Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

A lot of the good listeners to our program have, from time to time, asked me where I get the music I play.

Much of it is from my own collection. A lot of it is promotional tapes, CDs, etc., sent to me by the various record companies. Among the more prominent ones are Sugar Hill, Rebel, CMH, Turquoise and the like. One label, an independent, is one that I rely on pretty heavily for the "good stuff" — the reissues of a lot of the old-time and old-timers material — a lot of things I haven't found on other labels. This wonderful label is Old Homestead and its subsidiary Rutabaga. The founder, president, board of directors and holder of all of the other decision-making jobs is John Morris.

John progressed through phases of a lifelong record collector to a day job as a pharmacist and then a hobby into a business. The hobby became such a business that a decision had to be made. Full-time record business or ... John hasn't regretted choosing the record business.

We recently had a welcome visit from John, his wife Norma and youngest son Jeffrey. As I often do to him, he raided my collection of old country records, which I gladly shared with him. This is where all the old and "good stuff" comes from.

Those of you who are really interested can call or write Old Homestead Records, Box 100, Brighton, MI 48116, (313) 2271997. If you call, please do so before 6 p.m. John will gladly send to you, free, his latest newsletter with several pages full of listings of great albums, tapes, etc., both new and used, new recent releases, reissues, some rare and hard to find. That's where I get a lot of the music for Sunday Bluegrass.

his past month, as I am sure most of you know by now, Mr. Bill — Bill Monroe — had double bypass surgery in Nashville. The last we heard, at the time of this writing, was that he was in critical but stable condition. I know he has many fans in this area. If you would like to send a card, use the following address: Bill Monroe, P.O. Box 12, Nashville, TN 37202.

Some of you may know and some of you may not: There are boxed CD sets, four in a set, of Bill Monroe from early to current. There are also sets available of Flatt & Scruggs, Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest Tubb, Webb Pierce and others. You might ask John Morris about these also.

I had some good news this month concerning a local friend. The Bill Stewart Family made an appearance on Ralph Emery's local (Nashville) TV show. Bill says it is a pretty good possibility they may get a shot on Nashville Now, hopefully in the not-too-distant future. We must watch for that one.

I also learned from Bill that his brother, Gene Stewart, is greatly improved from a recent bout with emphysema. Gene Stewart has recorded with many of the great and legendary country artist over the years. You would have to ask him who, because I certainly can't remember all of the different ones he has told me about. Gene is performing every Thursday night at Chick Inn, Upper River Road, Louisville. I hope to get Bill, Gene and the other brother, Redd, into the station one night to take part in my show. Wouldn't that be a kick!

Festivalgoers, don't forget, Bean Blossom, Ind., September 12-14; the IBMA Fan Fest in Owensboro, September 27-29; and be sure to listen to Sunday Bluegrass, WFPL 89.3 FM for more information, details and surprises. Don't let the summer/season end without attending another bluegrass festival of your choice.