Mac Snow, one of eleven children of Garfield Snow and Pearl Ward, was born in Lambsburg, Virginia, where he grew up surrounded by the music of the area. Mac’s father and his older brother, Harley, played the banjo. A neighbor, Charles Barnett Lowe, was a well-known local musician whose house was a gathering place for local musicians, especially Tommy Jarrell, who married Lowe’s daughter Nina.
Another neighbor, Edgar Creed, acquired a radio around 1937, and Mac would frequently visit to listen to programs such as the Grand Ole Opry. Mac moved to Surry County when he was ten years old. He remembers hearing lots of music by local musicians, especially at dances, which often occurred in his home. He started playing mandolin around the age of ten. When he was twelve, he bought a Sears guitar for ten dollars, using money he had saved over six years of working in tobacco and corn. He learned to finger chords through a mail-order guitar course, and his great knack for remembering songs helped to build his repertoire.
Mac is one of the few local old-time musicians who played regularly with the older generation of musicians so closely associated with the local style. In 1961 he began playing in the Virginia Carolina Ramblers, a group that included Fred Cockerham, Ambrose Lowe, Knuckles Nester, and Clyde Isaacs. Mac had heard Cockerham nearly twenty years earlier when they lived in the same community. Mac was one of the founding members of the Pine Ridge Boys with Earnest East, and he played with the infamous Camp Creek Boys, and with Earnest’s son, Scotty. Mac has played with most of the Surry County old-time musicians, including Tommy Jarrell, Kyle Creed, Benton Flippen, and Verlen Clifton.
In later years, Mac performed with the Round Peak Ramblers along with fiddler Erika Godfrey, banjo player Steven Mac Snow, mandolin player Mike Snow, and bass player Gray Bryant. He played a little banjo, but he usually played guitar and sang. He played guitar with a thumb and finger pick.