Friday, August 5, 2016

Musicians Against Childhood Cancer (The MACC) 2016 - Friday & Saturday - Review

Friday started out with a little bit of rain that cleared soon enough to allow all bands to perform and to get the show back on schedule by late afternoon, although it did require cutting some band's sets short. The Dave Adkins band, performed without amplification in the shade tent to provide some music until the main stage was able to get started again.

The Dave Adkins Band

Dave Adkins brings huge energy and enthusiasm to the stage with him every time he performs. Having returned to fronting his own band, he has strengthened his repertoire and broadened his range. No one appears to be enjoying his chances to perform more than Dave does. Backstage, he shows the same enthusiasm and warmth for the cats and kittens he rescues. When you see him, ask him to show you some pictures and even arrange to take one of his beautiful rescues in.....

Dave Adkins

Curtis Bumgarner

JP Shafer

 Danny Stiltner, Jr. 

Chad Darou

 Kristina Adkins


Flashback, composed of bluegrass players who were members of J.D. Crowe and the New South in the 1990's, plays material from this ever-popular band as well as continuing to develop its own varied and interesting repertoire. Stuart Wyrick, a fine banjo player formerly with Dale Ann Bradley, has joined Flashback. With a recording in the works, and Phil Leadbetter in better health almost daily, this band shows great potential to become a traditional workhorse on the festival circuit. 

Don Rigsby, Stuart Wyrick & Richard Bennett
The Vocal Trio

Phil Leadbetter

Don Rigsby

Curt Chapman

Stuart Whitman

Richard Bennett

Alan Bibey & Grasstowne

Alan Bibey has long been seen as both a standout practitioner of traditional mandolin and a prodigious innovator on his instrument. He plays in varied and interesting styles while contributing a crisp, precise, fast, clear mandolin widely recognized as "Bibey Style." From his early career as a founding member of IIIrd Tyme Out through his leadership in Blueridge and now various iterations of Grasstowne, he has consistently been one of the best around. The current version of Grasstowne is strong at every position. Newcomer Courtney Rohrer, on fiddle, is a standout, while Greg Luck's fiddle and vocal harmonies bring depth of experience. Gena Britt's banjo is under-rated, but never her voice, and she's always reliable. It's a pleasure to see Zach Lamb back on tour playing bass. Grasstowne isn't widely enough seen.

Alan Bibey

Courtney Rohrer

Gena Britt

Greg Luck

Zach Lamb

Randy Kohrs & Friends

Randy Kohrs remains a first-rate Dobro player and singer despite the greater amount of his energy being spent producing and recording in his Slak Key Studio.  This band, put together by Darrel Adkins for this special performance only, is one of the signature features of The MACC, where Darrel brings together pickers from diverse bands and different bluegrass traditions. While generally playing material coming from the standard bluegrass repertoire, these bands provide great pleasure for the audience as well as both a challenge and a change of pace for the performers.

Randy Kohrs

Paul Caragill - Flatt Lonesome

Gary Holtman - The Boxcars

Stephen Burwell

Alan Bibey - Grasstowne

Beth Lawrence - Sister Sadie

The Boxcars

With much of their contemporary content written by singer/songwriter Keith Garrett on guitar, and two band members recognized as premier performers on their instruments, The Boxcars are a go-to band for festivals seeking a band combining solid traditional music with traditional sounding newer content. Adam Steffey and Ron Stewart are among the best on-stage and off at their instruments. This is a no-fanfare play-the-music band.

Keith Garrett

Adam Steffey

Ron Stewart

Harold Nixon

Gary Holtman

Sun Shower - Hot and Humid

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

For over fifty years Doyle Lawson has been a trend setter and an important part of some of the most influential bluegrass bands in bluegrass history, including his. His bands are noted for their well-organized and disciplined approach to presenting a show that's both enjoyable and faith-filled. Many well-known musicians have spent several years under his apprenticeship before going on the form their own Successful bands, most notably Jamie Dailey of Dailey & Vincent. Lawson well deserves his membership in the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. 

