15:00 PM

High energy, Grammy-winning bluegrass fiddler Michael Cleveland to perform at Bayou Theater

Written by: Lauren Sawyer

Michael Cleveland picked up a fiddle at the age of four, and he describes the memory as, “love at first note.” Since then, he has made his passion for bluegrass music into a Grammy-winning career, with additional accolades from the International Bluegrass Music Association and a seat at the National Fiddler’s Hall of Fame. He and his band, Flamekeeper, will bring his fiddling fireworks to University of Houston- Clear Lake’s Bayou Theater on Friday, Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m.

As a boy, he heard a local fiddler playing when he attended the bluegrass shows his grandparents hosted near his hometown, Henryville, Indiana. Cleveland is as passionate about playing today as he was back then.

“I just love to play. It’s all I ever wanted to do,” Cleveland said. “It’s like any other occupation, you have days that aren’t great. No matter how much I am playing, how busy it gets or how tired I am, the music and shows always remind me why I do this.”

Cleveland attended Kentucky School for the Blind in Louisville, where he said many of his teachers were also visually impaired, but still able to assist and do anything they set their minds to. They didn’t let the disability stop them, and he wasn’t going to let it stop him from achieving his dreams either. Cleveland said they inspired him.

“When you love something this much you can’t help but want to do it,” Cleveland said. “I didn’t really think a lot about my disability. The people I was around never made a big deal out of the fact that I was blind. Resilient people and great musicians came out of there.”

He began playing professionally after high school and has since been a seven-time recipient of the IBMA Instrumental Group of the Year’ award with Flamekeeper. The group includes Josh Richards, Nathan Livers, Chris Douglas and Jasiah Shrode.

Cleveland said this will be the first time the group will perform at the Bayou Theater, and they are excited about it.

“When it’s a good show, and the music is good, we can all hear like we’re supposed to and the crowd is into it, that’s the ultimate high for me,” Cleveland said. “It’s an adrenaline rush like no other.”

Cleveland added that the group plays high energy bluegrass music. He likes playing for the “die-hard” traditional bluegrass fans, but he loves playing bluegrass music for those who don’t have much knowledge of the genre to show them how great it can be.

“Playing in a theater like this is a great thing and something I’ve always wanted to do for a long time. People coming to the show may have just the slightest idea of what bluegrass is,” Cleveland said.

The group will be playing selections from Cleveland’s new album ‘The Lovin’ of the Game,’ and older selections.

For more information about Michael Cleveland visit, www.michaelclevelandfiddle.com/the-band/. To purchase tickets to the show visit, uhcl.universitytickets.com/w/event.aspx?id=1396&r=a78057ec4ea94cd493517a0ae8352f65.