Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

Blooming 'Bluegrass

Spring, the birds, the buds, 'the blossoms, the BLUEGRASS. Ah, yes, spring is on the verge of busting outin full whatever and bringing wiih it bluegrass festivaltime. Can't get on enough.

McReynolds Benefit

I had the opportunity to go to the Keith McReynolds benefit show at the end of January. After blundering our way through this and that, road work, and directions that should have been good, we finally found it — in spite of the fact that the roads, and even some name designations had been changed since the fliers, strip maps, etc. had been distributed. I think the crowd was down a little this year over last year. Possibly the aforementioned tricks may have played a part.

I really enjoyed being there and getting the opportunity to visit with some special folks. Had a good visit with Leroy Troy, and a good bit with John Hartford.

Spent time with Mike Stevens and learned he has a new CD. Not grassy, but it is good. Mike also has a harmonica course (book) out. A good book of lessons. Bookalso contains a CI. ) of instructions and some of Mike's tunes, slow version. If you have a yearning to learn harmonica, especially this way, contact Mike Stevens Music, 1595 Blackwell Road, Sarnia, Ontario, Canada N7X IA4. The U. S. price is $19. 95.

A brief visit with Jim & Jesse and a passing "How's Bobby?" to Sonny Osborne. His reply, "He's doing OK. " Glad to hear that. I'll bet he'll be back soon.

High Gear Earns High Marks

Josh Williams and High Gear were at West Point last month. In spite of a disappointing, small turn-out, they gave a good — very good — performance. This group, as does others, deserves much better audience and bluegrass fan support than they all too often get. Josh and the band have a new gospel CD, from which they did many numbers. The folks who were there enjoyed the show, especially the gospel numbers.

Josh, now seventeen, improves every time I see them, and they usually have a few surprises. This time Josh proved he is learning the fiddle and is off to a good start. Another surprise: songs he has written. He did a short solo bit with guitar. As he was introducing the second song, his dad said "What's he going to do?" As in the intro, he did a new song he had written, one his dad had not heard until Josh played and sang it for all right there. It met with approval.

Just to give another indication of what kind of young man Josh Williams is, he took a moment to call his dad and his uncle to the stage. As they were on the way up he was telling us that he wanted to give them recognition for all of the support, encouragement and help he has been given. Read this again and think of your own teenager, if you have one, or anyone you know. It is practically a hex curse for teens to be seen with their parents or to acknowledge them favorably, especially in public, and here this young man calls his folks onstage before the world to thank them. I know this may ruffle a feather or two, but — be honest with yourself — isn't that the way it really is? I know, I have a teenage granddaughter.

Now, while I am on the subject, let me go a little further with the above paragraph. We still hear almost constantly the business about getting young people interested in bluegrass and all that goes with it. Now here is Josh, been at this for a couple of days, cut his first tape when he was eleven, did a good job and is constantly improving and learning. Devoted, dedicated, polite, courteous, professional on- and off-stage, a good student, just about all you could askfor in a young person and a son. (Your folks are justifiably proud, Josh.)

The cry goes on: We've got to get more young people in, and this is the kind of example we set. This is the kind of support they get when they do everything we are begging to be done. Maybe that's one reason they shy away. The talkers, not the doers, are setting the example. I have used Josh as an example because this incident is fresh in mind from the night before this writing. All of these remarks can be applied to bluegrass shows and young bluegrass performers who need that encouragement. Not everyone can be there every time or everywhere, but there are enough who "talk the talk" to provide a decent and acceptable audience for every show that comes around and take up the slack of those who can't make a given show. (P. S. Congratulations, Josh, on making the cover of Bluegrass Now January issue. )

Beam Blossom Sold ~ '

. . . Thanks to IRS

I have learned that Bean Blossom has been sold. I. do not have details other than there was some problem related to Mr. Bill Monroe's_will, and the dear, sweet, new image (gag) IRS demanded a huge cut, and Bean Blossom HAD to be sold to meet the obligations. Enough said.

Grandpa Jones Will 'Be Missed

Louis Marshall Jones, better known as banjo-playing Grandpa Jones, passed away in Hermitage, Tenn., on Feb. I9 after a series of strokes. Born Oct. 20, 1913, in Henderson Co., Ky., Grandpa Jones entertained on a wide variety of stages, including the Grand Ole Opry, Carnegie Hall, and a flatbed truck in the rice paddles of Korea. Local residents will recall that one of his several hit songs was "Eight More Miles to Louisville." A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Grandpa Jones will probably be most remembered for his "What's for Supper?" skit on the long-running TV show "Hee Haw. " (Grandpa Jones, you will be missed. ). .

Mark Your Bluegrass Calendar

I will pass along all I have at this time for who is pickin' where. Keep the above in mind. Shows in the area:

Shepherdsville: March 6, TheSunnysiders; March 13, Silver Cloud; and March 20, The Sand Mountain Boys. April 2 (that is a Thursday). The Lewis Family and Jim &, Jesse. I'ill the place that night.
West Point, Music Ranch USA: At this time March 13 is open and I would strongly urge you to call. (Louisville number is 922-9393).

March 27, The McLain Bros. Band. This is Raymond and Michael McLain with one of their sisters. These are of the famous McLain Family of Berea, Ky. All are great musicians and certainly not strangers to any of you here.

You may see or hear different dates on this next one because of several mix-ups earlier, including a couple of my programs that are already recorded at this time. The correct date is May 8, a Friday. The highly acclaimed and popular award-winning Country Gentlemen will be at West Point on this date. You will not want to miss that show. All bluegrass shows at West Point will start at – read carefully - will start at 7:30 each night.

Shows out of the immediate area: Conover Hall, Franklin, Ohio: March 7, Larry Sparks, The Hart Bros., Vince Combs and Shadetree Bluegrass. Show time is 7:30.

Columbia, Miss.. March 12-1 4: (to name just a few) Jim & Jesse, Ricky Skaggs, Mac Wiseman, Doyle Lawson, Ralph Stanley, Osborne Bros., Lewis Family and many more. Lnformation: Call Roger or Pat Boothe, 334-891-8349 or 1-800~392-7014.

Live Grass or Memorex?

As you are reading this, I will be away from the Sunday Bluegrass mike (WFPK91. 9, Sunday, 8-11 p. m. ) for several weeks; I_ have prepared taped shows to continue while I can't be there. A couple of good ones in there, if I do say so myself. Listen and see if you can tell which ones they are. You will know when I am back live. (Hurry back, Berk! e from your friends at Louisville Music News. ) "