Tom and Michael have a long musical association going back to Adams’ time as a crackerjack, award-winning banjo player. The two of them worked together with Rhonda Vincent & The Rage in 2000, and with Dale Ann Bradley in 2002. They also released a live duet album of banjo/fiddle duets (Live at the Ragged Edge) in 2004.
That project was recorded in 2002, just before Tom began to experience the frustrating symptoms of what would later be diagnosed as focal dystonia, a neurological disorder that left him unable to reliably perform on the banjo to his high standards of excellence. Tom had started his musical life as a guitarist, and starting in 2008, returned to working in bluegrass, but now on guitar where the dystonia had no effect on his right hand movement. He had been playing of late with Bill Emerson & Sweet Dixie.
Adams has a great respect for Cleveland and is delighted to be joining Flamekeeper…
“Mike is absolutely one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met — what an incredible musician! I thoroughly enjoyed playing with Mike in the past, and I’m very excited about working with him again. He’s got a terrific band and I am glad to become a part of it.”
This move also reunites Tom with Marshall Wilborn, with whom he worked in The Johnson Mountain Boys and the Lynn Morris Band. The current Flamekeeper lineup features Cleveland on fiddle, Adams on guitar, Wilborn on bass, Jesse Brock on mandolin and Jessie Baker on banjo.
UPDATE 7/24: When we first published this story, we mentioned that Tom would be playing guitar with Flamekeeper, but didn’t note that he will also be the new lead singer as well.