Doyle Lawson

Joe Dean

Steven Burwell

Eli Johnston

Josh Swift

Amanda Smith & Daughter Annabelle

Paul Williams & Alan Bibey

In July its usually sunny and hot in central Ohio. At the Hoover Y park, the stage is pointed directly into the setting sun, meaning that from about 3:30 until near 6:00 in the afternoon, the sun beats in on whoever is on stage. Meanwhile, the audience seeks the shaded fringes on the periphery of the area. This makes it difficult for bands to see and respond to the audience watching them, as well as extremely hot on stage. Since each band at the MACC plays one set, substantial portions of the audience prefer to stay near their tents and campers and don't get to see some very, very good bands. 

Balloon Release - In Memoriam

Old Friends

Old Friends began as a recording effort that the MACC has tried to schedule since then, even through J.D. Crowe's illness and subsequent retirement. Joe Mullins, distinguished in his own right through his band and his association with Superband Longview, has picked up the Crowe position, a good choice, but lacking the gravitas of the original trio. Nevertheless, the discussions back to the days of Jimmy Martin between Paul Williams and Doyle Lawson are worth the price of admission. 

Paul Williams

Doyle Lawson

Joe Mullins

The SteelDrivers

The SteelDrivers
Gary Nichols

The SteelDrivers achieved much of the original fame on the blues voice of Chris Stapleton while establishing at least some of their early fame in bluegrass through their performances at The MACC, where they were a nearly instant sensation. When Stapleton left the band to re-enter country music while remaining home to continue his remarkable string of writing country hits, he became a difficult act to follow. Fortunately, the band found Gary Nichols, not noted as a bluegrass singer in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Nichols has fit into the band remarkably well, and now, after several years, given it his own stamp, improving it to the point where they won a bluegrass Grammy this year. They're a fine band which, the night before this performance at the MACC, sold out the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville with Della Mae as their opening band. 

Richard Bailey

Brent Truitt

Tammy Rodgers & Mike Fleming

Mike Fleming

Tammy Rodgers

The Seldom Scene

Since its founding in 1971, the Seldom Scene has been an important band, singing traditional music, while following in the steps of the Country Gentlemen by adding material from Rock, Folk, and Pop music to the mix. The band had continuity, but frequent changes, too. The current band, with Rickie Simpkins taking the place of the retired Ben Eldridge, the last original member, is composed of four members who have greater tenure in the band than any previous version. Simpkins brings a new voice as the first fiddler to hold a permanent position in the band, while being a fine banjo picker, too. Dudley Connell and Lou Reid remain two of bluegrass music's preeminent singers.

Ronnie Simpkins

Rickie Simpkins

Lou Reid

Dudley Connell

Fred Tavers

Rickie Simpkins

Clay Hess Conducts Early Morning Workshop

Sign-Up for Next Year's Camping Spots

The MACC Children's Band

The MACC Children's Band provides an opportunity for youngsters from seven to 17 to work up a presentation which always opens Saturday morning's show. The supervised program meets for a couple of hours a day. The help of some older pickers picked up the entire show, and their contribution was appreciated. This kind of early instructional and performance program at many festivals across the country is part of the backbone of  keeping bluegrass music alive. 

Chris Hill - Your Genial Emcee
Enjoying a Moment with the Kids

Proud Parents

One Day I'll Reach that Mic

Breaking Grass

Breaking Grass continues to deliver at the MACC. They're a crowd pleasing, enthusiastic bluegrass band from Mississippi which deserves wider attention. Cody Farrar sings lead while the band does lots of writing together to create their own sound. Good covers from classic bluegrass,  new grass, and rock.

Cody Farrar

Britt Sheffield

Zach Wooten

Tyler White

Jody Elmore

Cody Farrar

Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time

Take East Kentucky, a love of traditional country and bluegrass music, and a contemporary turn of phrase coupled with acute observation of the world through the writer's eyes and you have Larry Cordle. As both a piercingly witty story teller and an able song-smith, Larry Cordle excels in stories that portray the rural America he grew up in, extolling its virtues and mourning its changes. His songs have been widely recorded in both country music and bluegrass. 

Larry Cordle

Jody King

Mike Anglin

Chris Harris

The Mighty Cord

The Larry Stephenson Band

Larry Stephenson has recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of his own band after touring with Virginia-based bands for some time before. His voice continues undimmed as does his combination of fervent gospel music combined with grisly murder ballads. Always steady and reliable....

