Cushman joins Michael Cleveland
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Cushman joins Michael Cleveland

Thursday, January 27, 2011 – Banjo master Charlie Cushman is joining Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper. Cushman will take on full-time banjo duties with the IBMA's 4-time Instrumental Group of the Year effective immediately. Cushman replaces Jessie Baker who joined in late 2008.

Raised on the 5-string banjo from a very early age, in the early 1980's, Cushman received his first real taste of life on the road as a full-time musician while working with James Monroe and the Midnight Ramblers, Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys and Mel Tillis and the Statesiders.

He then stayed closer to home while working full-time for Nashville's music-themed park, Opryland USA the last half of that decade. In 1990, Cushman began working with fellow banjo player, comedian Mike Snider, where he stayed for 14 years playing bass and then moving to guitar. Cushman performed regularly on the Grand Ole Opry in addition to road dates.

In recent years, he has done session work for artists including Marty Stuart, Merle Haggard, Rhonda Vincent, Tim O'Brien and Vince Gill.

Cleveland and Cushman shared the stage many times. Cushman was Cleveland's banjo player of choice for his solo project "Let'er Go Boys." "I first met Charlie in 1999 when we played with Jeff White at the Station Inn," said Cleveland. "I knew after that gig that I'd played with one of the best. To have Charlie join the band is a dream come true."

Cushman said he was 'so proud and honored to finally get to work with Michael and his band and I'm glad that this opportunity has finally lined up for us. We have a spark with each other musically, and I'm more excited about this than anything else I've done in quite a while."

This new configuration of Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper make their first public performance on the very stage the two first performed together, the Station Inn in Nashville on Feb. 18. The multi-award winning group will be performing some new music from the band's upcoming Rounder Records CD, "Fired Up," due for release in early spring

"It is going to be a blast to play and learn from one of the true professionals in the business! I feel like everything is finally coming together the way I've always hoped," Cleveland said.

More news for Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper

CD reviews for Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper

CD review - On Down the Line Unlike previous Flamekeeper releases, there are few bluegrass household names associated with "On Down the Line." Only co-producer Jeff White has been with Michael Cleveland since the 2002 Rounder Records debut that gave Cleveland's band its name. "On Down the Line's" personnel reflects an evolving band that has solidified over three years. Glenn Gibson (banjo and reso) has been with Cleveland for three years, while both Tyler Griffith (bass) and Nathan Livers ...
CD review - Fired Up Some CDs labeled "bluegrass" are like powdered eggs and turkey bacon: they just don't hit the mark. If it's a Michael Cleveland CD then you know it will be the real deal. "Flamekeeper" is centered on Cleveland and his fabulous talent on the fiddle (and other instruments, too). Other Flamekeeper members are Tom Adams (Blue Highway, Johnson Mountain Boys) on guitar and lead vocals, Marshall Willborn (Lynn Morris Band) on bass, Jessie Brock on mandolin and Jessie Baker ...
CD review - Leavin' Town Fans of hard-driving bluegrass with some modern country influences will really like Michael Cleveland and Famekeeper. It's a no-bones-about-it, in-your-face bluegrass effort with tight rhythms and fast picking. The CD kicks off with the fast driving "Sold Down the River," which is joined by "Troubles 'Round My Door" and the title track. These tunes showcase a fast paced traditional bluegrass sound with tight instrumentals and clear lyrics. "My Blue Eyed ...

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