Michael Cleveland is one of bluegrass music’s great treasures. A 10-time IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year, 4-time Instrumental Group of the Year winner and 2016 nominee, Cleveland captured the attention of the bluegrass community as a child prodigy who performed on the Grand Ole Opry with Alison Krauss when he was only 13 years old. But he became a viral video sensation this summer with a virtuosic impromptu performance of “Jerusalem Ridge” that racked up over 6 million views in just a few days. Now mainstream music fans are discovering what the bluegrass community has known for years—that Michael Cleveland is one of the most important fiddle players of his generation.
With his new release, FIDDLER’S DREAM, Cleveland delivers his finest studio album to date: full of the fire and finesse that has earned him fans from across the globe. Highlights include a blistering performance of the Arthur Smith penned title track “Fiddler’s Dream,” a step out vocal from Sam Bush on the John Hartford classic “Steamboat Whistle Blues,” and a twin fiddle show down on the Bill Monroe classic “Tall Timber” featuring Jason Carter (Del McCoury Band). FIDDLER’S DREAM also showcases Michael’s masterful guitar playing on “Earl Park” and mandolin playing on “Blues for Bill,” “Lonesome Desert” and “Earl Park.” Additional guests include Jerry Douglas (Dobro), Jeff Guernsey (guitar), Lloyd Douglas (banjo), Andy Statman (mandolin), Paul Franklin (steel guitar), Vince Gill (vocals), and co-producer, Jeff White (guitar and vocals).
In a spirit of spontaneity and fun that seemed to pervade the IBMA Awards held last week in Raleigh, North Carolina, Michael decided to stir things up, surprising everyone when he broke out his fiddle and started playing the title track to his upcoming album on the red carpet. The impromptu flash mob that included guest musicians on “Tall Timber,” another track from the album, was broadcast live from The Bluegrass Situation Facebook page where at last check it had been viewed 44,000 times. This was right on the heels of a surprise pop-up show performance in the lobby of the Marriot Hotel where he played “Fiddler’s Dream” with Alison Brown and FIDDLER’S DREAM producer and guest vocalist Jeff White.
Michael Cleveland has undeniably achieved a new personal best with FIDDLER’S DREAM and in the process has raised the bar for all aspiring fiddle players to follow.
FIDDLER’S DREAM is out today on Compass Records.
“Michael Cleveland is a 10-time winner of the IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year award. He doesn’t need folks like Barry Bales, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Paul Franklin, Andy Statman, Vince Gill and others to make his new record FIDDLER’S DREAM sound great. He has them, though. And that’s pretty all right too.”
—Nelson Gullett, Music Director, WDVX
“This album is a garden of delights, ranging widely from burning fiddle tunes, to country songs, to wild improvisations, to various extraordinary guests, all whom play and sing their collective behinds off! But the link-the glue-that holds this together is the amazing playing of Michael Cleveland.”
—Matt Glaser, Artistic Director, American Roots Music Program, Berklee College of Music
“It’s obvious he was destined to become one of Bluegrass Music’s contemporary stars.”