Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

Spring — and all that comes with it — is taking ahold more and more every day. First thing you know we'll all be down with a case of spring fever, second only to festival fever. That's one I don't get over.

Several events of this last month are in my notes to pass along (what notes? I didn't know I had any notes to do this from).

Father of Bluegrass Gospel Will Be Missed.

Even though this is already pretty well known, I wanted to mention the unfortunate passing of Carl Story. Carl Story had many fans in this area. He was known as the father of bluegrass gospel and will be missed by the bluegrass community. I missed his last appearance in the area (Shepherdsville) earlier this year, thinking I would see him at Otter Creek Park in May. Another example that we should see friends and favorite performers when we can.

Carl had triple by-pass surgery earlier this year and was improving and doing well. A letter from Earl Phillips told me that while Carl was recuperating he had a coughing spell and broke stitches or something open and loose and was unable to recover from it. Yes, he will bemissed from the music scene.

TMA Awards/Benefit Show

The Traditional Music Association had its first awards/benefit show April 15 in the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. I was able to attend and it was really something to be in the Ryman again. It was recently renovated and, from where I could see, they did a tremendous job. Very few changes were made. I think one of the most noticeable ones was in the placement of the seats. The old pews are still there but arranged somewhat differently. Oh yes, they have added air-conditioning. I am sure many of you will remember the old days when the windows would be opened and the hand-held; hand-operated advertising fans waved all through the audience something like large individual butterflies.

A new entrance has been added on the back of the building. A very nice lobby and entrance. One very fitting to the old building. Also very fitting in the lobby is a park bench with life-size bronze statues of Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl. It's GREAT!

TMA covers all traditional music and this includes big bands, blues, early rock and all. Scott Miller Orchestra provided all the fills, intro music and the big band sound and numbers. A very creditable job on their part.

The Whitstein Bros. performed; good to see them and to meet brother Robert for the first time. Leona Williams and son Ron performed several numbers. Lonzo & Oscar performed by way of a video made especially for the occasion and both, of course, were there in person. Jim Murphy from up in New Jersey and Gary Goff both performed original songs written especially for the occasion. Both were very good. A highlight performance for me was Brother Oswald. I never get enough of Oswald. I don't know about you but for my part Oswald belongs in the Country Music Hall of Fame as much as anyone there.

I can't do a blow-by-blow on everything that took place. There were some awards. The TMA radio award went to a station in St. Louis. I honestly was shocked to hear my name called for the TMA DJ of the Year award. I don't know how or who to thank but much of it definitely goes to everyone who supports my program in any way. I feel this is an award for the music more than it is for the individual — me. Many thanks also for the folks from our area who attended. Among others,. Jay and Joan Ruff of the Sunnysiders were there. Thanks for your support as well.

I also had the opportunity to introduce the bluegrass portion of the program, The Bobby Hicks bluegrass band. Yep, the Bobby Hicks who it seems has played fiddle for nearly everybody everywhere. I got to confirm something from Bobby I had been trying to confirm for years. He played fiddle for a group down home umpty-ump-ump-um years ago. The leader of the group was Smokey Graves who had a good and popular band there in Lynchburg, Va.

If you weren't at the TMA show you did miss a good event. The show itself was well done and excellent. A few minor glitches were overcome and it was just a great time to be there. T. Tommy Cuturer was the host. It was a real thrill for me to see and get to chat with T. Tommy again. I hadn't seen T. since sometime in the early '60s. That was when he was an announcer at WSM.

Other highlights — at least highlights to me —were the dancers, the singers and songwriters and just all of the kinds of folks you would expect to see and meet at this type of event. A lot of the dancers were folks we have seen at the Museum of Appalachia Fall Homecoming. All of these folks really add a lot to the shows. Speaking of the Museum, owner John Rice Irwin was there with his wife, Elizabeth and Dr. Nat Winston and his wife. Nat does a great job as MC of the big homecoming at the museum each year. Another great event I always look forward to.

Leroy Troy was there and won the TMA New Artist award. You can hear Leroy on my program and probably many of you will remember him from "Hee Haw." The Old Time Music Group from Ohio was there. I've seen them at Norris each year. You will be hearing them on "Sunday Bluegrass. " [That' s the popular bluegrass show that Berk hosts every Sunday evening on WFPL 89.3 FM, 8:30-11. -—Editor] They gave me a couple of their tapes. Good ones, too.

I met and saw for the first time another top artist. He had a hit song that hung onto the charts, I believe they said, for two years: Freddie Hart. Very pleasant fellow; lived up to everything I've ever heard about him. (Yes, he sang "Easy Lovin'.") Freddie came in from California to be a part of this. Also someone I hadn't seen since the 50s was Martha Carson. Always loved Martha and her "happy spirituals." A great performer. One of the original Coon Creek Girls. The folks that were there were thrilled to see Freddie Hart and Martha Carson again.

Good Show from Eddie Adcock Band.

Friday, the 14th, brought an enjoyable show to Shepherdsville. The Eddie Adcock Band gave us a good performance. I had more of a chance to talk with Eddie than I ever have. Found out a few things from him and his wife Martha that I didn't know. Example: Eddie is originally from Virginia —Scottsville, to be exact. Scottsville is probably about 50 miles from my home. Eddie's only 12 miles from Walton's Mountain. Gave us a lot to talk about. One topic I mentioned in introducing them for the second show was an event that happened back in the '50s. Eddie said it was '57. The JCs at Warrington; Va., held a country music talent contest every year. This particular year Connie B. Gay, Jim Eanes and I were the judges. There was a tie on the banjo pickers. They were Larry Richardson and Eddie Adcock. I did not remember until that Friday night who won the contest. Eddie Adcock did win and did so with a cast on his wrist. He says there was no way he could have beaten Larry Richardson, but he did. Fair and honest. See you next time, Eddie — you and Martha and all the band. Would any of you out there happen to know where Larry Richardson might be?

WANT TO — AND I AM EXPECTING TO — SEE YOU ALL AT OTTER CREEK. (Look for the details of the Otter Creek festival on the facing page.)