Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

Is it really JULY? The "shortest and fastest three hours in radio" can't hold a light to the shortest and fastest six months in this year. Where does it go? It's been time well spent if you have been going to bluegrass festivals and shows.

West Point Festival May Continue

The West Point festival seemed to go well, well enough that the folks at West Point are talking 'next year' already. That is encouraging. Support it, nourish it, encourage it, and it will grow. Let's do it.

CityFair Bluegrass

I was at the CityFair on the Belvedere for the Bluegrass show on the 16th. Saw some of J. D. Crowe's show, all of the Reno Bros. and talked with Gary Brewer for a few minutes. The heat of the day may have deterred some attendees. Having to tape a show ("Sunday Bluegrass") for the following Sunday and trying to save a little time, I had to leave and go to the station to start taping. I got one hour finished in time to do the regular show and then it was back to the tape for another two hours. Got it done!

I had asked Ronnie and the brothers to come by the station. Having been outside and in the heat the whole weekend, Ronnie declined, saying he would rather come up sometime and be on the show. He did look a bit beat. Good enough for me, it's something to look forward to.

I expect some [to have] other events on the show by the time you read this. Just listen and see what happens. In the meantime, here's a look at who is picking, when and where.

Where to Hear Bluegrass

Here and Go Bluegrass band every Thursday night at the Red Barn, Nashville, IN. For more info, call Nathan Liver, 1-812-294-4346. Every 2nd and 4th Saturday, free bluegrass at Henryville, IN. The 3rd and 5th Saturday nights at Scottsburg, IN. Also, the first Saturday, beginning at 6:00 p.m., Jefferson County 4H Fairgrounds, Madison, IN.

I don't know at this time if the Sunday afternoon shows at Bernheim Forest will continue or not. Listen to "Sunday Bluegrass," WFPK FM 92, 8 – 11 p.m. for an update. If you see a copy of this in time, Old Joe Clark's Bluegrass Festival at Renfro Valley is July 4 – 6. On July 27, the Stewart Family will be at the Opera House in Mitchell, IN. (Notice how much bluegrass is taking place in Indiana?)

Friday night bluegrass shows return to the West Point Opry House beginning on July 19, with the Hunter Family and on July 26 with the return of THE LEWIS FAMILY. I am told that the July 27 country show at the West Point Opry will have Randall Hylton. Who's next? I don't know now, stay with me and I will let you know.

Is Old Time Music
Making a Comeback?

Bluegrass, traditional and old time: old time conjures up various visions and perhaps various memories. There seems to be a lot of renewed interest in old time music. This is evidence to me from the many calls, questions and requests I get, as well as the recent influx of CDs featuring exactly this. County Records has put out quite a bit of this lately. A while back, they came along with an Uncle Dave Macon CD, Go Long Mule. More recently, there is Old Time Mountain Ballads featuring such folks as Clarence Ashley, Blind Alfred Reed, Grayson and Whitter and others. Colorful names and, my guess is, equally colorful characters who made the music.

County Records has also released a number of other recordings, including 1928 Ernest V. Stoneman Edison Recordings; a CD of the Skillet Lickers which was available on LP; Old Time Fiddle Tunes and Songs from North Georgia, featuring a group consisting of Gid Tanner, Bert Layne, Lowe Stokes, Clayton McMichen, Riley Puckett and Fate Norris. There are sixteen tunes with the likes of "Solder's Joy," "Hell Broke Loose in Georgia," "Liberty," "Dixie," and "Leather Breeches." These are old time bands, old time songs, old time sound and nothing more. As I stated, there seems to be quite a bit of renewed interest in this music. When you get it, know what to expect. You will certainly be getting a listen to the early, raw basics of the music of this country. Back when this was string music or mountain music. There is or was, nothing wrong with that.

I have a strong feeling that contributing to the interest in all of this is that "country/crock" music has gotten so far from what it is that maybe it is time to start over. This is where it starts.

A couple of other new releases, this time from Copper Creek, are of Don Reno & Red Smiley. One CD is Don Reno & Red Smiley On the Air. These are live performance recordings. There are nine full-length songs which were never released as studio recordings. The second CD is Don Reno & Red Smiley on Stage, recorded at New River Ranch and Sunset Park, 1957-58. I knew these guys, they were great. Never knew them to give a bad performance.

Orders: County Records, PO Box 191, Floyd, VA 24091 or Copper Creek Records, PO Box 3161, Roanoke, VA 24015. Tell 'em Berk told you.