Oak Glen to host Flatbellys

NEW MANCHESTER – In these days of pitch-corrected, programmed music, bands like Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys are finding an audience among people looking for contemporary music with a sense of history.

Lead singer Lindsay Lou Rilko, 25, of Ann Arbor, Mich., is shy about labels but said roots music is a good enough description of what the band does.

“The songs I’ve written draw from all the roots genres: jazz, swing, Appalachian, bluegrass,” she said. “Trying to put labels on an abstract thing like music can be a difficult thing to do.”

Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys will be performing at Oak Glen Middle School at 7 p.m. Tuesday as part of the Oak Glen Culture Club’s concert series. Tickets are $5 for students and $8 for adults.

The band’s shows currently showcase the music from its 2012 CD “Release Your Shrouds.”

Rilko said the acoustic band’s music is inspired and informed by bluegrass, while also transcending it.

“I don’t necessarily draw just from bluegrass when I write songs. I draw from whatever feeling strikes me at the moment,” she said. “So my songs are more on the jazz and blues side of things.”

In addition to singing, Rilko also plays guitar and clawhammer banjo. Her husband, Joshua Rilko, sings and plays mandolin. Other band members are Mark Lavengood on resophonic guitar, Spencer Cain on upright bass and Keith Billik on banjo and guitar.

The band members met while students at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. At the time, the band’s style was more traditional bluegrass, but Rilko’s influence has transformed it into eclectic bluegrass.

Rilko was attending Michigan State with plans to go to medical school. She got her degree in human biology, but her plans changed when she met the members of the Flatbellys.

“It’s what I envisioned myself doing as a little kid – my version of being a firefighter or an astronaut. I told my dad I definitely was going to be a singer,” she said.

In high school, her guidance counselor – “the voice of reason” – told her she should have a backup plan, so she decided to go to college. She’s glad to be doing what she’s doing now, which is touring, singing, playing and writing songs full time.

The band’s stop in Hancock County will be the start of a month-long tour that includes North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida. The band just completed a five-week tour of Nebraska, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California.

Rilko said she’s pleased with the strength of the roots movement and the increasing popularity of bands like hers.

“Now that we’ve been touring, it’s really cool and exciting to see and meet bands just like us who are popping up all over the place and who have been doing this all along,” she said.

“This music is all over the place, and it’s coming about independently.”

(Huba can be contacted at shuba@reviewonline.com)