Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

Did you see Louisville Tonight Live! on May 14? If you did, you caught a glimpse of yours truly conducting an interview with Carl Perkins. Carl Perkins? What's Carl Perkins got to do with bluegrass? If you have heard the interview on Sunday Bluegrass, you know by now. This interview has as much to do with the man as it does with his music. I was not totally sure before we met how well I would do. I was totally sure when it was finished. It was the best interview I have been a part of. All to the credit of Carl Perkins. He made it so easy. We talked a bit before I started and I knew then it would go well, He was very candid, straight forward and someone I could talk with for several hours. Common ground can be found between almost any two or more folks.

Why was I interviewing Carl Perkins in the first place? I was offered the opportunity by Hawley-Cooke Booksellers when he was in Louisville to promote his new book, Go Cat Go, and my first impression was that, well, he really doesn't fit in with what I play on my program. A second and better thought said to me, there are bluegrass influences in rockabilly – Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" was recorded by Elvis and all of that, so okay, I think I can pull all of this together in some way that the listeners will accept.

After scanning the book (I didn't have time to read it between Sunday midnight and Tuesday noon), I was sure there was a lot there we could talk about and relate to. There was. I think this book is something that anybody could read and get a lot from. There were moments in the book and the interview when I was really hit with what he had to say. I recommend this book to anyone, no exceptions.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Carl Perkins since my interview with him. I also gave thought to opportunities missed in the past, such as the time I believe I could have talked with Hank Williams for an hour or two and didn't, and I don't want to miss any more, especially those I recognize.

It's Norris, Tn., Museum of Appalachia time again. Not the homecoming, that's in October, rather on the 4th of July. I don't know exactly what kind of celebration they have there, but I would like to see the anvil shoot and see if I can shoot the anvil with my camcorder. What in Thunder is an anvil shoot? As I understand it (and I have seen a picture), it was a means of celebration in the old days for New Year's, July 4, and the like. An anvil is set on the ground and the little hole on top of it is filled with gun powder. A second anvil is inverted on top of the first one and the gunpowder is ignited. It can be heard for miles around and the top anvil will go as much as 75 feet in the air. I want to see that.

To make a full holiday of it, come back up I-75 a few miles and stop off at Renfro Valley bluegrass festival, July 4-6. I don't know which day for each act, but their lineup includes J. D. Crowe, Claire Lynch, IIIrd Tyme Out, The Lewis Family, Randall Hylton, New Coon Creek Girls, Lost and Found, the Reno Bros., and others.

While we're on the festival subject, the Festival of the Bluegrass at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington is June 6–9. Acts include Allison Krauss, Seldom Scene, IIIrd Tyme Out, Doyle Lawson, Dry Branch Fire Squad, The Lewis Family, Country Gentlemen, Del McCoury, Kentucky Blue and others.

The Charlotte Bluegrass Festival, in Charlotte, MI, is June 20-23. Booked to play are The Lewis Family; Ralph Stanley; Gillis Bros.; Jim & Jesse; Lost and Found; Vernon McIntyre; Goins Bros.; The Marksmen and more.

The C. R. Wilson and A. R. White Bluegrass Festival is June 20–22 at White Acres Campground, Bardstown, Ky. They've scheduled The Sand Mountain Boys; Fresh Cut Grass; Sunnysiders; Beargrass Creek Boys; Jim McCall and Walker Mountain Boys; Wendell Cornett; Danny Jones and Friends and others.

Also on June 20–22, the Stringbean Memorial Bluegrass Festival, Annville, Ky. will feature Grandpa and Ramona Jones; Porter Wagoner (Sat.); Larry Sparks; Larry Fuller; Elmer Bird; the Goins Brothers; Ralph Stanley and others.

Y'all go to these and I'll tell you about some more next time.

Randall Hylton was at West Point this last month. I had the chance to get in a little visit with him and a most enjoyable visit it was, I must say. There was a shamefully small crowd, but a great show. I heard one friend, who was seeing Randall for the first time, say "That was the best show I ever saw in my life." A new group from the Cincinnati area, Kentucky 31, was also on the show. They did a very good show and, I am sure, made new friends and fans. The whole group was very good and many of the folks especially noticed the banjo player, Trina Emig. This young lady was very good and you will be hearing her on my show. Impressive.

My latest example of young people in bluegrass comes by way of a CD from the Schankman Twins, whose new CD is titled, very aptly, Duality. These 17-year-old sisters are apparently making an impression all over the country, having played festivals from New York to California. Their CD contains fifteen cuts. Starting with "Montana Cowboy," they go through "Applejack," "Waterbound," "Blue Kentucky Girl," "When the Roses Bloom in Dixieland," "Sally Ann" and end with "How Mountain Girls Can Love." It is an overall good effort that I am playing on Sunday Bluegrass. These girls have a good start from a musical family. Dr. Ralph Stanley says "We'll be hearing a lot from these girls in years to come. They've got it!"

For bookings or CDs, contact Vicki Schankman, P. O. Box 9226, Calabasas, Ca., or call 818-713-0677.