Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

Time does fly. Here it is August already and before you know it, fall will have sneaked up on us. Fall will have a lot to offer and I'll get to those things next time.

Business at Hand

My trip to Charlotte, Michigan, at the end of June had a lot of good things. You may remember from last year, I wrote about Tessie. Tessie has been at the Charlotte Festival for the last three – maybe four – years. In October, Tessie will be 100 years old. She is a sweetheart, bright and alert. I asked her if she would be back next year and her reply, "I'll be right here." (I sure hope you will.)

Pete and Kitsy Kuykendall (Mr. & Mrs. Bluegrass Unlimited) were there. Kitsy took a couple of pictures of Tessie for a future issue. Probably for the October one.

I met a very nice couple from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. Poul and Linda Sandersen. These folks were asking for advice on how to get a festival started and how to run one. I referred them to John Morris of Old Homestead Records. John had really built the Charlotte Festival over the past few years. (I hope the comments and advice prove to be helpful and you build a successful show. Maybe some time I can come to Wisconsin for a show.)

Also, there were a couple of guys running around taking pictures and talking with people. Turns out they were doing a story on bluegrass for Forbes magazine. What a boost that could be for our music. In talking with one of the two, I gave him a card and when he looked at it he exclaimed, "I've heard your show." He used to live in Louisville – now in New York – but heard the show occasionally. Just goes to show you once again, you never know who you will cross paths with, when or where.

Lend a Hand

This next bit will be sort of like a help-wanted plea – two of them. First from IBMA. (Dan, apology accepted but not needed. Sometimes we just don't get things done.) As you know, the IBMA World of Bluegrass Trade Show and Bluegrass Fan Fest will be in Louisville this year. It will take place at the Galt House Oct. 13-19.VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED. Quoting from Dan Hay's recent letter to me: "Volunteers are needed to help staff the week-long event and will be oriented to any specific tasks assigned to them, like: event registration and ticket sales, gate check, merchandise sales, hospitality hosts and hostesses, parking, shuttle drivers and other duties. About 75 people are needed to each work at least two 3-hour shifts which will be coordinated with their personal schedule. Adults with an appreciation for bluegrass are preferred and volunteers receive a complimentary pass to Fan Fest and the Trade Show events and a souvenir T-shirt." If you are willing to help and will volunteer, please call IBMA before Aug. 31. Call 1-888-GET-IBMA or 1-502-684-9025.

The next "help-wanted plea" is from West Point. The ball is rolling to get the show going again at West Point. The property, formerly the West Point Opry, is being purchased, with plans to reorganize and develop a new agenda of music. Plans now are looking at having the Country Classics as the house band for Saturday night country shows. Bluegrass every other Friday night and some other ideas. The expectations now are to develop a music center operating as the Music Ranch at West Point, Kentucky. Investors/stockholders are needed. A nine-member (minimum) Board of Directors will be elected to have oversight responsibility. For more complete details, contact Rube Yelvington at 1-502-922-9393. This is a local call from Louisville.

Winning Hand

July 5th provided an interesting evening for me. On Thursday, the 3rd, John Gregory from WFPL called and asked if I would like to MC a program at Indiana University Southeast, New Albany. Sure, why not. The show began at 8 p.m. with the Juggernaut Jug Band. I had heard about these guys but this was my first opportunity to hear them. NO, they ain't even close to bluegrass but they are excellent at what they do. I really enjoyed their show; gave me sounds of much younger days. As they were featured a few months ago in these pages I will not attempt to offer more detail about their music. I will say that a lot of bluegrass fans and my listeners seemed to like them very much, as they did the feature act of the evening.

At 9 p.m. I had the pleasure of bringing to the stage The Riders in the Sky. As of now these guys are about the best around at what they do. I am sure you are all familiar with the Riders. Nobody does the "old" western/cowboy music any better than these guys. No, it ain't the "crock" music way, but "it's the cowboy way." The Riders took the stage and entertained with their style of comedy and great western songs for well over an hour. This was my second opportunity to introduce this band and it seems to get better each time. I hope it can happen again some time.

I was back in New Albany on the 9th for a show at the 4-H Fairgrounds. Got to see and work with The Schmitt Family, some good friends and really fine folks. Bec is really coming along on the fiddle. Also a part of the show was Greg Breeden and Brush Fire. These guys did a great job also. Closing the show for the night was a traditional country style group, The Midnight Ramblers.

Put Your Hands Together

The Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc. will sponsor the Johnny Collins Band and Alan Phelps on August 2 at the Amphitheater on the Riverfront in New Albany. This is aFREE event, and public, veterans and families are invited.

Most other events I have information on are not in the area. More details and events can be heard onSunday Bluegrass, Sunday night, 8-11 p.m.

On Hand

The 13th was a good night onSunday Bluegrass. Alan Phelps, David Hunt, Tony Miers and Janet Campbell (I hope I got the spelling of these names at least close), showed up on our doorstep and played. These folks gave us a good one hour and forty-five minutes of good pickin'. The many calls that came in concerning the group and to the group was a resounding vote of approval for this sort of thing. My sincere thanks to all of you for coming down, sharing your talents with our audience, and giving us a great show, Keep in touch, you all.