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  • Jeremy Huffaker

Bluegrass in Focus: Laci Mack's Journey into the Heart of Dumplin Valley

Bluegrass music, with its roots firmly planted in the rich soil of East Tennessee, has been a growing force for decades and more rapidly since the 1990s. In this era, bluegrass not only shaped the musical landscape but also fostered a loving community where musicians and fans came together to celebrate this heartfelt music.

A flourishing result of the thriving world of bluegrass is Laci Mack. Growing up in Clinton, Tennessee, Laci is a photographer who has discovered her artistic passion in the captivating spell of the "high lonesome sound" that resonates with us all. Raised in an environment surrounded by gospel and bluegrass music, Laci's course took an unexpected turn in 2019 amid the COVID pandemic. It was during this challenging period that she made a determined choice to channel her creativity and energy into pursuing a new path in life.

Laci's determination for creating a life that allowed her more time with her children and freedom to pursue artistic expression has opened a new chapter in her life. A brave jump from a steady 9 to 5 would take her through several side-hustles, like delivering food for Door Dash and others, as a way to fund and open free time to explore her passion in bluegrass songwriting and the visual arts. Now she's blazing her path and allowing us all to enjoy bluegrass through her lens and words.

In her approach to bluegrass photography, Laci Mack distinguishes herself by her familiarity with the music and its performers. "It's all a big family", according to Laci, as she invests time developing relationships that help her become a practically invisible member of the band. Her ability to capture candid moments that showcase the genuine connections between musicians, their instruments and their audience is amazing. Using natural light and uncluttered backgrounds, her photographs define authenticity and intimacy, reflecting the lively spirit of bluegrass music.

Rhonda Vincent by Laci Mack

Laci's work as a photographer has not gone unnoticed. Her images have been featured in prominent publications such as Bluegrass Today, Bluegrass Now, and The Bluegrass Situation. You might have seen her on the edges at this year's Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival snapping shots of all the performers, including some favorites we've recently featured here. She has also lent her talented perspective to other major bluegrass festivals, including the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) World of Bluegrass and the DelFest Bluegrass Festival. The acclaim for her work is not only due to technical excellence but also for the unique ability to capture the raw emotion and storytelling power of bluegrass music. This storytelling is what intrigues and drives Laci's passions.

Laci's photography is also a catalyst for pursuit of songwriting. Her friendships with phenomenal talents like Eli Johnson of Authentic Unlimited and up-and-coming artist Caroline Owens have resulted in partnerships writing songs that showcase her gift. Laci seeks out moments in life and musical performance that reflect and draw on the feelings we all have about heartbreak and joy. Things such as, when a guitar sting breaks and creates a look of despair on a musicians face. Laci observes this not as just a simple moment on stage, but digs deeper into the feeling finding relationships between this moment and those we experience in life and love. The visual from this second in time inspires her to write about the other moments in life when we experience disappointment, loss, or frustration...all from the look on a performers face.

Laci Mack's commitment to bluegrass doesn't stop at photography and songwriting. As the Marketing Director for Pluck It! Music Brand, she travels to music festivals nationwide, selling the brand's bluegrass-themed merchandise while capturing photos of artists in action. Her achievements include designing album covers for notable artists like Carley Arrowood and Dave Adkins, solidifying her status as a significant contributor to the bluegrass community. Aspirations of working more with the many talented women in bluegrass like Sister Sadie, Carley Arrowood, and everyone's favorite Rhond Vincent has already generated notoriety for her photos as covers and features for articles.

In essence, Laci Mack is not just a photographer capturing moments; she is a storyteller, an advocate, and a passionate supporter of the bluegrass spirit, ensuring that the music and its culture thrive through her lens and words.

Join the Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Community

We were honored to have Laci capturing the DV experience in 2023, and we want you to be a part of this unforgettable experience next year. Here's what you can do:

1. Follow Laci Mack on social media: Stay up-to-date with the photos, songwriting, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of her musical journey.

2. Join the Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Facebook Page: Be a part of our vibrant online community where fellow bluegrass enthusiasts share their love for the genre. Get updates on the festival, interact with fellow fans, and stay in the loop.

3. Reserve Your Campsite for 2024: There's no better way to immerse yourself in the bluegrass experience than by camping at Dumplin Valley. Wake up to the sounds of nature and spend your days surrounded by the music you love.

4. Grab Your Weekend Passes: Don't miss out on a weekend filled with world-class bluegrass performances, camaraderie, and memories that will last a lifetime. Secure your tickets now!

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