of Life” setting and let the weather take it where it blows.


Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland with the Flatbellys!

Well, Josh, Lindsay, PJ, and myself made the 7 hour flight from Washington DC to London in one piece last week, but, unfortunately, without some of our instruments and merchandise that were gate checked! It's the age old story of the airline companies discrimination toward musicians. And it's exacerbated in knowing that it cost us nearly $2,500 in CD sales at the HebCelt fest in Hebridean because we didn't have our CDs or merchandise! Folks - if you're a musician, I'd suggest never traveling with Virgin Atlantic. And a handful of other companies...but I digress.

Every other element of the tour has been fantastic!  Our driver Gerry, one of the sauciest yet charming Scotsmen I've ever met, has been keeping it between the lines as we drive across the beautiful interstates throughout the United Kingdom. His taste in music is highly sophisticated and his knowledge of the scene throughout the 70's to today is just fascinating. We just completed JJ Cale's album "Naturally" and we're on to some Harry Nillson now! I'm also reading Steve Jobs' biography which I'm finding absolutely invigorating! (you gotta' keep busy with these 3-5 hour drives over here, right?!) 

Our weeklong stint in Scotland has come to a close and we are off to England for the next week and change. I am infatuated with the accents of the people equally as much as I am blown away by the rolling hills and gorgeous scenery! I couldn't be more grateful to be here, now. Where does your gratitude lie in this moment? Comment away!

New website, new tour!

Wow! It has been so long since I used and updated my old website. I have been so completely inundated with touring and music making with Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys and keeping busy betwixt the few and far between "down times" that we've had.

From here on out, I am going to strive to keep this website as an interface between the many things that I do keep busy and keeping up with my people! 

I am gearing up for a 5 week tour of the United Kingdom (Scotland, Northern Ireland ,Wales, and England) with Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys for the second time this year. Since our most recent 9 week tour out west (including a jaunt to Scotland for 2 weeks), I've toured with other bands, worked with the youth of Northern Michigan and other Earthwork Music Collective artists on a project called the Quest - a music camp put on by Seeds and the Earthwork Music collective, and have gotten to visit with family and friends. I will be posting updates from all future travels here, so stay tuned, and dig deep! Thanks for checking this out!