Bluegrass Beat, 1/98
Wait a minute. Let's get this straight. Are you telling me this is 1998? What happened to 1997? It couldn't have been that long; it was just June when I was at the Charlotte Festival in Michigan and at Bean Blossom for the first time. And it was just a few weeks ago that I went to The Museum of Appalachia for the Tennessee Fall Homecoming and, and uh, you're kidding, right? This is a dream and you're just trying to make me think it's 1998. Hey, you're serious, aren't you? This is 1998. Well, in that case, I had better get busy getting ready and so should you. Get your plans forming for the coming festival season. Never too soon to plan for that next bluegrass show/festival.
I hope you all had a memorable Christmas of the best kind. Bet those stockings "hung by the chimney with care" were full of good new bluegrass CDs and/or tapes. No? Well, then take some of that Christmas cash (left over or received) and go purchase the CD or tape of your choice. If you can't find your choice, go to see your favorite artist the next time they are in the area and obtain the one of your choice direct from them.
In addition to Christmas last month, I had a couple of special experiences. One was a welcome surprise phone call one night from Leroy Troy. I had sent Leroy some pictures and he called to say thanks. (I appreciate that, my friend.)
Although not bluegrass, or country, or music — and a little off the subject — I had, as did many others, an encounter that was very special to me. I have mentioned before having recognized opportunities missed in the past and not wanting that to happen again. Charlton Heston was in town to sign his new book, Charlton Heston Presents the Bible. Heston is someone, actually someone else, I never thought I would ever have a chance to meet. For a star of his stature, I was very impressed with his manner, his attitude and his congenial reception of the fans who came to meet him. Of course, a brief encounter does not tell the story; however, you do know what they say about "first impressions." I left with the feeling that Charlton Heston is a sincere and kind individual. The book is well done and worth a copy.
As I am writing this (just a few days before Christmas), I am looking forward to a visit with my daughter in Virginia. I am also looking forward to the annual Christmas calls on my show. The calls I make on the Sunday Bluegrass show closest to Christmas are not pre-arranged. I take the numbers in to the station and try to call a few of the artists I play regularly on the show [Sunday Bluegrass, Sunday, 8-11 p.m., WFPK 91.9, Louisville]. The people I have called in the past have always been very good about participating in the show that way. I hope you heard them this year; as of right now (at the time I am writing this), I can't wait to see who I will have on this year.
Had a card from Wade Mainer and he is doing well following his bypass surgery in September. He is recuperating at home — the one they acquired after being burned out of their previous home in '96.
Just found out. Tom Ewing has left the Warrior River Boys. He is working on his bass playing and plans to stay in bluegrass. As most of you know, Tom was Bill Monroe's lead singer and joined the Warrior River Boys shortly before Bill's death.
Let me tell you who's in store for the start of the New Year at Shepherdsville. If you are reading this in time, you can catch Ralph Stanley on Jan. 2; on the 9th it's Dry Branch Fire Squad; IIIrd Tyme Out and Fresh Cut Grass arrive on the 16th; and on Jan. 23 it's The Blue Hollow Band. On Jan. 30, Tommy Brown and County Line Grass and Music City Bluegrass Band close out the month. Larry Sparks and Lonesome Ramblers are there on Feb. 6. Come on down.
I am not going to take up too much space to start the year off. Keep the new year safe and happy, and best to you for a successful year. HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!