Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Musicians Against Childhood Cancer 2013 (The MACC) -

Four days of heat in the mid-nineties had left all of us volunteers a bit weary, even though we were still having a great time. On Saturday came the deluge, but not the one we feared. It threatened rain all day long, but the music only had to stop briefly when there was thunder as the front crossed over us and headed east. Seats were wetter than our spirits and as the day wore on we saw plenty of sunlight accompanied by lower humidity. Surprises came along all day long. There was good fun and wonderful music, even if there were still a few drips here and there.

The Clay Hess Band

 Clay Hess' fine guitar playing and singing brings a contemporary quality along with excellent traditional credentials. His band is balanced and able. Good band to open Saturday's event.

Clay Hess

Randy Kohrs

Nick Keen

John Meyer

Brennen Hess

Clay Hess & Irl Hees

Perpetual Jam in the Artists Mess

American Drive

American Drive seems to be finding its groove. Deciding to continue as a band after J.D. Crowe retired from regular touring and retired the name The New South, the four remaining band members looked around for a banjo player not to replace J.D. for no one could do that, but to provide a solid Scruggs/Crowe drive of his own. They found Josh Hymer, an excellent choice. They've chosen some effective new songs while continuing to sing well selected material from the classic bluegrass repertoire. Their emphasis on good singing from Dwight McCall and Ricky Wasson makes sense, while their instrumental work is good and improving. We have a warm spot in our hearts for them for their recording of Clint Wilson's song Is It Too Late to Settle Down. Establishing a new band in the current climate takes courage, but these guys are experienced and solid.

 Matt DeSpain
Ricky Wasson

Kyle Perkins

Dwight McCall

Josh Hymer

Nancy & John Davis - Volunteers

 Dale Ann Bradley

Dale Ann Bradley is five time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year, including 2011 and 2012, one of the finest singers in the history of bluegrass. She can sing a ballad that tears your heart out and belt with the best of them. She is currently touring with the best band she's had since we've known her, including her old friend from Renfro Valley days, Steve Gulley. His fine, bluesy tenor voice perfectly complements hers, and she trusts his musical judgement completely. The combination works for both of them. The rest of the band is excellent at every spot. It's especially satisfying to see Phil Leadbetter healthy and back on the road, and Stuart Wyrick is always a pleasure with his tasteful, restrained banjo working well with a great singer. We've never seen Dale Ann so happy on stage.

Dale Ann Bradley

Steve Gulley

 Phil Leadbetter

Glenn Hodge

Stuart Wyrick

Bryan Turner

Dale Ann Bradley

Irene Lehmann

 Family Time at the MACC

Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time

Larry Cordle is one of the top singer/songwriters around. His work celebrates working people who struggle and overcome adversity with grit and humor. His story songs tell of life in the east Kentucky hills, of death and retribution, and of the death of his  beloved classic country music. And there's something new with Cord besides the small beard and mustache he's currently wearing. He seems more animated and happy than I've ever seen him, more inside himself and satisfied with what he's becoming. His performances always tell stories, and he's one of the very best at it. The art of the song writer requires reaching deep within and getting in touch with the self. It's a delight to watch Larry Cordle in this process. His band remains solid and tuneful as well as animated and having fun on stage. 

Larry Cordle

David Harvey

Jody King

Kim Gardner

 Mike Anglin


Chris, Bradley Walker & Rudy

 Wyatt Rice & Friends

We don't see Wyatt Rice except at the MACC, but it's always a pleasure to hear his crisp, clear, intelligent picking which helps the group he's with focus on the tune and being an ensemble. The group chosen by promoter Darrell Adkins to appear here played a number of good old bluegrass classics as will as giving the very impressive young singer/songwriter Mo Pitney a strong backing band.  Pitney, who's recently signed with a major country label, has a fine baritone voice, which I've heard called a "good country voice." I prefer just plain good voice. One can only hope that as his career moves forward, he keeps more than a toe well anchored in the bluegrass world. He may have a chance to be a part of breaking the barrier between two branches of country music whose relationship should be cherished rather than censured.  The rest of the band featured top players at the top of their games. A truly delightful set.

