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April 21, 2012
By RENEE PRUSI - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - When asked to describe the sound of Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, bass player Spencer Cain waxes a bit poetic.

"Like a Michigan beach party, laughter, waves crashing, birds singing, at once calming and invigorating," Cain said in an email. "But seriously, we take the bluegrass approach to our music and present original tunes, as well as standards, with precision and power. We pride ourselves on tight vocal harmonies and face-melting instrumental breaks."

The band, based in lower Michigan, will be presenting several shows in the Upper Peninsula in early May, including for two nights at The Wild Rover in downtown Marquette.

Article Photos

Members of Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys are, from the left: Mark Lavengood, Keith Billik, Lindsay “Lou” Rilko, Spencer Cain and Joshua Rilko.

Members of the band are Kingsford native Lindsay Lou (Petroff) Rilko on guitar and vocals; her husband, Joshua Rilko, who hails from Saginaw, on mandolin; Keith Billik of Midland on banjo; Mark "Huggy Bear" Lavengood of Comstock Park on resophonic guitar; and Cain of Alpena on bass.

That's a different configuration than when the band first got started in the Lansing area in 2008, Cain said.

"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," he said in the band's online bio.

Fact Box


Thursday, May 3

Full Moon Concert Series

Rhode Road and Lake Antoine Road

Iron Mountain

FMI: resolvingconcerns

or call 906.779.4270

Tickets: $12 suggested donation

Friday, May 4 and

Saturday, May 5

Cinco de Mayo/Graduation Weekend party

The Wild Rover

142 W. Washington St., Marquette

No admission

The original band included Cain and Joshua Rilko, along with Joshua Brand and Jesse Myers. They found a good measure of success but were parting ways after college to pursue diverse careers.

"Enter Lindsay Lou, a beautiful person with a beautiful voice, who walked into an open mic night at Dagwood's Tavern in Lansing, the same place where the Flatbellys began, and reinvigorated the music," according to the biography.

She went to Ecuador for a study program but while there, worked on a dozen original songs which became the basis for the debut album, "Lindsay Lou - A Different Tune."

It was during the planning stages for the album the group, which now included Lindsay, Cain and Rilko, added Billik, then Lavengood, to complete its final lineup.

And romance blossomed as well, with Lindsay and Joshua marrying on July 23, 2011.

The band recently completed a major tour.

"The East Coast Tour was amazing," Cain said in his email. "We played 18 shows in 18 days in eight states. It was a bit of a whirlwind adventure, with the schedule being so packed, but the nice thing about the East Coast is that the states are small and the cities are close together.

"One of the coolest nights we had was in New York City at the Rockwood Music Hall," he said. "There was a great crowd of music lovers there, and we were lucky to have Michael Daves sit in with us for a couple of tunes. ... He is an awesome picker who, last fall, was touring as a duo with Chris Thile. Another really cool thing about the tour was all the wonderful hosts who opened their homes to us along the way. The beds, couches and showers (especially the showers) that they provided helped to make our trip even more enjoyable and cost-effective."

The early May trip to Marquette won't be the first visit here by the band.

"The first time we played in Marquette was the original Flatbellys (sans Lindsay) and we got hooked up with some local venues through our friends in the local band Grass Monkey," Cain said. "Since Lindsay is originally from the U.P., we try to get there a few times a year to visit family. We always have a great time when we get to the U.P., and The Wild Rover has proven to be no exception. That place is happenin'!"

2012 is proving to be an important year for Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys.

"This summer is shaping up to be a big one for us," Cain said. "We have been working really hard and it is paying off. We are booked at several major festivals this summer including Blissfest, Hoxeyville and Wheatland, and we just recently joined forces with the Americana Agency who will be handling our future booking.

"To top it off, we are in the studio for the next two weeks and will be releasing our new album sometime in June."

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is



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