Award-winning Traditional Bluegrass!
Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper recently performed at the Corsair Trails Concert Series in Tawas City, Michigan to a packed house of enthusiastic fans. The band received a fantastic interview written by Jenny Jimenez for the Iosco News.
TAWAS CITY – From the opening number to the final song, Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper commanded the audience’s attention during the 23rd annual Corsair Concert Series and kept the crowd moving the entire performance.
The bluegrass band from Indiana played the second of the three shows in the series and did so for a packed house on Saturday at the Family Center of the Tawas United Methodist Church.
Previous Corsair performances have always been entertaining but, oftentimes, there are almost as many slow-paced tunes as there are hard-driving ones – this was not the case when Cleveland and Flamekeeper took to the stage.
The band, which was established in 2006, performed the Corsair series shortly after they got together and made their return this year, much to the delight of those in attendance.
“It’s great to be back here,” Cleveland told the crowd. “Thank you for sharing your Saturday evening with us.”
Whether singing along, tapping their feet or clapping their hands, guests were immediately taken by the band, who have won four International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) awards for Instrumental Group of the Year.
Cleveland himself has taken home nine IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year awards and his accolades were proven to be justifiably earned, as he and his band didn’t miss a beat during their performance.
Each member of the group is talented in his own right, but it was the cohesiveness of the musicians which was most impressive.
For example, the voice of Nathan Livers, vocals and mandolin, when paired with that of Joshua Richards, vocals and guitar, is virtually flawless and creates a pleasant, well-balanced sound.
Tyler Griffith brought the performance full circle with his bass-playing skills, while 18-year-old Gaven Largent mixed it up the entire evening, showcasing his talents on not only the banjo, but the resophonic guitar and dobro as well.
The scene stealer of the evening, however, was Cleveland on the fiddle, who stayed true to his word when he was interviewed by this publication prior to the performance. He promised an upbeat show for the crowd and he certainly didn’t disappoint.
Whether cracking jokes or blowing people away with his seemingly effortless musical ability, Cleveland was clearly a crowd favorite.
He began playing the fiddle at age 4 and, once he started attending the Kentucky School for the Blind, he took string classes which focused on classical violin.
His heart remained with the fiddle and bluegrass music though and he honed his skills to the point where he has played at the Grand Ole Opry, just to name one of his many accomplishments.
Standout moments from the concert included performances of “Dark as the Night, Blue as the Day,” a cover which Cleveland originally recorded with Vince Gill, and “Too Late for Goodbye,” the band’s spin on a Julian Lennon song, featured on their third album, “On Down the Line.”
What really seemed to put the audience in a trance, however, was Cleveland’s blistering solo fiddle performance of “Jack O’ Diamonds,” with which the crowd became particularly engrossed.
As if Cleveland and Flamekeeper hadn’t already proved that the audience would be getting their money’s worth that night, the band upped the ante by bringing Lloyd Douglas on stage for the second set of the performance.
That name should sound familiar to Corsair regulars, since Douglas played the Jan. 31 show of the concert series with his band Detour.
Cleveland said Douglas has filled in for, and performed with, Flamekeeper since the group first started.
When Douglas picked up his five-string banjo and nailed his guest spot with the band, it was clear he has what it takes to be on the same playing field as this award-winning group.
“He lived in Nashville for 20 years and played banjo professionally with some of the top bands,” said concert organizer Gary Nelkie, of Douglas.
Another fun fact revealed by Nelkie: “Many don’t realize that Lloyd is the engineer who drives the Lake State Railroad locomotive through Tawas most nights.”
Not only did ticket prices allow for the audience to take in a great show on Saturday, but the proceeds raised from the event went to a good cause, that being the maintenance and upkeep of the Corsair cross country skiing and hiking trails in the Huron National Forest.
Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper are proud to announce "Fiddlin' Joe," the first single from their Compass Records release, On Down the Line, has reached #1 on the National Bluegrass Survey's Top 30 Songs chart for March. "Fiddlin' Joe" was written specifically for the band by Mark "Brink" Brinkman, a 2014 nominee for IBMA's Songwriter of the Year award. Additionally, "On Down the Line" has spent six months on the Top 15 Albums chart and is #8 for March and is #1 on SiriusXM Bluegrass Junction's Most Played Albums chart!
Lauded as Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper's best album to date, On Down the Line features fourteen tracks that showcase the band's rich instrumental blend and tight, three-part vocal harmonies with tunes that span from straight-ahead bluegrass (“Fiddlin’ Joe," "Orange Blossom Special") to melodic, heart-felt songs such as "Just Call Me Crazy" and the imaginative reworking of the traditional "Jack O'Diamonds" as a solo fiddle tour de force. The album's second single, "Too Late For Goodbyes," has made its debut on the March Top 30 Songs chart at #29.
