weve come along

"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.