Lansing, MI - Circa 2008: The story of the Flatbellys begins with the convergence of several young, musically driven, bluegrass obsessed, college students, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Joshua and Spencer along with Joshua Brand and Jesse Myers made up the original group, and they started travelling far and wide to insert themselves into every possible musical situation. Their energetic, yet humble approach to the music was welcomed at jams and festivals all over the state, where their late night stamina became as well known as their performance capabilities. The Flatbellys got their name after a jam at one of these festivals, where a picker proclaimed "It's good to see a bunch of you flatbellies out here pickin with us grey-beards!"
When the college days were done, the boys inevitably parted ways to follow diverse paths, and the end seemed near. Enter, Lindsay Lou: a beautiful person with a beautiful voice, who walked into an open mic night at Dagwood's Tavern in Lansing, MI (the same place where the Flatbellys began) and reinvigorated the music. She was a natural fit, and when she left shortly thereafter to live and study for five months in Ecuador, it became clear that the group was missing a now essential member.
While in Ecuador, Lindsay honed in on her bluegrass chops and wrote songs prolifically. Upon her return, she had dozens of new original songs, which became the basis for the debut album; Lindsay Lou – A Different Tune.
During the planning stages for the album and the subsequent performances, the Flatbellys gained another crucial element with the addition of Keith Billik on the 5-string banjo. The Flatbellys had long known Keith from their frequent visits to the local music store mecca, Elderly Instruments, where Keith worked as floor manager for over a decade. His banjo playing not only offered the driving bluegrass sound, but also brought a level of sophistication to the less traditional numbers.
The evolution of the present day Flatbellys took a turn in the summer of 2010, with the addition of Mark Lavengood on the dobro. While rehearsing for a performance at Blissfest, a friendly faced young man with a dobro walked up and asked to play along. While Lavengood began to do so, the talent he had to offer came through loud and clear. A year later, when he stepped into the group with a world of positive energy and started booking shows for the band, it was apparent that he would become a tight fixture of the band. The 5 piece unit went into the studio and recorded Release Your Shrouds in 2012.
Today the band tours as a 4 peice with PJ George on bass, Mark Lavengood on dobro, Joshua Rilko on mandolin, and Lindsay Lou on guitar and clawhammer banjo. They recently recorded a 4 song EP in Boston called Here Between, and have been touring non-stop ever since. Having played 200 shows in 2013, the year ahead looks as exciting as ever.
An infectious spirit and undying optimism permeates Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, and they continue full steam ahead, writing, travelling, and performing a diverse collection of music that spans from hard-line traditional bluegrass to the progressive fringe of the genre.
The Earthwork Music collective believes in the intrinsic and historical power of music to raise both community and self-awareness and serves to facilitate and encourage original music in the state of Michigan and beyond.