Larry Stephenson

Kenny Ingram - Big K

Kevin Richardson

Matt Wright

The Trio
Stephenson, Ingram and Richardson

Cindy Baucom

Terry Baucom & the Dukes of Drive

Terry Baucom has been involved with the startup of bands from Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver in 1981 as well as IIIrd Tyme Out. He's played with and for the best in a recognizable and reliable style. Now fronting his own band, Terry Baucom & the Dukes of Drive, he's again creating his own sound in his own way. 

Terry Baucom
The Duke of Drive

Joe Hernandez & Will Jones

Joey Lemons

Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley

Rob Ickes left Blue Highway after playing with them for twenty and notching up fifteen IBMA Dobro Player of the Year awards, more than any other single category winner. He's now teamed with Trey Hensley, a brilliant flat-picker and bluesy singer to tour and record together. Their first recording The Country Blues, which was nominated for a Grammy award. They were joined for this performance by Andy Leftwich on both mandolin and fiddle. The performances were varied and striking. I'm eager to hear more. 

Trey Hensley

Andy Leftwich

New Monday

Every Monday at the Station Inn in Nashville, a rotating group of singer/songwriters, country music performers, and bluegrass pickers get together to sing classic country for those whose hunger for a music that has changed beyond their tolerance still yearn for. Led by Carl Jackson and Larry Cordle along with Val Storey, the band is a pure delight. This year, the all-star Cordle, Jackson, and Salley team that's been performing at the MACC for several years gave way to what looks and sounds a lot like New Monday. As usual, a good time was had by all as country favorites, with, appropriately, a leaning towards the late Merle Haggard, delighted the audience. If there's a "Nashville Sound" today, it resides at the Station Inn with New Monday.

Larry Cordle

Carl Jackson

Val Storey

Jerry Salley

Robbie Turner

Larry Attamanuik

Andy Leftwich

Beth Lawrence

Bradley Walker

Pete Peterson's Family

Ida Peterson, the beloved wife of bluegrass fixture Pete Peterson (far left) died this winter after a courageous battle against cancer. A donation in Ida's name was given to the MACC this year, and her and their family assembled for the presentation. Here they are, afterwards. It was a touching moment for all, but especially for Pete, whose value as an electrician at bluegrass festivals, where electrical service is notoriously iffy, is well-known to many, for whom he's shown significant kindness over the years. 

The Centerville Alternative Strings

The final three bands at the MACC this year were all accompanied for some of their set by the Centerville Alternative Strings orchestra from Centerville, Ohio. Under the direction of conductor/arranger/banjo player Doug Eyink, the Alternative Strings have appeared with bluegrass bands at festivals and concerts for several years. They can also be heard playing string accompaniment on a number of recent recordings.  The soaring sound of a string orchestra adds color to many songs, and the kids are terrific!

Conductor Doug Eyink

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers

Joe Mullins, with his base in radio and his festival in Dayton, has provided a big boost to the Centerville Group, programming them and recording with them. Meanwhile, his band has become increasingly successful on the bluegrass trail with their combination of classic bluegrass featuring Mullins' Scruggs style banjo and more neo-traditional bluegrass songs, many on the inspirational and gospel side. 

Joe Mullins

Mike Terry

Randy Barnes

Dwayne Sparks

Jason Barie

The Alternative Strings Perform

Banjo Player Eyink

Flatt Lonesome
Kelsi Robertson Harragill

Now Nashville-based but originating in rural Callahan, FL, Flatt Lonesome has had a spectacular rise in the world of bluegrass. They're young, energetic and attractive as well an almost instantly recognizable for their close sibling harmonies. The band was involved in the MACC throughout the four days of its run. They've been nominated for five IBMA awards in 2016. 

Charli Robertson

Buddy Robertson

Paul Harragil

Michael Stockton

Dominic Illingworth

The Band of Ruhks with Centerville Alternative Strings

The Band of Ruhks closed out Musicians Against Childhood Concert backed by the Centerville Alternative Strings in an interesting and stirring performance. The Ruhks showed increasing confidence and clarity about the sound they're going for, with Ronnie Bowman particularly strong. Backed by the Alternative Strings, they brought the show to a rousing conclusion. 

Ronnie Bowman & Kenny Smith

John Meyer & Don Rigsby

Don Rigsby

John Meyer

Kenny Smith

Ronnie Bowman

As the show ended, we finished our packing and prepared ourselves for the long drive home. Be sure to put Musicians Against Childhood Cander (The MACC) on your bucket list of bluegrass festivals to attend.