Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

September. The door of summer is beginning to close. Days are getting slightly shorter, shadows are beginning to lengthen and — but wait — all is not over yet. There are still festivals to go to, music to hear, pictures to take and memories to develop. Use the pictures, tapes and videos to recall the good times and to carry us through until the cycle begins to repeat next year.

Strictly Bluegrass

The Strictly Bluegrass Festival will be at Iroquois Park again this year. The dates are September 11-12. Dr. Ralph Stanley, and Bill Grant and Delia Bell will be there, as will Gary Brewer.

Plan Ahead for October Bluegrass

September is also a good time to plan for October events.

One that I pass along every year is the Tennessee Fall Homecoming at The Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tenn. Great music, old-time, Appalachian mountain music, bluegrass and so much more. There are not many headliners as such, but there are many excellent groups you may not hear, or hear of, otherwise. Among those you know are Mac Wiseman, Kenny Baker and Josh Graves (Friday and Saturday), John Hartford (Thursday-Sunday), Dr. Ralph Stanley (Sunday, 3 shows), and Doyle Lawson (Thursday), Ramona Jones (Grandpa's wife), Mr. Roy Harper, Goins Bros. (Saturday).

Also Raymond Fairchild (that champion banjo-picking Indian who plays my theme for Sunday Bluegrass); Will Keys, 1996 National Heritage Award recipient known for his unique style (one of the Masters of the Banjo that toured a few years ago); The Mule Lady, so designated because of her fondness for mules; Marilynn Powell-Greene, a great lady with a beautiful crystal clear voice, a very good friend, as are many of the folks down there.

That includes Leroy Troy. Leroy (Uncle Dave Macon reincarnated), The Tennessee Slicker, is a performer — an entertaining performer who was on Hee Haw for two seasons. He's just another one of the many performers you will remember for a loooong time. A one-man, knock-out show. This list could go on for pages.

To the surprise and perhaps disbelief of many people, members of many of these groups come under the headings of doctors, as in MDs, surgeons, etc. There are lawyers, educators of the PhD variety, and there is a millionaire or two thrown in for good measure. Many other professional folks with various degrees. Don't let that bother you though, you can't look at them and tell, but you can listen to them and know they've "got the right stuff" when it comes to the music. To top it all off, these folks are friendly!

Guess now that I've told you all that, some dates would be appropriate. Wednesday, Oct. 7, is students day with activities and music planned primarily for students. Oct. 8-11 for one of the nation's largest and most authentic old-time mountain craft and music festivals.

Happy Birthday!

Music Ranch USA in West Point celebrates its first anniversary this month:

• Sept. 5. FREE bean soup and cornbread dinner at 5:30 p.m.; showtime is 7:30 p.m. The Country Classics with guest Adam Davis and LouAnn Denham will entertain. FREE birthday cake and drinks on Chow Hall deck after the show.

• Sept. 12: Fan Fare cookout and more. Cookout $5. Show 7:30, $7 adults, seniors $6, children $2.

• Sept. 19: Verland Hatmaker as Elvis on Blue Hawaii night.

• Sept. 26: 1950s Saturday Night Jamboree, 6 p.m. pre-show.

• The Classics and a half-hour of the show can be heard Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. on WULF 94.3 FM.

September Bluegrass

• Sept. 11-12: Kentucky Blue will be at Swiss Mennonite Festival, Berne, Indiana.

• Sept. 5: Old Time Fiddle Contest at the Opera House, Mitchell, Indiana. Contestants register between 7:30 - 8:15 p.m. (Mitchell time is EST, not daylight time, and is one hour behind Louisville.)

The Bill Stewart Family and Friends will perform 8-8:30 p.m.; contest starts at 8:30 p.m.

Contest has two divisions this year. Those aged 16 years and up will receive $200 first prize, $100 second prize and $50 third prize. The division for those under 16 will receive trophies for first, second and third place.

All contestants must play a waltz, a hoedown and a number of their choice.

Questions: Call 812-849-2337.

• If you want to go to Georgia, or are going to Georgia, you can take in a festival at the Shrine Park, Macon, Ga. Sept. 24-26. Who's gonna be there? Del McCoury, Lewis Family, IIIrd Tyme Out, Tim Adair and the Adairs, and many more.

Don't Forget IBMA Week

Whatever you do, do not forget the big IBMA week Oct. 19-25 in Louisville. Keep this in mind and act on it.

IBMA can and will use volunteers for the Trade show and Fan Fest. Volunteer for a couple of 3-4 hour shifts and get tickets for the week. This will not include the Awards Show. For detailed information call toll free, 1-888-GET IBMA. Volunteers are still needed. I confirmed that with Dan Hays, executive director, as I was writing this.

A part of and yet a separate show is the Awards Show. The show is on Thursday night and a great show to attend. Additional information at the above number or on Sunday Bluegrass in the coming weeks.

Public Radio Partnership News

The word I have is that the Public Radio Partnership tower at Floyds Knobs will be operational by the time you read this or in a matter of days following, whichever comes first. Plans are also being made to move into new quarters next year. More about that coming up, and what this can mean to our listeners. Stay tuned here and there.

Enough Talk, Let's Eat!

This is about all you want to absorb for this time so I think I'll get lunch, a pack of Nabs and a Coke. Keep in touch by way of a letter to the paper or Sunday Bluegrass, WFPK 91.9 FM, Sunday, 8-11 p.m.