Michael Cleveland/Mono Neon mashup on Jerusalem Ridge

Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper backstage at ForestFest (5/21/16)What happens when you mashup an incognito jazz bassist with a incomparable bluegrass improvisor like Michael Cleveland? Well, it’s hard to explain in words; we’ll just have to show you.

It all started on May 21 at ForestFest in the Jefferson National Forest near Louisville, Kentucky. Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper were performing that day, and several people captured video of Michael and Nathan Livers warming up under the tent with their duet version of Jerusalem Ridge, they way Cleveland recorded it in 2010 with Jesse Brock.

Here’s one of those videos…


Then, over this past weekend, jazz bass man Dwayne Thomas, Jr. stumbled upon a copy of the video shot from a different angle, and it inspired him to grab his bass – and his alter ego of Mono Neon – and leap into the fray.


We reached out to Thomas (Mr. Neon?) online and conducted a brief interview, starting with wondering how he came to make the video.

Hey John! Thanks so much for reaching out. I saw Michael Cleveland’s video yesterday and was so inspired from it… I immediately grabbed my bass and started playing along with him. Everything he was singing on the fiddle just felt so good! It took me a while to find my place in it but I eventually found a little “neon groove” in what Michael was playing.

It was outstanding! Had you ever heard Michael’s music before?

Actually no, but since yesterday I’ve been putting my ears on his music with Flamekeeper.

Glad to have you experimenting on our side of the fence!

Yea!! I really dig it!

Well done, fellas!

You can check out more Mono Neon on Facebook.

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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.