Give It Away from Jason Carter and Michael Cleveland

How about we take two of the greatest bluegrass fiddlers of all time, and turn them loose in the studio? How could that not be a great idea?

That’s what Jason Carter thought, looking at the success of his recent solo album, Lowdown Hoedown. Knowing that he and Michael Cleveland were essentially cut from the same cloth, stylistically, and that they had been friends for the past three decades, why not get the two of them together to record? It’s a project the two have been talking about for quite some time, and now have finally brought to fruition.

Today we get a first listen to what they have created in a new song from Tim O’Brien and Matt Combs, Give It Away. We have Carter, bowman for The Del McCoury Band and The Travelin’ McCourys this past 30 years, and Cleveland, who has fronted his own Flamekeeper Band since 2006, twinning fiddles with Jason singing the lead. What’s not to like?

Between the two of them, Jason and Michael have a combined 18 IBMA Fiddler of the Year Awards, voted by their peers among bluegrass music professionals. 12 went to Michael, who has dominated that category for some time, and six to Jason. Each of them have collected three Grammy awards apiece. Is this getting through? This pairing is a big ol’ deal!

Give It Away is a bluesy grasser, recorded with support from Cory Walker on banjo, Bryan Sutton on guitar, Sam Bush on mandolin and harmony vocal, and Alan Bartram on bass. The song shares a simple home truth, you have to give in order to get, especially where love is concerned.

Or as Carter put it…

“When I first heard this song from Tim and Matt, it resonated deeply with me. It reflects a principle instilled in me by my parents: it’s always better to give than receive. Having Sam join me on vocals felt fitting. He has a remarkable ability to light up any room with his presence, and he embodies the spirit of giving and receiving love. It’s a joy to share this song with him.”

Cleveland readily agreed, saying…

“I first heard Give It Away on a demo Tim sent us, and I liked the song immediately. Tim’s version had a great old-time feel to it, but once I heard Jason sing it in the key of B, I knew we had a hard-driving bluegrass song on our hands!

The message of the song is something we can all learn from, and the groove never stops. I’d like to extend my gratitude to Bryan Sutton, Cory Walker, Alan Bartram, and Sam Bush for bringing this song to life.”

It’s a good’n, from the fiery twin fiddles, to Jason’s vocal, to the tight backing from the studio pickers.

Check it out…

Give It Away from Jason Carter and Michael Cleveland is available now from popular download and streaming services online, and to radio programmers via AirPlay Direct.

A full album of this fabulous fiddle collaboration is expected soon on Carter’s Fiddle Man Records.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.