Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

This is AUGUST! August — when some kids will be going back to school and others will be thinking about it. You know what that means — fall, autumn, end of summer, and all that coming much too fast. I don't think I am ready for that yet. Let's back up a few weeks and try this again. What happened to those days and events that we thought would never get here and are gone so fast? Getting older, that's what it is.

Charlotte Bluegrass

Well, we do have to back off a few weeks to catch up. I had a really good trip to Michigan and the Charlotte Bluegrass Festival, in spite of a flat tire. Will talk about that later. Anyhow, in spite of a few things like some foul weather, an auto industry strike going on and a few other minor irritations, it turned out good.

I got there on Thursday. The night before, a tornado had passed by. It did not touch down at the festival grounds, but did manage to take the top out of a BIG tree in the campgrounds. Took it off and dropped it down right between two trailers, committing only minor damage to an awning on one of the trailers. Folks who had been eating, visiting and whatever just moments earlier had moved. Minimal damage and no one hurt; what a blessing that was. Thursday night another rowdy storm moved through, this time with wind, rain, lightning . . . and I did mention rain, didn't I? The last two acts of the night had to be canceled. After all of this nonsense got out of the system, the rest of the weekend weather was great. Hot, but great.

Got a chance to get in a short visit with Art Stamper. Art was working with Vince Combs. Vince opened the show on Friday and got it off to a bluegrass start. A great way to open a show. You need to start off with a grabber, be it a radio show (Sunday Bluegrass on WFPK) or a festival show. Vince Combs and Shade Tree Bluegrass did that. Charlie Sizemore, Lost & Found, Doyle Lawson and Dr. Ralph never let it go down.

Dr. Ralph & Dylan?

Got in a lot of good visiting. Talked with Ralph about his new double CD. Told him that folks called right away to let me know they liked the first two songs I played on the show. They liked "Last Love Letter" with Laurie Lewis and "Lonesome Banjo Man" with Ralph II.

I asked Ralph how they managed to get him to record with Bob Dylan. Ralph chuckled and ginned a bit and wanted to know if I had played it. I hadn't at that time, but I have now. The response, well, it was absolutely not in the class with the first two. Actually there was no immediate response to it.

If you haven't seen or heard it yet, you should. There is quite a variety of artists included, such as Vince Gill, Pam Tillis, George Jones and more. It is a good CD and I will eventually get it all played.

More Visiting

I always enjoy the visiting. Got some of that done with Jim & Jesse and also Mike and Jane Stevens, who were to be with J&J. A Charlie Sizemore visit is always good, and a little time spent with Northwest Territory. There were, of course, a lot more.

We Missed Tessie

A visit I didn't get to make this time was with Tessie. I am sure those of you who have followed along for the past few years remember Tessie. Tessie is the dear little lady I met up there several years ago. Last year, Kitsy Kuykendall took a picture of Tessie and me. The picture was in the March issue of Bluegrass Unlimited, noting Tessie's 100th birthday last October. Tessie couldn't make it this year. A short time back she had a mild stroke and is in a nursing home. She wasn't affected too badly. Her memory is good, her speech is good, etc. Tessie's daughter-in-law said she really wanted to be there but they were afraid it might have been a little too much for her at this time. Probably a good decision, as the weather was very hot. Tessie's son and daughter-in-law have some problems and felt they couldn't take care of Tessie quite as they had and should, and felt the nursing home was best. Our best wishes to you, Tessie.

Wade & Julia

I did get a side visit I was hoping to and that was with Wade and Julia Mainer. They came down to the home of John Morris in Brighton on Monday. Wade seems to be doing very well. We all learned during the visit that Wade had a slight stroke recently. It seems, according to him, that the most effect left on him was some vision loss. He doesn't drive now and Julia has to do all of that. During the visit, with a fair amount of encouraging, they were persuaded to do us a song. They did not have their instruments with them so John brought out a guitar. Julia played and they sang. Wade is now 91 and his voice and singing is strong; definitely strong. Wade is still considering doing a couple of new tapes this year. I, as many others, will be looking forward to that. This is one of those experiences that just make you feel good about having and sharing. Bless you, Wade and Julia.

Weird Randall

July 8 and Randall Hylton made a scheduled stop at the 4-H Fair in New Albany. I am always glad to see Randall. Got from him a tape I hadn't seen. It is called Too Weird for Radio. I checked it out and will be using it on my show. As usual, Randall's humor shines through on several of the numbers. He did his usual excellent show and was then on his way to York, Pa. Randall said he would be passing through Louisville several times this summer and he would definitely stop by for the show one night. THE show of course, Sunday Bluegrass, WFPK, 91.9 FM, 8-11 p.m. Sunday. Randall, the invitation is always out.

Upcoming Grass

What's going on and coming up?

• The Milan Bluegrass Festival, Aug. 13-15. The first annual at KC Campground, Mich. The Osborne Bros., Ralph Stanley, Charlie Waller & the Country Gentlemen, Lost & Found, IIIrd Tyme Out, Larry Sparks and more. A nice little weekend trip and a good festival.

• The Brown County Bluegrass Festival, Georgetown, Ohio, Aug. 20-22. Ralph Stanley, IIIRD Tyme Out, Lewis Family, Goins Bros., Northwest Territory, Sand Mountain Boys and much more. • Just a reminder: Only a couple of months away, The Tennessee Fall Homecoming at the Museum of Appalachia, Oct. 8-11. More details next time and on Sunday Bluegrass. If you have been, you know you want to go back. If you haven't been, you really oughta. You'll see Ralph, Doyle, John, Mac and Kenny & Josh.

Good News!

I know you've heard: IBMA, Louisville through 2001.

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