Saturday, August 29, 2009

Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper at WAMU

When we last saw Mike Cleveland and Flamekeeper at Jenny Brook in June, we both thought that with Darrell Webb singing lead, picking guitar, and serving as emcee the band was the best we had ever seen it. Darrell asserted being the happiest he'd ever been and said he felt he belonged where he was. Within a very few weeks he had left Mike's band and formed one of his own. At MACC in Columbus, OH in July Jeff White filled in very capably, but it was clear he was a fill-in who would not be taking a permanent gig with Flamekeeper. Mike told us they had auditioned Tom Adams and he would be joining the band soon. We were, of course, aware that Tom's storied career as a banjo player, including two IBMA banjo player of the year awards, had been cut short by dystonia, a crippling neurological syndrome that effects many musicians. I had seen Tom perform with Seneca rocks, but really didn't remember his singing. At that time he was having a difficult time trying to cope with his diminished ability on the banjo, but still trying.

Reports have been coming in on the forums saying that Tom's performances with Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper are first rate, but I wanted to see for myself. The other day Katy Daly at WAMU in Washington, D.C. recorded an interview with the band and has posted this video:

It is clear for all to see that Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper have lost nothing in adding Tom Adams to the mix. His presence brings a mature and solid lead voice and broad experience which will serve him well as emcee. Junior Sisk recently said to us that perhaps even more important than instrumental and vocal versatility in a band is that a member "ride good." I'm certain that not only will Tom Adams ride good, but that he will wear well with this superior band of first rate musicians and people. Congratulations to Tom and to Mike Cleveland for seeing the possibilities presented by Tom's availability as a guitarist. Both Irene and I are eager to see this reorganized group in performance.