For the past 25 years, Darrel and Phyllis Adkins of Adkins Productions have hosted the Bluegrass Classic music festival in Columbus, Ohio. After their daughter, Mandy, passed away from an inoperable brain tumor in 2000, they joined with numerous bluegrass musicians to turn their annual festival into Musicians Against Childhood Cancer (MACC), with proceeds going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Since that time, they have been able to raise over $590,000. MACC has also participated in the recording of two albums consisting of live recordings from the festival. The most recent album, Life Goes On, was released by Rural Rhythm Records in March 2012 and is a collection of some of the best talent bluegrass music has to offer.
This two-disc set features 39 songs performed by a “who’s who” of 139 fantastic bluegrass singers and musicians. Artists featured on the album include the Johnson Mountain Boys, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Michael Cleveland, J.D. Crowe and the New South, the Lonesome River Band, the Lost and Found, Junior Sisk, Josh Williams, Rhonda Vincent, Tony Rice, Sierra Hull and Highway 111, Blue Highway, Randy Kohrs, and Bradley Walker. As can be expected from an assembly of musicians this gifted, the picking and singing on this album are top-notch.
While many of the songs are simply live cuts of hits from bluegrass music’s best (such as Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out’s Little John I Am and Newfound Road’s Please Come to Boston), other numbers are all-star versions of traditional tunes. For instance, Paul Williams, Doyle Lawson, and J.D. Crowe join together on Paul’s Ministry, Josh Williams and Don Rigsby offer awesome harmonies on a duet version of Where the Soul Never Dies, and James King’s lead vocals guide Dudley Connell, Russell Moore, Adam Steffey, Marshall Wilborn, and Ron Stewart in their take on the Ralph Stanley classic Memories of Mother.
The album’s title track is also the final song and the only one not recorded live. Life Goes On, written by Dale Pyatt and Steve Thomas, is a tender reminder to those who have lost loved ones that “life goes on” in memories. Larry Cordle, Jerry Salley, Carl Jackson, Rickey Wasson, Randy Kohrs, and Ronnie Bowman share lead vocal duties and are joined by a host of other musicians on harmony vocals and instrumentation.
Just like the annual festival, proceeds from this album will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Every year, St. Jude’s helps treat over 7,800 patients – all at no cost to the families. Their research has helped raise childhood cancer survival rates from 20% in the 1960s (when St. Jude’s opened) to 80% currently. By purchasing this album, not only do you get a collection of the best in bluegrass music, but you are also able to contribute to this worthy cause.
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