Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

Well, it's happened again. Here we are in a new year whether we were quite ready for it or not. I sincerely hope you had a great holiday season and that your Christrnas tree was loaded.

So ... here it is and we had better get ready to make the best of it. Get out one of those endless calendars that seem to come from everywhere and right now, right (well, finish reading this column first) now begin filling in spaces with those bluegrass festivals you are going to attend.

The new year also gives us the opportunity to make some fresh starts – fresh starts on some old projects or things we have been putting off getting involved in. Talk is cheap and easy to come by, but involvement and action is another thing. You fans of bluegrass and traditional, the real country music (and actually, folks, those two do go hand in hand), let's take our music back. Let's reinstate some respect. It seems to me that respect for the traditional country music, the traditional country artist and the fans has been obliterated.

Some examples of what I am referring to: I was at the Opry a few weeks back. I had heard about this, but now I have seen it. Roy Acuff's dressing room is no longer Mr. Acuff's dressing room. It is open to whover or whatever falls in it. This dressing room should be maintained and open to tourists, visitors and fans at the Opry. Left as it was, it would be something for fans and tourists alike to see.

No, I don't need a reminder that Roy Acuff has gone, but his influence and importance to real country music and the Grand Ole Opry should never be forgotten or disregarded. Every time you listen to the Opry or the name is mentioned, you remember it was Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe, Uncle Dave Macon and many others like them of that era who solidified the very structure of a radio program called the Grand Ole Opry so that it is on the air today, the oldest continuous program on the air. Without this early foundation, "country" music would probably not have the status it does today. And yet all too many will not program or mention these great artists.

Respect?

Another example being that of the on-air comment made by one of the younger performers when he was made a member of the Opry. I understand he has "heard" about this most inappropriate remark from family and others alike. I know that he has lost the respect and friendship of others because of this.

Respect?

One more: Some or one favored artist, is essentially allowed to take over, so to speak, when he decides to grace the show with his great presence. No other members are allowed guests when he is there. We need to get the respect back that traditional country music and its artists deserve. How can that be done? Write and/or join the Traditional Music Association, P.O. Box 327800, Cave City, KY 42127, or call 502-773-3789.

Make your voice heard to radio stations to play traditional country and artists. There is a new station in town I am not sure of the call letters, but this will work: KJAY 98.9 FM – that will and does play traditional country. Congratulations to them. (Don' t let anything discourage you from continuing to do so.) And fans, call or write them and encourage them to continue to do so.

In the last (December) issue there was a letter at the bottom of page 22 relative to an award for Hank Williams Sr. Reread it and act on it.

Shepherdsville Country Music Place is going again with bluegrass beginning the 7th with Reno Bros. And Larry Stephenson; the 14th, Lee Matherly and the Sunnysiders plus the Fret Benders. The 21st is a biggie. Bill Monroe, James Monroe, The Sullivan Family and Gary Brewer and the Kentucky Ramblers. Fill that calendar in right now. C.R. Wilson will have Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver at Brownsville, Ky., the 22nd. All of this, of course, is in January. A terrific start for the new year.

December l0 at Shepherdsville had us a terrific show with Ralph Stanley. I heard more comments about how good that show was and people calling me the next Sunday night on our show [Sunday Bluegrass, WFPL] than I had heard on a single given show for awhile.

I guess I'd' better quit for now. I suppose the boss lady is a bit tired from typing all of this by now. Folks, we're on a roll; let's keep it going together.

Happy New Year again and I'1l see you on the radio or at a bluegrass show.