Country Music People October 2017 - Page 57

Top: Mac with a dear pal he’s known since Ronnie Reno was in diapers. Reno co-produced Mac’s album with Merle Haggard. Centre: Mac with John Prine. Bottom: Mac Wiseman and the Country Boys in 1953. Chubby Collier, Mac Wiseman, Wade Macey, Enos Johnson. in Dayton, Va., Mac landed a job as an announcer at WSVA-Harrisonburg. Apart from his radio role, he began performing professionally with singer Buddy Starcher (I’ll Still Write Your Name In the Sand), who encouraged the budding young talent. While at WCYB-Bristol, Mac met up and performed with the Stanley Brothers; in 1948 he became one of Flatt & Scruggs Original Foggy Mountain Boys; then Bill Monroe hired him to perform with his Blue Grass Boys, and to make his WSM Grand Ole Opry debut. Finally, Mac launched his solo career full steam in 1951, and while featured on KWKH-Shreveport’s Louisiana Hayride, recorded for Dot Records. Label head Randy Wood then summoned Mac to Hollywood to pull double-duty as Dot’s A&R country chief, producing Reno & Smiley, Bonnie Guitar, Cowboy Copas and Jimmy C. Newman. Mac, hailed for his high tenor vocals and flat-top guitar stylings, won wide acclaim playing the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, Newport Folk Festival and Renfro Valley Bluegrass Festival. He launched that latter Kentucky festival, after having breathed new life into the historic WWVA Wheeling Jamboree in West Va., when it was near-bankrupt. Wiseman also went to bat on behalf of fellow players, serving as secretary-treasurer of AFM’s Nashville Association of Musicians union, and five-times president of the Reunion Of Professional Entertainers (ROPE). Mac, the CMA’s first secretary, was later a member of their secret nominating committee for the Country Music Hall of Fame, but resigned when younger members were unaware of the accomplishments of some of his peers up for consideration. As most fans are aware, Wiseman is a first-generation bluegrass pioneer, named to Virginia’s Music Hall of Fame, and is enshrined in the Bluegrass Hall of Honor (1993); and by Presidential proclamation was lauded with the National Medal of the Arts’ Heritage Fellowship Award (2008), presented with a $20,000 purse. Attesting to his diversity, Mac was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2014. Among his disc successes are Ballad Of Davy Crockett, Love Letters In The Sand, Your Best Friend And Me and Jimmy Brown The Newsboy, but he’s also recorded with an array of talents, including Woody Herman, the Osborne Brothers, Charlie Daniels, John Prine, David Grisman, Johnny Cash, Leona Williams, April Verch, Jett Williams and Merle Haggard. So despite that difficult childhood affliction, Wiseman has managed to put his distinctive footprint on America’s musical landscape. As Mac concludes: “Now I look forward to future endeavours and indeed I’ll confide, it’s still so sweet to be remembered!” cmp Mac Wiseman: All My Memories Fit For Print is available now. OCTOBER 2017 - cmp 57