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Kindred Folk Society Music Series

Michael Cleveland & the Flamekeeper band to perform in Madison, Ind.

Cleveland decided at age 4 he wanted to
learn to play fiddle

Kindred Folk Society Music Series Lineup
•  Feb. 22: Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper
•  March 14: Joan Shelley
•  May 1: Monroeville
All shows at 8 p.m. at Red Bicycle Hall, 125 E. Main St., Madison, Ind. Tickets online at www.EventBrite.com

(February 2020) – Michael Cleveland’s bluegrass journey began when he was only 6 months old.
“I’ve been around bluegrass my whole life. My grandparents loved it and started a bluegrass association in Henryville, (Ind.) where I’m from, on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month,” he said. “We went to another bluegrass association in Scottsburg on the third Saturday of the month and would come to Madison for their bluegrass association on the first Saturday of the month. Every weekend was spent listening to local bluegrass bands. It was one of things where you don’t realize how lucky you are and what you’re in the middle of until it’s over.”
Cleveland said that early introduction inspired him to pursue music. “I was 4 years old when I heard someone play the Orange Blossom Special on the fiddle. After I heard that, I wanted to learn how to play.”
After beginning his education at the Kentucky School for the Blind, Cleveland began a classical violin program that taught the Suzuki method. “This was a popular way for kids to get started and learn how to play by ear,” he said. “I had no idea what I was doing on the first day. The teacher asked me what I knew about the violin, and I said, ‘not much, but I know about the fiddle.’ It was slow-going at first, but I started to take my fiddle to bluegrass shows, and it really just took off from there.”
Cleveland currently plays and tours with a Louisville and Charlestown, Ind.-based group called Flamekeeper, which will be making an upcoming appearance in Madison. Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at Red Bicycle Hall, 125 E. Main St., as part of the Kindred Folk Society’s Music Series.
This will be the third in a series of seven shows planned for the upcoming months, two of which already took place in December and January.

Photo provided

Michael Cleveland’s (center) band consists of Josh Richards, Nathan Livers, Jasiah Shrode and Chris Douglas.


“This is our sixth music series. It was formerly the RiverRoots Music Series, but it is now part of the Kindred Folk Society,” said Jack Wilhelm, treasurer of the Kindred Folk Society.
Wilhelm said that the Kindred Folk Society is a group of “likeminded people who love music and want to put Madison on the map.” Despite the change from the RiverRoots name, Wilhelm said, “our goal remains the same, which is to bring prominent folk acts to town.”
Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper consists of Cleveland on fiddle, Josh Richards on guitar and lead vocals, Nathan Livers on mandolin and harmony, Jasiah Shrode on banjo and harmony, Chris Douglas on bass and Elliot Beckley on sound. Cleveland said that the band performs year-round but is busiest during the spring and summer playing at bluegrass festivals and related events.
“We each have things that we do on the side. I record a lot of music at my house when we aren’t performing,” said Cleveland.
“It is interesting that Michael is really ‘semi-local’ since he’s from Henryville, but that he also has a lot of national representation,” said Wilhelm, noting Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper’s current Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass Album.
“Our most recent album, which is nominated for a Grammy, is called ‘Tall Fiddler.’ It features the band and several special guests and a lot are people that I’ve worked with in the past, so it was great to have them collaborate with the band, too,” said Cleveland.
The album features music from artists like Sam Bush, Travelin’ McCourys, Tommy Emmanuel and Del McCoury. “This was really a huge dream of mine,” said Cleveland.
Cleveland said that attendees at their Madison show can expect traditional, high-energy bluegrass, and that they’ll be playing a combination of original songs and covers. “We’re looking forward to playing in our backyard,” he said.
Wilhelm said that the Kindred Folk Society members are excited to have the group back in Madison. “They performed at RiverRoots in the past, and we were very pleased,” he said. Wilhelm said he is looking forward to the wide reach of this upcoming concert. “Bluegrass is really a unique genre because it appeals to all ages. I think this will have some of the broadest appeal of all our shows, and we’re already pre-selling a lot of tickets.”
In addition to the music series, the Kindred Folk Society recently announced two free kids shows. On Feb. 22, Louisville-based group Evan & Vanessa will perform bilingual children’s songs at the Jefferson County Public Library. On April 11, Deep Fried Pickle Project will play host to an Instrument Making Workshop and perform at Little Golden Fox, 602 W. Main St. in Madison.

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