Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

June and July have both provided some great festival trips. In June we went to Michigan to the Charlotte festival. I was very pleased to find some of our regular listeners there as a result of our program. This was their first time there and they commented that they would definitely be back next year.

I got what I think are a couple of good stories from up there.

John Morris of Old Homestead Records puts on the festival at Charlotte. His fliers for this year listed a schedule on the back, and on the front the bands were listed, with a section called "Other Bands." The schedule on the back showed "Supper Break" at 6:00 p.m. Through the efforts of some gremlin or the other, that in turn became, on the front under "Other Bands," "Super Break." All of this went into one of the local newspapers.

Three or four of the local TV stations were there on and off through the day. One of the largest called John and expressed a desire to have Super Break on live during the 6:00 p.m. news. John explained what had happened and the station said, "but we already have our schedule set. . .:"

"OK, come on out," John said.

As emcee of the show, I was asked to explain to the crowd what was happening and to ask them to stick around during the supper break, when Super Break would play.

The big question then was, who was Super Break? Ralph Stanley was the last one on before supper break, and Charlie Sizemore, who had been a part of Ralph's group for a number of years, was on earlier. After talking with both of them, they agreed and a reunion of Charlie Sizemore and Ralph Stanley became Super Break.

The crowd loved it, and the TV station got their live performance.

Another story points up how little we sometimes know about the seemingly obvious around us. Lewis Phillips, at nineteen the youngest member of the Lewis Family, graduated from high school last year. Now Lincolnton, Ga. is not exactly the metropolis of the state of Georgia, and the family has been on an area TV station with a regular program for thirty-five years. They come and go in a big maroon, forty-foot or so long bus, with the name Lewis Family in big letters on the side, which by no means resembles anyone's family car in the drive. You would think somebody would eventually notice.

Just prior to graduation, the school's principal, various assorted teachers and counselors were discussing his future with Lewis. He was asked if he was going to college and he replied that he had decided not to.

He was asked, "What are you going to do? How are you going to make a living?" The answer, besides being rather obvious, was simple: "I'm going to do the same thing I've been doing since I was five years old."

Maybe some of you happened to catch and remember a Carol Burnett / Vicki Lawrence special from Nashville about fourteen years ago. Carol got this cute little fellow from somewhere down front, sat him up on the edge of the stage with his little banjo, his knock-'em-out smile and big dark eyes, then stood back and grinned as he tore up the crowd with a commendable display of picking ability.

That was my buddy Lewis.

Charlie Sizemore was at Charlotte and we had a good visit, I enjoyed his performances and got a copy of his tape. A brief review goes like this: A good tape, with five or six numbers that are not strictly bluegrass, but which have a good country sound. Steel guitar, etc. There is a story behind it and one version I got is this:

Seems Charlie was asked to do a country sound album by someone who had the money for the project, and Charlie agreed. Before the album was complete, the money ran out. Those tunes were finally put into a tape that was finished out in his regular good bluegrass style. A little of that loyalty that country/bluegrass fans are noted for here, folks and listeners. Charlie has not left bluegrass, his "other" songs are good.

First part of July got us to Renfo Valley and Old Joe Clark's festival. I only had one day there and among others got to see the Osborne Brothers, Wildwood Girls and the Lewis Family. One group I had never seen and which was not listed previously was the Doug Dillard Band. One member of this group, Ginger Boatwright, has a new CD. You will be hearing tracks from it if you listen to Sunday Bluegrass on WFPL FM 89 on Sunday nights. When I've had the time to give it a more thorough listen, I'll tell you more about it. Same applies to the new Turquoise CD from the New Coon Creek Girls. Been waiting for that one.