Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

A new album is being planned and will probably contain mostly original songs from the pen of the artist. Some would be very much in tune with the times and events of the day.

A line from one of the songs that may be included was written by a young sergeant: "I'm writing this down in a tench, Mom."

Or. perhaps: "See the pyramids along the Nile."

I don't know what will be included in his album, but those are possibilities.

Some of you may recognize the line from "'A Soldier's Last Letter." It was written by a young soldier in New Guinea World War II. He sent the song to Ernest Tubb, who recorded it and it reached the top of the charts for several weeks. This was around 1944.

This same young man also set down the words to a song he titled "The American Service Man." Radio stations would not play this song back then because it contains the line, "The American fighting man is a hell of a fighting machine." Evidently Sgt. Henry Stewart was quite a songwriter.

He also has a tune that refers back to the biggest-selling country song ever recorded "Tennessee Waltz" and that is "Play That Tennessee Waltz One More Time." Sgt. Henry Stewart could well write such a "song with authority. After all, he wrote "Tennessee Waltz."

Sgt. Henry Stewart has been known to most of us for many years as Redd Stewart.

Redd, my sincere best wishes to you for success, beyond any you may hope for, on this new project.

I will be looking forward to hearing it. I am anxious to know what will be in it, who will be on it and certainly how it sounds. With your credentials I don't see how it could miss or how it could miss being played on any radio station that touts itself as being a country station.

I received a listener letter a couple of weeks ago that really made me feel good. It made me feel good about my program, is a very encouraging letter and is the kind you want to share with others.

Aside from the very complimentary things the writer had to say, it is his views about our kind of music, country music, bluegrass music and bluegrass music on the air, that I find important. Space may not permit reprinting the letter in its entirety (up to the editor), but here are a couple of excerpts:

'It seems that for so many years now our local country stations only pray country music by the select few. One would go deaf straining their ears waiting to hear one of the country Djs play any bluegrass, and if they happen to, it is only Bill Monroe or Osborne Bros. Or somewhat bluegrass sound Ricky Skaggs.

'I love all of the above, however you and I both know there's plenty of good down-to-earth people out there who love bluegrass and we will know there is more to bluegrass than the Osborne Bros. And Bill Monroe. Now thanks to you and WFPL we can finally hear all those other good bluegrass groups.

'I suppose we'll just have to show the local country stations and DJ's that Louisville is not too sophisticated to listen to good down-to-earth country bluegrass.

The letter excepted above started off:

'Just as I was about to give up on Louisville as to ever having a good down-to-earth DJ and a station that will play my favorite music (bluegrass), you came along!

Thank you, W.P.N., for your kind comments and your very important support of bluegrass music.

At this writing, along with the desire for spring's return, the weather is unusual for this time of the year, being in the 60-plus range; Without a doubt, reality will return before winter packs it in for this year, but it's a great time to read your Bluegrass Unlimited, get the calendar down, check your maps and mentally begin heading for those bluegrass festivals.

To kind of whet the appetite there are some very good bluegrass shows in the area to tide us over: Coming to the Shepherdsville Country Music Place is Jim Simpson & the Kentucky Mountain Grass, along with The Kentucky Bluegrass Band. All of this will be March 8th. April 12th: Jim & Jesse.

Frankfort listeners to my Sunday program called and wanted to tell us about upcoming groups at the Meadowgreen Park Music Hall, Clay City, Ky. Really not too far to go to see a favorite entertainer:

March 9th, Bluegrass Horizon; March 16th, Goins Bros.; March 23rd, Paul Mullins; and last, but by far not least, for March, The Lost & Found on the 30th.

The next date that we have is for the Osborne Bros. on the 13th of April. Now is that a great lineup or what?

Festivals to plan for: The Festival of the Bluegrass, Lexington, Ky., in June; Old Joe Clark's Festival, Renfro Valley, in July; and the one-that is always a must for me, as I am the MC and have been for about the last seven years now, is the festival in Charlotte, Mich. This is put on by John Morris, Old Homestead Records, in late June. There are more we will tell about next time. Once again, best wishes for success on the new project. Go get 'em, Redd!

Listen to us on WFPL 89.3, Sunday from 8-10 p.m., for bluegrass, traditional and old-time. That's WFPL, your best choice for music.