With the success of the band, it is no surprise they have been invited to headline the Imagine Awards, an annual event produced by Rauch, Inc., a New Albany, Indiana based non-profit organization that supports people with disabilities and their families in nine area counties. Although Cleveland shies away from the notion that he is an inspiration to others, he is still humbled to be part of such a great event. "Being unable to see is my normal, I've never known anything different," states Cleveland. "Still, I realize I've been able to accomplish a lot and I am honored to bring my band to the Imagine Awards and show people with disabilities that they, too, can accomplish anything they set their mind and heart on." Cleveland is featured in this week's edition of the News And Tribune's "So In" Magazine!! with an interview about his involvement in the Imagine Awards.
The Imagine Awards will take place on Saturday, March 7th in Elizabeth, Indiana. More information on the awards can be found at www.rauchinc.org.
Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper are proud to welcome Gaven Largent as their newest member. Largent will make his official debut as a Flamekeeper member in Nashville, Tennessee when the band plays the world famous Station Inn and SPBGMA Convention this weekend.
A proud Virginia native, Gaven Largent was born in Winchester to a musical family: his father is a church organist and his grandfather has played in several local bluegrass gospel bands around the Shenandoah Valley. Largent was first introduced to bluegrass by his aunt and uncle who had an extensive collection of traditional bluegrass records and took him to many shows around the area. He started playing the guitar at age eight and a year later began playing resophonic guitar, his primary instrument. At age ten Largent began playing the banjo and soon started entering contests around Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. To date, Gaven has won numerous contests including: Best All Around Performer at the Galax, VA Fiddler’s Convention (2010); 1st place in the Maryland State Banjo Competition (2008); and 1st place in the Galax Dobro Competition (2008, 2010). In 2009 he was honored to be an invited guest performer with Rhonda Vincent and the Rage at the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry. Since 2012 Largent has performed in several bands including Bud’s Collective and Lonesome Highway. He plays a Gold Star banjo and endorses Schoonover Guitars.
Largent will be replacing former Flamekeeper member, Glenn Gibson, who took a break from traveling the end of 2014. "Gaven is an incredible musician who plays way beyond his years," stated Michael Cleveland. "He has his own style on both banjo and dobro and he definitely has the flash to go along with it. He knows when to play and when not to, which is sometimes most important. You can tell that he listens to everyone around him and does his best to compliment and enhance the sound of the band. I've been fortunate enough to get to play with some really incredible musicians, but I've never heard someone so advanced for his age."
Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper will perform in Nashville at the world famous Station Inn on Friday, February 6th and the National SPBGMA Convention on Saturday, February 7th.
Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper announce a new single from their latest album, On Down the Line. "Too Late for Goodbyes" is a hard-driving bluegrass take on the Julian Lennon hit from 1984. Propelled by instrumental trades between banjo player Glenn Gibson and Cleveland, the bluegrass version is an unexpected twist on what was originally a rock song steeped in the electronic synth sounds of the era.
"Singer Josh Richards tackles Julian Lennon’s "Too Late For Goodbyes" to open proceedings and it makes for a far more effective bluegrass song than you could have imagined." – Martin Jones, Rhythms Magazine
"On Down the Line, a terrific record by any standard, illustrates the band’s elevated cohesion and vibrant interplay even as it highlights the selflessness Cleveland brings to his bandleader’s calling." – David McGee, Deep Roots Magazine
On Down the Line is led by nine-time International Bluegrass Music Association's Fiddle Player of the Year, Michael Cleveland. Michael is currently celebrating his 2015 SPBGMA nomination for Fiddle Performer of the Year. The group's virtuosic style and traditional bluegrass sound have never been better represented or received such high praise.
The album's fourteen tracks showcase Flamekeeper's rich instrumental blend and tight, three-part vocal harmonies with tunes that span from straight-ahead bluegrass (“Fiddlin’ Joe," "Orange Blossom Special") to melodic, heart-felt songs such as "Just Call Me Crazy" and the imaginative reworking of the traditional "Jack O'Diamonds" as a solo fiddle tour de force.
Call you favorite radio station and request "Too Late for Goodbyes" by Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper today!
Michael Cleveland recently visited with radio programmer Kate Lochte at WKMS - Murray State's NPR Station about the Flamekeeper show coming up on January 23rd at the famed Kentucky Opry in Benton. You can enjoy the complete interview here!
For complete details including ticket information on the Kentucky Opry show this Friday, January 23rd, follow this link!!