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.