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Celebration of Life
Musicians Against Childhood Cancer
Review By Steven Stone
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  Making an exceptional live concert CD presents a difficult artistic challenge. Most of them end up being mediocre because the best music never makes it onto the disc due to space restrictions or politics. Celebration of Life - Musicians Against Childhood Cancer manages to include more great music on its two discs than you'll find on a half-dozen other live festival CDs. Also unlike many benefit releases 100 percent of the net profits on this CD will go to a non-profit organization (in this case St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.)

To date the MACC (Musicians Against Childhood Cancer) festival, started in 2000, held in Columbus, Ohio, and run by Darrel and Phyllis Adkins, has raised over $300,000. For the 2005 festival Skaggs Family Records agreed to release a CD documenting the performances. Thirty seven songs by guest artists including Tony Rice, Dan Tyminski, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, the Grascals, the Cherryholmes, Blue Highway, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Seldom Scene, 3 Fox Drive, IIId Time Out, James King Band, Blueridge, Marty Raybon, Randy Kohrs, David Parmley, Karl Shiflett, Kenny and Amanda Smith, Lost & Found, Alecia Nugent, Don Rigsby, Wildfire, and Bradley Walker fill this CD with a staggering array of bluegrass talent. Selecting a standout cut is like picking a favorite flower in a perfectly made bouquet. Not only does every song display an extremely high level of musicality and musicianship, but also the sequencing works beautifully. But if forced under threat of thumbscrews coupled with a day's worth of continuous Cowsills piped through PA speakers at 95 dB, I'd pick the Seldom Scene's rendition of their classic song "Wait a Minute" as my favorite selection of the CD.

My only complaint with Celebration of Life - Musicians Against Childhood Cancer is that the album's graphics make it very hard to read the credits for disc two. The black print on a dark blue background will have you scrambling to find a bright light and a magnifying glass. Also the CD neglects to give any credit to the producer and engineers for the project. They deserve acknowledgment not only because it's the right thing to do, but also because they did a splendid job. The sound ranks among the best I've heard from a live festival recording.

So if you want to own a great live festival album AND donate some money to a good cause Celebration of Life-Musicians Against Childhood Cancer is simply a must-have CD. Get your very own copy at either www.bluegrassclassic.com or www.skaggsfamilyrecords.com.




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