Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

A quote from Ron Thomason comes to mind and I think this is an appropriate time for it. A couple of years ago when I made my annual Christmas calls during my radio show, I called Ron. It had been a very mild day and Ron was delighted because he had been riding his horses that morning. He said "I think riding horses is like time spent listening to bluegrass music. It is not deducted from your life time."

You just might be right, Ron, and that's all the more reason for getting out and attending a bluegrass festival or show.

As for bluegrass festivals, I attended Red Mule one day last month. Red Mule was Red Mile until it was moved from the Red Mile Racetrack in Lexington to Walnut Valley Campground in Berea this year. It had a number of good acts, including Continental Divide and Dr. Ralph Stanley.

In addition to regular Clinch Mountain Boy Ralph II, Ralph's four-year-old grandson Nathan was along. He was something to see, all dressed up in suit and tie, with a hat like Ralph's and a pair of boots. And he was ready to hit the stage. For Ralph's last show, he was right there beside Grandpa, looking the crowd over and playing his "air" banjo. Ralph says Nathan has a Gibson Mastertone banjo in his size and is working on it. In a few years, when he finds out who he his, he will likely really go.

Last September, with the death of Bill Monroe, the torch was passed to Ralph Senior and I am sure Mr. Bill can rest easy and would be pleased to know that the legacy is in good hands with Ralph Stanley. Stanley is recording another double CD, like the Saturday Night/Sunday Morning release of a couple of years ago. Don't know at this time when it will be complete, but it will be Rebel Records.

A good friend and local musician Johnny Collins paid us a very welcome visit one Sunday night last month and he brought in his latest tape. Please Believe Me is on the Jalyn label from Nashville and Ron Stewart and Junior Blankenship are with Johnny. He says he always uses them on his tapes. There are ten good cuts, half old half new songs. "Please Believe Me," "If I Should Wander Back Tonight," "To You Girl I Owe All," "My Home's Across the Blue Ridge Mountains." "You, Me and Fate" for side "A." The "B" side is "All the Girls In Texas," "Before the Weekend Is Over," "Wooden Shoes," "Cora Is Gone" and "What Happened to You Last Night." For a copy, call 812-752-2699.

I get questions often about the IBMA trade show and Fan Fest this October. What I know is that it will be in Louisville at the Galt House and, yes, it will be indoors. They are looking for volunteer help. I expect to have details on how to volunteer for the next issue. Stay tunes.

Near term festivals and events of note include:

June 13/14, Marrowbone Park, KY. (I have no other details); Festival of the Bluegrass, Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Acts scheduled include Ricky Skaggs, Seldom Scene, Doyle Lawson, Dry Branch Fire Squad, IIIrd Tyme Out, The Lewis Family, Kentucky Blue and New Coon Creek Girls (No day-to-day schedule as yet).

The 31st Annual Bean Blossom Festival is the also June 12-15. The schedule there is: Thursday, James Monroe (all days), Gary Brewer, Goins Bros. Eddy Adcock, Vince Combs and Dallas Smith. Friday: Jim & Jesse, J. D. Crowe, Randall Hylton, Wayne Lewis and Eddy Adcock. Saturday, Osborne Bros., Mac Wiseman, Larry Sparks, Claire Lynch, Charlie Sizemore and New Coon Creek Girls. Sunday: Ralph Stanley, Sullivan Family, Kenny Baker and Josh Graves.

The 2nd Stringbean Memorial Festival is June 19-21, Jackson County, KY. Acts include Jim & Jesse (Sat.), Elmer Bird (Th. & Fri.), LeRoy Troy (Sat), Mac Wiseman (Sat.), Larry Fuller (Sat.) Ralph Stanley (Th.) and others.

The Charlotte, MI Festival is June 26-29. Scheduled are Jim & Jesse, Lost & Found, The Lewis Family, Ralph Stanley, The Reno Brothers and others.

Also on June 26-29 is the Summersville Park, Summersville W.Va., festival. Just about everybody will be there one day or the other.

As you can see, we will not be lacking for festivals. Go to at least one. My plate's full and yours should be by now. See you somewhere.

This is my birthday, so keep listening to "Sunday Bluegrass" on WFPK FM 91.9, 8-11 p.m. until it's "time to go get a doughnut."