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Last month the blind musician scored two prizes at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards—one for fiddler of the year (the ninth time the 31-year-old has won it) and another for instrumental of the year (his performance of "Goin' Up Dry Branch," a tune written and originally recorded by the great Jimmy Martin in 1966—check out Cleveland's version below). That song comes from Fired Up (Rounder), the sixth album he's made with his group Flamekeeper and a solid collection of mainstream bluegrass top to bottom. It mixes new tunes written by members of his band and vintage material by the likes of Webb Pierce, the Delmore Brothers, and Tom T. Hall, and it's an uncomplicated pleasure to soak up the band's nonchalant virtuosity, ensemble sound, and (natch) Cleveland's scorching solos, which ought to be a highlight of Saturday's gig.
photo: Darwin Davidson