Michael Cleveland - For the Lovin' of the Game
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For the Lovin' of the Game (Compass, 2023)

Michael Cleveland

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

"Lovin' of the Game" is full of gems and could easily be named 'Michael Cleveland and Friends.' Collaborating with Cleveland include other A-List bluegrass masters, Bela Fleck, Billy Strings, Vince Gill, Jerry Douglas, the Travellin' McCourys and more. Cleveland is both the lead musician and a contributing band member on each cut.

Cleveland is virtuoso on the fiddle. He is a top draw on the concert and festival circuits and is the most decorated 'Fiddle Player of the Year' by the International Bluegrass Music Association.

Instrumentals include "Thousand Dollar Holler," "Empty Pocket Blues" and his own compositions, "Contact" and "Five Points."

Billy Strings sings lead on Joe Ely's, "For Your Love,' one of the' best cuts. Other standouts include "Temperance Reel" with Luke Bulla and Tim O'Brien, "One Horse Town" featuring Charlie Starr of Blackberry Smoke and "I Wish I Knew Now What I Knew Then" with Vince Gill at his country-crooning best. Not to be overlooked are the contributions of Cleveland's longtime, award-winning, travelling band, Flamekeeper, featured on many tracks, including the title track, "Now She's Gone" and "Empty Pocket Blue."

"Lovin' of the Game" is one enjoyable listen.

CDs by Michael Cleveland

For the Lovin' of the Game, 2023 Fiddler's Dream, 2016 Let 'Er Go, Boys, 2006

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