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Norwood Village Green Concert Series continues July 14 with Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper

Posted 7/10/24

NORWOOD – The Norwood Village Green Concert Series will continue its 51st Annual Season on Sunday, July 14, at 7 p.m. with Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper. 

Born blind and almost …

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Norwood Village Green Concert Series continues July 14 with Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper

Posted

NORWOOD – The Norwood Village Green Concert Series will continue its 51st Annual Season on Sunday, July 14, at 7 p.m. with Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper. 

Born blind and almost deaf in one ear, Michael Cleveland has attained legendary status as one of the greatest fiddlers of his or any other generation.

The tension between tradition and innovation is at the core of bluegrass music, and the fiddle playing of Michael Cleveland exemplifies this musical tug of war. As a boy, Cleveland heard a local fiddler play “Orange Blossom Special,” which sparked a lifelong obsession with the tune that mimics that sound of a train. Cleveland’s improvisational versions push the piece’s descriptive tones and percussive bowing to a new level. With an encyclopedic memory for melodies, and an uncanny intuition for improvisation, Cleveland’s music is both rooted in tradition and fueled by his melodic imagination.

From an early age, Cleveland heard old-time and bluegrass music at local jams and festivals near his hometown of Henryville, Indiana. His grandparents hosted regular bluegrass gatherings at the American Legion, and at age four, he began playing the fiddle. He attended the Kentucky School for the Blind in Louisville, where he learned the Suzuki method of violin. While he practiced the violin at school, he played fiddle at home. When Cleveland was 12, he met music historian Dave Samuelson, who recognized the young musician’s interest and talent. Samuelson curated several Braille-labeled tapes for the young musician, which served as Cleveland’s essential listening guide to bluegrass music. Cleveland’s repertoire and musicianship grew, and in 1993 he played the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) awards show with the Bluegrass Youth All-Stars.

Michael began playing professionally after he graduated from high school, however, Cleveland had dreamed of leading his own band. In 2006, he formed Flamekeeper, the seven-time recipients of the IBMA’s “Instrumental Group of the Year” award. Flamekeeper includes Josh Richards, Nathan Livers, Jasiah Shrode, and Chris Douglas.

Widely considered the bluegrass fiddler of his generation, Cleveland has been recognized 12 times as the IBMA’s “Fiddler of the Year” and in 2018 was inducted into the National Fiddler’s Hall of Fame. His recording Fiddler’s Dream was nominated in 2018 for a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album, and in 2019, he won a Grammy for his album Tall Fiddler. In 2019, Michael’s amazing life of adversity and achievement was featured in the documentary film “Flamekeeper: The Michael Cleveland Story”. And in 2022, he was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship.

The Series is supported in part by the Northern New York Community Foundation helping establish and maintain the series endowment fund. Public monies from the Town of Potsdam and the Village of Norwood also support the series. It is also supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and New York State Legislature.

For further information consult the series website: nvgcs.org or call 315-261-2866.