Bluegrass Bits

By Berk Bryant
The Country Gentleman

Several things for this month . . . not the least of which is a look and listen to the latest Gary Brewer album, available on both cassette and CD. The album title is Down Home Memories, and comes from Copper Creek.

The first number is, as all good album numbers should be, one to catch your attention right away. In this case it is one of Gary's own, "Johnson City Blues," a good up-tempo number to get you in the mood for the rest of the offerings on this twelve-selection album. Half of them were written by Gary himself. "Short Life of Trouble" is done in Gary's style and at a different pace from that of say, Stringbean. "I Still Miss Someone" is an old country-flavored ballad Gary learned from an early Johnny Cash record. Give a listen to the Flatt & Scruggs version sometime, Gary.

"Down Home Memories," the title song, is one Gary wrote about the old Brewer homeplace. "Greycoat Soldiers" is the story of a Civil War soldier. As these type of songs go, this is a good one. For my part I prefer the faster songs but not exclusively and this is a good slower number. Larry Beasley wrote the instrumental "Rambler Blues," and it is a good break point in the album.

"(Me And) The Rambler Sound" is an appropriate GB tune and is used as a theme for the band. "Sleep With One Eye Open" is from Flatt & Scruggs. "Home Ain't the Way It Used to Be" is another Brewer Family song by Gary. "Big Train" is another mover. Two slower-paced numbers, "I Don't Know What's Become Of Me" and "Window Shoppin'," wind up the dozen tunes from Gary Brewer. Hard to go wrong with a Hank Williams tune.

All in all it's a good album from Gary Brewer and the Kentucky Ramblers for Gary Brewer fans. My *picks? Well you'll just have to listen to WFPL on Sunday nights.

I had a couple of those little goodies last week that really make things worthwhile, especially when you need something to improve a day or week. A couple of weeks ago I played one of the oldies I like to play: Roy Hall and the Blue Ridge Entertainers, an old group I remember from the '40s. This group was known for two particular popular songs of the time, "Can You Forgive" and "Don't Let Your Sweet Love Die." Both were done many times by many other fine artists over the years. I played "Can You Forgive," and a couple nights later a gentleman called and told me how excited he was to hear this group and the song. He too remembered them from back then. He went on to tell me he is retired military and, as he put it, had "literally searched the world over" in his career to find that record. You can only imagine how delighted he was to learn where he could obtain it. I gave him the particulars and he called me again to tell me he had received his record. Kinda makes you feel good when you can do something like that.

I was talking to "Ole Harold" the other night and he told me that one of his daughter's school friends told her, "I heard your daddy's name on the radio the other night." Turns out he is a regular listener to our program. Know what? This is another high-school student we're talking about. I think this is great. I've said all along to you young folks it's alright to listen to bluegrass.

Bluegrass in the area in the next few weeks include Gary Brewer along with the Warrior River Boys at Shepherdsville (Ky.) Country Music Place on February 8. Warrior River Boys are a really great group from Alabama. As far as I know this is their first time in the Louisville area. February 22 will have the Kentucky Thoroughbreds there. I am not familiar with this group at all. March 8 will find Jim Simpson and Kentucky Mountain Grass, along with the Kentucky Bluegrass Band, puttin' on a show at Shepherdsville. April 12 will have a couple of groups that are everybody's favorites, or are among their favorites. That's the Osborne Bros. and Jim & Jesse with the Virginia Boys. For those of you who want to take a little ride, The Lewis Family and Jim & Jesse will be at the Gospel House in Loogootee, Ind., April 26.

I guess we'll call it a bit for this time and go somewhere to think up something for next time.