Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

The weather is HOT! And so are the music, the festivals and the pace of keeping up. I have got to start making myself better notes to draw from each month when I sit down to pass along some of the things that happened that you want to know about, don't want to know about, or that I think I want you to know about. Enough of that.

Charlotte Happenings

Starting back with the trip to Charlotte, Michigan, I have a number of bits and scraps to pass along, some you may have and some may be new to you.

I learned that Charlie Louvin managed to cut off part of his two middle fingers on his left hand. Learned today that it had happened in an accident with a camper awning. Camper 2, Charlie 0. It was said he won't be able to play guitar. I am writing this on July 19, and last week he also had a kidney removed.

One of the Stevens sisters passed out during their show. What I heard was that the whole family was/had been sick. Possible flu or food poisoning. She recovered but was not able to continue. The rest of that show and their second show was canceled.

Jim and Luke were there. No, this is not a new group; Jesse was not able to make the show and grandson Luke did a very acceptable job of standing in for grandpa. Jesse had a stomach aneurysm. When this was discovered, the test also showed another enlarged place just above the stomach area. It was feared that it was another aneurysm. Jesse was due to have more tests within a day or two of the festival. Additional tests found it to be a kink in his esophagus. This will change his eating habits to smaller and perhaps more frequent meals. Jim apparently had some "unshowing" bruises and stiffness. Seems he had recently had a "wreck" on his bicycle. He rides every day he can and this day hit a rock or something in his path while his attention was diverted elsewhere. No serious damage.

A lot of good visiting provided a lot of interesting conversations. Steve Sparkman, banjo player, left Ralph Stanley back in April. Steve was ready to spend more time at home; he has a new addition to the family.

Charlie Sizemore, one of my favorite young bluegrass artists, has graduated from college (again), and is now a lawyer in Nashville. Won't hold that against you, Charlie, but with that comes good news and bad news. The good news is he graduated with close to 4-point average. The bad news, at least from my viewpoint, is that Charlie is leaving bluegrass and the music business. Charlie, I hate to see that happen but I do wish you success in your new field. And that will be bluegrass' loss. I know that you have to make the choices and do what is best for Charlie. Good luck.

Had a very good visit with Wade and Julia Mainer the Monday following the festival at their home in Flint, Michigan. Wade also has decided to cut back and doesn't plan to accept more concert dates. At 92, maybe it's time to slow down just a bit. I understood them to say there were a few exceptions and they would be singing some at churches from time to time. Wade would go back to the Charlotte festival if they should ask him, and, LOUD and CLEAR, they should. One of the reasons he is going to cut back is his sight. He is limiting his driving. Other than that, he seems to be doing very well. Showed me his garden, which shows all the marks of experience. Our best to you, dear friends, Wade and Julia Mainer.

Travels with Randall

This past weekend was another very special one for me. Friday morning another very good music friend pulled into our drive to pick me up and go to Xenia, Ohio: the man with the guitar(s) and semi-tall hat, Randall Hylton. Randall was playing Vince Comb's festival for two days. Saw a lot of good folks up there also. The Sand Mountain Boys were there, Art Stamper was with Vince, Dean Osborne and Jimmy Martin were on the show, and I talked with folks from other festivals and places I go.

Jim did a great show. Only did one show but was scheduled to be a double. He is doing well but is really still recuperating from heart surgery he had some months ago. That takes a while. He did make sure he had a moment for the fans to "shake and Howdy." Take care of yourself, Jimmy.

Sunday morning found us on the way back to Kentucky. Randall was good enough to stay over for the show (Sunday Bluegrass, WFPK 91.9 FM, 8-11 p.m.) that night and play. Always so many nice calls and calls of support when I have the live music, and especially artists like that. Randall was giving us all a review of his new album soon to be released. True to form, it will have the kind of material that makes folks like Randall Hylton's songs. Randall, I thank you sincerely for the trip, the visit to the show, and your valued friendship.

We Interrupt this Message

As they say on the tube, "Breaking News" concerning L&O. That would be Lonzo & Oscar, the legendary comedy team. Oscar has let Billy Hensen have the rights to the Lonzo & Oscar name. Oscar also is back out of the business as such. He turned over the rights to the name with the condition that the act be kept alive in the Lonzo & Oscar tradition.

Going Once, Going Twice . . .

Remember "Auctioneer" and what a hit it was - well, almost was? On the charts for two weeks, peaking at No. 9. A couple of others made the charts by this auctioneer, one on the charts for 12 weeks, peaking at No. 3, and the biggie was No. 1 for 19 weeks, with 37 weeks on the charts. The auctioneer? Leroy Van Dyke. The song at No. 1????? Keep reading, keep looking. You won't find it among the listings of who's playing when and where.

Upcoming Bluegrass

Aug. 21, Kentucky Blue at Billy's Bar-B-Que in Lexington.

Aug. 28, Bluegrass Festival, Bethlehem, Ky.

Sept. 3-5, Northern Indiana Bluegrass Festival, Kendallville, Ind.

August 6-8, Osborne Bros. Hometown Festival, Richard M. Nixon Center & Complex, Highway 421, Hyden, Ky. Featuring Sonny and Bobby, Ralph Stanley, Kenny Baker & Josh Graves, Jim & Jesse, Richard Bennett, Gary Brewer and many others.

Aug. 12-14, Milan, Mich., Dr. Ralph Stanley, Osborne Bros., Lost & Found, Larry Stephenson, Vince Combs, James King and more.

Aug. 20-22, Bean Blossom Gospel Jubilee, featuring Lulu Roman, Paul Williams, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, The Stamps Quartet, and many more.

Aug. 26-28, Brown County Bluegrass Festival, Georgetown, Ohio, Lewis Family, IIRD Tyme Out, Sand Mountain Boys, Reno Bros., Rob Morgan & Co., James King Band and many others.

This is about it for now, but just wait until you see what is going on at Bean Blossom in the next issue. Wheeew - exciting stuff in September.

Y'all Come

Be sure to be with me on Sunday nights for Sunday Bluegrass, WFPK, 91.9 FM, 8-11 p.m. If you miss, you have no idea what you might miss. Why, you might not hear "Walk On By." Yep, that was it - the No. 1 hit by Leroy Van Dyke. Y'all come back now, you heah.