Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Musicians Against Childhood Cancer

In November of 2000 Mandy Adkins succumbed to an inoperable brain stem tumor and forever changed the lives of her parents Darrel and Phyllis Adkins. For many years the Adkins had promoted bluegrass festivals in Ohio, but Mandy’s death gave their efforts a new purpose. Out of their grief and their long-time involvement with bluegrass music has grown MACC – Musicians Against Childhood Cancer – an annual festival in memory of Mandy, whose profits are donated to support St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Since the year 2000, MACC has been able to donate $432,524.33 to St. Judes and the YMCA. This year MACC will be held from July 23 – 26 at the Hoover Y Park in Columbus, Ohio. Musicians performing at MACC donate their time and talent while the festival meets expenses for them according to the fact sheet on their web site, but this dry statement doesn’t come near capturing the excitement this event generates.

Hoover Y Park is a seventy acre facility owned by the YMCA of Central Ohio, located on Rohr Rd. in Lockbourne, OH, just south of Columbus off I- 270 at exit49. Camping facilities with electric hookups are available. The fifteen amps provide sufficient power for most needs, but campers may not use air conditioning. I’m told the nights at MACC are usually cool enough so that not using air doesn’t usually reduce comfort. Cost for camping with electricity is $5.00/night. There is also plenty of free rough camping. Hot showers are available. A number of motels are also available in the area. You can find directions to Hoover Y Park here.

Bo McCarty wrote to tell me that much of the concert area is shaded and there’s plenty of room for a big crowd. Since the lineup of MACC is one of the strongest in all bluegrass, visitors can expect good crowds. He also said the sound, while loud, is crystal clear. There are good food vendors. Lyn Butler says it’s among the best festival food he’s ever encountered. There’s a playground and kids activities, including a kids band that practices during the week and performs on Saturday. Nina Riley wrote me that the festival is very much a kid friendly event. Darrel Adkins doesn’t stand for any misbehaving. There’s a dance floor off to one side that this year will be poured concrete.

The lineup appearing at MACC is almost without peer at bluegrass festivals in the United States. Here’s a list:


· Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out

· Lonesome River Band

· Mountain Heart

· Lost and Found

· James King Band

· Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice

· David Parmley & Continental Divide

· New Found Road


· Blue Moon Rising

· Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper

· Daily & Vincent

· Larry Sparks & The Lonesome Ramblers

· Pine Mountain Railroad

· Rhonda Vincent & The Rage

· Larry Stephenson Band

· Russell Moore & Third Tyme Out

· The Original Longview


· Ernie Thacker & Rt 23

· The Grascals

· Steep Canyon Rangers

· Blue Highway

· Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers

· Don Rigsby & Midnight Call

· Bill Emerson & The Sweet Dixie Band

· The MACC Opry


· The MACC Children’s Band

· Kenny & Amanda Smith

· Grasstowne

· Ronnie Bowman & The Committee

· Bradley Walker

· Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time

· The Harley Allen Band

· Steeldrivers

· The MACC Opry

Check out the specific appearance times on the schedule here. I don’t want to leave anyone out by focusing on specific bands; the lineup is just too strong. There are a few special offerings, though. The original Longview, featuring Dudley Connell, Joe Mullins, James King, Don Rigsby, and Marshall Wilborn will close on Thursday night. Adkins has developed a reputation for putting unusual combinations together on Friday and Saturday nights with his MACC Opry. On Friday J.D. Crowe and the New South along with his guests the Grascals will perform beside “Special Guests.” It’s anyone’s guess who might appear on stage. Similarly, the finale of the show on Saturday will feature bluegrass and country composers Carl Jackson, Jerry Salley, Larry Cordle, and Shawn Camp. I understand they may be joined by a variety of artists performing their songs along with them.

For a taste of the music and spirit of MACC, be sure to purchase a copy of the IBMA album of the year award winning CD “Celebration of Life: Musicians Against Childhood Cancer” containing two CD’s and 37 cuts. Kim Fox’s rendition of the National Anthem sends chills down my spine every time I hear it. Proceeds from the sale of this very fine album also go to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

There is no underestimating the importance of this event in demonstrating the willingness of the best bluegrass musicians to donate their time and talent to a most worthwhile charity. St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, founded by actor Danny Thomas in 1962, is one of the most important cancer centers in the nation. It provides all sorts of ways to make contributions, and MACC is one of them, and an important one. Check out the link above to learn more about this worthwhile and inspiring institution.

Tickets to MACC may be purchased in a number of ways. Check them out here. Tickets for the entire four days in advance are $85.00 and $95.00 at the gate. Day prices are $30.00. Tickets to MACC are 90% tax deductible. Directions for getting to Hoover Y Park can be found here. The festival web site offers a list of local motels as well as camping information here. Columbus, Ohio is located in central Ohio, within easy driving distance of most population centers in the Midwest. Even with today’s gasoline prices, if you need to select one festival where you’re likely to see most of your favorite bands and be introduced to ones you haven’t yet heard but want to experience, Musicians Against Childhood Cancer is the festival to attend.

Thanks to Larry Taber for his set-up shots of the festival site. Also, my thanks go to Bo McCarty, Nina Riley, and Lyn Butler for contributing information for this post. I'll be blogging daily from this festival and will try to catch the spirit of the event as well as the great musicians who contribute their time and talent.