Musicians Against Childhood Cancer (MACC) was founded after the untimely death of Phyllis and Darrel Adkins’ daughter Mandy from a brain stem tumor in November of 2000. Mandy had been treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, and the Adkins, who had been promoting a bluegrass festival for many years, decided out of their grief and gratitude to devote the future of their festival to helping provide support for the hospital. From this commitment, Musicians Against Childhood Cancer was formed in the Spring of 2000. Since that time, the festival has donated $432,524.33 to St. Jude and to the YMCA. The festival held in Mandy Adkins’ honor and memory committed to raising money for St. Jude has developed into one of the very finest bluegrass festivals in the country, one that brings together great bands, musicians put together in unusual combinations, and a spirited community for a superlative four day event.
The main performance area is spacious enough to permit a very large stage with seemingly endless lawns in front of it for attendees to place their lawn chairs. Fans seem spread out, because they choose to place chairs in shady spots, but there’s plenty of room for families to put out blankets or tarps on the ground, sit in circles around coolers while they play cards and drink a cold beverage, and listen to the music, or chat without bothering people who are more serious listeners. A good selection of food vendors is located to the rear of the performance area with band tents down the right side for their merchandise tables. Two spacious parking lots permit plenty of day parking. Behind the stage is an area reserved for performers and volunteers where food is served all day, and musicians can hang out with each other. MACC is a festival where musicians come and stay for a while, getting time to visit with each other at their leisure as well as to mix with fans. Musicians performing at MACC volunteer their time, so Darrel Adkins makes certain they are comfortable and have an enjoyable time.
Volunteers Take a Break
The stage is large, featuring the best stage lighting anywhere. The sound system, coordinated by Jim Winchester’s Gem Sound and provided by Soundwave, a full service sound production company. Sound engineer Tom Feller assures the quality of each performance. Soundwave’s list of former clients runs from rap to rock to country to bluegrass. Using what are known as line array speakers, the system (to my very limited understanding) apparently is capable of delivering sound much more accurately to all sections of an audience without ever having to overwhelm anyone with too much volume. Don’t ask me to explain how, but I can tell you the sound at MACC was clearer and more easily heard both close up and at a distance than any other sound system I’ve ever heard. Musicians I talked with all said the sound, from their point of view, allowed them to hear their own music in order to improve their playing. The audience was treated to the clearest, most listenable sound found anywhere.
July 22 - 25