MACRoCk 2010: Laying the Foundation for the Future

Jeremiah Knupp -- March 23rd, 2010

The weekend of April 2-3 marks the return of MACRoCk, Harrisonburg’s own indie music festival, to downtown. As MACRoCk celebrates its 13th year (its third downtown) the event’s steering committee looks to position the festival for future success.

“Our informal theme is ‘sow, sustain, succeed,'” said Harper Holsinger, one of MACRoCk’s co-directors, noting the idea is reflected in the tree design that graces the festival’s Web site and programs.

In the year since last year’s festival, MACRoCk’s volunteer nine-person organizational committee has lost half its members, as many MACRoCk veterans graduated or moved out of the area. The loss  made the remaining committee members focus on the event’s sustainability as they selected replacements.

“This year we took an extra long time selecting our new committee members,” said Amanda Phillips, who serves as a co-director with Holsinger.

“We were looking to create a younger group that will see MACRoCk through in the future,” Holsinger added.

The difference will be apparent to long-time MACRoCk fans. This year’s festival has moved into a closer area of downtown venues, will feature more panel discussions and workshops and will showcase what Holsinger considers to be one of the best band line-ups that the event has had since it moved from the JMU campus.

Fans take in New Rock Church of Fire at Clementine's. MACRoCK 2009. Photo by Holly Marcus.

“The committee is younger and they have a fresher take on things,” Holsinger said. “It’s evolving to match the changes in our audience.”

“It wasn’t something we planned to do, but this year’s volunteers naturally formed mentoring relationships, where older veterans are working with new members,” said Phillips. “It’s a ‘changing of the guard’ kind of year.”

This year’s MACRoCk will be a bittersweet event for Holsinger and Phillips. Both will be stepping down from their MACRoCk committee positions after this year’s event.

For those not familiar with MACRoCk (the Mid-Atlantic College Radio Conference), the event has taken place in Harrisonburg since 1997. Originally hosted by WXJM, JMU’s college radio station, in 2008 the MACRoCk incorporated as a not-for-profit and moved its venues from the campus to downtown Harrisonburg. The event draws bands from around the country, with a focus on those from the mid-Atlantic region, drawing from nearly every genre in the independent music scene to “promote under-promoted acts,” as Holsinger says.

This year’s MACRoCk will feature 75 bands, many fresh from the recent South by Southwest music festival. It is a  “walkable” event, with music venues stretching from the Little Grill Collective to Clementine’s Cafe. The music is matched by workshops and panel discussions, with topics that vary from bicycle repair to women in the music industry to photography. For more information visit the MACRoCk Web page

Pre-sale tickets are now available through the Court Square Theater box office. The festival is still looking for volunteers to staff event venues. Those interested can e-mail

Keep an eye on hburgnews for a festival preview, along with photos and updates from the event.

For more history about the growth and evolution of MACRoCk, see this article printed last year in Shenandoah Living magazine.

All photos of MACRoCk 2009 by Holly Marcus.

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4 Responses to “MACRoCk 2010: Laying the Foundation for the Future”

  1. Good to read that the conference will continue. Those are some big shoes to fill.

  2. Mark says:

    Disappointed to find out that it’s not on campus anymore…

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