|Articles | Photography | Releases | Reviews | Shows|
By: Cindy Faulkner
Listening to Fiddler’s Dream will make you happy, and everyone seems to need more of that right now! Some people are not very happy at the end of this November because of, well….. you know. Down with all the drama and division in the air! If you need an instant pick-me-up, crank the volume of some blistering bluegrass music. No doubt it is God-sent. Michael Cleveland’s brand new solo project, Fiddler’s Dream, released in October by Compass Records, is right on time!
The album showcases Michael’s songwriting and his smoking talent on the fiddle, not to mention contributions from other well-known artists who play and sing on the record. This collection of music is a must-have, so go get it at www.flamekeeperband.com! You can also view the album trailer there or on Michael’s (and his band’s) Facebook page, “Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper”.
Michael’s fiddle playing is amazing because it is far beyond ordinary. Even if you don’t typically listen to bluegrass, you will be in awe and find yourself smiling when you watch or hear Michael play. He has an incredible gift that leads him to play very fast fiddle, and he does it with perfection, and puts everything he has into it. The only reason I know to mention that Michael is blind is because his accomplishments are a testament to the human spirit and what people can overcome. Encouragement.
Michael was destined to be a great musician. At only 6 months old, his grandparents, who were huge bluegrass fans from Henryville, IN, began taking him to bluegrass jams. They eventually started their own jam event in Henryville, giving locals a place to come together and enjoy music.
Michael began playing in the music program at his school when he was a child, and took Suzuki violin lessons. He told me in an interview recently at IBMA’s World of Bluegrass, he already knew at a young age he wanted to play bluegrass. He wanted to learn “Orange Blossom Special”. Let’s mention perseverance here because by the time he was 13, he had appeared on the Grand Ole Opry stage with Alison Krauss. Fast-forward to age 36, now he is a 10-time winner of IBMA’s Fiddle Player of the Year.
Michael says Fiddler’s Dream is titled appropriately because it is his dream project. In addition to fiddle, he plays guitar and mandolin, and Michael wrote many of the songs on the album. One of those is “Earl Park”, and it has already been a hit on the bluegrass charts!
Among the other talented artists playing with Michael on the album, are Jerry Douglas on dobro, Jason Carter on fiddle, Barry Bales on bass, Jeff Guernsy on lead guitar, Lloyd Douglas on banjo, Andy Statman and Sam Bush on mandolin, Paul Franklin on steel guitar, Jeff White (co-producer) on guitar and vocals, and Vince Gill does vocals on the song, “Unwanted Love”.
When I asked Michael to talk about bluegrass in general, he said he loves the intensity of the music and the way it requires the band to lock in together. He thinks bluegrass has more energy than a lot of other music. It could be that Michael has more energy! If you don’t believe it, just watch him play the fiddle. His impromptu performance this summer, of “Jerusalem Ridge”, had over 6 million views as of last month.
You can find videos of Michael and Flamekeeper and see their upcoming schedule on Facebook at “Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper”. I recently finished up the work week by watching their live stream on a Friday night from Michael’s basement. Don’t miss an opportunity to watch these guys!