The bluegrass band will send Mark “Huggy Bear” Lavengood off with a Michigan tour that kicks off Oct. 20, while The Great Ones — hip hop’s Lady Ace Boogie and JRob — celebrate a $1,000 win during ArtPrize.
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Being the lone member of a band living in a different city and state can be a difficult thing. Factor in having a young family and your own projects to manage, and making things work in a full-time collaborative space can be even more stressful.
That — along with the desire for Michigan-born and Nashville-based Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys to ramp up their touring schedule as they prepare to release their “Southland” LP — has led to an amicable parting of ways for Grand Rapids Dobro player extraordinaire Mark “Huggy Bear” Lavengood.
Lavengood, who recently released his second solo full-length album, “We’ve Come Along,” said he’s looking forward to spending more time at home with his wife and 16-month-old son, deepening his involvement with the ever-expanding Earthwork Music Collective, and writing, recording and touring more with the Mark Lavengood Band.
“From an outsider’s perspective, it’s really the worst time to leave the band,” he said in a statement on his Facebook page. “We just got done crushing a festival season playing some of the best festivals on the scene, we’ve got return visits to international markets and are pursuing new terrain to break into as well, plus we’re about to release a brand new friggin’ album.”
The band recorded the album, which features Lavengood on percussion and resonator guitar, with Sam Kassirer last November in Maine. Plans call for an April release in the United States after the Flatbellys spend some time in the United Kingdom and Australia to kick off 2018. Joining the Flatbellys on the road to start 2018 will be Jeff Wilson, former drummer for Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Steep Ravine.
According to Lindsay Lou Rilko, Wilson, who also plays electric guitar, electric bass and electronic slide, will be exploring a potential future with the band as they hit the road together and the group continues to evolve more into a percussive-driven, groove-based sound that incorporates electronic instruments.
“Jeff is just the perfect fit in his multi-instrumental capacity and it just seems like a natural movement forward for us,” she said. “With Mark, it’s really a mutual parting of ways. He’s wanted to do his own thing for a long time and we’d actually talked about him leaving a couple years ago, but it just didn’t really feel like the right time yet. At the same time, we had to significantly reduce the number of shows per year that we were playing to accommodate (him) and we’re ready to amp it back up. There’s truly nothing but love and support for both parties to follow the paths that feel right.”
The band will play its final seven shows with Lavengood later this month in what is being called the “Farewell to Mark Tour.” The tour will make stops in six Michigan cities, kicking off Oct. 20 in Suttons Bay and culminating with two shows at Otus Supply Co. in Ferndale.
“Since I made the decision to leave the band, it’s made for a pretty heavy, emotional transition, but I’m really excited to play these songs a few more go-rounds and leave it all out on the field,” Lavengood said. “You never know what the future holds. I’m sure there’ll still be collaboration and if we see each other at festivals there will be sit-ins. Lindsay Lou and the crew have a pretty bright 2018 already on the plate. It’s going to be big year for everyone I think.”
FAREWELL TO MARK TOUR
Oct. 20 – The Bay Theatre, Suttons Bay
Oct. 21 – Gopherwood Concerts, Cadillac
Oct. 22 – The Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids
Oct. 25 – The Robin Theatre, Lansing
Oct. 26 – Seven Steps Up, Spring Lake
Oct. 27-28 – Otus Supply, Ferndale (performing w/ The Ragbirds)
THE GREAT ONES TAKE HOME TOP PRIZE IN BLUE BRIDGE CONTEST
And while hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes will be doled out Friday night to the biggest winners in this year’s ArtPrize competition, The Great Ones already have cashed in.
The duo took home the $1,000 top prize in the song contest that was part of last weekend’s Blue Bridge Music Festival at ArtPrize — an event hosted by WYCE-FM and HopCat. Of the eight bands performing at the weekend festival, The Great Ones collected the most votes cast by ArtPrize voters for their song entry, “Do It 4 The Love.”
In addition to the $1,000 top prize, The Great Ones will receive another $500 for performing at Friday night’s ArtPrize awards ceremony at Rosa Park Circle.
“We love you, Grand Rapids, Michigan,” Lady Ace Boogie (Linda Tellis) and Robinson wrote on Facebook after the announcement of the winning song, which was written by Tellis and Robinson, produced by Brendon Coe and engineered by Crossworm.
The structure of the 2017 song contest was much different than those affiliated with ArtPrize in past years. WYCE station manager Quinn Mathews said each performer selected by WYCE to perform at the Blue Bridge fest had a song entered in ArtPrize for “song of the year” (which can be heard online here).
ArtPrize voters were encouraged to cast ballots for their favorite song from the eight bands who performed, with HopCat awarding the $1,000 prize to the act collecting the most votes. Only those bands performing at the festival were eligible for the song contest voting and award.
“It was completely just by public vote, no judges or categories, just straight up public vote, most votes received won,” said Mathews. “We stopped it (voting) after the last performance on the bridge Saturday night and whoever had the most number of votes received won.”
In some previous years, the song contest portion of ArtPrize was spearheaded by St. Cecilia Music Center, which awarded prizes to winning songs in several categories with all songs entered in ArtPrize part of the competition. St. Cecilia last managed the contest in 2015.
VIDEO: Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys, “River Jordan” (Live)
VIDEO: The Great Ones, “Do It 4 The Love”
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC