Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

The grass is "blueing" as festivals are gearing up around the country. I for one am READY! On June 11-14 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, there is a fairly decent line-up for starters. During the weekend, there will be such top acts and local favorites as Doyle Lawson, Del McCoury, Paul Adkins, IIIrd Tyme Out, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Allison Krauss, The Lewis Family, Seldom Scene and many others. Every time I mention or introduce Seldom Scene, I always wonder why they call themselves The Seldom Scene? After all, they are "seen everywhere" and John Duffy, of course, makes a "scene" everywhere he goes. A top group that has as a member what I consider the "coolest" man in bluegrass. Mike Auldridge. No matter when or where you see him, before or after a show, he always looks as if he just stepped out of the shower freshly pressed and completely ready to go.

The one festival, or at least one of the ones, that I look forward to in a big way is the Charlotte, Michigan, festival, June 25-28. This is a special festival for me. I will be there as emcee from the 26th to the 28th. It is special in several ways. This will be about the sixth or seventh year we have done this festival. Over those years we have met and made many great friends of both festival goers and performers. The facilities at the Eaton County Fairgrounds are among some of the best we attend. There is shade, sun and showers. Some of our Sunday Bluegrass listeners were there last year for the first time and promised to be back this year. John Morris of Old Homestead Records is the honcho. John and his wife Norma and family have really made this a very special weekend for us each year. Not only are they some of the finest folks to be around but their hospitality and congeniality could not be better.

Old Joe Clark's Festival at Renfro Valley will be going full blast July 2-4. A good line-up down there as usual, including Randall Hylton, Raymond Fairchild, Jim & Jesse with Mike Stevens, The Lewis Family, Boys from Indiana and more.

A July event for fans and groups alike to look forward to and plan for will be the Spencer County Fair. On Thursday, July 16, they will have a Bluegrasss Talent contest. Al Pernell of Pernell's Old Folks Sausage will sponsor it. Here is a chance for new groups to get some exposure and recognition. First prize will be $400, second prize will be $250, and third prize $125. One of the criteria for the bands is that they do not derive more than 50% of their income from music. We really encourage all of you to get your act together and take part. I know that there are many good unknown groups hidden out there that should be heard. It could be worth $400. I'll be there as emcee and will look forward to seeing you there. If you have any questions, want more or detailed information, call Don Lorenze, a very pleasant gentleman, at 244-1372 during the day or (502) 477-2322, Spencer County, at night.

Folks have all kinds of different reasons for going to the festivals. I know a fellow who doesn't see or hear ten minutes of what's happening on stage during a whole two- or three-day weekend. Most of what he sees is the side of an RV or the tail end of a pickup. You see, he is one of the "parking lot/shade tree pickers" who do nothing else the whole time. Of course, most folks go to sit and enjoy the show. Me, I like to be a part of the show, emcee and that sort of thing. Naturally, I can't always do that so a lot of my enjoyment comes from visiting with the performers we have gotten to know or are getting acquainted with. Most of the visiting is around the record tables and usually in view of the stage. Sort of a chance to have your cake and eat it too. Basically we all go for the same thing; we just accomplish it in a different manner. We all go to enjoy the music, meet and visit our favorite stars, enjoy the outdoors, relax and, whether we realize it or not, support bluegrass. Now's the time, so let's DO IT!!!