Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

Turkey, falling leaves, football games, turkey, trips (are we there yet?) home for family gatherings, peas, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, dressing, and did I mention turkey? All of that this month and more, including some very chilly winds and, hopefully, nothing worse. November is here upon us and it is a good time of the year for all it brings to mind and stands for. Thanksgiving. Remember what it means and enjoy it appropriately.

Tennessee Fall Homecoming

I spent about four days with a psychiatrist last month. What do you mean, it's about time, or too late? When I left he was considering making an appointment withhis doctor. The psychiatrist was Dr. Nat Winston. "Doc" (and he really is), or Nat if you prefer, has been the MC at the Tennessee Fall Homecoming at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tenn., almost since it began nearly twenty years ago. He's the best for the job there. With many sincere thanks to John Rice Irwin (owner of the museum) and Nat Winston, I began to "spell" Doc at the MC duties this year. I humbly thank them for the opportunity and for the many gracious comments from the folks there, both to me and to John Rice and Doc. Thank you all for that support.

As each year passes I become more involved with the Homecoming and as a result enjoy it more. There is a tradeoff in that the more involved I become the more I have to sacrifice some of the time spent with my high school friend, Jack Huffman, who travels there from Quinby, S.C. This means we have to visit more in the evenings. We can also compare notes from the pictures we take and the video we shoot. Jack is a photographer and comes up with some good pictures during the weekend.

Some folks were missed this year. Grandpa Jones, of course. I heard quite a few "Grandpa stories," some I may tell you sometime when I see you somewhere. Ramona and family were carrying on the show very well. Cas Walker — the name may mean something to some of you — passed on a little earlier this year. Cas was famous for the radio and, I think, TV shows he sponsored in the Knoxville area. Shows that actually got a lot of top performers, such as Dolly Parton, off the launching pad.

So many performers, so many friends and so much enjoyment in an extremely family-friendly atmosphere. It's like the world should be. I so much enjoy working with John Hartford, Ralph Stanley, Mac Wiseman, Raymond Fairchild, The Lantana Drifters, Laurie and Bill Sky, Rob Mashburn, Bill Stewart Family, Marilynn Powell Greene, Leroy Troy, Jim Clayton, Gene Brewer and Carlock Stooksberry. This list could go on for another page but these give you the idea and are representative of all of this.

All of you would have loved my "little show" early Sunday morning. A young lady from Berea was on the program this year for the first time. Her name is Jennifer Rose, she plays a guitar and has a tremendous voice. Was very well received by the crowd. I was handling the MC duties at the time and introduced her. She did a song and suddenly, without any prior knowledge on my part, I hear her saying, "I'm going to get Berk to come up and help me with this next number." You have no idea what a surprise is until that happens to you. OK, here I go with absolutely no idea what is coming. She is going to do a song called "The Railroad Runs Through the Middle of the House," and wants me to blow one of these wooden train whistles on cue. Okay, not too difficult; any 8-year-old kid with 20 years of practice could do that. I guess that qualified me.

I managed the whistle all right, had a little fun with it, handed it back to Jennifer and turned to return to my spot on stage. There was a stool just about waist high right there. What happened next, as those of you who are ahead of me now can well imagine, was not a pretty sight; funny, but not pretty. The stool was not hurt and neither was I. I supposed it was there when I went up, but being totally surprised at being invited to participate, I probably navigated my way through this obstacle without ever seeing it. Don't try this at home; it takes a trained professional (?) to make a fool of himself in front of a couple thousand people.

It was truly a great, enjoyable and fun weekend. Plan next year for Oct. 7-10. I do not promise a repeat performance of the above.

IBMA World of Bluegrass

The IBMA Trade Show and Fan Fest has not happened as I am writing this. I can only foresee another successful event here in Louisville this year. So many folks and friends to meet, so many things to participate in, and just so much to look forward to. WFPK is the radio media sponsor this year and I believe we can look forward to this continuing in the years to come.

Will look back at next week next month. Does that leave you thoroughly confused? Well how do you think I wrote it?

November Calendar

I have a rather limited listing of what's going on this month.

At Shepherdsville on the 6th, Kentucky Blue, starting at 8 p.m.

November 19 (Thursday) the Lewis Family will be at the Opera House in Mitchell, Ind.

As a reminder, there is pickin' at Henryville, Ind., the 2nd and 4th Saturdays each month and at Scottsburg, Ind., on the 3rd and 5th Saturdays. Then there are the country shows at Music Ranch USA every Saturday night, 7:30 p.m., at West Point.

Toot Sweet

I want to take a line here to say a very special thanks to the folks on the Belle of Louisville. We had the good fortune to take one of the two "lock cruises" last month. A new experience for us, going through McAlpine Lock. An experience everyone should make every effort to partake of one time. The crew of the Belle were most cordial to us. Many special thanks to Capt. Mike Fitzgerald, Capt. Pete O'Connell, Bill Ray (who was not on board that day) and all of the other crew members who were there. We will have to have anotherTOOT of the Belle whistle one night on my show [Sunday Bluegrass, WPFK 91.9 FM, Sunday nights, 8-11]. I know it may be next spring, but it's always worth waiting for. Thanks again, gentlemen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

My sincere best wishes for a safe and pleasant Thanksgiving to all of you. Visit family as much as possible and remember the purpose. Take a few moments, count yourreal blessings and reflect in a manner that will help you recognize those blessings that pour upon each of us every day. The turkey and all the trimmings are certainly a part of this, but keep in mind, the blessings don't begin or end with the turkey; it's just one of them.