 Mo Pitney

 Wyatt Rice

Danny Roberts

Randy Kohrs

Irl Hees

Terry Baucom

 Note the Ever Present Toothpick
Irl Heels

 The MACC Opry

This version of the  MACC Opry has moved from being a delightful surprise to a still-looked-forward to reprise of last year's show, a delightful show which has become a featured monthly offering at Nashville's World Famous Station Inn. It is billed as "classic country" to keep bluegrass purists from objecting to the presence of the great Doug Jernigan on pedal steel, as well as Randy Hart on keyboards and a tasteful, restrained snare drum played by Dave Racine. Aubrey Haynie on fiddle is as reliable as hot weather at the MACC and smooth as glass.  Val Story's beautiful voice added its usual high quality to the mix. But the center of this show is Cordle, Jackson and Salley, three award winning masters of both bluegrass and country music who have turned their shows at the MACC into a successful traveling road show and a steady gig for all of them. And more power to them; it's a great show that always brings pleasure to those who catch it.  

Larry Cordle

Carl Jackson

Jerry Salley

Val Story

Doug Jernigan

Randy Hart

Aubrey Haynie

Irl Hees & Dave Racine

Cordle, Story & Jackson

Sam Satler Drove From Houston for the MACC
He'll Be Back Next Year 

The Gibson Brothers

The Gibson Brothers are riding an unparallelled wave of success. Their summer tour has taken them from Maine to California, to the Yukon Territory and Red, White and Bluegrass in North Carolina. Their new CD "They Called it Music" continues to rise in the charts while  the reigning IBMA Entertainers of the Year are in the second round of the nominating process for this year in numerous categories. Meanwhile they retain the relaxed good humor in their interactions and the intense, electrifying singing and playing that has developed as their signature over the years. The capacity crowd rose to its feet and demanded a true encore as the brothers came to the end of their set. Even the shade tent at the rear was filled with standing, cheering fans. The terrific work ethic which has characterized these upstate New York farm boys for twenty years is paying off.

 Eric Gibson

Leigh Gibson & Mike Barber

Jesse Brock

Clayton Campbell

 Mike Barber

Leigh Gibson

 Eric Gibson

The Rambling Rooks

The Rambling Rooks, three former members of early LRB who have all gone on to storied careers as members of their own bands and as song writers plus the best banjo player, Rob McCoury this week, is available for a night where they're performing, hit the stage with the commitment and energy that we didn't see when we first saw them at Gettysburg back in May. Ronnie Bowman seemed on fire with his singing, his bass playing, and his stage demeanor. Kenny Smith, who often seems to concentrate so much he forgets to smile, looked like he was having the time of his life. Don Rigsby's singing of The Kentucky Waltz rang with true passion. It was an electrifying performance, and when Ronnie took the stage alone for a solo encore with his song Here I Am, he nearly stole the show. The band announced it was in the studio at present, and we look forward with eager enthusiasm to what material they decide to record. Whatever they decide to do will be good, and it could be truly great.

 Ronnie Bowman

 Kenny Smith

Don Rigsby

Rob McCoury

 Amanda Smith & Garnet Imes Bowman

J.D. Crowe & Bradley Walker

J.D. Crowe may be retired from J.D. Crowe and the New South, but he ain't dead. He's making appearances with the Masters of Bluegrass and  The Bluegrass Album Band, and seems to be having the time of his life. This performance was filled with happy moments, good fun, guest appearances, and plenty of traditional bluegrass music with J.D. very much on his game. It was a great way to end a wonderful day and long weekend of music.

Danny Roberts

Clay Hess

Doug Jernigan & Steve Gulley

Irl Hees & Bradley Walker

Carl Jackson

Ronnie Bowman

J.D. Crowe

It's always hard to leave Hoover Y at MACC's end late Saturday evening. Even with a long drive coming up the next morning, you just don't want to let go of the magic. This was a particularly magic end to a magical day and event. Next year's MACC will run from July 16 - July 19, 2014.