Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Musicians Against Childhood Cancer (The MACC) 2013 - Friday

A heavy warm heat hung over the Hoover Y Park in Obetz, OH as The MACC entered its third day. The weather forecast called for scattered thundershowers, and those with smart phones kept at least one eye on them as they tracked the red and yellow blotches speeding across their little screens. The heat hovered in the low nineties all day until dusk allowed the very good crowd to come out to their seats. The truly dedicated are always able to find plenty of shade to take the edge off as they move wherever it goes. The shade tent to the rear was nearly full for the entire day. The MACC is a place where musical surprises and hidden treasures are the norm. There were plenty of these from start to finish on this penultimate day of one of the country's finest and most entertaining bluegrass events.

God Didn't Choose Sides - Workshop

An under publicized workshop opened the day in the air-conditioned Ingram Building toward the rear of the site. Song writers Mark "Brink" Brinkman and frequent co-writer Mike Evans presented songs from their magnificent new project on Rural Rhythm Records called God Didn't Choose Sides, a collection of songs based on true stories of heroism and miraculous intervention during the Civil War.  

An audience of thirty or so people who found their way to Ingram Hall at 10:30 in the morning were treated to a singer/songwriter workshop featuring many of the songs from the CD. It was a deeply affecting hour or so in which many tears were shed as Mike Evans and Mark Brinkman told the stories surrounding the songs and performed them to simple guitar accompaniment. Here's the title song:

God Didn't Choose Sides - Video

It was quite a moment. I'll be posting several more songs from this album, as well as the rest of The MACC on my YouTube Channel over the coming days.

Feller & Hill

 Veteran bluegrassers Tom Feller & Chris Hill formed Feller & Hill and the Bluegrass Buckaroos about a year ago while releasing a new CD of their music. Both men have long histories in the music dating back to their time and connections with The Boys from Indiana. They also ran the magnificent sound for this festival. Their noontime performance exceeded my expectations, being filled with energy, strong show, and good humor. This is a traditional band worth keeping an eye out for.

Tom Feller

Chris Hill

Mark Poe

Glen Inman

Michael Cleveland

 Tom Feller & Chris Hill

Kenny & Amanda Smith

We always look forward to seeing Kenny & Amanda Smith for Kenny's precise, lyrical guitar playing and Amanda's lovely voice, a voice that deserves recognition at IBMA. She's instantly recognizable for her lyricism and clarity. They've surrounded themselves with excellent players who add depth and energy to their performances. This is an already fine band committed to continued growth.

 Austin Ward

Cory Piatt

Troy Engle

Family Time

Finding Shade in the Heat

Jim Hurst

Twice IBMA Guitar Player of the Year and having toured with innovators like Missy Raines and The Claire Lynch Band, no-one needs to take back seat to his chops, either as a bluegrass player or acoustic jazz guitarist. His recent solo recording "Intrepid" joins his fine recording with the David Grissman quintet as well as his older "A Box of Chocolates" establishes his work as second to none. While capable of blazing speed, his real strength lies in subtle guitar impressions and creations that on careful listening are simply astounding. Beyond that, he's an exceptional workshop presenter who should be in the lineup of music festivals for any genre.

 Jim Hurst

Lou Reid & Carolina

Lou Reid & Carolina combines traditional Bill Monroe tunes, heartfelt gospel music, and contemporary songs in an entertaining and satisfying mix. The addition of Skip Cherryholmes on guitar has anchored the band with a reliable and virtuoso guitar player and singer who melds well with the band. Lou Reid is a storied singer performing with his own band as well as having spent nearly twenty years with Seldom Scene. His band is heard and seen too seldom at festivals where it always delivers first rate songs with the lively Christy Reid chiming in as a more than capable emcee. This is perhaps the best iteration of Lou Reid & Carolina, yet.

 Lou Reid

 Christy Reid

Skip Cherryholmes

Trevor Watson

Lou Reid & Skip Cherryholmes

Sammy Passamano

 Larry Sparks & the Lonesome Ramblers

For five decades Larry Sparks has brought his wonderful voice and solid guitar playing to the bluegrass stage, forging a line of familiar hits with which every bluegrass fan is familiar. We all have a Catherine Akers in our history. Sparks makes us yearn for her each time he sings of his broken heart.  Seemingly quite shy, almost reclusive, off stage, Larry Sparks continues to stand out as one of the great voices and song interpreters in the music. 

 Larry Sparks

Tyler Mullins

Owen Brown

 Jackie Kincaid


The Clay Hess Family

 Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver 
with Special Guest
Centerville HS Alternative Strings

 Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver - entertaining, reliable, musical, and faithful. That's a pretty good reputation to have developed over a fifty year career that has landed him in the bluegrass hall of fame while still near the peak of his abilities. He still finds and nurtures young pickers to his exacting standards while always on the lookout for ways to stay near the cutting edge without alienating his many traditional fans. Appearing this year with the Centerville HS Alternative Strings for the second or third year, he continues to deliver on many levels. His appearance later in the evening was a highlight of the festival for many people.

Doyle Lawson

Dustin Pyrtle

 Joe Dean

Josh Swift

Jason Barrie

Corey Hensley
 Jason Barrie & Joe Dean
with the Alternative Strings

With the Alternative Strings

 Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers
with  the Centerville HS Alternative Strings

Joe Mullins, who comes from the area near Centerville in southwestern Ohio has also performed with the Alternative Strings on several occasions, so it seemed natural for them to appear again with the Radio Ramblers. Mullins addition of Shane Sparks to his band has really strengthened it and their performance with them on what will certainly become a signature song for the band, Some Kind of War, was most satisfactory. I'd have liked to see them combine with Evan MacGregor for Ashokan Farewell, too.  

Joe Mullins

Shane Sparks

Mike Terry

Tim Kidd

Evan MacGregor

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers
with the 
Centerville, OH Alternative Strings
Some Kind of War - Video;  

 Doyle Lawson & Joe Mullins 
The Centerville HS Alternative Strings

Doyle Lawson & Larry Sparks
Fifty Years of Excellence

It seems quite remarkable that in fifty years of performing with distinction, Larry Sparks and Doyle Lawson have never before shared a stage together. Trust Darrell Adkins to put these two great performers together for one of his "Classic Performances."  On second thought, however, their contrasting styles and personalities make the ommission less surprising. Nevertheless, at least one friend of mine saw this as one of the sublime MACC moments that will keep him coming back for years to come. With a perfect group of performers assembled to back them up, the two seasoned greats delivered songs and stories that couldn't help but satisfy.

Doyle Lawson & Larry Sparks

Larry Sparks

Doyle Lawson
Terry Baucom

Mike Cleveland

 Ronnie Simpkins

Doyle Lawson & Larry Sparks
Mother's Not Dead, She's Only A-Sleepin' - Video

 Christy Reid Watching History

The Seldom Scene

It seems entirely appropriate that The Seldom Scene should have been chosen to round out a day of mostly traditional music. This is the band that broke the rules and set new standards for bringing alternative music into bluegrass without so breaking the mold that it was unrecognizable. Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Chuck Berry and more have found their way into the bluegrass repertoire because of this storied group, making it possible for more recent bands to incorporate more and newer music into the mix. Their forty year record of achievement just can't be topped for innovation and creative juice, even though their fans require them  to keep playing their distinguished and well-loved catalog. 

Dudley Connell

 Ben Eldridge

Lou Reid

Fred Travers

Ronnie Simpkins

Memory of the heat and humidity in central Ohio will quickly recede, but this will prove to have been a day of bluegrass music few who were there will ever forget. More tomorrow.